Animal Artist ~ Diane Young

Every Picture tells a story – realistic and stylised animals in art from Manic Illustrations


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Playfulness in #Art – #Eagle Print

At times we get so focused on getting really good at an activity that time seems to run out for experimentation and playfulness.

I swim regularly and know that playing in the pool doing roly-polys or attempting handstands increases confidence and can stretch me out of my comfort zone.  Yet on a day to day basis I only allow enough time to use the water to keep fit.

As an artist I like to create pictures that have a fair chance of being successful and that must mean following a well practiced strategy for getting a decent drawing transformed into a painting.Eagle Painting Print by animal artist Diane Young

Playing with materials and ideas helps to break these predictable patterns and although there is a much greater chance of the exercise ending in an image that is far from perfect it is a route to discovering new techniques and allowing pursuit of different  ideas.

The most difficult thing of course is allowing ourselves to have this time to be playful rather than pursuing a direct course to being predictably productive.  The process of discovery through playfulness allows us to develop our practice further rather than stagnating and ultimately becoming bored with what we do.

Yesterday I allowed myself time to play; above is a print of my son’s drawing of an eagle which I transferred onto mdf board alongside is a print of my photo a well known local tree.  I tried putting gold leaf on some buttons as a addition and sprayed around the board with gold laquer.  Who knows where I will go with this, but my nominated play-day is over and now I must get back to work!

 

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Sedna in Animal #Mythology

Stories and Mythology in my artwork

Sedna is mythological figure, a Goddess of the sea for the people of the arctic.

The Myth of Sedna

The young girl Sedna was tricked into marrying Raven, and later when her father tried to rescue her by kayak a raging storm brew and her father threw Sedna in to the sea in order to save himself. Her hands clung to the side of the boat and he beat them until her cold and frozen fingers fell into the sea and became sea mammals. Sedna sank under the sea and was transformed into a sea goddess, able to conjure up storms with her rage whereupon shaman must swim down to calm her by combing her hair.

The Innuits survival is dependant upon the success of their hunting animals.  From this is derived a great respect for the animal kingdom.  Part of the myth is that Sedna holds onto the animals if she is displeased with the people ( so that they will not be successful in hunting them)  and untangling her hair is part of the process of calming her.

From this story I created my image of Sedna with fishes swimming amongst her tresses of red hair, she is looking up to the light of the sky on the surface of the water.   The image at the bottom is a painting done some time later showing Sedna sleeping with three seals.

These three paintings on the left seen below featuring Sedna  are for sale in Studio 71 in Totnes.

Studio no 71 Totnes display of mythological Sedna Artwork by artist Diane Young


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Commission

This weekend my focus is on painting a commission.  I am concentrating on this whilst dealing with an ear worm, an expression which does make me squirm somewhat.  I have been listening to the line about not messing with Major Tom from Bowie’s Ashes to Ashes track for several days now.  The painting is going well despite the interference! To my glee there is in fact a true story to this commission about a dog arriving at a castle one night at Christmas.

Below is cropped section of a painting which I did some years ago when I was putting together a children’s picture book idea.  I dug it out of my folder as like my current commission it is a night time scene.  This image was for a story about a jealous kingfisher who steals a peacock’s tail feathers whilst the peacock is sleeping.

I love storytelling whilst painting, whether it be a fully formed story or presenting narrative for possibilities that the imagination can cast from before or after the moment in the painting itself.  Here is a visual excerpt from the Tiny Tale Of Kingfisher.

Childrens books painting by artist Diane Young


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Dog portrait slightly undercooked

You might be asking yourself what has cooking got to do with art?

Paintings can so easily have a little too much time on them becoming overworked and a little laboured. I thought a good analogy might be the outcome of cooking a Victoria Sponge cake .

If you slightly over cook  one of these cakes it smells slightly over-cooked when it comes out of the  oven, it is slightly over-coloured with a bit of a crisp edge on the outside  edges and it loses some of its subtle cakey fragrance to a more caramelised finish (to be polite). But if you slightly undercook it,  it will be moist and tasty, has a full buttery flavour,  and on the downside it might lack a little colour.  Which is best?  Definitely the latter for the tastiest cake.

Catching the cake at it’s optimum moment is possible with practice but there is little variation from one cake to the next so eventually a plan for timing and temperature will make it perfect.  Obviously this is very different to the variations that are possible from one painting to the next.  But the idea of relating over-cooking and under-cooking a sponge cake to painting is purely for the reason that stopping a  bit before the optimum moment will allow a painting to look more vibrant, spontaneous, and more intuitive rather than laboured and probably a bit muddied.   It might not be perfect but it is likely to be a better finish.  Just like the cake.

Trying to under-worA  painting of a dog portrait by artist Diane Youngk  a painting is soooooo hard by comparison to overworking. Over-cooking or overworking it is easy.  It is easy for me to see bits of my paintings that might be improved and therefore I could keep picking at it. So today I am trying very hard to  not do any more to this painting of a Springer Spaniel.

What could be done to try to prevent getting to the over-painting stage? I wonder if in the back of my mind I think people who look at this picture might find fault for me not “tidying ” everything up,  and somehow I have to let go of this idea at an opportune moment.  Perhaps the questions I should be asking myself are:  How happy am I about the painting?  Can I get away with finishing it at this moment?

I am tempted to keep going on this painting, but I think I might get away with stopping right now. So hands off,  let’s clean the brushes and here is Fred smiling.