Spring Painting

I’ve started going to two art classes a week recently – painting and life drawing. My teacher is retiring at the end of the year, so I’m absorbing as much of her wisdom as possible. Fortunately, her niece will be taking over the class next year. Annie has been working alongside Carol for the last few months, so she will be familiar with all the students once she goes it alone. Her teaching style is bound to be different, but we get along well so I’m looking forward to working with her.

I finished Jane’s portrait a month or so back.

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Though I did a photo shoot with a writer friend, the only photos that came out well were in a pose too close to a previous portrait. So I revisited him and did another shoot, and came up with two more choices. Here it is with underpainting and one session of oils applied:

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Because I had to do a second shoot, I had one class with no portrait ready to start on. So I stole some photos of cats from friends’ Facebook feed and painted a mini portraits on a 10cm x 10cm canvas. I did one of Peri Peri years ago. They’re fun and quick to paint, and I’d like to do a whole lot more of them.

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On the Face of It

It’s been ages since I posted about the portraits I do. Well, it’s been ages since I finished one! Now I’ve finally got something to show off:

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I’ve really enjoyed this portrait, but it’s been a slow one. I started it in September. Art classes end at the start of November and resume in March, and though I did manage a few painting sessions during the break I didn’t like what I’d done and painted over it later.

My previous aims to speed up and get four portraits done a year are long abandoned. If a painting needs more time I have no choice but to give it more. And I’d rather take the time to do a good job.

Rachel, Alan & Jason

I had hopes of finishing four portraits this year, but the last six months were so hectic I only got one done, making it a total of three for the year. That was especially frustrating as by mid-year I felt I was starting to get a hang of painting with a spatula.

Rachel
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Jason
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Alan
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Maybe next year I’ll bump it up to four. I’ve just started the next one, and I have a few people lined up who are keen to pose for me.

Rachel’s Portrait

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I thought I’d finished Rachel’s portrait a month or so ago, but after looking at it for a week I decided to do some tweaking. Mostly adding reflected colour to the balloons. Only then was I happy to sign it and call it ‘done’. Today I delivered it to Rachel, who now has to find a wall space large enough for it.

It was a fun portrait to do. Bright and cheerful, and a nice contrast to Jason’s portrait, which is all dark and moody. Doing two portraits at the same time has worked well for me, even though I usually only work on one at each class. I’ve started to take for granted that I know how the paint will go on using the spatula this way or that, and how far I can push the paint around before it muddies, though I still stuff up regularly. Thankfully oils are very forgiving.

Jason’s portrait is close to done. Another session, I hope. Last week I also did the underpainting for the next one:

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Works in Progress, or Not

As I mentioned in the last post, I’ve finished Rachel’s portrait. Well, mostly. There are some tweaks I want to make, now I’ve had time to examine it critically. I’d be doing them this morning, if I wasn’t in the goopy, vertigo-ey, exhausting phase of a head cold, and not wanting to spread it around.

Jason’s has a session or two to go:

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I’ve started stitching on one of the garments I wanted to embellish. After a few false starts, I settled on purple and mauve flowers with green branches winding between them.

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I started the eye:

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The leno scarf isn’t finished because I’m holding off working on it. I want to show it to the weaving group:

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The Double Trouble baby blankets are going slowly.

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The art necklace… what necklace?

Portrait Update

Both of the portraits have progressed since I last blogged about them two months ago:

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I’m not avoiding Jason’s face and hands, I just love painting clothing too much. And it amuses me that, with the underpainting showing, it looks like I’m painting a green man.

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I’d worked on Rachel’s face three times at this point and there’s still some work to do. Her eyes are more open on the reference, for a start. Her lips need refining. The balloons will get more tweaking, too. They’re still a bit flat, texturally.

Portrait Progress: Rachael & Jason

Last year I painted two portraits. I remember thinking that I might get one done per month, apart from the month I went overseas and December. Well, that proved a little optimistic. Still, I would like to get more than two done a year.

This year I’m aiming to have two going at the same time and get four done in a year. So I’m staying at art classes for the full day, not just the morning. I rarely managed to get any writing done on the afternoon of a painting day last year, so I may as well keep painting. But in case I get sick of working on one portrait all day, I have another on hand to switch to.

At our New Year party I asked around and found a willing victim: Rachael. I told her to think about where she’d like to be in her portrait. A few days later I tweeted about having a bath full of balloons leftover from the party, and she tweeted back that this would be an awesome setting. So we had a photo shoot:

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After considering a close up of her face surrounded by balloons, or a painting that showed she was in a bath full of balloons, I went for the latter. The smaller the head is the harder it is to get detail in, so I chose a large canvas. After sketching in the details in red I decided to paint the sides and bath silver then, like in Cat’s portrait, leave some of this underpainting showing. Here’s an early shot:

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The next week I worked on balloons:

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Having done two portraits of women and starting another, I wanted a male subject for the second one. Jason, a horror writer friend, was up for it. He chose the Polly Cocktail Lounge in Fitzroy, with its furnishing in rich colours and boudoir-like atmosphere.

I chose a smaller canvas than I did for Rachael’s portrait and underpainted with gold and green (the green is looking rather blue here):

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Then I got stuck into the clothing. I so love painting clothing:

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It would be great if I had these finished by the middle of the year. Which means I should start thinking about arranging photos shoots for two new subjects for the second half. I have one willing male subject from NSW that I have to arrange a photo shoot with, and a female one who put her hand up last time I asked around, so I’ll have to see if I can make those happen.

Happy Camper

Last weekend we went camping. Since I’m supposed to stay off my feet for six months or more, when everyone went walking on the Saturday I stayed in the camp site. But that was fine with me, because a hundred metres or so away were some impressive views. I took my homemade ponchard box and did two paintings, one in the morning, the other in the afternoon.

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While having lunch, I spotted a goanna snooping around the edges of the camp site.

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I took a lot of pics, but the goanna managed to hide behind things most of the time. Later, while I was sitting quietly reading and having a cuppa, I had company again. I stayed put, and to my amazement he/she came right up to my chair. I had my iPhone on me, so I took a video, but my attempts to embed it on this page haven’t worked, unfortunately.

The walkers came back a few minutes later, and with some frantic signalling I got them to approach quietly so as to not frighten off the goanna. Much snapping of photos followed – probably much better ones than I took with my iPhone.

On the way to and from the campsite we drove past a lot of bushfire damage:

Along country roads:
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A plantation:
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Even along the main highway:
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And the coal mine was still alight:
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Japanese Ink Painting

A long time ago I read a book about Sumi-e – Japanese Ink Painting – and wanted to try it. I’m not sure why I didn’t. Possibly I had no idea where to get the tools from. After seeing some calligraphy supply shops in Tokyo I found myself thinking a little set or kit would be a fantastic souvenir. Something I could use later.

So when I found this little miniature calligraphy set in a temple souvenir shop I had to have it. There was an even smaller one that I lusted after, but this one has a tiny water dropper and the pretty box. (I have to admit, I was tempted to buy both.)

After watching an instructional YouTube video, I gave it a go while watching tv one night. I chose a subject sitting right in front of me.

I used a little scrap of thick watercolour paper. Now I’m thinking a little poem or quote about a cat might make this a lovely bookmark.