To those of you who are on my ‘Latest’ e-mail list (You know who you are) please e-mail me. I have recently replaced my desktop computer and I have lost some of my contact information.
For the most part I don’t like my work. I don’t dislike it either and I certainly enjoy painting it but the final result does little for me. It’s interesting that I don’t appreciate my paintings until months after I’ve finished them. I consider them finished when I can no longer think of any more work to do on them, so I put them away and stop thinking about them. In my house this means they go into the attic. When I look at them months later my impression can go one of two ways: either I see only the mistakes and things I should have done, or they start to look real.
The reality illusion is interesting because I don’t know exactly what causes it. It can appear very early or when the painting is nearly finished. At first, I thought it was caused by detail, but that’s not it because I can add an outrageous amount of detail and the reality illusion might not appear. However sometimes, I’ve done very little work and if I walk away to make tea; the reality illusion can be in full swing when I get back. The reality illusion is exactly that; an illusion. I’ve come up with various theories about what causes it but really I just don’t know. Curiously other artists don’t talk about what I mean when I say reality illusion. I don’t know if this means they don’t see or experience it with their own art or just don’t see it in others paintings. Robert Bateman is one of the few artists who’s work exhibits the reality illusion to me, John Singer Sargent is another. Although both show a tremendous amount of detail in their style, on close examination their brush strokes look more impressionistic. I’m constantly trying to do the same and generally failing, but it’s fun trying.
So I appreciate my work when it’s done and perhaps exhibiting my idea of the reality illusion. I’m not in a position to sell my work but I enjoy working on my Website. I am absolutely amazed that I enjoy writing a Blog!
I never would have believed that I would be writing a Blog. I recommend it to those of you out there who are looking for ways to share your art or just to become more aware of why you do it. I can’t say that the Blog has increased my Website traffic but I can say that I don’t care; I think more about what and how I paint and the result is better paintings. I didn’t expect to enjoy writing a Blog since the only time I did any significant writing was for University and I certainly didn’t enjoy it then. I paint for myself, I enjoy it and it keeps me busy and one of the benefits of writing about painting is that it keeps me in focus, I think about it more than I used to and I believe that makes me a better artist.
Someone asked me recently what has changed for me since I started Blogging. I wake up thinking about painting and answers to problems I am having magically appear, often in the middle of the night. Waking up is often a Eureka Moment.
At one time I had several canvases on the go at once and I could choose which I wanted to work on. Now I only have one in process and it’s on my easel. With oils it was necessary to have more than one canvas in process because oils dry so slowly but with acrylics it’s the opposite. I find it easy to become blocked regardless of the medium because some small aspect of the painting starts to cause me trouble and I obsess about it, however with acrylics it’s easy to just paint over the area and start again. With acrylics I agonise over every little thing and often re-paint areas but with oils I had to put the canvas aside and wait for the paint to dry. This was somewhat of an advantage because looking at the painting again after it had sat for a couple of weeks, something that needed work would usually jump out at me. I could do the same with acrylics but every time I stand up the paint is dry and calling for work.
The two mediums sound very similar and in some ways they are, however in other ways they are very different; acrylics don’t smell. I love the way turpentine used to smell but the newer process has changed that, so now I don’t like the odour at all. If the turpentine process had not changed I would still be using oils, but having said that I’m very happy with the newer pigments so I’m happy to have changed to acrylics.
One of the huge advantages to art and painting is it allows for easy presents. It’s not that the presents are valueless; most people value them highly but they can be so easy to do, they also allow for experimentation and the opportunity to try new things. Sometimes I don’t try anything new because I’m not sure how to go about it or how it will turn out; not that I have a great deal invested in any one painting but there is still the cost of the painting panel and paint.
Presents are different. This is a 4” x 4” canvas and I bought it with the idea that I would produce less costly animal portraits using it. I’ve since decided that I won’t be doing this because the canvas is just too small. At some point I may give it another try but my painting style needs more space. It was fun regardless and family will appreciate a small gift that I can produce quickly. I worked on this for a couple of hours. I experimented a little so it was certainly worth doing.
I did this as a Valentines present for my wife along with chocolates. It has been our agreement that all of my paintings are hers and she puts up any that she likes. At one time my paintings were my mother’s and she was a little choked when I moved out. I impart very little value to my paintings; I simply enjoy painting them.
My oldest daughter paints greeting cards for friends and family and my family love them. My wife and I have the ones she has given us on top of a cabinet in our front room. She does many more small works and sells a great deal more than I do.
I don’t usually sketch, I just start painting. I think I’ve always done this but sometimes I’ve found it necessary to do a couple of preliminary sketches in pencil just to solidify the layout. I’ve done some pen and ink drawings but the necessary sketching and subsequent tracing was tedious at best. I like being able to just load my brush and start painting. Although I’ve occasionally sketched onto the canvas I don’t find that it adds anything that I can’t do with a few quick brush strokes. I’ve often found that these quick strokes need to be corrected but it’s easier with paint than pencil so I just start painting.
I recently finished my latest art book. I’m a graphic designer and have put together a number of books, so to keep busy while the paint is drying I have been putting together books. It’s incredibly easy on the computer since I don’t need any other equipment or space. So no mallets, book blocks, glue, saws or knives. I have put together several physical books and I enjoy doing it, I am planning to get or make a book sewing jig; but none of these tools are required to make the file that could be sent to an offset press.
These books are FREE and available in PDF. I could have put them in one of many other e-book formats but PDF seemed the most useful. I have the ability to use many different formats except some of the exclusive ones like Kindle. Even though I can’t save a book to some of the proprietary formats there are applications (usually free) that will, but the PDF standard appears to be the most universally used and can easily be viewed on your computer which allows images to be seen in colour. Sorry, those of you who like to view things on your phone might be a little out of luck.
Portraits are one of the things I wanted to do most with painting; unfortunately they were the most difficult. I discovered that doing a portrait of someone I knew was almost impossible, however if I didn’t know them it was usually relatively successful. I didn’t twig on this immediately and as a result I had my share of failures. Now after 50 years I’m trying it again and it’s going relatively well.
I’m approaching portraiture differently this time. I print out an image of the subjects face at about the correct size, then tape it to my painting surface and proceed to paint the image onto the painting using the printed image as a guide. This initially strikes me as a cheat but if that’s what it takes to get a likeness then I will do what it takes. I’m using dividers to take measurements off the printout and transferring them directly to the painting surface. Once I have a likeness, or something close, I can select other areas of the painting to work on.
I gesso all of my painting panels for a number of reasons: It seals the panel that I’m painting on, it smooths the surface, paint applies better over gesso, and paint colours are enhanced and easer to achieve. Applying gesso is annoying. Gesso is usually thin so you can pour it over the painting surface and spread it with a large taping knife or trowel which makes the surface quite flat and smooth. This works great except that there will be drips, which can be problematic depending on the floor surface. I’ve finally ended up applying the gesso thinly by brush.
I play with the idea of adding colour to the gesso but I usually add a colour wash to the panels after I’m finished with gesso. I’m rarely sure of the colour so I usually don’t bother adding it to the gesso, instead I use a colour wash over the entire surface. Many artists apply the gesso with some surface texture. Sometimes it just looks layered but I would be afraid that would change the look of the painting. On the examples I’ve seen it adds to the painting, not detract from it. I’m thinking that I should try it; I might like it.
I don’t think I’ll add as much texture as this but it’s still interesting and it would eliminate how much time it takes to brush on a thin coat. It certainly wouldn’t be boring.
I promised everyone an update on the Website. There was a small up-tick in traffic immediately after the ask but it’s back to normal again. I’m not really disappointed because I didn’t think it would make a huge difference.