A limited Palette…For Clothes and Paint

Well, I wasn’t planning on painting a great deal before I move house but I got to thinking about the colours of clothes and this eventually led to a painting.

Because of the autism I suspect, I hate clothes shopping, and at the same time I can’t wear clothes that don’t match properly colour-wise – it makes me feel sick.  Plus clothes have to be comfortable for me and a bit big so they’re not tight.  Basically I’ve not bought any new clothes for ages and my sturdy breathable waterproof jacket is getting harder to do up since the zip is breaking.  Now last time I bought a new anorak I couldn’t choose the colour because of the stock they had available and I ended up with this horrible bright pink – yuck!  I have struggled with it for two years now.   So I decided this time that, no matter how much I hate clothes shopping, I would not buy something I wasn’t happy with.  I ended up going for a nice navy blue breathable waterproof with a fleece inside.  The main colour is navy blue with some small bits of orange.

It looks like this:



Then after ordering this online I thought about all the other clothes I need to buy and  I decided that I would use a technique I’ve used previously, when I was first teaching.  I was working in a Catholic primary school and I had to look smart, but my pay was very very low so I had to do it on a budget.  I decide to opt for clothes all following the same colour scheme – that way, everything I owned would go well, colour-wise, with everything else.  I chose browns and creams at the time and it worked really well.  Plus I always secretly felt like a Jedi which was very useful in the classroom LOL!!!!  (Although I never told the children or staff about this ).  Now I currently wear a lot of jeans becuase they’re hard wearing, paint washes out quite well and I like blue.  Anyway, eventually I came up with a limited palette which I like for all new clothes I’m going to buy for the next few years.  First of all I was going to just paint patches of each colour just to see what it all looked like but then I drew out a simple pattern and made an abstract painting with the colours.  It was a  real blessing to work in abstract again – I love clear lines and shapes – so this project was fun.

When I’d finished it looked a bit dull so I got out some acrylic gold metallic paint and added some of that:

painting on the gold

And here’s my finished colour scheme painted in abstract:


It’s painted in gouache with some gold acrylic on top using cold pressed watercolour paper.

Grisaille Underpainting of a Chameleon

I decided with this Chameleon picture to use a grisaille underpainting technique.  This basically means I paint the shadows on first in whatever my chosen shadow colour is.  Since my chameleon is going to be green with yellow and cyan I thought a dark greenish/blue /grey would be good.  I also underpainted the branch she is sitting on but since this will be painted in warmer browns and used a dark brown underpaint colour for this bit.


It was really fun to use the gouache paint like this.  When I use it thin enough it behaves exactly like a watercolour which gives lots of nice effects.  Sadly I’ll lose most of those when I paint the main colour on top but it’s nice to see them and experience them as I can use the same technique again another time on another painting.

My set up for painting has pretty much settled down now into a standard workspace.  It looks like this:



Note the emergency Oreos – essential kit for painting.  I wonder if the Mona Lisa would have had a proper smile on her face if Leonardo Da Vinci had had a pack?  Maybe that’s why her smile is supposed to be a bit odd – maybe he only had boring biscuits.

I’ve left the picture taped down to my drawing board becuase I’m going to carry on and do the overpainting when I next get a chance (I’m still not physically very well).  So here’s a photo of it on the board:



And here’s a close up:


New Project – Chameleons

Initially I trained as a biologist, mainly because I find living creatures astoudingly beautiful.  One of the world’s livings things which I’m really fascinated with at the moment is the chameleon.  They are amazing looking animals and can be so colourful.

Here are some photographs I found on the internet.  (NB.  None of these are my photographs – I have tracked down original photographers or linked to original images where it’s been possible.)

Here’s a  baby:


Baby Chameleon by Chris Miller

This is by Paul Bratescu from Flicker:


And here’s a really colourful one.  I couldn’t track down the author of this.


So I began with some sketches…


With this one I was kind of getting warmed up  to my subject.  I had only looked properly (with artist’s eyes) at a few chameleons when I sketched this.  I think it makes a real difference how well you know what you’re drawing.



Then I spent some more time looking at chameleons, especially looking at video because I think it really helps to understand how these creatures move and how their bodies fit together to draw them properly.

My next sketch was much better:


So in the next few days I’m going to transfer the sketch to watercolour paper and have a go at painting this little lady (I think it’s female veiled chameleon).



I have a friend who’s recently had to rehome her dog for health reasons.  She loved him to bits and taught him a lot about how to be a really good boy.  He’s now gone to another family and is very happy but this has left my friend feeling understandably really very sad.  So I offerred to paint her a picture of him, as a gift.  She sent me some photos by email and I had a  go.


This was my first sketch of him:



Then I had a go in watercolour.  I sholuld have gone straight for gouache but I was still feeling a bit unwell and I thought watercolour would be quicker if I could make it work…


Well, it turns out I couldn’t make it work.  🙂  Somehow, although my sketch was ok during the process of painting I lost something of how this little fella really looks.  I guess the painting looks something like a dog, but it’s not Buddy.  So I had another go.  This time I used gouache as my medium.  I laid down an undercolour which was a kind of average colour of Buddy’s coat and then layered it with all the colours I could see in him.

This is how it turned out:


Now although this picture’s not perfect it does have a certain “Buddy-ness” to it, which is the most important thing.  It’s the look he has when he’s concentrating on a treat which is being offerred to him.  I hope my friend will like it.  I mounted it and I will give it to her on Sunday if I am well enough for church.

(I’m still not great – I have had what the nurse thinks was chicken pox but I’ve had chicken pox three times before this time so I’m not sure of the diagnosis.  They said that they thought my immune system was just a bit low and my ability to fight this particular illness might be less than normal.  To be fair to them I did have a rash which looked a lot like chicken pox and the timings seemed to fit with that idea.  Anyway, I’m on the mend now I think although I’m still feel a bit unwell – with a headache and sore-throat.  I wonder if it’s some kind of virus.)

Here’s the final package all wrapped up and ready to go:

painting ready for my friend