Trying to Paint Faith and Love

I’ve had this idea growing in me for a while now to paint something which relates to my faith.  I know that many people don’t share this, some have different religions and others don’t believe in any religion at all.  However my faith, Christianity, means a lot to me.  So I want to paint something which carries something of that love in it.


I began over the last week by doing some sketches…


…I started off looking at more abstract ideas (below), but although I could have fun with the painting side of this – I love painting simple shapes in vibrant colours – I wanted this work to have some love in it and I can’t see how the abstract shapes can hold that.





So I started trying to paint people which I find much more difficult to get right and be OK with.



This (above) was supposed to be a sketch of a servant finding the water had turned into wine from one of the miracle stories in the Gospels, but it still doesn’t work for me becuase Jesus isn’t there.


(Oddly, another difficulty I have with this project is that I’m not comfortable painting the face of Jesus.  I don’t know why, but it feels kind of wrong to me to do that.  So I began to look for physical positions Jesus could be in which might hide his face.)





I thought of the time when Jesus wrote in the dust when poeople were trying to stone a woman to death for adultery.  This felt better, but writing in the sand doesn’t show love, although there was a lot of love in the actual situation.

Then finally I got to this kind of scene:



It still needs some work to get the body positions quite right and a feeling of weight and naturalness in the limbs but I think this is the scene I’m going to paint.  Inadvertantly I also got an idea for the background of this painting.  This sketch was one of many on the same piece of paper.  I used photoshop to , rather inexpertly, block out the other sketches which left kind of low contrast shaded rectangles in the background.  I like it and I’m going to use that idea in the actual painting.


So my next job is going to be to sketch this out more carefully and play around with it until I feel that the drawing is how I really want it.  Then I’m going to do a painting sketch in gouache.


After that, I want to buy a canvas and paint it big in acrylic or oil (probably acrylics with strong retardents so I can take my time with the blending without the expense of lots of oil paint.)

Hmmm, quite exciting.




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.

So what now?

In the last week I’ve reviewed four books – a general painting book, a watercolour book, an acrylic painting book and an oil painting book.  Some have been better than others for a whole variety of reasons.  Of the four I’m going to spend time working with three of them over the next 6 months.  But more than learning about how to paint in various ways though I also learned about what different mediums are particularly good for.  For instance the abstract, geometric, very brightly coloured acylic painting I used to do was perfect for acrylics.

Jo Fox Contemporary Acrylics
Jo Fox Contemporary Acrylics

Now although I don’t know for sure because I’m not an oil painter,  my feeling is that oil painting is perfect for portraits.  There’s a luminous warmth to the way oil paint can be used which I’ve never seen in another medium and this seems perfect for drawing living human beings.  Then there’s watercolour which, in our watery world, is capable of drawing sky and weather and land in ways which I don’t think other mediums can match.  All of these things said, each medium can do much much  more than I’ve suggested.  There are beautiful watercolour portraits and wonderful oil or acrylic landscapes.  So this brings me to a central question.  What do I want to do now and in what medium?

(1) I was planning to spend some time working in acrylic again, trying to develop a more formal and rigorous technique.  But the Acrylics book I bought wasn’t very good for that type of learning and I don’t know how to go on from here without any teaching.  So I’m going keep the acrylics for more abstract and surreal type painting where there are clear sections of bright, graded colour.  F0r example I might redo this painting in acrylics but grade each section of the landscape gently from one colour to another (with corresponding changes in tone too).


I think this would work really well in acrylics and I could make the hills look much more three dimensional in interesting ways.   It might be fun.  But I won’t be concentrating on acrylic work.

(2) I definitely want to continue with watercolour.  It’s medium I found frustratingly, throw-it-out-the-window-in-disgust, difficult at first but now I am beginning to really love.  So I am going to use the brilliant watercolour book I reviewed…


…to improve my technique, along with some excellent tutorials on You Tube.  I’m going to move from student paint (W&N Cotman Watercolours) which I’m using at the moment, to Artists quality paints (probably from the Winsor and Newton range again).  I’m also going to get a board and learn to stretch my paper do all the other proper things I’ve not really bothered with yet like using gouche white and masking fluid. Once I’ve got my basic skills working well I want to try a wider range of painting with watercolour – trying to use deeper colour, having a go at abstract work and trying to make really accurate biological paintings which look photo-realistic.  I feel quite excited just thinking about it!

(3) At some point, probably later next year, I also want to have a go at oil painting.  I’ll need to get some second hand materials as the old ones I was using were lost when I last moved house.  (They went into the loft and never came out again – honestly, lofts are like the Burmuda Triangle where I’m concerned!)

I’m also going to be moving house in the next few months which will also be exciting and challenging.  Once I’m settled I want to think about exhibiting my work for the first time and maybe selling it.

So lots of exciting things to come!  🙂


Acrylic Painting: Expert Answers – BOOK TRIAL #3

Today I’m looking at another painting book:  “Acrylic Painting: Expert answers to the questions every artist asks”.  I’ve been waiting for this book to arrive and then when it finally did I just read and read!

Acrylic Expert Answer

The first two chapters of the book were really and overview of acrylic paint with lots of details on how the paint is made.  While this was really quite interesting, it’s wasn’t exactly what I was looking for.

The next four chapters were all about materials.  It was mostly fairly useful information but again wasn’t what I wanted from the book.  I wanted to learn techniques and methods which would improve my acrylic painting.  (Now, every ‘how to’ type art book I’ve ever read has a chapter on materials –  which is good. But this one has four and my feeling is that that is too much.)

Then, at last, at Chapter 7 (on page 106 which is half way through the book!) the book began to talk about acrylic technique.  However this was quite a let down too as the explainations were not brilliantly written and the pictures alongside them didn’t really show what was going on.  On top of that there was actually very, very little in the way of proper basic acylic technique there to read and even that degenerated into a set of odd experimental-type techniques which don’t really help me with becoming a good serious acrylic artist at all as far as I can see.  The next chapter was about combining acrylics with other media, then there was a chapter on colour theory. Finally the book ended with a chapter on developing your own style.

Personally I found this book to be a bit of a waste of time and money.  The Watercolour version of the same series was EXCELLENT with more techniques and information about actually painting seriously in watercolour than any other book I’ve found.  This book was the opposite – it seemed to me to be all filler and almost no actual helpful information at all.  It would make a good book on acrylic materials, or a book on the background to acrylic painting, but as a book giving answer to artists about acrylic painting I think it did quite poorly, which is a shame.

I am wanting to move on with my acrylic painting at the moment – to really develop it and become a good painter in this medium, but this book puts me off altogether.  It’s almost as if acrylics are just something to experiement with and play around with.  I’m sure that can’t be true.  I’ve seen some truly wonderful acrylic work out there and the paints themselves are so bright and vibrant.

Just look at some of the amazing paintings on this webpage at  E Art Ekstraxx

Here are a couple of the images linked from that site (please note the following beautiful images are NOT my work):

I think acrylic can be an amazing medium if done properly.  If anyone reading this knows of a  good acrylic technique book I would really love to hear from you in the comments!

(If you can’t find the comments, click on the title of this post to go to the post’s individual page and then scroll down to the bottom – the box should be there.)    🙂

A Golden Barn Owl

Having played around with a barn owl pastel drawing yesterday my dreams were full of owls. (It didn’t help that I was listening to the audiobook of J. Rowling’s ‘Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire’ before going to sleep and Ron’s tiny owl ‘Pig’ was buzzing around the main characters like crazy.)  In the dream I painted a beautiful Barn Owl in acrylics using just blues and browns with some gold highlights.  Although this post is getting published on a Friday I tend to work a few days ahead of my blogs so for me it’s Saturday.   I don’t normally paint on Saturdays but  I really wanted to have a quick go at the picture in my mind before it disappeared.  So I made a sketch:


And then decided to paint it in watercolour because that’s much quicker and easier than acrylics (less cleaning up).  However, in the dream I used gold highlights and I only have gold paint in acrylic – so, for the first time, I made a painting using two types of paint – watercolour and acrylic.  This is the gold plaint I used:

gold paint

And this is the way it shines when the light hits it:


Here is the final painting:


Dawn in the Meadow – Acrylic on Watercolour Paper

Last night I saw a brilliant speed painting on YouTube.  It’s by a super artist who’s channel is  StudioSilverCreek .  There’s lots of lovely painting to watch there.  Here’s the video I watched:

I didn’t know you could paint with Acrylics on watercolour paper so I thought I’d give it a go. Initially my plan was to work on a study of the original painting by StudioSilverCreek – just to see if I could make it work.

So I began the same way:




But as I thought about drawing the person going fishing (as seen in the original) I decided to make some changes.  Instead I drew two sillouettes – one of a bird and one of a person kneeling in the meadow.  I got both the bird and the person to look at the same place and then drew a small flower there as the primary focus for the painting.  I’m quite pleased with how it worked out.  The watercolour paper was OK.  At first I had some difficulties with bits of paper rubbing off but I was using a decorating brush at the time – it might be a bit harsh!  🙂  After the first layer or two were dry though the surface improved and was absolutely fine.

Here’s the finished painting:


Credit to StudioSilverCreek for this study, as I was learning from her work.  🙂