Up on the Moors

Very sadly, a couple of weeks ago my father in law passed away. He had been ill but we were hoping for another year with him. In many ways it released him from pain and suffering which is good, but I just miss him, a lot.

He was a good, good man and would do anything for his family.

Since this happened I haven’t been able to paint. The creative place where my pictures come from is just silent at the moment. I’ve let this blog just roll through the schedule I had already prepared and uploaded. But now I have run out.

I am planning to paint a portrait of Jim for his wife in oils or acrylics once I’m able. I think oils would be better but they will take so long to dry, so I’m going to try using acrylics in a similar way to painting alla prima with oils and I’m going to use a retarder to give me more time to blend.

Today I had a go at a simple digital painting despite the silence inside. Although I didn’t plan it, it does reflect some of the saddness I feel about losing Jim and seeing his wife Jane so sad at his loss.

Here are some screen shots of how the painting went…

I completed the painting in Photoshop. I adjusted the levels and added a border. Here’s the finished picture…

Heavy Seas Off Brixham – Digital Painting

This week’s painting is a digital drawing of a small fishing boat caught in a very heavy sea. I decided that the boat would be from Brixham because my first new friend at University when I was 18 was a young man from that part of the country. He was reading Computer Sciences and I was was reading Natural Sciences. To this day I can’t read the name “Brixham” without hearing it in his accent! 😊

Here are some process images I made as I drew the boat…

Once I had my boat drawn I moved it to a jaunty angle…

…then added some big waves behind her…

Next I added big waves in front of her…

To finish it off I added some sea foam coming of the bow, a rather stoic Brixham fisherman in the wheelhouse and some threatening looking skies…

To get it ready for publicaiton I ported the image into Photoshop, made some final changes to the levels and added a border. Here is the final picture…

Looking at this image, I wonder what it would turn out like if I were to play around rather wildly with some ink, then draw on a small fishingboat and then add more ink on top? It could be a disaster (for the carpet around my dining table, as well as for the drawing)! Or it could be quite interesting. Do I have the courage to try it?

Maybe!

😎

A Short Digital Light Exercise

This week’s art is a digital lighting exercise. The aim was to try to find a way to show light reflecting off a wet surface in a really simple way. I gave myself 30 minutes for this exercise and no reference materials just to see what I could come up with from imagination alone.

I decided to draw a city scene at night in the rain. Here’s the sketch I began with…

Once I had my basic drawing mapped out I painted in the colour from the back of the scene to the front. Like this…

Once I had all of my colour in I pulled the image into Photoshop. Then I added some rain in blues and yellows and reworked my tonal values to produce my final image…

The drawing and painting did take half an hour and then I spent another 10 minutes or so playing about in Photoshop after that.

I was pleased with the way the light shone through the material of the lady’s umbrella and the relative brightness of the street lamps. I would have like to do something more for the headlights of the car but without reference I could’t work out how that would look. At the time I gave myself an excuse that the lights were nearly head-on and dipped for in-town driving so I didn’t have to do much, but thinking about it now, just putting some light in front of teh car ont eh road would have helped.

🙂

Simple Tree Tattoo

This week I designed a tattoo. I’ve made a couple of attempts to design this tattoo before but both times the design was too complex and would need to be larger than I could handle in terms of having the work done. This design was made to be kept small (about 7 cms in diameter) which is manageable.

I did the design work digitally and began with a very basic shape…

Then using this as a guide I roughed in some basic branches…

Taking away the original rough guide, it looked like this…

Next I filled in my basic branches and then reworked them a little…

My next job was to put in some leaves…

To do this I needed to reduce the length of many of my branches. I used a simple rendering of light on the leaves. I imagined that the sun was setting just to the right of the trunk and kept the light section of each leaf towards that direction.

Finally, I wanted to give the viewer some idea of the texture of the trunk, but still keep things really simple. In the end I settled on this…

Here’s the finished design…

I think it will look good! I’ve found a really good tattooist to take this design forward and tattoo it for me. Now I just have to put down a deposit and then get an appointment!

Fantasy Harbour – Digital Colouring

This week I’ve been struggling with really bad pain.  So I took a sketch I drew about a year ago and coloured it digitally.

This is the original ink sketch…

 

Here is how I coloured it…

Some of the things I kept in mind in colouring this picture were:

  • The reflection of the sky in the river is less bright and less saturated than the actual sky.
  • Objects in the background are less saturated and slightly lighter than foreground objects.
  • The sun will tint objects which have direct light slightly yellow.
  • The sailcloth of the boat in the foreground will show some shadows from behind.
  • I also wanted to reduce my colour palette slightly to give the picture a particular feel.  (I avoided reds and only got near to red in my browns and yellows.
  • In terms of planning my colour I worked from background to foreground.  I prefer to do it this way as it works really well for traditional painting as well as in digital colouring.

Here’s the final picture…

Season’s Greetings!

 

Some Christmas Cards painted for this season…

 

The Winter Owl

The owl one was sketched in pencils and then inked with rapidograph pens on Bristol Board. After that I added some tone with Mars Lumograph pencils and scanned it into my computer.

This is the greyscale drawing…

 

Then I coloured it digitally.  This is my finished painting…

 

 

Shepherds

This was a more tradition Christmas card theme of the shepherds outside Bethlehem.  I started with a gouache background on Amazon shipping cardboard…

 

 

Then I inked on the drawing with a Sharpie. Next I painted in some hills and went over the drawing with black and then white gouache paint, giving me a final simple painting like this…

 

 

Once it was painted I cut it out and stuck it to a card using carpet tape.  I used this once years ago because I didn’t have any other double sided tape and it worked so brilliantly I’ve used it ever since.

 

Then it was finally ready to put in it’s envelope…

 

Later I decided I liked the border around the painting so I made a digital version too.  I like the idea that there’s an original painting on the first card but I also like that it’s my finished image how I wanted it on the second card.

 

I hope you all have a lovely Christmas holiday!

 

 

 

Designing A Celtic Tree Motif 1 of 2

Nature has always been really important to me. It’s why I read a mixture preclinical medicine and biology during my degree, why I paint and draw animals, plants and natural places so often, and where I go when I am in need of restoration. I wanted to design a piece of art which captured this feeling and could be used repeatedly in many places as an icon or symbol for these experiences.

I thought a tree would be the perfect subject for this particular project and I was drawn to the motif from many cultures of the “Tree of Life”. I love the way that a tree in this style is shown as part of a circle which links very much with the way nature comes and goes in cycles. I also love tree of life symbols which incorporate celtic knotwork into them. I have found it hard to discover the real history of this kind of knotwork as much of it has been repurposed as marketing for various modern jewllery and tattoo designs. Personally I see, in this pattern, ideas about interweaving the varied threads of life and mutual dependance among living organisms.

At first I began playing with this idea in my sketchbook…

…but soon moved across to a digital drawing board since I wanted a largely symmetrical design and could use the symmetry tool to design this really effectively. (This is a digital tool which will reproduce the mirror image of what you draw on the other side of a line of symmetry.)

I began, as always, thinking about the large shapes in my design…

Next I moved onto my own knotwork design. I alluded to this style rather than implented it more fully so that my tree still looked very tree-like but with strong overtones of knotwork in it. So each branch weaves through others but is only joined to them at the trunk. I planned the knotwork first using single lines so I could get a feel for the pattern that I wanted. I went through several iterations of this and finally found something I liked…

I really liked the way the top of the tree has a hint of a large lotus flower in the way the branches are placed.

Like this (in orange)…

Once I had a pattern that I liked I moved on to roughing in some branches and roots…

Once I removed my blue guidelines this looked like this…

My next stage was to redraw my line art neatly and put in a balanced set of crossovers in the knotwork effect. This is taken part way through when I had done a lot of the roots and was working on the branches…

Then I added some leaves, but this decentred the picture…

…so I got rid of my original outer circle and put in two new ones. My basic outline design was now finished…

From here I wanted to make two different pieces of art. The first was a gradient wash of watercolour in some iconically natural colours. The other was a detailed digital design possibly one in greyscale and one in colour. This week I’ll go over the watercolour work.

Watercolour

The first part of this painting was getting my digital design onto some watercolour paper.

I printed out the design on two sheets of A4, with just over half of the tree on each side. The using scissors and sellotape I made an A3 copy. Then I used an 8B pencil to rub all over the back of every line in my design. That done, I fixed it with masking tape to some A3 Watercolour paper and I was ready to transfer my image…

I went over the lines of my design with a hard pencil until I had redrawn the whole thing. Once I lifted up my copy paper I had a light imprint of my design to work with…

It had some darker bits where the pencil had bumped against the sellotape but it worked. I then went over this with a pencil and used a putty eraser to get rid of any rough work like this.

Finally I had my design on A3 watercolour paper!

My next job was to hash out how I wanted to do the colour. Here’s one of a few trials I made on copy paper to see what worked…

Eventually I decided on going from dark paynes grey with ultramarine, through a range of greens to a cadmium yellow deep at the tips of the leaves.

So I began to paint…

The painting was simple but demanding in the sense that mistakes couldn’t be rectified. It gave me a lovely period of intense concentration and then it was finished…

I am fairly pleased with how it turned out. I like the colour changes and the patterns and lines. If I had to pick something to work on I would paint the wash differently. Normally I paint a wash wet in wet and the watercolour almost takes care of itself. With this, because the lines were so thin and I wanted some really intense colour, I painted it wet on dry and just tried to move fast enough to mix the colours on the paper. I think taking my time and doing a few layers to build up the colour wet in wet might have given me a better result (although the final painting looks much smoother and more consistent than the photograph above).

Next week I’m going to take the outline I designed and use it to make a textured digital symbol in grey scale and in colour.

Digital Painting – Chameleon

For the last few years I have asked my son for feedback on my art. Basically I show him the picture and ask him to guess what my subject was. If he can guess it correctly I count it as a good’un. But I want to move further on and deeper into my studies, so I’m going to try setting myself objectives as I draw and paint, more than just the simple realism-based aims I usually work on.

  1. I want to think harder about my use of colour. Specifically for this week’s work I want to try using a classic 90% : 10% ratio of complementary colours (green : red) and I want to avoid over-saturating my work. (Colour is like a drug to me, but I frequently enjoy paintings with more subtle colour, so I want to have a try at painting more like that.)
  2. Secondly I want to be able to paint more confidently. So this week I’m going to use the freedom of being able to digitally jump back a few steps to particularly focus on the work I do after the blocking in. I often find the gap between the image of the finished painting in my mind and my blocked-in beginning to be quite daunting. I know what to do next at that stage; I just find it hard to push through and do it. I think lots of practise will help.
  3. I want to change up my constant attempts at realism for a range of different approaches. I really enjoy the art of a French Painter called Henri Rousseau. He painted a lot of animals and plants in jungle-like scenes and, like me, he was self-taught. So, this week, I’m going to try to paint a chameleon in my version of Rousseau’s style.

Here’s my basic outline of a chameleon. I looked at a reference for the animal itself and made up my foliage completely.

The I added a background so that my colour choices would follow my plan for colour in this picture.

I blocked in some branches and leaves, remembering to use plenty of red in my browns. This is close enough to red to work as a complementary colour.

Next I roughed in my main colours and shadows, trying to give my Chameleon and strong sense of form from the start.

Then I removed the line art. This was the stage of the painting where I generally find things tricky. So I focussed on filling in medium sized forms, values and colours in the same way as I’d just blocked in the whole animal, but working on medium sized shapes, like the stripes and the eye.

Again, as I coloured the edges of the stripes on my chameleon’s side I pushed the raw sienna colour on my reference to more of a burnt sienna, so that there was more red in the colour. I also pushed the cream of the middle area of each of the big stripes to a more pinkish cream. I was hoping that I could metaphorically smuggle in the red via my browns to balance and highlight the green a little.

Next I started working on the details on the face and the bumpy texture of a chameleon’s skin. I tried to hint at the texture, rather than drawing every little round bump. This bit still took a long time to do but my earlier work on texture is now beginning to pay off.

Once that was done I varied the values of my leaves to give the viewer a hint of the play of light around them and painted on some 3D style veins. I wanted the leaves to look regular enough so that they can be recognised by the viewer, but similar in style to Rousseau’s almost animation style painting.

My last job was to import this into photoshop and adjust my settings. I had been working in a dark room with a lit digital screen and this made my whole picture a little too dark. So I adjusted my levels to make the finished digital painting below…

And here (below) is one of my favourite Rousseau paintings The Dream, 1910, oil on canvas, The Museum of Modern Art, New York

Beautiful, isn’t it?!