Love’s Sacrifice – Completed

This week I completed the bigger project I’ve been working on for a few weeks –  ‘Love’s Sacrifice’.


This painting meant quite a lot to me.  I think that might be why it took me so long to complete.

I know that most people nowadays don’t follow the same faith as me and that makes it difficult to talk about these things because, although it is the truth most central to my life, I have no wish to push it onto folk who don’t want it.  I feel quite strongly that faith is only real when it is freely chosen and not forced.

For me the Christian faith is simply about walking in the way of love everyday as far as I am able.  My experience of love is that when you really love another person you put them before yourself, you want what is best for them and you are willing to give of yourself for their well-being.  That’s what this picture means to me.  It’s about the cost of love and the power of love, when given, to make others whole.

Apologies to those who are not religious or who follow another religion, I’m not so good at talking about these things.  I hope I haven’t offended anyone.



Love’s Sacrifice #2 (still unfinished)

I’m still working on my bigger project, ‘Love’s Sacrifice’ although I’ve been struggling with my health in the last two weeks as well so I’ve only done about 2 hours of painting in that time.  I’ve completed the background, laid in some basic hair and begun to add the final colour to the body on the right hand side.  I’ve not allowed myself to extend a project beyond a week or two before and I am finding it’s lovely to take things at a more relaxed pace.  Anyway, this isn’t a finished picture, but here’s where it’s at at the moment…


My plans now are

  • to complete the body colour, adding a small soft reflected highlight on the right and the main direct highlighting on the left,
  • to finish the hair properly and then
  • to add the crown of thorns and the marks from him being scourged by the soldiers.

Love’s Sacrifice #1

So the bigger project I’ve been working on in the background these last couple of weeks is a picture which came out of the words of a song we sung at Church this Easter.  The phrase which really stuck with me was ‘love’s sacrifice’.  I just couldn’t get the feeling of those words out of my head and eventually they became a picture.

Here’s my sketch.  It actually took a few tries to get there with this image because the body position was quite difficult to pull off – particualrly his left hand which is mostly hidden by his right knee…


I drew on A3 cold-pressed watercolour paper and was planning to paint with Winsor and Newton watercolour paints.

However, I couldn’t quite picture the colours or style I wanted.  So I photographed the sketch and then made a quick colour study in the computer.

At first it was like this…

But I didn’t feel that the background colour was really working, it seemed too flat to me, so I tried a few different colours…



Eventually I settled on this colour plan for my painting…


So I began painting the figure with some lighter skin tones…


Then I gradually deepened my colour and added more shape to the shadows…

There’s still quite a lot of work to do here.  I need to fill in my basic background next and then finish the loin cloth which is going to go much darker under his right leg.  After that I have this idea of switching from watercolour to black ink to put in a layer of much finer detail to the portrait.


Health Problems

I was hoping to have this finished by now but I’ve had some problems with my medication for the neuropathic pain condition I have – my body is not responding well to it at the moment.  So I’ve been taking less and consequently I’ve been in a lot of pain for a while now.  It was OK here on my blog for a couple of weeks because I tend to post things a long way ahead of time but now I’m right up to date and still too sore to paint.

Plans and Ink Flamingos

Anyway, I’ve got less I need to do next week after work so maybe things will get a bit better.  If I get a chance to, I will finish this painting, but if I have less time I might have a go at a style of art I’ve been talking to another artist on WordPress about.

Last week Nicola, from Ink Flanmingos did a really interesting and beautiful piece based on Merton College in Oxford…here’s a linked picture…

‘Merton College’ by Nicola at Ink Flamingos

Here’s a link to her blog too…     Merton College by Ink Flamingos

You start with a drawing and then do a really loose colourful wash over the top before tightening it up with more layers later.  It looks amazing and I was thinking, when looking at it, how hard that would be for me, because splashing a loose wash on seems, well, mega scary.  I love precision and tight lines when I’m painting and they’re almost like a security blanket for me, but I actually really enjoy looking at the results of much freer work which other artists like Nicola can do.

So we’ll see what I manage to come up with.



Days 67 and 68 – Finally learning to paint faith and love…

Quite a while ago I tried to paint how I feel about my Christian faith.  Because it means so much to me I found that it was just too difficult to do.

(Here’s a link to those first attempts: Faith and Love Attempt One)

Then a week or so ago I sketched a picture of a shepherd with a lamb on his shoulders which kind of said what I wanted to say.

So I re-sketched this out onto proper cold-pressed watercolour paper…




Then I had a go at painting it with Winsor and Newton Artists Watercolours..



At first it looked really wishywashy and pale and I felt all fed up and annoyed with myself for doing a bad job – again.  But then the next day I decided that I had nothing to lose if I painted more layers over the top.  So I did – lots and lots of layers.  Here’s the final painting…



It’s not perfect at all but it does touch my heart in the way I wanted it to.  It just has, for me, that feeling of being loved and cared for which I get from my faith.


Because of the autism I have a lot of difficulty accurately communicating what I really feel with words which I find very frustrating especially when people start getting upset with me and I’ve done the very best I can do.  My language skills are pretty good generally but I don’t have the usual social context in which most people seem to operate – I’m always misunderstanding the effects which my language has and not getting the whole social aspect of communication.  For me, saying “A, B and C”, just means, “A, B and C”.  There is no social context, no what they call ‘side’ no ‘reading between the lines’ (which means understanding that there is a subtext in some communication)  because I am basically blind to all of this.  I can’t ‘see’ social context or non-straight-forward communication.  But with pictures I feel that I have a genuine way I could potentially communicate well and accurately in a way which isn’t constantly misunderstood.  I have a fighting chance.

I feel really pleased about this picture because it does, for me, finally say what I want to say.    🙂


Days 38 to 40 – Love and Hate

Over the last three days I’ve been working on using the new style I’ve developed in a manga drawing.  I was looking through Mark Crilley’s Manga books…

manga books crilley

…and decided to draw some human poses.  Because they were on consecutive pages in the book I decided to do the kissing and fighting drawings and use them in an overall digital image of Love and Hate.  Here’s the ink line work with pencil shading…


I must stress that this is not original work, I am following Mark Crilley’s tutorial for these two images.  I added the chinese characters and gave it my own twist in the inking but it is Crilley’s design.

Then I coloured them using three level cell shading – a mid colour and a light and darker shade of each mid colour I was using.

Here are the foregrounds finished…



Then finally, I added a background.  (In fact I drew two backgrounds and my son chose this one.)  Because the background was quite dark I punched up the Chinese characters with a drop shadow but in white to make them stand out.


I am feeling really comfortable with this approach to manga art now, at least in terms of the foreground -ink and pencil with three cell digital colouring over the top.

I once saw a Japanese animated film (Dragon Age: Dawn of the Seeker) which used 3 cell or even 2 cell shading for the foreground and then a more painterly style for the background.  I totally loved it.  I am wondering about trying that approach for backgrounds myself?


Normally, when I paint, I try to create a picture based on something which I’ve seen which is beautiful.  Today I tried to do someting a bit different.  Instead of painting using my eyes to guide me (metaphorically)I tried to paint something from my heart (metaphorically).  Explaining that more clearly I tried to paint a feeling rather than something I could see.  I find this sort of thing really difficult.  A lot of the time I’m not sure what I’m feeling.  However, being a mum and raising a wonderful son, I know the feeling of being with him and all being well for both of us.  For me I call this feeling ‘Home’ because it means love and safety and belonging.

Now my son is a fabulous teenager right now so in the image I made him smaller to make it clear what the relationship is between the two figures (he’s actually bigger than me now!!!).

I began with a sketch of the kind of image I wanted in biro.  I wasn’t concentrating too much (I was watching the ‘Big Bang Theory’ – yay!) and this helped to kind of disengage my brain and let my feelings guide the image a  bit.

biro sketch home


Then I had a play around with the colours and the paint to get a feeling of how I wanted to do it.  Because there was no pressure with this painting sketch I was really able to relax while I was painting it.  It was kind of fun!

testing colours home


Then I began the actual painting:

Home start


And here’s how it turned out:



I think it’s OK, but part of me likes the loose and easy lines of the painting sketch where I was testing the colours more.  I’ve always admired that loose painterly style which some folk have developed but I find it almost impossible to do when it counts.

I think buying some more paint might help.  One of the things that really forces me to be constrained is when I can’t afford to waste any paint because I’m running low.  I don’t think art works well when it’s done in a timid and conservative way; it has to have a ‘generosity of spirit’.