Sunday, 29 April 2012

Bonaguil Castle - France

Boniguil Castle - The Lot France

I have started building a portfolio for France and a future UK exhibition. Bonaguil Castle (a beautiful castle in a magical setting) was a definite contender. I managed to capture it in the sunlight (a rare chance as the Spring has been so grey and wet) and the vegetation was just beginning to fill out. This particular view was superb and I couldn't wait to paint it. I started with a very loose underpainting of washes and then built up selected areas of detail. I hope you enjoy it.

Irises - Spring Beginnings

Irises in Oil

I always have a tremendous urge to paint flowers when Spring finally brightens up the cold winter days. These beautiful irises opened up in the garden about two weeks ago. I photographed them, put a composition together (using a drawing) and then started placing them on my canvas. I started with a few colours to set the basic tones and now I am building up the shades of purples and greens using ready made purples and different pairs of complementary colours. 

This painting is still in progress and I will upload it on my blog when finished.

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Nguni Cattle

Nguni Cattle - Oil on Canvas

I am in the process of theming a bedroom "The African Room" and it has turned into quite a creative project. This particular breed of cattle, with their beautiful colours and patterns, solid bodies and textured horns, make the most wonderful subject for the artist to paint. Leigh Voigt (a South African Watercolourist), has illustrated a book on Nguni Cattle and it is stunning. I was inspired again during my last trip to SA when I came across another oil painting of a Nguni cow. So, the idea stuck with me.

Unfortunately I don't have my own stock photographs of this animal, so after much hunting through websites, I finally came across this photo. I fell in love with it and, despite having three animals to conquer, I got on with it. A fabulous project. I blocked in the underpainting with acrylics and then started to layer with oils. Some areas are quite textured and I moved between medium and large brushes. The challenge was to make the whites interesting and to paint the patterns without making them too 'busy'. I found that I could still be loose and enjoy the odd area of detail. The focus for me is always about tone, edges and temperature as well as putting my own stamp on the painting by bringing in unusual colours and suggestion.

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Memories of Family Gatherings

Watercolour on Heavy Saunders Waterford Paper

This painting resulted from an adrenalin fuelled demonstration for the Knockholt Art Group. I managed to find a beautiful reference of this old elegant dining room in a derelict mansion house. I have a love for old buildings and their interiors which has never waned. There is something mysterious, sad and intriguing about a building with history and memories. One isn't just painting something architectural, one is capturing the ghosts of the past. 

I started with a basic drawing at home (I was under a lot of pressure to produce a lot of work in 1 hour and 45 mins) so a head start is needed. I then prepared a few colours in my palette - use big wells (quin gold, permanent rose, cobalt blue, raw umber, winsor violet and so on). I loaded my huge no 30 cosmotop brush and attacked my paper with big strokes, building up the background and slowly working towards the stronger, darker objects in the foreground. This room was full of left over furniture and odd bits and pieces. Be excited about strange shapes. They add 'nook and cranny' shadows and edges to a painting. Just mouth watering!

I cannot tell you how much I enjoyed the evening, and the Knockholt Art Group really helped by giving me enthusiastic feedback. It is magic when there is so much energy in the room.