Wednesday 26 October 2011

Chinese Trinity, 2002

Because it's half term and I don't think I'm going to get the chance to do any painting for a few days, here is another old painting. It dates from from November 2002 and is called "Chinese Trinity". That was the description given to these three ingredients - spring onions, garlic and root ginger - by Ken Hom. The idea was that they were the most important flavours in Chinese cooking. Before we had children, I used to cook a lot of vegetable stir fries (although I rarely followed a recipe), featuring a base note of spring onions, garlic and ginger. I'm not entirely sure why I stopped, but whenever I try to feed my children a vegetable stir fry now, they object strenuously.

Oil on canvas, 7 x 5".

Sunday 23 October 2011

Sweet Chestnuts

Family day out in a local country park; delight at spotting the spiny cases of sweet chestnuts, followed by the greater delight of gathering a few handfuls of the nuts for subsequent painting roasting.

Acrylic on canvas, 7 x 7 cm.

Friday 21 October 2011

LEGO® Minifigures 4 & 5: "Builder" and "Cup of Tea?"

Here are two more Lego minifigure paintings, done today. I can just imagine the fellow in the green dungarees (who belongs to my daughter) offering the builder (who belongs to my son) a nice cup of tea.

A small progression in the series: the cup is the first accessory to feature in any of the paintings.

Lego Minifigure 4: "Builder", acrylic on canvas, 7 x 7 cm. - SOLD
Lego Minifigure 5: "Cup of Tea?", acrylic on canvas, 7 x 7 cm. - SOLD

Wednesday 19 October 2011

Lego Minifigures 2 & 3: "Blue Astronaut" and "Policeman" - BOTH SOLD

Here are the fruits of today's labours. I've decided that this series is allowed to break one of my cardinal painting rules, viz. don't use black. It's an accepted fact that there are scarcely any true blacks in nature (blackberries are a very deep purple, as anyone who's eaten them can testify; shadows are merely areas where there is less light, and charcoal is ... well, not quite natural, but you'll find dark greys and browns in most hunks of burnt wood, even the slow-burnt wood that is charcoal). But, let's face it, Lego isn't nature. It's plastic. So I felt perfectly justified in using some Mars Black plastic paint (a.k.a acrylic) to paint the black bits on the Lego figures. Of course, the highlights are another matter.

Lego Minifigure 2: "Blue Astronaut", acrylic on canvas, 7 x 7 cm. - SOLD
Lego Minifigure 3: "Policeman", acrylic on canvas, 7 x 7 cm. - SOLD

Tuesday 18 October 2011

Green to Orange Pumpkin (1)

I daresay I should have done a couple more Lego minifigures today, but I've been meaning to have a go at this pumpkin, before it turns all orange, for a while. My idea is to do a series of these 20cm square canvases portraying the same gourd as it gradually turns from green to orange. I thought I'd make it difficult for myself (and less pungent for the rest of the family) by eschewing brushes (and thinners - it's the turpentine that's smelly). Instead, I used a palette knife, which was a bit of a challenge considering the size of the canvas. I had to forgo the idea of faithfully recording the pattern of orange on green in favour of an impression.

Oh, yes, do you recognise the tiles? I dug them out again to provide a bit of continuity between this and the older squashes

Oil on canvas, 20 x 20 cm

LEGO® Minifigures 1: "Girl"

This is the first of a new series of paintings, intended to appeal to the less serious art-shopper. I'm considering a stall at a one or two local Christmas fairs, and I decided to do a few small canvases because I was worried that my landscapes, being larger and representing more work, might have too high a price for the event. I'm also planning on getting some greetings cards of a couple of the landscapes printed.

I acquired a number of these very small canvases, almost on a whim, and their small size inspired me to select small subjects. Initially, I thought of flowers - very close up flowers, like the one in "Tulip" - but then it occurred to me that there were a number of iconic toys which might look well in such a small scale. I liked the idea of using a plastic paint (acrylics) to create an image of a plastic toy. I'm starting with Lego minifigures, although I may expand to other subjects. The minifigures are nice because there are many different characters to choose from, and they have a fairly broad appeal. I started with a fairly plain one - the only printing she has is her features - partly to keep it simple, partly because this is what minifigures looked like when I was a child.

Acrylic on canvas, 7 x 7cm. SOLD


The small canvas (which came with its own miniature display easel, not pictured) called for a small subject. I happened to have a vase of tulips on the dining table, and they were opening up, brazenly revealing themselves to the eye... The work of Georgia O'Keefe was on my mind when I decided to to paint close up, pushing the edges of the petals out of the painting.

I worked in acrylic largely because I didn't want to make the dining room smell of turpentine.

Acrylic on canvas, 9 x 7cm, painted April 2011.
Painted as a gift.

Sunday 16 October 2011


Here are a couple of seasonally appropriate little oil paintings that I did a few years ago.
“Small Pumpkin and Little Gem Squash”, 25 October 2002.
7 x 5”, oil on canvas, painted with a brush in the studio.
“Butternut”, 29 October 2002
7 x 5”, oil on canvas, painted with a brush in the studio.

Sunday 9 October 2011

How to Make a Wet Painting Carrier from Cardboard

Carrying a wet oil painting home after a painting expedition presents a problem: you don't want to disturb your carefully applied paint or to transfer the said paint onto your hands, clothing or luggage. Commercial solutions exist, but they are generally quite expensive and sometimes quite heavy (I found one example that was made of plywood).

I have discovered that it is quite possible to do it yourself - a carrier made of corrugated cardboard is relatively cheap and easy to make, and should survive several trips into the field. I thought I'd describe how I make them, just in case anyone is curious or in burning need of something similar.

Friday 7 October 2011

Cannon Heath Down: Background (part one)

This is a rather poorly made panorama of Cannon Heath Down, based on photographs that I took during my painting expedition of the 24th of August, 2011. I assembled it manually using Corel Photobook. You can, no doubt, see a whole host of discrepancies between this and the painting made on that date.

But this post isn't about a painting. It's about a hill.

Wednesday 5 October 2011

Watership Down with Sheep

It was very windy today, which made painting a bit difficult. I was also a bit short of time, because my car had to go in to the garage (I wasn't using it; I walked). I was glad that I only had a small board with me (is a board less likely to catch the wind than a canvas? I'm not sure). This painting took me about an hour and a half to complete; the image you can see is a photograph taken of the wet painting after its journey home and before any titivating (and prior to the addition of a signature).

The white dots on the side of the down are - like it says in the title - sheep. Very far away sheep.

This was a new vantage point, in a field near Nuthanger Farm. I wanted to get higher up than last time - which necessitated being further away - and to see the down full on, rather at an angle. I'm not, however, convinced that it's as attractive a view as the one painted from the valley floor. The lack of sunshine might make a huge difference, though...

Oil on board, 12 x 10"
The board is a commercially prepared canvas board.

Sunday 2 October 2011

Donnington Castle, 2002

This is an old painting - 30 July, 2002, to be precise. It's of Donnington Castle, a civil war ruin near Newbury. Not to be confused with Castle Donington, a village in Leicestershire with one less "n" and some sort of motor racing track (and a "Monsters of Rock" music festival). The castle site is a favourite picnic destination - and it's where I went with the children today (on another unseasonably hot day), hence the appearance of this post now. The painting - an early plein air knife painting - was the first that I was ever happy enough with to want to live with it. It still took me a while to get around to framing it, though... it was about 7 or 8 years, I think.

The Oily Knife, part 1: Oils

Over the years, I have tried many artistic media, and several different means of applying them. From crayon to pencil and assorted pastels; from poster paint to watercolour to acrylic to oils; inks of many kinds, charcoal and chalk. Fingers, brushes, rags and knives. And that's just the two dimensional stuff!

Saturday 1 October 2011

The Oily Knife, part 2: Knife

Having decided to paint out of doors with oils, I made a few expeditions with brushes (this was a fair few years ago, before I had children). But... you still need solvents in the field to thin the paint and clean the brushes in between colours. And I don't really like the thought of spilling turpentine or linseed oil. They cost money, and they're bound to be bad for the field or its denizens. So... I decided to do away with brushes. Finicky things, brushes. Need cleaning. Don't like being dropped in the mud. What I need is something hard and shiny like... a knife!
Two painting knives and a colour shaper: my favoured painting tools.