Thursday, 28 May 2015

Back on the Blogosphere

How long is long enough when it comes to taking a break from work due to illness or surgery? It's difficult when you work from home in the creative arts, as most people think the act of painting is a relaxing, therapeutic activity in itself. "Do a bit of painting and you'll feel right as ninepence". Erm, not when you're at it for the best part of nine hours a day to finish a piece on time. No-one would ask a teacher to, "do a bit of teaching and you'll feel fabulous!". See what I mean.

Anyway, as you have guessed, I have plenty of time just now to contemplate such dilemmas as I am on a bit of an enforced sabbatical from my work. It's frustrating really, as I am really keen to get the Bramble Paradise finished and get on to something new. The bearded iris in the garden are looking gorgeous.  

Since my 'appointment' nearly two weeks ago, I have been good for just about nothing. Even lifting the kettle, or taking a short turn round the garden is a trauma, and for me that's bad. Tea and the scent of roses are the breath of life in my view, and like many a Brit, life is better with tea in hand whilst taking a stroll round the garden. So, painting has definitely been off the agenda for the last few days, but now I'm getting so incredibly bored and really want to have just a little tickle on those berries. Oh go on, can't I just have a little go?

The folded back leaf has lots of light on the surface and veining on the back.

Keeping the rounded look of the leaf and marking in the delicate pattern of the veins 

So, last week I felt just okay enough to have about 20 minutes at the desk each day. I've even put the timer on so I don't get carried away. Sounds lame, but if I don't look after me, who's going to finish it? So, little and often with lots of tea is the new mantra to get me back into the swing without defying the Doc and getting her all cross, (she's scary when she's cross that one). And at the end of the day, I really, really, REALLY want to get better, (and not just in the painterly sense).

Managed to finish the last of the main clusters of leaves, and got a light first wash on the youngest leaves. That tricky folded leaf was a challenge, but that's done too. Stems next, with lots of brownish- maroon mixes using my favourite Perylene Maroon, then the thorns. Really want to get the berries started, so onto those next. Lots of purply-dark mixes using all my favourite usual suspects will be involved here, but I must take care to preserve a good amount of bright highlight. Can't lose that lovely, full-as-a-bouncy-castle and shiny as bubble-wrap appearance.

See the following posts on getting mixes for blacks for berries

Purple Haze - well, blackberries are sort of purple

The Pleasure of Sharing - for tips and more

Black, Revisited - an update on the classic

Paint it Black, (or as dark as you dare)  - The original and classic post

Thursday, 14 May 2015

P is for Painting, Palettes and Panic

So, the past week has been one of excitement and anticipation, (but with a bit of a jolt along the way). First was the return of 'Husband' from his travels. Then came a relaxed few days at home, then came the jolt. Just when I thought I could now get on and finish the bramble painting, my summons from the surgeon arrived. Oh yes, that means I shall have to take a break from the painting. 

"TAKE A BREAK!" you have got to be kidding, we're on a meter with this one and the clock is ticking. Crikey! So, needless to say, the relaxed week I had planned for Husband hit the buffers and he has now been dispatched to look after himself while I remain chained to the desk to get this monster finished. Or as finished as I can get it.

These things happen, and it is a timely reminder that the unexpected can always happen at any time, (usually the most inconvenient). In the past, this sort of thing would have sent me into a spiral of panic and confusion, but now I am pretty used to it, and just get on. It's a good idea to have a contingency plan in place, just in case the worst should happen and a deadline is at risk.

Really wanted to get this last little cluster of leaves finished, but these will have to wait.

A big old puddle of greens and browns

With any project, I always try to start as early as possible, especially if there is a deadline that is fixed. Working backwards from the due date and dividing the project up into chunks helps to give me a better idea of the time I have to complete each bit. Sketchbook studies, composition, drawing, tracing and colour matching get it all under way, then it's onto the piece itself. Looking at the bramble, I started with the flowers and buds and gave myself a set time to get this finished by, then onto the leaves (the largest and most complex portion), then berries, stems and thorns. I also like to give myself a few days for finishing touches and tightening up.

Nearly there

Of course, if the worst should happen and you have to start again, the decision as to whether or not you have enough time to finish comes up. This is why I make sure I have a few shortcuts to fall back on like the sketchbook studies, photos and master tracings. Always handy should disaster strike.


Monday, 4 May 2015

Six Degrees of Separation

Well, it's an exciting week this week as 'Husband' returns from his travels. Yes, he's been working away for a good few months (six in all, not counting the panic hiatus in January when he had to come home for a few weeks), so I have been holding the fort, and enjoying a little peace and quiet into the bargain.

Of course, it's always hard when you have a partner who works away a lot, missing birthdays and Christmas and more often than not, our Wedding Anniversary! Still, you just have to go with it, as once he's back, it's like having Tigger in the house. So, come Wednesday normal service of mayhem will resume.

Here's what it's like with 'Husband' about. As someone more inclined to Eeyore, I do my best to keep up.

Of course work has continued, and I'm now onto the next section of leaves on what I am currently calling the 'Bramble Paradise'. As the light is more evident on these leaves, I am making sure lots of soft highlights are kept and I am also using more blue toned colours. Blue tends to recede, so will give depth of field to the piece. Also, bramble leaves appear more blue when light hits them, so it's always good to include as much tonal variation to demonstrate the characteristics of a plant.

Blue-greens with touches of fresher, brighter hues gives a good range of colours
Keeping plenty of light on the upper leaf will hopefully extend the focal range too.

I'm not going to work too much more on this upper leaf, as I want to keep as much light as I can.
I might darken up a few areas though.

The leaf underneath has just two wet-in-wet washes on it, so needs plenty more doing to it

The folded leaf is going to be a bot tricky, so I have left it for now

The other leaves in this group are finished, (I think) 

How things are shaping up.

It's a long, slow process, but I can see the shape evolving, and I quite like it.