Wednesday, 7 October 2015

The Dog Star... a portrait of a chocolate labrador

Chocolate Labrador+pet portrait+starry sky+contemporary art+NicseARTh
'Koko' - acrylic paint on canvas 24cm x 30cm

So, remember my pet portrait giveaway to raise funds for the Scottish SPCA? Well, this is the winner’s portrait. This is Koko, a much loved Chocolate Labrador who sadly crossed the rainbow bridge a few years ago.

pet portrait close up+vibrant painting+=dog art+NicseARTh

pet portrait close up+vibrant painting+=dog art+NicseARTh

pet portrait close up+vibrant painting+=dog art+NicseARTh

I had initially planned to do his portrait on the small square box canvas that I often use but the angle of his head in the reference photo didn't really work on a square canvas, so his ears would’ve had to wrap around the sides which I didn’t want to do (or I'd have have to make him really, really tiny which I also didn't want to do.)  

As I was deliberating on how best to paint him, I spotted a larger rectangular canvas that I’d painted a starry night sky onto which I had planned to use for a landscape painting, sitting on one of my easels. It gave me an idea….what if I painted Koko with the starry sky behind him? He was looking up in the photo and I thought it could look really sweet, as if he was looking up at the stars.

pet portrait+Scottish SPCA+Fundraiser prize winner+chocolate labrador+NicseARTh

I used all my favourite vibrant colours, which you can see in the close up photos, and I have to say I really, really enjoyed painting this and now I definitely want to paint one of our Springer Spaniel, Skye, in the same style.

pet portrait+Scottish SPCA+Fundraiser prize winner+chocolate labrador+NicseARTh
A painting selfie for size context!

I'm delighted that Gillian, Koko's person, has told me that she loves the portrait and the starry sky idea - she even came up with the title for this post and loved that it looked like he was looking up to heaven.

pet portrait+Scottish SPCA+Fundraiser prize winner+chocolate labrador+NicseARTh

In other news the Society of all Artists are attempting to break a world record and I'm taking part, but that's a whole other post which I'll do later in the week!  I'll be linking up, as always, with all the other creatives at Paint Party Friday and will look forward to a feast for the eyes then. 

Thursday, 1 October 2015

Northern Skies... a commissioned landscape

Northern Lights+Aurora Borealis+Scottish Art+Contemporary Landscape+NicseARTh
'Northern Skies' - impasto acrylic on canvas - 30cm x 24cm

I was delighted to receive a commission for a painting of the northern lights, not least because they're one of my absolute favourite skies to paint. I also loved the story behind the commission because it reminded me of the kind of thoughtful thing that S would do for me.

The person who commissioned me is planning a surprise trip to the far north of Scotland for his partner’s birthday later this year. She has always wanted to see the northern lights and, much like the trip we took which planted the seed of us moving here nine months later, he has booked a cottage up here in the hope that the lights will put on a show for her. Given how active the skies have been so early already this year, hopefully they’ll be lucky and get to see them in all their glory.

Northern Lights+Aurora Borealis+Scottish Art+Contemporary Landscape+NicseARTh

My painting will either serve as a consolation prize if they don’t happen to see them in real life during their visit or, and I really hope this is the case, as a colourful reminder of a thoughtful surprise trip which will result in her being able to tick one wonderful natural phenomenon of her bucket list! 

Just to put the size into context

I had started this several weeks ago and then of course my arm was out of commission so I got stuck into it just before our holiday and finished it up when we got home. It's similar to the large one I did for above our own fire place but more of a snapshot of that much larger scene which was in turn inspired by one of S's photos of the northern lights on the beach in our village. I’m delighted that the client is really pleased with it and gave me the go ahead to blog about it as there is little possibility of his partner stumbling across my blog and ruining the surprise and because ‘art like this deserves to be seen’ – a lovely comment that made my day!

Northern Lights+Aurora Borealis+Scottish Art+Contemporary Landscape+NicseARTh

In other art news, after a summer where wet weather and/or swarms of midge put paid to S’s plans to get my studio finished, work is now back on track! I absolutely love the fact that the majority of the materials have been recycled/upcycled and are therefore both free and environmentally friendly with S only having to buy the wooden posts for the frame and concrete to make sure it’s well secured into the ground so the Caithness winds don’t blow it away! Even the windows have been donated by a friend of his who was going to take them to the dump and today he’s getting a load of Perspex that would otherwise also have been dumped so I can have a ‘skylight’ in the roof for even more light! It already looks good and I can't wait until it's all done with a little pot belly stove in the corner to keep me warm during the cold winter months while I paint to my heart's content without having to pack it all away so I can set the table for dinner!
I'm linking to Paint Party Friday and will look forward to getting my Friday dose of creativity from everyone else at the party!

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

The stars had aligned..a giraffe painting

giraffe+starry sky+contemporary art+impasto+vibrant colours+NicseARTh
'The stars aligned - giraffe in impasto acrylic
61 x 24 cm
9.5 x 24 inches

I started this painting 17 weeks ago. How can I be so precise? Because I posted a photo of the early stages of it on my Instagram feed! 

How it all began

I'm not sure why I didn't carry on with it at the time but for some reason I didn't. Now, I'm glad of that because at the time I had painted the background green (using one of those cans of spray paint I mentioned in my last post) and I had planned to apply the paint in the same thick style as I did my rhino back at the start of the year which, as you can see, isn't the path I took when I did actually finish it this week.

starry sky+starry eyes+giraffe+animal art+impasto+vibrant+NicseARTh

The giraffe had been sitting dejectedly on one of my easels wondering if I would ever get round to finishing her and as I finished a commissioned landscape (which I'll blog about next week), and was thinking about what to paint next, she caught my eye and I suddenly had a wee spark of an idea. 

I took the canvas out to the garage and had at it with the midnight blue spray paint and added some spatters of other colours for the stars in the night sky. (Picasso had his blue and rose periods and it seems that I'm going through my starry sky period!)

I'd put masking fluid over the original giraffe. This is usually used for watercolour paint so I wasn't entirely sure how it would cope with acrylic spray paint. It turns out, not so well. I spent ages removing it (with a palette knife) as it wasn't for coming off that easily. It didn't matter too much as I knew I'd be adding lots of texture over the top of the giraffe anyway.

starry sky+starry eyes+giraffe+animal art+impasto+vibrant+NicseARTh

So with the night sky behind her, I decided to put stars in her eyes as well and was inspired by the amazingly beautiful eyes of Zeus, the little blind screech owl, whose eyes look like they contain the whole universe. (I suspect he'll feature in my art at some point in the future).

Rather than apply the paint thickly in little globs of colour like the rhino, I decided I wanted a different sort of texture, similar to the way I do my landscapes - more scraping the paint on with a palette knife and scraping it off again, giving a rougher texture which you can hopefully see in the close up shots (it's so very difficult to photograph a canvas this shape and size!)

The title was a line from a song by a band we discovered while on holiday. Have you noticed that there is always one song that you hear over and over which will forever remind you of a certain time and place? For us it was 'Say something' by a band called A Great Big World, a really beautiful song.

We downloaded their album when we got home and there is another really beautiful song on it which happens to have the line 'the stars had aligned' and it just seemed perfect for this pretty starry eyed creature and, for me, it ties in with the whole interconnectedness of all the life on this planet and beyond. (Even the band's name, A great big world, seems appropriate!)

Just to put the size into context:

Reuben, me and a starry eyed giraffe!

This is for sale in my Artfinder shop. However, it's also for sale directly from me (in which case I can donate a percentage to charity instead of paying it in gallery commission fees!). I've just discovered this great wee plug in for my blog (if you look at the top of my left hand side bar) where you can purchase directly from me - it takes you to paypal!) 

**UPDATE - This painting has sold (quickest ever!) so I've changed the painting in the plug in on the side bar in case you wondered what I was talking about!!

Thanks as always for popping by to visit my blog and I'll be linking as always to Paint Party Friday where I'll catch up with all the other creativity on the internet!

Thursday, 17 September 2015

As above so below.... a landscape painting

Scottish Art+Contemporary+Vibrant+Impasto+Spray paint+NicseARTh
'As above so below'
mini canvas 4 x 4 inch in wooden box frame 7.5 x 7.5 inch

Well, that's me back in Scotland after the most wonderful week on the island of Crete where it was literally 30 degrees hotter than it is here!! We had temperatures in the high 30s all week which even the locals said was very unusual for the time of year. Our resort was gorgeous, small, quaint, with lots of wonderful restaurants at the water's edge and some lovely little shops with very little of the usual tacky touristy stuff.

Our hotel was at the top of a very, very steep hill about 15 minutes walk from the town, which was why I booked it as most of the rooms had amazing views down to the town and ocean beyond. I say most as unfortunately our room was the exception. This was the view from the pool terrace and most other rooms:

The view from our hotel down to Elounda town
This was the view from our room:

The view from our balcony - not quite so picturesque!

We did ask politely to move and were told to come back the next day. So, the next day we duly went back and were once again told to come back the next day. At which point we decided not to waste any more of our time worrying about it as we only had a week and figured we would just spend as little time as possible in the room. As it turned out, this was a blessing in disguise as we really did make the most of every day, driving to different beaches and towns all over the east of the island and coming back to the hotel just as the sun was setting, getting showered and then walking back down into town for dinner (taking dog treats for the two poor dogs chained up at different properties that we passed each evening). 

The only thing we used the balcony for was to feed the many stray cats roaming around the complex. We found a Lidl on our travels and stocked up on cat treats and nibbles so each morning and evening we'd open the balcony door to discover at least four cats waiting patiently for food!

One of the friends we made on holiday!

Anyway, it was gorgeous and we enjoyed every second and now we're back home and it's cold and the evenings are getting shorter and we're now on the countdown to our trip to Iceland in November!!

Agios Nikolaos - the next town along from our resort

We took a boat trip to Spinalonga (a wee island that used to be a leper colony)

Agios Fotia - a great wee beach we discovered off the beaten track!

The harbour at Elounda

So, enough of our holiday, if you're visiting my blog then chances are you came for some art so allow me to tell you about this wee painting which I've titled 'As above, so below'.  

acrylic spray paint+sunset+twilight+Scottish art+NicseARTh
'As above so below' - before being framed

A while back I bought some fine art spray paint in a few different shades which I've mostly used as the background colour on my canvasses as it is a great way of getting a smooth coat without any brushstrokes. I had ordered some more colours and they arrived while I was away so I had some fun the last couple of days trying them out on a few different sized canvasses. 

You don't have too much control over them especially on the smaller cavassess but I like that about them - I'm a fan of the trial and error aspect which they offer which often results in happy artistic accidents. That is essentially how the sky in this painting came about. I had a loose idea of a sunset sky fading into twilight and then once the spray paint had dried (which took a while as there were a lot of layers!) I used a palette knife to paint on the mountain range which was inspired by a photo of Ben Loyal that I took on a trip out west earlier this year.

mountains+sunset+twilight+contemporary landscape painting+NicseARTh

That's all for this week, if you'd like to see more photos of our trip to Greece then please feel free to have a look on my personal Facebook page, chance are we're already friends on there anyway!

I'm looking forward to catching up with everyone at Paint Party Friday. Thanks as always for visiting me here. 


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