Wednesday, 15 April 2015

A better view...a Scottish Landscape.

'View from Glen Loth' - impasto acrylic on canvas 40cm x 50cm 

I promise this is the last of my older paintings that I'm going to 'do-over' but it was hanging on the walls on our living room and I just kept sneaking glances at it and the sides and those black edgy bits started to really bug me. Plus I just wanted to zhuzh it up a bit with brighter colours and more texture - it's an addiction!

So, this is it and like all the other pieces I’ve redone recently I’m much happier with it.

This is what it used to look like:

This one will be available to purchase via my shops in either Artfinder or Artgallery. About that, do you sell your work online? I'm curious to know what works best for you - your own website (if so, how do you get people to find it?) or online shops and, if so, which ones do you find best? 

If you do sell online do you stock the same painting in more than one store? I do, because it gives my art a better chance of being spotted, but I have had cases where paintings I'd forgotten I'd even listed on an online store sold and I had them in an actual exhibition at the time and had to ask for them back! Awkward. Of course that won't happen very often but still, what do you think - should a piece only be exclusively available in one place even if it means it has much less chance of selling? I'd be interested to know what other artists think of this.

close up of fields and hills

Close up of trees

close up of mountains

Anyway, that's the last of the do-overs; all other work posted on here from now on will be brand new, I promise!

The new (improved?)View from Glen Loth

With that in mind, here’s a wee sneaky peek at a very different type of commission. It’s something else to be grateful to the rhino painting for (see here if you aren’t sure what I’m talking about!) I received a commission for a tiger in the same thick impasto style as the rhino and that’s what I’m working on at the moment.

A sneaky peek of my latest commission

At first I wasn't sure if it would work but actually I'm really pleased with how it's going. Hopefully, the person who commissioned it will be happy too! I reckon one more painting session and it should be finished.

Once the tiger is finished then it's back to realism in gouache for a super cute wee dog portrait which I'm very much looking forward to painting especially because he's got black fur - yay!!

That's all my news for this week but I'll leave you with some words of wisdom (having learnt the hard way today) - don't try to be a multitasking domestic goddess/artist because you'll become so engrossed in your painting that your delicious homemade soup will burn to the bottom of the pan! True story. 

See you over at Paint Party Friday 

Thursday, 9 April 2015

A lot more than green and life's little wins and losses...

sunrise+Scotland+Baillie Wind Farm+Impasto acrylic+vibrant colour+Nicola McLean
'A lot more than green' - impasto acrylic 40cm x 50cm

So, a few weeks ago now I started a painting based on the sunrise coming up behind the wind turbines at Baillie Wind Farm. I’d painted a little mini one at the same time which I've already posted here and which is now available for sale in the Blue Tree Gallery or via my website.

This is the large version beside the mini version 'A little more than green' just to put the size difference into context!

impasto acrylic painting+vibrant colour+sunrise+Wind turbines+Nicola McLean
Little and large!

As well as the mini version of this, I have several other paintings on exhibition in the Blue Tree Gallery between now and June alongside other local artists and right now I'm busy working on three very different commissions.

and again.

I love that the days are stretching out so much now since the clocks went forward as it allows for a longer painting day - I'm always so much more productive during the spring and summer months (unless it's a particularly hot sunny day in which case I'll have to take advantage of such a rare occurrence and sit in the garden instead!)

Now that the weather has improved and the days are getting longer, it isn't just me that's been busy round Craggis Cottage - I'm very excited to report that S has finally been able to start work on Operation Art Shed. The support posts have been set into the ground (very firmly because of the strong winds up these parts!), the floor has been laid and the frame is starting to take shape. I can't wait to have my own painting space!

close up of edges

In other news - I won a dairy-free easter egg. Yay, me. I entered a Vegan Life Magazine giveaway on Facebook for Mulu Easter Eggs and I won one! I only found out on Tuesday so I haven't received it yet but I'll keep you posted on how it tastes! 

I sold another two paintings this week and I also won a whole £6.40 on a lottery ticket. (yes, six pounds and forty pence!)

Close up texture of sky

What I didn't win, however, was a shortlisted place in the Wildlife Artist competition that I entered my rhino into. I had been waiting on tenterhooks for an email to let me know the outcome and I finally got word last Thursday that it hadn't been selected. 

I'll admit that I had allowed myself to imagine that this piece would be good enough to make it onto the hallowed walls of the Mall Galleries. I wasn't so confident to think that I might win one of the category prizes but I did (foolishly) think that I might perhaps need a new frock for the opening night. 

close up texture of wind turbine

Well, that's me back down to earth with a bump! Who knows just exactly what the judges of these competitions are actually looking for but I refuse to let that artistic sensitivity, which I think we're all guilty of, allow me take it personally and let my self-confidence and my artistic muse both walk out the door in a huff. 

'A lot more than green'

I think what helps to put life's little disappointments into perspective is practising gratitude, where I make a conscious choice to be grateful for the little things that make me happy and don't dwell on the other things that make me less so. 

Obviously, I'd have been super grateful if my rhino had been shortlisted but I'm grateful that entering the competition in the first place made me create a painting that I'm proud of and that has a message which is really important to me.

Painted right round the edges 

Anyway, in the grand scheme of things an art competition isn't really that big a deal and there have already been many more ups than downs this year so I'll just console myself with some dairy-free chocolate egg and think about trying again next year. 

Well, that's all my news for this week. The large version of 'A lot more than green' is available to purchase on my website.

Thanks for popping by and I'll be linking up with Paint Party Friday as always to find out what everyone else has been up to. 

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Mya. A portrait of a cat.

cat+pet portrait+commissioned+animal art+Nicola McLean
'Mya' - acrylic on canvas 5x5 inches

So, last year I ran a pet portrait give-away competition. I subsequently painted a portrait of a beautiful and much loved calico cat called Tibby, who unfortunately had passed away.

Then earlier this year I was delighted to receive a message from Tibby's human, Wendy, commissioning me to paint a portrait of Tibby's daughter, Mya. Once I got a selection of photographs to work from, I got started and this is the finished piece. 

Reference photographs provided by Mya's mum, Wendy. 

I know some artists don't like painting black fur but I actually find it easier as you can pick out lots of different colours in the sheen of the fur.  White fur on the other hand, I find much more of a challenge and Mya had a lot of it - a really beautifully thick soft very white coat most everywhere except on her ears and top of her head where she had a cute little grey cap.

Anyway, I gave it my best shot and I'm very pleased to say that Wendy loves it. I was so eager to get it packaged and into the post that I completely forgot to take any close up photos other than the ones I'd sent by mail for approval so I was very grateful that Wendy sent me a few photos including both portraits together - I was also quite chuffed that I'd managed to get the turquoise backgrounds pretty much the same as I mix a few colours to get that shade and there's always the chance that it will be slightly different each time!

cats+calico cat+pet portraits+commissioned art+Nicola McLean
Mya and Tibby - photography courtesy of their humans

Funny enough, my next commission is also a cat but of a much bigger stripy variety! I've been asked to paint a tiger in the same style as the rhino so that's what I'm working on now. It'll be interesting to see how that turns out as the rhino's hide lent itself perfectly to the impasto paint but I'm not entirely sure if a tiger's fur will work in quite the same fashion. Still, that's what I love about painting - constantly setting myself new challenges and adapting and modifying techniques to suit the subject matter. I'll let you know how I get on!

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

(Still) Not fair game. (An impasto pheasant)

So, I have finally finished the large version of the wind farm sunrise painting but this little guy has been waiting in the wings (no pun intended) for a couple of weeks now so I thought I'd give him an outing first.

You might remember I gave the highland cow a vibrant do-over a few weeks ago? Well, at the same time I decided to give my old friend, Phillip, a do-over as well.

Pheasant+impasto acrylic+impressionism+Nic's eARTh
'Not fair game' - impasto acrylic on canvas 40cm x 40cm

Those of you who've been visiting my blog for a while might remember Phillip was a pheasant who used to visit us for his dinner, sometimes alone and sometimes with his harem of lady pheasants. Sadly, he met a sticky end on the road in our village like so many of the poor pheasants around here do.

close up impasto texture+Nic's eARTh
Close up of the feather texture

Since then we've had Pedro the Pheasant although he sometimes disappears for months on end and I worry every time I see a squashed pheasant that it might be him. When he does turn up I feel an inordinate amount of relief that he's still with us! I've become very attached to this wee guy, much like Phillip before him. I'm very happy to report that Pedro has actually been visiting more regularly this last week or so (he sees us at the dining room window and runs up to the spot where we set his food down in the field by our back fence and waits for us to dish it up!)so he's doing alright for a bird that normally doesn't have a terribly long lifespan around these parts. Long may it continue!

This is a little snippet that S filmed of Pedro having his dinner recently so you can see just how friendly and curious he is.

Anyway, I'd done a pointillism painting of Phillip back in May 2013 which I had submitted to the Society of Caithness Artists' annual exhibition that summer. He didn't sell at the time and had subsequently found a place to roost on the wall in our bedroom. 

close up+impasto texture+pheasant feathers+Nic's eARTh
Close up texture round edges of canvas

The original painting was already pretty vibrant due to Phillip's beautiful plumage so I decided to change the pointillism (that was so 2013) and give him an impasto plumage instead. I also wanted to simplify the background (i.e get rid of what was there and use my favourite turquoise to create a wash for a plain background instead). So that's what I did and this is the result. 

Close up of eye and wattle region
This is what he used to look like pre-impasto:

Pointillism Phillip

When it came to re-doing it I noticed that the proportions of his face were a bit skewiff so I made the wattle bigger and his eye and the little feathery tuft at the back of his head smaller.

The new (improved?) Phillip the Pheasant

Anyway, I think he looks better this time around. He's going to be available for purchase either at the Blue Tree Gallery in Wick at an exhibition there being held from April to June or alternatively he can be purchased online via Artfinder. If he sells, that's great, if not, he'll always have a home on our bedroom wall!

As always, I'm linking up with Paint Party Friday and will catch up with everyone there over the weekend. 


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