Sunday, 27 August 2017

The black sheep... and it's goodbye from me!

'The black sheep' - acrylic on canvas 20 x 20cm

I've decided that this is going to be my last blog post.  It was actually a bit more of an appropriate blog title when I had the idea because initially I was going to call this painting 'At the end of the day' which would lead nicely into me waxing lyrical about the sun setting on my blog. Then I decided to call it 'The black sheep' which, in fairness, doesn't really work. 

Reference photo taken by S, as always

The point is, I just don't have the time or will to write a blog post every week the way I used to do. I loved blogging at the beginning and I'll always be thankful for the artistic journey it's taken me on and how it has kept me motivated to keep on creating and sharing those creations online. I will also always be grateful for the many wonderful people I've met through blogging and blog-hops and definitely Paint Party Friday and I will still visit those folks online in one social media arena or another.  




I just don't think that blogging is what it used to be for me and needing to be more efficient with my time, it's just much easier to post my art to Instagram than to spend the required time creating new blog posts each week when so few people ever stumble across my blog to read them.




So, thank you to everyone who's followed my blog over the years and please do come and say hello on Facebook or Instagram as I'll still be there touting my artistic endeavors! 

Monday, 31 July 2017

Middle of a memory....a Route 66 painting

Blue Swallow Motel, Tucumcari, New Mexico+Miniature art+Route 66+Nicola McLean
'Middle of a memory' - acrylic on canvas 2.4 x 3 inches (6 x 8cm)

So back at the end of June I was planning to paint the Blue Swallow Motel on a pretty large canvas which I'd primed with acrylic spray paint to get the background ready.

Then I went off to Ireland for a week and did some other stuff which you can read about in my last post (none for ages then two in one week!)

Anyway, when I got back from Ireland after creating a couple more animal-related things, I got the urge to write rather than paint which I've also explained in my last post so that's what I've been doing. 

Blue Swallow Motel, Tucumcari, New Mexico+Miniature art+Route 66+Nicola McLean

It's funny, isn't it, we all go through those periods of our mojo being missing in action for whatever reason and just finding excuse after excuse (whether real or invented) not to put brush to canvas. I guess it's the normal cycle of things but this time I did wonder if I would just stop bothering altogether and, if so, what would I use my art shed for if not to paint. Anyway, it seems that my inner artist had different ideas and after giving me a hall pass for a couple of weeks to write some more of my never ending novel, I got such an overwhelming urge to paint last weekend that I had to go and do just that. 

I still wanted to paint the Blue Swallow Motel but I found a photo from a slightly different angle and decided to have a go at painting it in miniature before going big.

Anyway, when I got back I got the urge to write which I've also explained in my last post so that's what I've been doing.  It's funny, isn't it, we all go through those periods of missing our mojo and just, for whatever reason, not being bothered to paint and this time I did wonder if I would just stop bothering altogether. But, my inner artist had different ideas and last Saturday I got such an overwhelming urge to paint that I had to go and do just that.
Reference photo taken by S

As you can see from the reference photo, I used grid lines for this painting, which I don't normally do but then I don't normally paint architecture and cars and the grid lines help get the perspective and proportions right (at least in theory!)

Anyway, when I got back I got the urge to write which I've also explained in my last post so that's what I've been doing.  It's funny, isn't it, we all go through those periods of missing our mojo and just, for whatever reason, not being bothered to paint and this time I did wonder if I would just stop bothering altogether. But, my inner artist had different ideas and last Saturday I got such an overwhelming urge to paint that I had to go and do just that.

Sign writing is something I don't have a lot of practice in either but I'm guessing if I want to keep on painting this series of Route 66 paintings then it's something I'll be getting a lot more practice in as it's the signs and road markings that make the journey so iconic and such a wonderful step back into the history of America during the era when all the towns along the highway were thriving. 

As all these paintings are titled after songs from our Road Trip playlist, I decided that 'Middle of a memory' would be appropriate for this one as we arrived in Tucumcari for the night after passing the mid-point of Route 66 in Adrian, Texas earlier that day. 

Route 66+Blue Swallow Motel+Tucumcari+New Mexico+American Road Trip+Art+Nicola McLean

You know how I like my size context photos so here's one to show you just how tiny this painting actually is. Painting those signs really was fiddly and reminded me again just how bad my eyesight is getting - I think I need stronger reading glasses after painting this!

Route 66+Blue Swallow Motel+Tucumcari+New Mexico+American Road Trip+Art+Nicola McLean
In case you were wondering exactly what size this is!

In other news, the annual Society of Caithness Artists exhibition starts tonight for a fortnight. I've submitted art for the last three years to this annual event and only ever sold one small piece so, honestly, this year I wasn't going to bother not least because I didn't have any paintings of local landscapes which always seem to be the most popular in previous years (other people's that is!) but then I thought about how I had the other Route 66 paintings just hanging on my walls anyway and figured other than the hanging fee I didn't really have anything to lose by putting them into the exhibition. You never know, maybe someone wants to hang something other than a local scene on their walls. Anyway, nothing ventured and all that. 

Route 66+Blue Swallow Motel+Tucumcari+New Mexico+American Road Trip+Art+Nicola McLean


When I was taking photos of the painting I set it up on the sideboard and it looked quite appropriate beside this wee Route 66 spice cupboard (at least that's what I use it for!) that I bought in T K Maxx years ago thinking it was the closest I'd ever get to the real thing!

Well, that's me up to date with my blog and what I've been up to artistically. I fully intend to be a better blogger from now on (of course the road to hell is said to be paved with good intentions but still, I'll try my best). I'm still working at the animal shelter and have a lot of overtime coming up in the next wee while to cover holidays and whatnot so we'll see how I get on with free painting time.

I may not get a chance to catch up on blog visits this weekend because I'm heading to London on Saturday for a few days to visit my sister (and Skye the springer spaniel!!) and this time it'll be even better because S is coming too.  

If there is anyone left who still visits me here then thank you so much for taking the time and I will endeavor to be a more frequent visitor to both my own blog and everyone else's!

Sunday, 30 July 2017

All sorts of animals...

Well, what do you know, yet again over a month has gone by without me putting in an appearance at my own blog.  It's not that I haven't been creating because I have plenty to show for the last few weeks, it's just that I can't seem to make time to type up a blog post.

Anyway, I've been back home in Ireland for a week which was lovely. I took my acrylic ink pens home with me this time and even better, I even took them out and used them!! I decided to paint up the raven sketch that I'd drawn on my previous visit to Ireland back in February.

This is how it turned out:

raven+spirit animal+power animal+art+Nicola McLean


I also painted a goat.  To be precise, I painted a little goat called Lawson, who'd been born with a heart defect and was rescued by Leanne of Goats of Anarchy, an amazing charity that helps so many little goats with disabilities. Unfortunately, Lawson tragically passed away just after he'd returned home from the hospital having survived the surgery.  

I follow Goats of Anarchy on Instagram and couldn't stop thinking about wee Lawson. So, anyway, I painted his picture and sent the original to Leanne so she could use it to sell prints to raise funds for her charity.  Quite a lot of people contacted me after seeing it on Instagram to say they'd love to buy a print so hopefully, she'll get a lot of interest if she does decide to offer prints for sale.  

This is the painting:

Lawson+goat+Goats of Anarchy+Spirit animal+Nicola McLean
'Lawson'

I'm also going to use it as the goat in my spirit animal card set which, yes, I'm still working on. I know it's been a very long process but I've been doing so many other things in between working on the different animals for the cards and I've got a ways to go yet - I think I've got about 10 animals done but will probably need at least 50!

I've also been adding to the types of dogs I've fashioned out of polymer clay.Firstly, my sister asked me to do a cake topper of Boris the chocolate lab for his person's birthday cake.


polymer clay dog+Chocolate lab+cake topper+Nicola McLean

I also made another figurine of a very special little dog who crossed the rainbow bridge recently. Muffin, Neesie's faithful wee companion sadly passed away and I decided to make a little figurine of her to send to Neesie because I always remembered how she used to sit on Neesie's desk as she was painting so I thought this little clay dog could sit there as a little tribute. I'm pleased to say that Neesie was really delighted with her wee Muffy tribute and wrote a lovely blog post about her as well as sending me a print of her gorgeous Mother and Baby giraffe painting as a thank you. 

polymer clay dog+shitzhu+cake topper+Nicola McLean

So, that's what I've been up to.  If I was in any way organised I would have written four separate posts for these but as I'm so behind and have actually completed another painting which I'm really planning to blog about later in the week, I thought I'd just do a quick round up of what I've been up to for the last month or so.

I was also contacted by a professor from the University of Westminster to ask permission to use my painting 'moonlight shadow' on the welome poster and cover of the programme for a symposium they were holding on 'Tourism and the night'. The painting was very appropriate for the subject matter! This is what they looked like:




Although I haven't been writing in my blog much, I have actually been writing in other ways...I started a novel about five years ago and recently I decided that I was going to finish it come hell or high water! (It's the third novel I've started and not finished  - the first I started writing in 1997 and it's now languishing on a floppy disk somewhere which I couldn't access even if I knew where it was seeing as computers don't even have floppy drives any more!!)

Anyway, with this one, even if it never gets publish I just really want to finish it.  So, I've been re-reading and editing and writing new chapters - I'm at about chapter 30 now so making some progress.  That's been keeping me creative for the last couple of weeks but yesterday I got the urge to paint so I did.  I finished it today and if you'd care to pop back later in the week I'll show you what it was!

Friday, 23 June 2017

Road less traveled...another moment on the Mother Road



Shamrock, Texas+Route 66+Road Trip+Amercia+American Landscape+Acrylic painting+Nicola McLean
'Road less traveled' - acrylic on canvas 30cm x 40cm

So, I'm back working on my 'moments on the Mother Road' series. I'm still not doing them in any discernible order - certainly if I was to do the road trip in the same order as I'm doing these paintings then I'd be all over the place! So far, I've gone from California right back to Chicago and now I've jumped to Texas. 

Close up you can see the headlights of cars on the interstate

I don't suppose it matters what order I paint them in, I'm really just going by what scene appeals to me at the time and I had another canvas which I'd already put acrylic modelling paste on which just happened to lend itself perfectly to the rough, cracked road surface of this scene which S captured on camera at sunset just outside of Shamrock, Texas.

Credit - S McLean
the original photo of Route 66 just outside Shamrock, Texas

This was an early section of Route 66 and was made of segmented concrete. The guide book which I read as we drove the route described how your tyres make a wonderful 'thump ka-thump, ka-thump' noise as you drive over the joins in the concrete and we were delighted to discover they really do.


I mentioned before that during our trip we listened to local radio stations along the way, made a list of all the songs we heard a lot on the road and then created a playlist when we got back home - music is so evocative of a time and place and every time we hear those songs now they take us right back to Route 66.

Shamrock Texas+acrylic painting+landscape art+Route 66+Interstate+American Road trip+Nicola McLean

Why am I telling you this? Well, I wanted to give each painting a title inspired by the songs we listened to, either the title of the song or a lyric from it. I have already used this title for a painting I did a few years ago but because it was the name of a song from our trip (by Lauren Alaina) and because it seemed really appropriate given that this highway has been superseded by the interstate (which you can see off to the right in the horizon in my painting)I decided to use it again (and I've used the American spelling just to keep it country!)


Next up I'm crossing the border into New Mexico to try my hand at one of my favourite photos from the trip, the Blue Swallow Motel in Tucumcari.


Credit: S McLean

I'm using a larger canvas for this one - 30 x 20 inches which fits perfectly on the new A2 desk easel I treated myself to last week!



My shiny new desk easel!

I've have just started by using acrylic spray paints to loosely colour the background.  I'm going back to Ireland for a week on Monday so I won't get any more done on it until I get back but I'm really looking forward to this one and the challenge of painting that iconic neon sign!





Thanks for popping by, I know I'm a bit sporadic with my blogging these days.  I've noticed that a lot of people who used to blog regularly no longer do - do you think that perhaps Instagram and other social media sites are replacing art blogging? I know it's certainly easier to just post a quick photo on Instagram than write and edit a blog post every week although every time I think I'll stop blogging I feel compelled to keep it going a while longer - it's been nearly 7 years since I started my blog so it seems a shame to stop even if it is a little less well tended to than it used to be!

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