Sunday, 7 February 2016

The tide is high...a seascape and a bittersweet farewell

Impressionism+impasto acrylic+Seascape+Sand dunes+Milkyway+Contemporary Scottish Art+NicseARTh
'The tide is high' - acrylic on box canvas 40cm x 30cm

This is a painting which came out of my imagination but is loosely based on the sand dunes and beach at Strathy, my favourite of the beaches close to our cottage. 

Impressionism+impasto acrylic+Seascape+Sand dunes+Milkyway+Contemporary Scottish Art+NicseARTh

This was the canvas that I mentioned a few weeks back came about as a result of me accidentally smudging the northern lights painting before it was properly dry and thinking I'd ruined it so scraped the paint back and then saw a new scene in the scrape marks and decided to see if it could be salvaged. At the time I could see a line of fir trees and started working on it with that in mind.  

Impressionism+impasto acrylic+Seascape+Sand dunes+Milkyway+Contemporary Scottish Art+NicseARTh


I did a bit on it and then left it for a few weeks while I worked on other paintings and then this week I decided it was time to either finish it or put it in the bin. I'm happy to report that I finished it. The fir trees weren't working for me though so I turned them into dune grass.



It's very impressionistic, almost abstract, and there's a heap of texture thanks to all the scraping on and scraping off of paint for the dunes and sand. In contrast, the sky is smooth as it was done with the spray paints.





In other news, it's been a very sad time here in Craggis Cottage. We had to make the horrible decision to rehome our springer spaniel after another incident of aggression towards the Westies and on the advice of a vet and dog behaviourist (You might remember dogbite gate back in June). Skye is the perfect 'people' dog but just not so good with other dogs as she gets fearful of them taking what she thinks of as hers, so we had to do what was best for all three dogs even if it sucks for us. Skye needed to be in a home where she would get to be an only dog and have all the balls, treats and human attention to herself.

It's all about the ball for Skye

Thankfully that home is with my sister who adores Skye and who Skye adores in return. It means that she'll still be a part of our family and we know she'll have an amazing life with my sister and her husband

It's been a week now since she went to London and it's been a week of many, many tears and a physical ache in my heart because I miss her so much (Monday saw me literally bawling as I walked with the westies round Strathy beach the inspiration for the painting in this post just because it was the first time without Skye running in and out of the sea. Just as well it was deserted). I miss her following me from room to room and staring up at me with adoration when too many minutes have passed without a cuddle or two. 

Our last selfie in Scotland

Mind you, looking at the photos my sister has sent me this last week and seeing Skye on Facetime with her on Friday, she already looks right at home and as if she has always lived there. I suspect that S and I are missing her a lot more than she is missing us which makes me happy as I had an enormous amount of guilt as well as sadness at having to rehome her.

Skye looking cosy and settled in her new bed in her new home

Anyway, in the week before she went I didn't want to paint because I wanted to spend every minute with her and in the week since she's gone I haven't felt like painting because I've been too sad but thankfully after seeing how happy she is on Facetime on Friday my mojo came back which is just as well as I have three paintings started just waiting for me to get on with them. 

That's all my news and I'll be back to catching up with Paint Party Friday this week so I'll see you there. 

Impressionism+impasto acrylic+Seascape+Sand dunes+Milkyway+Contemporary Scottish Art+NicseARTh

Monday, 25 January 2016

Spirit Animals - The Butterfly

Spirit Animal+Cosmic Butterlfy+Surreal art+Planets+Universe+Milky Way+NicseARTh
Spirit Animal - Butterfly 

The butterfly represents transformation, going through important changes with grace and lightness. One definition I found was that the butterfly as a spirit animal can perhaps guide you to be sensitive to personal cycles of expansion and growth as well as the beauty of life's continuous unfolding. Isn't that lovely?


Spirit Animal+Cosmic Butterlfy+Surreal art+Planets+Universe+Milky Way+NicseARTh

I wanted to continue with the cosmos/universe theme as these are spirit animals after all, and had the idea of turning the spots on the butterfly's wings into planets. Oh, and I have no idea what the planets are other than earth and they definitely aren't to scale!

Spirit Animal+Cosmic Butterlfy+Surreal art+Planets+Universe+Milky Way+NicseARTh


Then during a yoga class last week I was concentrating on holding a pose and the image of lots of little butterflies breaking away from the main one popped into my head - honestly I totally recommend yoga and meditation for getting the creative juices flowing!

Spirit Animal+Cosmic Butterlfy+Surreal art+Planets+Universe+Milky Way+NicseARTh

As before I used acrylic spray paints all over the page to get the purple background. Then to get the butterfly looking like the night sky I drew the outline onto thin paper, cut the butterfly shape out, blue-tacked the paper onto the page and then sprayed the cut out area with the deep blue acrylic spray paint. I used ordinary acrylic paint and Derwent Graphik Liner paint pens for the planets and tiny butterflies. To keep with the surreal theme of the cosmic butterfly I had her sit on the milky way instead of a plant.

I used a reference photo taken by Gary Jones on Paint My Photo but as you can see if you click on the link, my final piece bears little resemblance to the original!

spirit animal+butterfly+cosmos+planets+NicseARTh


I am enjoying the path my mind is taking with these paintings so much right now. I just hope the surreal cosmic ideas keep coming for the rest of the series!

Sunday, 17 January 2016

If life gives you lemons... surreal art

lemon slice+moon+starry night+surreal art+NicseARTh
If life gives you lemons - acrylic on canvas 5x5 inch

I love how inspiration can strike at the strangest moments. It will always be present in sunsets and northern lights but sometimes it puts in an appearance when you're just going about your normal routine. Say, for example, slicing a lemon to put in hot water for your morning drink!

lemon slice+moon+starry night+surreal art+NicseARTh


So, I'm slicing this lemon and looked at this perfectly round slice and it occurred to me that it would make a good moon for another surreal little space painting (a still life in space, if you like!) The expression 'if life gives you lemons, make lemonade' popped into my head but instead I decided to make art!

lemon slice+moon+starry night+surreal art+NicseARTh
perspective!

I already had a canvas sprayed with the night sky so I actually set the lemon slice on it and took some photos. I guess I could have just painted the lemon slice from life but I knew I wouldn't get it done in one session and besides, I needed it for my lemon water!!

lemon slice+moon+starry night+surreal art+NicseARTh


I used all kinds of acrylic for this as usual - spray paints, paint pens and regular acrylic out of a tube.

lemon slice+moon+starry night+surreal art+NicseARTh


Anyway, I took those photos in November and just decided the other day to bring it to life before I make a start on my second spirit animal painting. I've got several ideas for more of these wee paintings, again just every day objects that I suddenly see in a different light and I'm very happy to report that this one has sold.

lemon slice+moon+starry night+surreal art+NicseARTh


In other news, my wee art studio (henceforth known as 'The Art Shed') is really taking shape inside now. S has been out working away in the evenings insulating the walls and measuring and building the work surface. It will even have running water! I'm very excited for it to be finished as it's going to have one blank wall that I can hang canvasses on when painting them rather than using an easel and that way I can start painting on much larger canvasses than I'm able to at the moment!

Monday, 11 January 2016

Spirit Animals - The Deer

Stag+Deer+Spirit Animal+Power Animal+Surrealism+NicseARTh
Spirit Animal - Deer
acrylic paint on watercolour paper 18 x 26 cm

I keep a little notebook in my handbag in which I write shopping lists and have started jotting down arty ideas that pop into my head so I don't forget them. A few months ago, around the time I was painting the giraffe against the starry night sky I had an idea to do a series of animals based on the Native American belief of Spirit or Power Animals and I wrote it into my notebook. I didn't want to start painting them right away as I wanted to do some research first, find out a bit more about them and what each animal represents. So I've spent the last few months reading about spirit animals. I bought a set of spirit animal cards with beautiful artwork on them but very different to how I intend to paint them so that there would be no danger of my being influenced by the style of these cards. 

close up stag+spirit animal+NicseARTh+surreal art


I've even listened to guided meditations which help you to discover your own spirit animal guide and was more than a little surprised when almost as soon as the meditation started a stag popped into my head and stayed with me for the entire guided visualisation. (Sorry if this is a little woo-woo and new age for some folk but don't knock it til you've tried it!) It was funny that the stag was my spirit animal as I had included a stag in my very first surreal painting which was part of my Reiki Master training back here which set me off on the path to more surreal paintings!  Anyway, as the stag is my spirit animal I thought it would be fitting if I started the series with one of these stunning creatures which we're lucky enough to see out on the hills around us all the time.

close up stag+spirit animal+NicseARTh+surreal art


I've always been fascinated by Native American culture and the way that they respect the earth and all it inhabitants. Animal Spirits are tied in with the Native American Indian belief in Animism which is a belief based on the spiritual idea that the universe, and all natural objects within the universe, have souls or spirits. 

close up stag+spirit animal+NicseARTh+surreal art


An animal spirit is believed to be a supernatural power that embodies the traits of the animal. The animal spirit is also regarded as a guide who might appear in dreams in the form of an animal. An animal spirit, or spirit guide, walks through life with a person, teaching and guiding them, and in some instances protecting them. 

stag+spirit animal+NicseARTh+surreal art+power animal


You can read about the qualities of the deer/stag as a spirit animal here if you're interested. 

Because I'm planning to do a whole series of these (and there are a lot of spirit animals) I wasn't sure whether to do them on paper or canvas but decided on paper as I have a couple of pads of watercolour paper that are glued down on all sides with just a little gap to slip a knife in to separate the paper from the pad when the painting is finished (this means you don't have to stretch the paper beforehand and it won't buckle under the paint). 



I had sprayed the acrylic spray paint onto the first page to see if it worked. It did and so I thought it would be good to use this as it means I can still work in acrylic but the paper is small enough to fit in the scanner which means I can get much better reproductions than trying to photograph it which is good if I wanted to make prints (I have an idea of turning these into spirit animal cards if they turn out to be any good) and also it means that they won't take up as much space as forty odd canvasses would! 

Anyway, let's see how the rest turn out before I get ahead of myself but I'm quite pleased with this one for starters and I'd like to say a massive thank you to a very talented photographer I discovered on Instagram recently called Bryan Buckley who has taken some fantastic photos of Scottish stags and very kindly gave me permission to use one of them as a reference for this painting.

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