Friday, 28 November 2014

Sure as Sunrise. A seascape.

Scottish+impressionism+vibrant+acrylic+seascape+sunrise+Nicola McLean
'Sure as sunrise' - impasto acrylic on box canvas 5x5 inches

So this week, it's been all about the bright, bout the bright, no drizzle (can't get that song out of my head!). 

I'd mentioned that I was submitting some art to the Caithness Horizons Christmas Exhibition which is on from Tuesday 2 December right through until the first week in January.

well, I had some little landscapes I did earlier in the year and I had planned to take two of them and my more recent ones (Into the blue and There's something in the air) but even though I'd already reworked both of the older pieces once before, when I put them beside my more recent pieces they just seemed so dull. So, as part of my ongoing artistic evolution towards the bright side, I took a risk and decided to rework both pieces again using a more vibrant palette.

It could've all gone disastrously wrong and I'd have been two pieces short for the exhibition but I'm glad to say that I was very pleased with the outcome. Hopefully folk will like them but, honestly, I'm already thinking about where I'd like to hang them in the cottage if they don't sell!

Here's how this one started:

Mark 1 - plain impasto

Then I dabbled at it with the sponge dabber thingie:

Mark 2 - had at it with a sponge dabber

Then I coloured it happy!

Scottish+Seascape+Vibrant+Acrylic+Impressionism+Nicola McLean

Have you ever re-worked (and re-worked) any of your own paintings? I like to think of it as upcycling! I think it's fortunate that I love thick impasto layers of paint as it makes it that much easier to paint over something you don't like/have gotten bored with and it also allows for some great texture.

Pop back next time if you'd like to see the transformation of the other painting.

Monday, 24 November 2014

Into the blue. A landscape.

'Into the blue' - acrylic on canvas 5x5 inch
Well, we had a fabulous weekend in London despite getting off to a bad start with a 4 hour delay caused by thick fog at Inverness airport and compounded by a bird strike (poor birds) which necessitated an engineer to come out to inspect the nose cone of the aircraft to ensure it was safe to fly. We watched him carry out his inspection which, I kid you not, involved him putting his hand up to shield his eyes from the sun looking up at the nose cone (not even on a ladder) and nodding that, yes, it was safe to fly! I'm no engineer but even I could've done that!

Anyway, by the time we arrived on the Friday it was mid afternoon so we just went into Kingston, not far from where my sister lives and did a bit of shopping. We headed into London early on Saturday and made up for lost time visiting the major sights, taking in a show (Book of Mormon which was every bit as funny as the first time I saw it), visiting the National Portrait Gallery and the National Gallery and eating our own body weight in Indian, Lebanese and Thai food. 

Van Gogh at the National Gallery
Westminster by night 

Trafalgar Square

Grayson Perry's exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery 

So, back to art. This is another small impressionistic landscape inspired, as so many of my paintings are, by Strathy beach. I was stuck on the title for this one so I asked S and he suggested 'Into the blue' so that's what I'll call it. 

Close up - Into the blue

Close up - Into the Blue

Close up - Into the blue
This is going into the Caithness Horizons Christmas Exhibition which starts next week and runs through until the start of January.

I've got a few different paintings on the go at the moment and now that our mini break to London is over it's time to knuckle down to getting the pet portraits completed and some more landscapes finished for upcoming exhibitions next year. 

Monday, 17 November 2014

Tulli - a pet portrait

Rottweiler/Labrador cross+Pet Portrait+Acrylic+Mini Canvas+Nicola McLean

Back in April I took part in an art swap called Pay It Forward that I heard about through my friend, Marji

Marji is an encaustic artist and I received a lovely intricate piece of art from her quite some time ago.

I hadn't been too sure what I would send her back but then fate unfortunately intervened. Marji had a dog, Tulli, a beautiful rottweiler/labrador cross. She was old and unwell and back in May Marji had to make the heartbreaking decision to help her cross the rainbow bridge because she was in a lot of pain and, as anyone who has ever had to say goodbye to a furry family member knows, there comes a time when you have to do what's best for them no matter how much your heart is breaking. I asked Marji if she would mind if I painted a portrait of Tulli as my gift to her in the Pay it Forward swap.

Although the reason for painting this was sad, it has been one of my favourite portraits to paint. Tulli was such a beautiful dog and I love her little Billy Idol-esque curled lip, which Marji said was a quirky little expression that was typically her. 

I have already shown the portrait to Marji and I'm honoured to say that it brought tears to her eyes - not that I'm in the habit of making my friends cry but it's a huge compliment to an artist to evoke emotion in that way and I'm so pleased to have been able to capture Tulli's essence in the portrait.

The original Tulli - photo by Marji

This will be my only blog post this week because I'm very excited to report that Steve and I are off to London this weekend to take in a show and celebrate our anniversary (9 years together, 4 years married!) which is actually tomorrow, 18th November. My sister has very kindly offered to dog and cat sit and essentially swap houses with us - we get her house and all the excitement of the big smoke and she gets our house, three dogs and a cat and my teal green Hunter wellies!!

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Nature's Neon Lights...A Scottish Landscape

aurora borealis+northern lights+impressionism+expressionism+vibrant+landscape+nicola mclean
'Nature's Neon Lights' - acrylic on canvas (7.5cm x 7.5cm)

Well, it's been a busy week here at Craggis Cottage. I'm delighted to report that 'Far Out', the painting in my last post sold via my Facebook page the same day I posted it. I'm very grateful that that's the second time that's happened recently and I've also sold 20 greetings cards after they were spotted on Facebook so I guess I have to admit it isn't all bad as far as social media goes! 

aurora borealis+northern lights+impressionism+expressionism+vibrant+landscape+nicola mclean

Most of the landscapes I've done so far have been small - mostly 5x5 inches - the same box canvasses I use for my pet portraits. I do like that size and prefer the thick box canvas to the thinner ones as I think they look better when hung without being framed.  I've got a stack of thinner stretched canvasses though, which I need to use so I've been working on one of those this week. I thought it was finished but, looking at photos of it now, I see a couple of areas I want to change a little so I won't be posting it today after all. Isn't it funny how you can spot things in a photo of a painting that you didn't notice when looking at the painting itself? I know I've mentioned that before but I find it a really helpful way to see what I need to change and I was pleased to notice another artist on the Portrait Artist of the Year TV show doing exactly the same thing when she was painting a portrait live on the show last week!

Anyway, as I couldn't very well write an art blog post without any art, and, as it's now the time of year when S disappears off at night to deserted beaches with his camera equipment as soon as his aurora app beeps to alert him to a possible northern light show, here's another teeny tiny landscape inspired one of the great photos he took earlier this year.

aurora borealis+northern lights+impressionism+expressionism+vibrant+landscape+nicola mclean

I'll be linking up with Paint Party Friday to catch up with what everyone else has been up to this week. 


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