Friday, 17 July 2015

Memory of a sunset...a Scottish seascape.

Scottish contemporary landscape art+Nicola McLean
'Memory of a sunset' - 4x4 inch canvas in 7.5 x 7.5 inch box frame

There's an expression that life can turn on a dime. To put it into UK currency that would probably be a five pence piece (doesn't have quite the same ring to it!). Anyway, the point is, one minute you're painting away and have more completed artwork than blog posts so are in the lucky position of having a stockpile of art to write about and the next you've been bitten by a dog and your stupid wrist has stupid crush injuries which means even after nearly three weeks you can't even hold a stupid paintbrush far less paint a stupid picture.

colourful contemporary Scottish landscape painting+Nicola McLean

That's where I'm at right now.  This is the last completed painting I have in my arsenal. I finished it weeks ago and it's listed in my Artfinder shop but because I had been on a painting roll, I hadn't gotten round to showing it on my blog. So, here it is. The last one and at this point, I'm not honestly sure when I'll be able to paint again. Which is a bummer, to put it mildly. I keep thinking it's getting better but then yelp in pain when I put any weight on it or try to grip anything so I guess it'll take a while longer yet.

colourful contemporary Scottish landscape painting+Nicola McLean

I've been trying to stay positive, being a firm believer that what you put out you get back but, honestly, it's easier said than done right now. I know that in the scheme of things it's just a sore wrist and much worse things happen to folk all the time. That still doesn't help when it means I can't drive the gorgeous new car that's been sitting in our driveway for a week now, or cut up my own dinner or even write my name. I know it'll just take time - it can take weeks for soft tissue damage to heal completely but when I'm travelling back to Ireland next week on my own it would be handy (no pun intended) if I could carry my own luggage. 

This is me at the start of the week doing my best 'were you injured in an accident at work and it wasn't your fault' impression!!

So, to use up spare paint at the end of a painting day, I randomly apply it to a blank canvas and that is how this paintings started life, as most of my landscape paintings do these days. Straightaway I could see a beachy sunset and so that's what it became in a quite abstract way. This is how it started:

Anyway, in order to balance this rather downbeat post, here's some positive news:

My charity pet portrait fundraiser has raised £367 plus £62 in gift aid so far in just a week! I'm so delighted as I never imagined we'd raise so much. Hopefully, there will be a write up in our local paper which might bring in a bit more as well. Thank you so much to everyone who has made a donation so far. 

Photo taken when I could still hold things in that hand!

I started using Instagram a lot more recently and not having any new paintings I've been posting old ones. Last week, I was asked by Art without a Roof to submit one of my northern lights paintings to their website and got news yesterday that it was accepted. How it works is that folk click on the paintings they like and if they get enough likes they are printed onto products for sale such as tee shirts. 15% of the sale price goes to the artist and 10% goes to charity. If you get a chance maybe you could click on my painting and maybe you could submit some of your own art as well - it seems like a really great artist led movement to promote art and raise funds at the same time.

Well, that's all folks. I'll be taking a wee blogging break now until I have something to blog about but I'll still be around on Instagram and Twitter so maybe I'll see you there.  Thanks as always to those of you who take the time to visit, it's always appreciated. 

Wednesday, 8 July 2015

A custom pet portrait competition...for charity

cat+pet portrait+impasto+contemporary art+Nicola McLean
'Lily' - impasto acrylic on canvas 4x4 inches 

First, happy blogaversary to me! My wee blog turned 5 last Sunday!

Now, if you happened to visit a few weeks ago you might remember the portrait I did of Lil Bub in the thick impasto style that I've been using for my landscapes. 

impasto+pet portrait+contemporary+colourful+art+nicola mclean
Lily's portrait in the wee box frame

Well, I decided to do one of my own wee cat, Lily, which I put in a box frame (finished before my arm injury induced sabbatical from painting). She's going to be the poster girl for a pet portrait competition that I'm planning to run through July and August.

contemporary pet portraits+impasto+tuxedo cat+NicseARTh

The idea came to me a while ago when I came across a pet portrait artist who was running a sort of draw where everyone paid £1 to enter and once the cost of the pet portrait had been met, she drew a name from a metaphorical hat and the winner got a custom pet portrait. My first thought was that it was very entrepreneurial of her and my second thought was that it would be a good way to raise funds for an animal charity.

Nicola McLean artist+animal art+pet portraits+impasto

I know folk get sick of being asked to sponsor walks/runs/abseils etc but this way it's more like entering a raffle for only £1 per entry (approx $1.54 USD or $2.09 AUS at today's exchange rate) with the possibility of winning a custom pet portrait. 

The portrait will be a close up head shot in a contemporary, colourful, textured style, just like this one of Lily, in acrylic on a miniature canvas measuring 4 x 4 inches and will include the natural wood box frame which measures 7.5 x 7.5 inches. 

*Please note that postage is not included in the prize but will be by Royal Mail Tracked and I'll advise the winner how much it will be at the time*

close up of texture

Anyway, I'm going to give it a go and see if I can possibly raise some much needed funds for the Scottish SPCA animal shelter where I volunteer. I've created a JustGiving page which explains exactly what's what and 100% of the money will go to charity. As always with these things, I'll be making use of Twitter, Instagram and although I've pretty much given up on Facebook at this point, hope springs eternal and I'll try posting it on there as well. There's no hoops to jump through, I'm not looking for 'likes' or followers, this is purely a charity fundraising thing.

So, hopefully, if SSPCA share it on their social media pages as well, it might raise a few £££s for the animals. 

cat+art+pet portrait+nicola mclean

JustGiving - Sponsor me now! 

I'd be very grateful if you would share my JustGiving page to your animal loving friends so we can try to raise as much as possible. I'll be linking as always to Paint Party Friday. See you there. 

Thursday, 2 July 2015

The silver lining.

'The silver lining' - impasto acrylic on canvas 2x2 inch

This has been the worst summer that I can remember, as far as rubbish weather is concerned. When you're walking the dogs on the beach in June and still need a hat and gloves, you know something isn't right.

the silver lining+contemporary landscape art+nicola mclean

Anyway, there I was on one such day a couple of weeks ago feeling quite fed up at the lack of summer and wondering if there was a Daylight Saving Time version of Seasonal Affective Disorder where although we've got plenty of daylight, there's no actual sun, thus putting folk like me into a funk, when I looked across at the horizon and noticed a beautiful chink of light streaming through the otherwise grey sky. I thought to myself 'this must be the silver lining every cloud apparently has', and took a quick photo on my phone.

TINY ART+Scottish art+Nicola McLean

Back at the cottage I decided to do a little painting of it which I then framed and added to my Artfinder shop. A few days later, it was featured in one of Artfinder's newsletters and sold later that day! Turns out it really was a silver lining!

contemporary landscape art+impasto+silver lining+nicola mclean

In other news, in a not so silver lining event, I am currently typing this one handed after learning a very painful lesson on Monday - if your two females dogs decide to have a fight, do NOT attempt to separate them. I did and got a springer bite on my wrist plus a little westie nip at the back of my leg, for my troubles.

Turns out that Skye is currently going through her adolescence which includes trying to assert her dominance with the other dogs. Apparently it's not uncommon for female dogs to fight on occasion which is why she went for Brodie and not Reuben. My instinct was to separate them as I honestly thought she would kill Brodie, being so much bigger, but even after I got them apart, Brodie came running back for more, which is how I ended up in the crossfire! 

The view that inspired the painting

I've learnt that I should've thrown a bucket of cold water over them instead because unfortunately I came away worse than either dog, neither of whom had so much as a scratch and who were back to being pals, sniffing each other's butts five minutes later and wondering what all the fuss was about. 

As for me, well I got a tetanus shot, antibiotics and sutures at A&E but at the moment, because of soft tissue bruising, I can't use my left arm at all which, being left handed, means it's all very awkward trying to do anything and the worst part is, I can't paint! I also can't drive so I'm stuck at home and feeling very frustrated at my inability to finish all the paintings I've got in various stages of completion. Hopefully, it won't be too long before the muscle heals and I can pick up a palette knife (and straighten my hair which currently looks like I'm channelling the wild woman of Borneo!)

oh, and to add insult to injury, would you believe we actually had one day of sunshine yesterday and, what with the big bandage round my wrist and being unable to use my arm to apply sun cream to my right side, I couldn't even sit outside to enjoy it! 

Linking as always to Paint Party Friday, it might just take me longer than usual to leave you a comment! 

Thursday, 25 June 2015

Summer of color and the Seven Chakras...

chakras+prana+energy centres+yoga+reiki+art+Nicola McLean
All seven chakra paintings

So, I didn’t think through the whole using my chakra paintings for the Summer of Color challenge thing as I’ve finished all four sets and they’ve gone off to their respective homes so although I took photos of each one by itself and as a complete set, I can’t now improvise and photograph them against a coloured background to make sure they fit with the colour scheme of the week!!

Looks like I’ll just have to forego the remaining the three weeks of the challenge.

I can sort of cheat for this week and use a photo of both the purple Third Eye chakra and the yellow Solar Plexus chakra – that way I’ve used the colour combinations but just haven’t used them together in the same painting!! Does that count?
'Ajna' - Third eye or brow chakra

'Manipura' or Solar Plexus Chakra

Anyway, I ended up being a little painting production line, working on all these chakra paintings simultaneously. That way I could do all the backgrounds at the same time ensuring I used the same paint colour combinations and then when they were all dry I was able to paint the symbols on one after the other.

Chakra symbols+paintings+impasto+Nicola McLean
all the same yet slightly different!

I was asked how I achieved the raised effect for the symbols. The answer is lots of layers of paint applied using a palette knife (very, very carefully as they’re really quite small). I could’ve mixed the paint with acrylic thickening medium but for some reason I didn’t do this (hindsight is a wonderful thing) as that probably would have saved me having to go over each symbol four times to get them as raised as I wanted! (In total there were 4 sets of 7 plus one extra heart chakra so 29 mini painted symbols!)

solar plexus chakra+symbol+art+Nicola McLean
close up of the solar plexus symbol

Although it required a lot of concentration and a very steady hand, it was quite therapeutic and the plus side is that as a result of the inevitable spare paint I ended up with (I always squirt too much out of my squeezy paint bottles) I was able to start five other little landscape paintings three that are currently works in progress, one which is finished and one more which is finished and had already sold!

I’d quite like a set of these for myself but I'll need to order some more mini canvasses first!

So because I don't think I can fit these in with the colour challenges from here on in, I'm just going to post all seven in this blog post so you can see what they look like together and get them out of the way for those of you thinking 'enough with the chakras already!' (There are links to what each one represents under each photo if you are interested. Here goes:

'Sahasrara' or Crown Chakra

'Ajna' or Third Eye chakra

'Visuddha' or Thoat Chakra 

'Anahata' or Heart chakra

'Manipura' or solar plexus chakra

'Svadhisthana' or sacral chakra

'Muladhara' or root chakra

Seven chakras 

Anyway, this is sort of my entry to Week 3 of SOC and I'll be linking up as always to Paint Party Friday.

If you missed my earlier blog post, you can visit here (clue, it's a wee Northern Lights painting - my favourite kind of sky!)


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