Monday, 25 April 2016

Spirit Animals...The Hawk

Hawk+Spirit animal+spirit animal art+sun flares+milky way+universe+Nicola McLean


This one has been on the back burner for a few weeks while I did the paintings of Skye in the sky and the bee for the Artfinder project. This is actually Hawk 2.0 as I really didn't like the first version I did which was almost an exact opposite of this one - the background was the night sky and the painting in the hawk was of a sunset behind mountains. I just didn't feel it worked so I scrapped it and started again. And I'm glad I did as I prefer this version.

Technically the photo I used for the outline of the bird is of a kestral and not a hawk but they are both from the raptor family with many similarities so I decided not to split hairs (feathers?). Thank to Aschi on Paint My Photo for his reference photo.  




The hawk has several different attributes and meanings. Native Americans saw the hawk as a messenger. It is said to be the messenger of the spirit realm, joining both worlds. It often shows up in our lives when we need to pay attention to the subtle messages around us and from those we come into contact with. If the hawk starts appearing to you in one form or another you should pay attention to the messages it might be bringing and trust your own intuition. It provides wisdom about seeing the bigger picture and looking at things from a higher perspective. 

The reason I painted the hawk next in the series was I kept seeing them everywhere. I mean, that in itself isn't unusual up here but I saw them more frequently and sitting still quite close by where I was and I also had a run of seeing them everywhere online. I'm not quite sure what message they were giving me other than to paint them next!

milky way+mountains+snow+universe+close up+Nicola McLean

I wanted to convey the idea of the higher perspective by showing the hawk soaring high up in a clear blue sky and also the idea of it being a messenger between different realms with the image in the hawk's body depicting the vastness of the universe in the skies above our own wee planet.

When I finished the hawk there seemed to be too much space at the top. I showed it to S and he said it needed something there too so I had a think and came up with sun flares - sometimes these little orbs of light are said to be spirits (but mostly they're simply flares from the camera lens!) In any case, they worked well for this piece especially when I realised that the orbs would run in the same diagonal as the milky way in the body of the hawk!

hawk+raptor+spirit animal+power animal+higher perspective+Nicola McLean+Surreal art


Anyway, that's all my news for this week. Thanks for stopping by and I'll see you all at Paint Party Friday

Monday, 18 April 2016

Make a wish...a landscape painting

Shooting Star+Milky Way+Scotland+Vibrant Landscape Art+Impressionism+Nicola McLean
'Make a wish' - acrylic on canvas 4x4 inches (10x10cm)

According to Dictionary.com 'Artistic licence is the freedom to create an artwork, musical work or piece of writing based on the artist's interpretation and mainly for effect'.


Scottish landscape art+Shooting Star+Starry skies+milky way+Impressionism+Nicola McLean
Available on Artfinder or my website


I love artistic licence. It frees us to use our imaginations rather than recreating exactly what's there when what's there isn't exactly what we want to paint. Take this painting for example.  This is the original photograph that I took on one of the very few sunny days last summer on top of the dunes at Strathy Beach.


Strathy Beach+Sutherland+Scotland+Nicola McLean

I didn't want to paint a blue sky though so using the wonder that is artistic license I turned day into night, made the wee flower disappear and added a little shooting star (which appear more regularly than buses up these parts!) 


impasto texture+art+Nicola McLean
Close up of texture

I have no other news really, just busy painting away in my new art shed. S is continuing with the work on the outside - this week he built a fence out of old pallets. Here's a wee time lapse of it going up if you want a nosy - you can see me pottering around in my shed while he's working away outside!



I'll leave you with a few quotes attributed to Vincent Van Gogh who painted magical starry skies.

'For my part, I know nothing with any certainty but the sight of the stars makes me dream'

'Be clearly aware of the stars and infinity on high, then life seems almost enchanted after all'

'Go out and paint the stars' (I'm taking this one as a direct order!)

I'll be linking up with Paint Party Friday to see what everyone else has been up to this week. Pop by if you get the chance - there's so much arty wonder there!

Monday, 4 April 2016

Almost out of time...a bee painting and a new art studio!

Bumblebee+Dandelion Clock+Planet earth+Surreal art+Nicola McLean
'Almost out of time' - acrylic on canvas 40x50cm 


I mentioned in my last post that Artfinder are working in conjunction with Friends of the Earth to raise awareness of bees and their role in nature (which is to pollinate many of the cross-pollinated crops that human rely on for food).  

Bumblebee+Dandelion Clock+Planet earth+Surreal art+Nicola McLean

This is my finished piece. I wanted it to continue in the slightly surreal cosmos theme while hopefully conveying the importance of bees in the ecosystem of planet earth for the survival of plants and animals (which humans essentially are)and the continuation of the planet as we know it.


Bumblebee+Dandelion Clock+Planet earth+Surreal art+Nicola McLean


Although I knew what I wanted to depict, I hadn't come up with a title for the painting when S suggested 'Out of time' based on the old wive's tale of using a dandelion clock to tell the time. I loved this and added the 'Almost' because there are a few seeds left so all is not yet lost - perhaps we can wake up to the damage we're doing to our planet before it is too late (hope springs eternal anyway).

Bumblebee+Dandelion Clock+Planet earth+Surreal art+Nicola McLean


I've uploaded it to the Artfinder forum (the closing date is 10 April and it's open worldwide if anyone still wants to enter a painting or photograph)and the launch of the campaign is 19 May with some of the artwork being selected to go on exhibition at the My Chelsea Hotel in London (the identity of the celebrity choosing the paintings is still top secret!)


Bumblebee+Dandelion Clock+Planet earth+Surreal art+Nicola McLean



In other news, the wee art studio (known as Nic's art shed) that S has been building me from upcycled pallets and other reclaimed bits and bobs is finally finished and I moved in and began painting in it on 1 April (& that's no joke!) The only parts he had to actually get from new were the roof materials and the insulation and wood panels for the inside. 


Bumblebee+Dandelion Clock+Planet earth+Surreal art+Nicola McLean


I absolutely love it. Because there are so many windows (all of which were donated by a friend of S's including two skylights and even two wee round windows which were rescued from old washing machines at the local recycling centre!) even on a dull day there is loads of light.  It's even got a split door so if we get any sunny weather I can open the top half (and there's even a midgie net to put up so that they can't come in!)

All that's left to do now is stain the door - S got as far as that today when the rain came on - and do some landscaping round about it. He's planning to put a little picket fence round it with loose gravel and obviously all that spare wood will be moved for his next project!

Here are some photos:














It's so lovely to potter about out there and have all my art stuff handy without having to pack it all away to set the table!!

S also made a wee time lapse video of the art shed being built if you'd like to see it.




Thanks for popping by and I'll look forward to catching up at Paint Party Friday

Sunday, 27 March 2016

The centre of the universe...

springer spaniel+surreal art+planet earth+cosmic+universe+Nicola McLean
The centre of the universe - acrylic on canvas 50 x 76cm

A while back, I was looking at some photos S had taken of Skye running through the water with her ball in her mouth and it sparked the idea of her running through the stars instead with the world in her mouth, in keeping with my current surreal cosmic skies obsession. 

springer spaniel+surreal art+planet earth+cosmic+universe+Nicola McLean


Then of course, we had the whole heartbreak of re-homing her (she's loving life in the big smoke by the way - running every morning, plenty of big long ball chasing walks in one of many parks in the afternoons and meeting lots more humans she can enchant with her waggly bum and puppy dog eyes). Anyway, I wasn't sure if I would go ahead with the painting but then I decided I still really liked the idea and perhaps it would be cathartic. It was. I loved painting her and hopefully I've captured her joie de vivre on canvas. 

springer spaniel+surreal art+planet earth+Nicola McLean


I wasn't sure what to call it and a couple of days ago I was driving along thinking about it when an Eagles song came on my ipod which happened to have the line 'centre of the universe' - that seemed perfect to me - it's no surprise that animals pretty much are the centre of my universe and it also worked with the old notion that planet earth was the centre of the universe.


springer spaniel+surreal art+planet earth+cosmic+universe+Nicola McLean

It's one of the biggest canvasses I've painted on so far at 50cm x 76cm (30 x 20 inches) and I thoroughly enjoyed working bigger for a change (although I've got a gazillion canvasses in various sizes of tiny so I'll still be painting miniature as well for some time to come!)

A wee 'put the size into context' photo

In other news, Artfinder are working in conjunction with Friends of the Earth on a project to raise awareness of the plight of the bee called the Great British Bee Count from 19 May to 30 June. They have invited artists to submit paintings of bees and then an as yet unnamed celebrity will select some of them to be exhibited in London later in the year. I've just started my painting and lots have already been submitted but there's still time if anyone wants to take part, just click on the link to find out more. 

springer spaniel+surreal art+planet earth+cosmic+universe+Nicola McLean

Thanks as always for popping by and I'll look forward to catching up with what's new in the art blogging community at Paint Party Friday

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