Thursday, 30 September 2010

Sketch 11 - Through the eye of a fish!

My future brother-in-law was here for a visit from Glasgow recently.  He's a great amateur photographer and took a lot of photos while he was here.  He used a fish eye lense to take some of them and I really liked the way it distorts the buildings.  I decided to use one of his photos as a starting point but as you can see, once again I used a large amount of artistic licence - removing the big sculpture thingy in the photo and adding and leaving out other things as I saw fit!  I did this in just a couple of hours - as you can no doubt tell by the very sketchy detail and it was handy that the buildings were distorted so I didn't need to worry so much about getting proportions or perspective correct!

I still have 31 pages to fill and am getting a bit concerned about getting the project completed as I've so many other things to do as well and it's only 7 weeks now until the big day when we'll be away for 3 weeks and I won't be taking my sketchbook on on honeymoon with me! So, if the sketchbook has to be postmarked 15 January 2011 and I take off the dates we'll be away that leaves me approximately 85 evenings to do 31 more sketches, plus some Christmas paintings, some Christmas cards and the competition entry which I still haven't started and which needs to be in for 10 October! Hey ho, it'll be worth it when I'm a rich artist. Pfft :0/

Belfast, Cornmarket

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

If you lived would exist only in my imagination!

The 10th sketch in the project series started life as a doodle on a notepad at work.  I kind of liked how it looked so on the train home one evening I drew the outline in my sketchbook and this imaginary land took shape.  As the theme is "if you lived here..." I decided that the places I draw don't necessarily have to exist in real life and so there may be one or two more of these imaginary lands popping up from time to time in between the real cities and landscapes.  I think this was inspired by some of my favourite kids' films like 'Horton hears a Who' and 'The wizard of Oz' where everything is bright and colourful and that much more pretty than in real life.

Saturday, 25 September 2010

The end of the world (when they believed the world was flat!

This is the 9th sketch for my project.  I took this from a photo we took when we went back to Portugal last year.  We hired a car and travelled up and down the length of the Algarve (I lived there for a couple of years many moons ago and it was lovely to go back and see all the places again - although many of them have gotten so built up and over developed, which is a shame).  This was taken at Cape St Vincent which is the most south westerly point of Europe and was thought to be the end of the world before the explorers realised the world wasn't flat and went off to discover the Americas!

Portugal so far is my favourite place in the world and if ever my lottery numbers come up, we'll definitely be buying a villa there! 

This time for a change, I decided to use coloured pencils (as well as my trusty ink) and resisted the temptation to use dots for once!

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Business cards, visits to Greater London & comedians we didn't see

I've been thinking for a while that I should probably have some business cards as I had been talking to Tracy from Lucy's Pet Pals who walks the pups for us on days when S can't get home at lunchtime and she kindly said she would mention my pet portraits to her other clients.  I thought that if I had cards I could pass them out to her and maybe to local pet supply stores, vets, etc.

Well, I ordered them through a very well known business card supplier although I created the layout myself using some of my recent pointy pictures (which made the price shoot up, unbeknownst to me until I got to the check out section) and they arrived on Friday just before I was heading off for the weekend to see my sister in her new (very old - circa 1580) house in East Molesley. 

Front of card

I am a bit disappointed with them, to be honest, as although the lay out is exactly what I wanted the quality of the printing and the flimsiness of the card makes them look as though I just printed them out myself at home - which for the price is a tad annoying.  Still, they are better than nothing and I've got 100 of them to get through so they will have to do!

Back of card

I didn't get any art done last weekend at all as I was having a very lovely girly weekend with my sister.  We had planned to go and see Dara O'Briain, the comedian, at the Hammersmith Apollo but as S will testify, we are notoriously rubbish at actually following through on any plans we make (one year at the Edinburgh festival we missed several daytime shows we'd already booked simply because it was an unusually sunny week and we didn't want to miss the sun!). 

Anyway, on realising that we were in row Z - practically in the foyer of the Apollo - and that we would have to take 1 train and 3 tubes to get there, we unanimously decided just to go to the cinema instead! I am going to see Dara O'Briain in November in Belfast anyway so am not really missing out but my sister decided she would be happy just to wait for the DVD of the tour to come out and watch it from the comfort of her sofa!  Anyway we went to see 'The Other Guys' with Will Ferrell and it was brilliant!

Also from talking to my sister, I've discovered a possible gap in the market as far as city scapes are concerned. She said she searched high up and low down for original paintings of Belfast and found them very hard to come by - she was even told by a gallery owner in England that they had also had this problem.  With that in mind, I asked S to get some photos of various landmarks of the city on Monday when he took his brother into Belfast (he was over from Glasgow for a visit and is a very good amateur photographer with all the best of equipment) so hopefully I can find some time to fill that gap with some pointy pics of our capital city! Meanwhile I saw this one on Flickr taken during the Christmas market at City Hall and thought it made the City look really nice.
Belfast City Hall & Xmas Market
Credit: GreyHobbit/Flickr.Com
Creative Commons Licence

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Christmas Pressies for the Organised People in your life!

You may remember I mentioned back in July about taking part in the Fantazya Diary 2011 project? No, because to be honest you don't actually really read my blog very often? Well, here is the link back to that post! The diaries are now ready and available to order - just in time for Christmas presents!
You can click on the icon on this page  to go straight to the pricing and ordering information. 

Just so you know, I don't make any money from the selling of these diaries, but it will be good exposure to have my artwork on 3 of the pages so obviously it would be brilliant if Lucy (the founder of the project) was able to sell as many as possible. It is a great way to help promote the arts and crafts world and would solve any tricky-to-buy-for gift issues coming up to the festive season!! Plus you can download front covers to jazz them up a bit or if you're feeling a bit arty you could even design your own!

They look really good and are chock full of designs by all sorts of artists and crafty types including jewellery makers, musicians, clothes designers and graphic designers so the diary will not only help you keep track of your appointments for next year but may also prove a valuable resource if you need inspiration for gifts or treats throughout the year as it details the websites of all those who took part! :0)

Monday, 20 September 2010

Sketch #8 - Lake Ontario Canada

This is the 8th sketch for the project.  I know I said I wanted to try to stick to places I had been to myself  but I saw this photo on the Paint My Photo website and it was so beautiful that I just had to paint it! I love this type of scene with the dark silhouettes against a sunrise or sunset as it suits the pen and ink so well.  I hope I've done it justice.  It was taken at sunrise over Lake Ontario in a place called Prince Edward County, Canada.  It was taken by a fellow member of Paint My Photo known as Mozartspony so thanks very much for letting me use this photo!

Thursday, 16 September 2010

BeaBiographer - the voting starts now!

Yesterday was the final day for submissions for designs in the BeaBiographer competition being run by The Blind Project.  I spoke about this in a previous blog entry when I first submitted my design back in July.  I chose to depict the story of 'Em' who, was sold into a life of sexual slavery as a young child.  She was one of the lucky ones given help to leave the brothel and she actually found a new life, getting married and having children.  She even went on to help other women in the same circumstances. 

Unfortunately her story didn't have a happy ending and she returned to her life of prostitution turning her back on her family.  I decided on that story for my design because it reflects the realities of life which is that we don't always get the happy endings we want or deserve.  Hopefully with the support of The Blind Project and its supporters other women like Em will be able to leave that life behind for good.

This is my design and I would really appreciate if you would take the time to click on the BeaBiographer link and say that you 'dig it'!  Voting takes place between 16 September  and 7 October with the winners being announced on 21 October 2010. The 5 designs from each category which get the most votes will go on to the finals and will eventually be narrowed down to 3 winners (1 from each woman's story).  These designs will then be used as the logo on adverts and as part of a new clothing line so it would be pretty amazing to win! 

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Another piece of the sketchbook puzzle

You know how sometimes we get so used to things just being there that eventually we don't even notice them anymore and then all of a sudden they catch our attention and we see them with fresh eyes? 

Well, I was pottering about in the kitchen the other day and noticed a wee wooden jigsaw puzzle/ornament thingy that I bought 15 years ago in Tunisia.  It always sits by the kitchen sink and has for the last 4 years but I just suddenly noticed it properly for the first time in ages. 

My initial thought was that we have an awful lot of tat and clutter that we seem to accumulate on our travels through life and maybe it was time to have a clear out.  Then I looked at it more closely and carefully and it occurred to me that maybe I could actually use it as inspiration for another of my sketches for the Arthouse Sketchbook Project. So that's exactly what I did and now I think I'll just let it go on sitting by the kitchen sink for another while longer!

A little bit of jigsaw inspiration, a few dots
and another dollop of artistic licence!

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Two more additions to the Wee'uns family

I was asked to design a 'get well soon' card and another type of birthday card for the Wee'uns range. Here they are:-

The get well soon design could work equally with "Missing you and feeling blue..." as the slogan instead as Reuben does look a wee bit fed up - which I think he was as I had him posing for photos to use as a reference for the design!
I've been asked if I'm going to be doing Christmas cards as well, which I do plan to do in between the sketches and the painting I still have to do for the art competition I entered (yikes! and it's only 9 weeks til we're off to New York!)

Saturday, 11 September 2010

I like it...but what does it MEAN?

I read somewhere recently that what makes art good is not necessarily what it represents but how you feel when you look at it (I may be paraphrasing but you get the idea). One man's masterpiece is another man's random blobs on a canvas!

Match pots and Polyfilla!
There are so many different art forms and styles of painting and variety is, after all, the spice of life. Everyone has their personal preferences as to what they like or don't like and while I might admire an artist's style of work and technical brilliance, the picture itself mightn't be what I would want to hang in my home.

My own personal gripe however is with the pretensions that often seem to be associated with the art world. Take abstract art - I like to look at it and I even prefer to hang it on my walls over any other type of art work, but I genuinely don't get it when abstract artists create a painting made up of random shapes, splotches and colours and come up with some arty farty bunkum about how it represents "the soul in torment as a result of the devastation of the wheat fields of the Outer Hebrides during the great biblical plagues". Or something. 'Eh?' is my stock response to such hokum.

I would have so much more admiration for an artist who said, "Actually, I thought these colours looked good together and just let my imagination run riot with the paintbrush - hey presto this is how it turned out. It doesn't actually mean anything but, sure, doesn't it look nice!"

'Abstract' just made up of match pots to go with the decor!

I know that abstract artists (and probably the 'installation' artists who can make £1million from setting a dirty sock in the middle of a room and calling it art) would disagree with me and use big words to tell me how the very essence of their being cries out with artistic awakening which inspires them to... (yawn, sorry I dozed off there for a minute, you were saying?) but while we are still allowed to voice a personal opinion, mine is that abtract art is just that - really nice to look at but doesn't actually represent anything - that's why it's abstract!

So that I could try to educate myself on the subject, I've been reading up on abstract art and the different forms that it takes. There are so many disciplines and sub-categories that it would take me all day to attempt to decipher or explain it, but the gist is that most abstract art is not a study of a particular object or image but is a study in colour and brush stroke.

The pictures for my parent's dining room
using the curtain pattern for inspiration
and polyfilla for the textured look!

There are Cubists, such as Pablo Picasso, Neoplasticism - which apparently is the belief that real art should not be the reproduction of real objects but the expression of the absolutes of life (?). To those artists the only absolutes were vertical and horizontal lines in black and primary colours so that's what featured in that style of art - which seems a bit limiting to my mind - surely there are only so many straight lines in black and primary colours that you can paint. Not to mention they wouldn't go with my house colour scheme at all! (Sorry, I'm being flip.) Piet Mondrian was one such artist.

Then there are Abstract Expressionists like Jackson Pollock whose work I really like but, again, just because it is asthetically pleasing and not because I see anything deep and meaningful in why he painted what he painted.

Abstract that just happens to match our walls!

Now, this might also seem controversial to certain arty types but I honestly believe that you don't actually require any artistic ability to create a piece of abstract art. When S and I moved into our house a few years ago, we decided to paint all our own canvasses. S had done this in his last house and basically it is as easy as buying match pots of normal wall paint in the colour scheme you choose for the room and just coming up with patterns and shapes that happen to please you - no artistic ability required!

One of the abstract masterpieces S did!
I like textured surfaces so experimented with spreading polyfilla on the canvas (and letting it dry) before painting over the top of it. I am also a fan of curves and not so much of straight lines and so most of the abstract patterns I created tended to have softer blurry edges while S creates much more elaborate designs with intricate details. I really like them and how they 'go' when hung on the walls but they don't mean anything - which I suppose is the point I am trying to make about my personal opinion on abstract art.

My parents asked me to do a couple of canvasses for their dining room and when they saw how easily I created theirs (I used the pattern on their curtains as inspiration!) my dad then took to rustling them up himself anytime they redecorate!

These are my dad's abstract paintings for their guest bedroom!

The last one I did when we re-decorated our living room was actually inspired by a little ceramic candle holder we found in Bulgaria in the exact colours we wanted (the only good thing to come out of a holiday from hell!)

It matches the candle holder we got on holiday, is all !

Anyway, it would be interesting to hear people's opinions of abstract art - is there something I am missing in understanding the meaning behind it or can we call a spade an effing shovel (as they say where I'm from) and say it's just paint on a canvas?

Thursday, 9 September 2010

Bird's Eye View

Here's Sketchbook Project #6 - This was a giant stork's nest we saw in Faro, Portugal (the nest was giant - I'm sure the stork was just the average size!).

I used a large dollop of artistic licence with this one as I invented trees where there weren't any, moved the wee couple so they were behind the pole instead of in front, made things disappear and deployed a pointy background style to avoid getting bogged down in too much detail! Still, that's what art is all about - interpreting a scene or an object in your own way (that's my story and I'm sticking to it!)

Sunday, 5 September 2010

Next stop on the Sketchbook tour.... Spain!

This is sketch number 5 for the Arthouse Co-op project.  I took this photo when I was in Girona a couple of years ago, visiting my friend Tracy who is lucky enough to live in Spain.  Girona is a gorgeous old town not too far from where she lives in a lovely wee seaside place called San Feliu de Guixols.  I mentioned before that the theme I chose is 'if you lived here...' and at the minute I'm interpreting it pretty literally by sketching landscapes/cityscapes/streetscapes of various places. 

So far I have stuck to places I have actually been to and I would like to try to fill the book with those although I don't know if I have enough good photos to work from (or been to enough places for that matter!)  I have seen some lovely scenes on that website I mentioned a few posts back called Paint my Photo that I would like to try but I'll see how I get on with using my own photos first. 

I have also got an idea of maybe just making up some fantasy places and sketching them or making the theme even more literal with drawings of animal habitats/homes.  Anyway I have 40 pages to fill so I just may have to stretch the boundary of the theme to fill them all!

Friday, 3 September 2010

Pointy Pet Portrait of Patterdales!!

If you have a look back a couple of posts you'll see photos of two lovely wee curly/long haired Patterdale Terriers that I was doing a pointy portrait of.  Unfortunately when I enlarged and printed those photos off, they lost some of their sharpness and definition so I asked if it was possible to get some more.  However, In the meantime, the dogs had been to the grooming parlour for a nice neat short, back and sides!! They look like very different dogs without their curls and long hair but really cute nevertheless.  Lizzy (the red one) even has the most adorable wee pout going on!!


I spent 14 hours on the portrait in total and just finished it last night.  As you can see in the photo, poor wee Mitzy is getting on in years and has a cataract now but artistic licence means I can fix her eye for the portrait at least.

Mitzy and Lizzy

This is a close up of Lizzy
so you can see
the dots of stippled ink
which make up the picture

Thursday, 2 September 2010

Rome was sketched in a day! (well, one small part of it anyway!)

Just a short post to show the latest sketch for the Arthouse Co-op Sketchbook Project 2011.

Sketchbook #4 - Roman Ruins
In ink and watercolour pencil

I finished that one on Saturday and then had to put my sketchbook to one side as I got new photos of the wee Patterdale Terriers I am doing the commissioned portrait of.  Watch this space for more on that!


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