Monday, 26 May 2014

Sunset at Sandside - Acrylic Impasto (and the pitter patter of tiny feet!

Sunset at Sandside+Acrylic Impasto+Nicola McLean
'Sunset at Sandside' - miniature impasto landscape
This is the 4th in the series of miniature impasto landscapes that I did for the Latheron Art Fair which was held over the weekend. 

The Instagram photo I took which inspired the painting

We drove down there yesterday to have a look at the exhibition (as we didn't get to the preview night for reasons which will become clear if you read on!) and also to collect any unsold pieces.
S had also submitted 4 photographs beautifully framed in the upcycled pallet frames that he makes himself and we got to the section where his work was hung first to discover that one of his pieces had sold.
Frames and Photography by S
I didn't sell anything at this fair last year so, to be honest, I didn't have great expectations for this year either but I was pleasantly surprised to find a little red dot and an empty space where one of my paintings had hung!
We celebrated with a Chinese take away on the way home - we really know how to push the boat out!

Sunset at Sandside+Side View+Acrylic Impasto+Nicola McLean

Miniature Acrylic Impasto Landscapes+Scottish Highlands+Nicola McLean
All four landscapes - the pink one of Orkney was the one that sold
Now, in other more exciting news - those of you who are friends with me on Facebook will already know this because of the many photos I've been posting - we adopted a cat AND a puppy from the shelter where I volunteer!
So, the story goes - Lily (formerly known as Buttons) came into the shelter at the start of March.  They thought she was pregnant and we were all looking forward to her kittens being born.  She is the most affectionate, cuddly cat I've ever met and I developed a real soft spot for her.
As you know, my little old cat, Purdey, sadly died at the end of March and we knew we would adopt another one at some point so I thought that by the time Lily had her kittens and weaned them, a few months would have passed and we could maybe bring her home. 
However, time went on and no kittens appeared.  The vets scanned her again and there were no kittens inside her.  So, instead she was scheduled to be spayed and would then be ready to be rehomed.  (It turned out when they went to operate that they found out she'd already been spayed at some point in the past so could never have been pregnant anyway but that's a whole other story!)
Anyway,  it was a bit sooner after Purdey's passing than we had planned but my heart sank every time I imagined anyone other than me adopting this adorable little cat.
Then, a couple of weeks ago a litter of 5 springer spaniel puppies came into the shelter.  Now, they are S's absolute favourite breed of dog (don't tell our Westies!) so I suggested he pop in after work if he wanted to experience the unadulterated joy of 5 bouncy puppies jumping all over him.
One in particular had immediately captured my heart when I'd been in that morning.  She was smaller than the rest and seemed to sit back and observe while they all pushed to the front in a bid to be centre of attention.
Skye - look at those eyes!
When S went to the shelter that evening, one in particular stood out to him and he straight away knew that she was the same one I'd have fallen for.  When one of the Shelter staff saw him holding her she said she was the same puppy I'd liked and it must be a sign!!

Anyway, we went off and spent the next couple of days deliberating on whether we were mad to bring a third dog into the house (and a bouncy, lively puppy at that) although deep down I think we already knew that we'd fallen hook, line and sinker for her and all our deliberating and pros and cons lists were purely academic.
S had joked at the time that he'd do a deal with me - I could adopt Lily if he could adopt Skye - well that was a  no brainer - the more the merrier and I just knew that little cat was destined to come and live with us!
So, Lily came home with us on 16 May and has settled in nicely upstairs where it's nice and quiet away from the dogs. (S has even built a 'cat gate' at the bottom of the stairs so the dogs can't go up and annoy her!)
Skye then came home with us on Friday 23 May (which is why we didn't make it to the exhibition preview night!) and we've spent the weekend integrating her with our two Westies, Reuben and Brodie.  They've been far more accepting of her than we could have hoped - a little bit of jealousy and wet noses out of joint but nothing that we hadn't expected and planned for.
So, that's our furry family doubled in size, we're knackered keeping them all in check and intercepting puppy accidents and my painting time may be in short supply for the foreseeable but the cat cuddles and puppy snuggles are worth it all!
The Three Amigos (as long as there are treats involved!)

Thursday, 15 May 2014

Orkney Cliff tops - acrylic impasto landscape

impasto+acrylic+landscape+Scottish Highlands+Nic McLean
'A long way down' - Orkney Cliffs - acrylic impasto 5x5 inches

This is the third of the four miniature landscapes I'm doing for the Latheron Art Fair being held at the end of May. 

Unlike the others, this isn't one from an Instagram photo that I took. Instead I used one of S's many wonderful photographs as inspiration.  Because the canvas was square I ended up cutting off most of the cliff top at the left hand side as I wanted the scene to be mostly ocean. 

S took this photo during one of his work trips to Orkney. He's been there several times with work since we moved to Scotland but unfortunately I've yet to get there for a visit. Apparently it's beautiful and very well set up for tourists with lots of wonderful little art and craft shops - I'm looking forward to being able to get over there for a few days but in the meantime, I'll have to make do with the photos S takes when he's there!

Orkney Islands Cliff top+Steve McLean Photography
Credit: S - View from Orkney Islands Cliff Top

After posting the last landscape of Stormy Strathy, I decided to lighten the sky a little bit as I decided it was a bit too dark.  This is it reworked:

Strathy Point+acrylic impasto landscape+Nic McLean
'Stormy Strathy' - acrylic impasto 5x5 inches

Lots of other things going on at the moment - I have about 8 different works in progress - the thing with impasto (apart from how much paint I'm getting through!) is that it needs drying time so I have several pieces at various stages of completion which I've never done before - I like it although our dining room, which is currently my 'studio,' is starting to be taken over with art work! I can't wait until the lovely S builds me a studio in our garden but that's a whole other post!

Thursday, 8 May 2014

Vintage Car(icature!)

caricature+ink and gouache+vintage car+Nicola McLean
'Eric and his pride and joy' - Caricature in ink and gouache  on 140lb watercolour paper 43cm x 29.7cm (A3)

A few weeks ago I was asked to do a caricature of a Scottish SPCA Inspector as a retirement card. Well, as a result of that I was asked to do another one for a 65th birthday gift.

The man in the picture is, as you may have guessed, a vintage car enthusiast and spends a lot of time refurbishing his pride and joy.  I think this might have been the first time I've ever drawn a vintage car and, as mechanical things are not my forte, it turned out better than I could have hoped!

After the last couple of weeks of flinging acrylic paint at canvasses and the subsequent mess involved (S's old shirt must be worn as an artist's smock when such painting occurs) this was quite a nice sedate way to spend the weekend - certainly less clean up required afterwards!

I gave it to the client on Wednesday and I'm pleased to report they were very happy with the result.

I haven't really done caricatures for a long time but they're fun to do and what with Father's Day coming up I thought it might be a good idea as a gift for the father who has everything (I did one of my dad years ago!) so I'll be adding it as an option in my Etsy shop should anyone fancy commissioning one for their dad (brother, sister, mother, whoever!)

Monday, 5 May 2014

Stormy Sky over Strathy - acrylic impasto on miniature canvas

'Stormy Skies over Strathy' - acrylic impasto on box canvas 5 x 5 inches

I love Mondays. Unusual I know, as I spent many years like the rest of the working public getting that sinking feeling on a Sunday evening when reality hit that the weekend was pretty much over and the 9-5 week was about to begin again. Now, though, I'm incredibly lucky that I have Mondays off (and Wednesdays and Thursday but I volunteer at the animal shelter on those days). So that means that Mondays are my dedicated painting days (as the weekends sometimes involve outings or flat out procrastination!)

Anyway, I had a really productive day today. I finished a commissioned caricature over the weekend, which I'll post once I've given it to the client and then today I managed to finish the third and fourth of my impasto miniature series for the Latheron Art Exhibition later this month.   

I'm also working on a larger impasto painting of a highland cow and I initially applied the texture and outline of the cow a couple of weeks ago but have spent since then trying to create a background I'm happy with. I've applied copious amounts of thick paint only to literally scrape it back off the canvas because I didn't like it after all. I went through an entire 150ml tube of white acrylic paint as a result! Anyway, today, I think I finally got a background started that I like so I'm looking forward to starting on the cow later this week - hurrah!

So, this is the second of the four mini landscapes. I also used an Instagram photo I'd taken one stormy day at our favourite dog walking beach, Strathy, as my reference. 

Sorry for the incredibly boring and very literal titles but I figured I'd call a spade a spade for this series as perhaps if folk recognise the scene they might be more inclined to purchase it!

My Instagram version
(the colours of which now look much lighter than
when I printed it out to work from!)

Friday, 2 May 2014

Charity begins...on Facebook

whippet ink and gouache nicola mclean artist
Original gouache Whippet card donated to the I heart Whippets Auction. 

Since the start of this year, I've been contacted by three different whippet/lurcher/greyhound rehoming charities via my Facebook page. All three are organising online auctions to raise much needed funds for their respective charities.

The first lady to contact me was Paola who runs a Facebook page called I heart Whippets and I offered the small painting I did on recycled card of one of the whippets at the shelter where I volunteer. That auction started yesterday on 1 May at 8am and runs until 8pm on 7 May. The charities to benefit from that are Scruples Whippet Rescue, The Greyhound Sanctuary and Galgos del Sol.

I was then contacted by Bronagh who is organising an auction for Hounds First Sight Hounds asking if I could donate to their auction which starts at 8am on Monday 19 May and runs until 9pm on Sunday 25 May. I didn't have any more completed works to donate so I've offered to do a bespoke pet portrait for the winning bidder in either gouache or doodimal. 

dog of zen 'doodimal' pet portrait Nicola McLean
Dog of Zen Doodimal

Then in April I was contacted by Jewell who is organising an online auction and the proceeds of that are going towards to two different charities Southern Lurcher Rescue and Greyhound Lifeline. I've donated a £50 Nics eARTh gift voucher to be used in my Etsy shop or towards the cost of a commissioned portrait. That auction will run until 9 August 2014.

Nic's eARTh Nicola McLean Gift Voucher for custom artwork
Gift Voucher towards artwork from my Etsy shop

I find it very difficult to say no to requests from animal charities but unfortunately when I recently received a 4th request in respect of an auction being held for Greyhound Safety Net - a rehoming charity in Melbourne, Australia, with all the other projects and exhibitions I am working on this summer, I just wasn't able to commit to anything else. 

Rather than an online auction this one is a physical art auction to be held on 9 August so, if any of my Australian arty friends would be able to help, then please do contact Sophie.

If you'd like to bid on any of the various auction listings offered (not necessarily mine although of course that would be lovely!) then please 'Like' the Facebook auction pages so you can get a reminder when each auction/raffle is going to start - there are some really lovely 'all things doggy' items so please do have a look.


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