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!)

Monday, 22 June 2015

In perpertuity. A northern lights painting.

northern lights+aurora borealis+contemporary scottish art+Nicola McLean

This is one of three mini paintings which sold from my Artfinder shop a couple of weeks ago.  Because I normally only blog once a week, I seem to have more paintings than blog posts at the moment so I've been going ahead and listing them for sale before I get round to blogging about them!

northern lights+aurora borealis+contemporary scottish art+Nicola McLean

This was inspired by a photo that S took (as always!) of the northern lights earlier this year filling the sky over the sand dunes at Melvich beach. 

Credit: S

It's another tiny one at only 2 x 2 inches which I popped into a box frame.

northern lights+aurora borealis+contemporary scottish art+Nicola McLean

In other news, I was delighted to receive a message via my website a week or so ago (not least because I didn't think anyone except me knew it existed!) asking to commission me to paint a northern lights scene as a surprise for a birthday later in the year. 

northern lights+aurora borealis+contemporary scottish art+Nicola McLean

It turned out that the person who commissioned me had searched northern light paintings on Google and mine came up which led him to my website and he happened to love the vibrant colours I use and is happy for me to come up with a scene for him. They're actually coming on holiday to the far north later in the year so fingers crossed the painting will hopefully be a reminder of them seeing the lights for themselves.

miniature contemporary scottish landscapes+art+Nicola McLean
Delighted that three of these have sold so far. 
I'll be back later in the week for week 3 of Summer of Colour and I'll be linking up as always to Paint Party Friday

Thursday, 18 June 2015

Summer of Color Week 2: In the pink..

Sacral chakra+chakra symbol+Svadhisthana+Impasto+Orange+Nicola McLean

So,  when I saw the colour selection for week two of Summer of Color which was two shades of pink and one shade of orange, I thought that my plan to submit a different chakra painting each week had been foiled as that colour combination doesn't crop up in any of my paintings (or in the chakras themselves for that matter!).  

Determined to find a way round this without having to deviate from my original plan, I had another look at my sacral chakra (Svadhisthana) painting which, granted, at first glance might look like a painting in various shades of orange with no hint of any pink at all. 

However, I had used a deep magenta mixed with orange to achieve the darker orange tones and so I figured if I photographed it against a background painted a different shade of pink then technically I could claim to have used two shades of pink and one shade of orange after all! 

Two pinks and an orange

So, I painted a slightly larger canvas in a bright pink (which I later discovered is also called magenta but in a different brand and therefore looks completely different) and hey presto, that the colour combination achieved!(Although looking at it on my computer screen the background looks more purple than pink so you'll have to take my word for it!)

'Svadhisthana' - close up of symbol for sacral chakra

I'm very happy to report that so far I've been commissioned to do four sets of each of the seven chakra paintings by my fellow reiki masters in training - that'll keep me busy for a while! I may put them in my Etsy shop as well but I'll wait and see how I feel after painting each one four times first!

As for the canvas that I painted pink? Well, I like to use up spare paint on blank canvasses which I then turn into a landscape. Sometimes I already know what I'm going to paint and sometimes the random paint sparks an idea - this is how it currently looks and I already see a winter scene evolving here:

A very early work in progress (or random paint slapped on with a palette knife!)

I'm linking with both SOC15 and Paint Party Friday so will be by to visit as many folk as I can over the weekend.

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

Close to home. A mini Scottish Landscape

Scottish+contemporary+Landscape+painting+impasto+Nicola McLean
'Close to home' - impasto on canvas 5 x 5 cm (2 x 2 inches)

About a month ago, I painted Passing Time and I mentioned that I was going to get some little box frames for these tiniest of landscape paintings. Well, they arrived and I love how cute the little canvasses look in them. 

Someone else obviously liked them in the little box frames too as I'm delighted to report this painting, Passing Time and one other that I haven't blogged about yet all sold via my Artfinder shop last week! 

Scottish+art+contemporary+landscape+colorful+Nicola McLean+Box Frames
The little box frame is 12.5 x 12.5 cm (5 x 5 inches)

I was painting this miniature landscape inspired by a photo that S had taken outside the back of our cottage looking across the farm fields to the hills towards the west and thinking how lucky we are to live somewhere so beautiful where inspiration for the next painting is never too far away, practically on our doorstep, as it happens. 

This was the beautiful photo S took:

Credit: S

As I was thinking this, the phrase 'home is where the art is' popped into my head. I mulled it over in my mind, as I tend to do, and I thought about how much my environment inspires my art.

Scottish+art+contemporary+landscape+colorful+Nicola McLean+Box Frames

In the case of this painting, I literally had to only look out the window to be inspired to paint. Which made me wonder, what inspires you to paint what you paint? Do you seek inspiration out or does it find you? Personally, I think it finds us - everywhere you look you'll see something that compels you to put brush (or palette knife) to canvas.

Whether it's animals or dramatic skies for me, the twinkling reflections and clever, atmospheric compositions of glass and light of my friend Sandra or the everyday objects given a bright, funky lease of life by Tracey it seems that we don't have to look too far to be inspired. It mightn't even be a physical object or view, it might be a feeling that compels you to create or intuition in the case of the beautiful, colourful paintings that Denise creates. In any case 'home is where the art is' is true of us all. 

Scottish+art+contemporary+landscape+colorful+Nicola McLean+Box Frames

I guess, without wanting to get all pretentious and arty farty, at the end of the day, we all just paint what makes us happy. Sunrises, sunsets, northern lights and all sorts of animals make me happy and as long as they all continue to exist then inspiration will never be too far away!

In other new, I was doing my Reiki Master Practitioner training last weekend (which was amazing) and when I got home on the Saturday night the very lovely S surprised me with news of a trip to Iceland for our anniversary in November - telling me now so I have longer to be excited about it! He had put together a very clever DVD (which blogger won't let me share with you) telling me all about it and including all the sights we'll see and things we can do which includes whale watching - I can't wait!

As always, I be popping in to Paint Party Friday so I can catch up with every one else's creative weeks. 

Thursday, 11 June 2015

Summer of Color - Week one - aligning my chakras

Throat chakra+symbol+impasto+painting+art+Nicola McLean
'Vishuddha (Throat Chakra)' - mini canvas 3x3 inches (7.5cm x 7.5cm)

So, my favourite art challenge – the summer of color is back for the 5th year and this will be the 4th year I’ve taken part in it. I'd been looking forward to taking part this year but wasn’t sure what I would do that could fit only a couple of colours as most of my art these days uses every colour in my paint supply!

As fate would have it, I was at a reiki share day a couple of weeks ago and we were learning more about chakras. My reiki master had a light bulb moment and said she could see me painting my miniature canvasses of each chakra symbol using my textured impasto style and, as there is a little shop at the spa she runs, she kindly offered to stock them for sale as she felt they would be popular with the clients who come to the spa for reiki treatments. 

chakra+vishuddha+blue+impasto+art+nicola mclean
close up of the symbol

Chakras are the energy centres of our bodies that energy flows through. We have them all over but there are 7 main chakras which run down the middle of our bodies from our crown down to our base chakra which is located around and about our tail bone.

Each one represents different physical, mental and emotional issues and has its own symbol and colour associated with it. Often if you feel out of sorts or have physical aches and pains it's because there is an energy blockage in one or more of your chakras. 

chakra+vishuddha+blue+impasto+art+nicola mclean

Even if you are reading this with eyebrow raised at a skeptical angle, thinking it’s a load of new age hokum, it’s worth having a reiki treatment and chakra realignment done because it helps to release blocked energy and even if you don't believe in it as long as you are open to the possibilities then it's a wonderfully relaxing and energising treatment that can only leave you feeling better.  

Because the colours for week 1 are two shades of blue and one shade of green, I'm showing the chakra paintings out of order. The blue one is the Throat Chakra (Vishuddha) which is represented by the colour blue.

I’d already finished this when the colours were chosen and I didn’t want to add green to it just for the sake of the challenge so I’ve used some artistic licence and photographed it on a green background!! Technically there are more than two shades of blue here but only because I added white to lighten each one by degrees so I did start off only using two different blues - cerulean and primary! 

chakra+vishuddha+blue+impasto+art+nicola mclean
Without the green!

So that's SOC Week 1 and because the chakra colours basically follow the colours of the rainbow I'm hopeful that I'll be able to use each of the chakra paintings in the challenge, with one to spare!

I'm also linking up with Paint Party Friday and will look forward to seeing what everyone else has come up with that is taking part in Soc 15. 

Tuesday, 9 June 2015

Becoming history...a cave painting

rhino+cave painting+abstract realism+impasto+Nicola McLean
'Becoming history' - impasto acrylic on canvas 24cm x 20cm 

So a strange thing happened recently. As well as practising reiki, I've started trying to make regular time for meditation as sometimes its lovely to just switch off and work on quieting the incessant chatter that goes on in my head (although that is easier said than done!). Anyway, during a meditation recently, an image popped into my head. I kept thinking about it and decided I had to try and get it out of my head and on to canvas.  As it progressed it changed a lot from the original thought - it started life in my head as the silhouette of a cottage set against a very vibrant stripy background which made me think of slicing into the world like it was a cake and all the different layers you'd see from the grass on top right down to the earth's core. 

rhino+cave painting+abstract realism+impasto+Nicola McLean

I decided I wanted it to be an animal instead of a cottage and initially I thought perhaps a sheep but then I knew I wanted it to be another rhino. 

rhino+cave painting+abstract realism+impasto+Nicola McLean

rhino+cave painting+abstract realism+impasto+Nicola McLean

I had started a painting several months ago of several sheep in silhouette (perhaps that is where the sheep idea originated?) and I knew I wasn't going anywhere with it so I figured I would paint over it - it's quite strange because despite many many layers of paint that I've added to the front of the canvas if you look at the back you can still see a row of black sheep which will forevermore be hidden under the rhino.

rhino+cave painting+abstract realism+impasto+Nicola McLean

I added acrylic modelling paste to the canvas to help create more texture and then just added the paint with a palette knife until I got the effect I wanted of the layers of colour merging into each other.  In the end up, rather than the layers of earth I think it is more like a very abstract landscape going from a dusky sky down to green vegetation and a dusty red earth (go with me on this one – it is quite abstract after all!!)

rhino+cave painting+abstract realism+impasto+Nicola McLean

rhino+cave painting+abstract realism+impasto+Nicola McLean

I had several ideas of how I wanted to depict the rhino and discarded each one as I went along as not being quite right. Then the perfect idea came to me – rhinos and their evolutionary ancestors have roamed the earth for millions of years and there are cave paintings of Rhinos in Chauvet in France which are some 30,000 years old.  So, I drew the rhino in a sort of cave painting style. The body of the rhino is painted using a pearlescent medium with the acrylic paint to add a ghostly, ethereal quality to reflect the impermanent, uncertain feel of the future of these beautiful animals.

rhino+cave painting+abstract realism+impasto+Nicola McLean

to put the size into context

I’m hoping that I might be able to replicate the success of my last rhino painting Twitter campaign and also be able to sell this one directly via social media. If so, I’ll donate 40% to a charity called Saving the Survivors who recently rescued a rhino they’ve called Hope, when she was found horrendously injured having had her horns hacked right off her face.  She is going through a very slow healing process right now – it could take more than a year – but hopefully she will make a full recovery.

This painting is priced at £130 plus p&p and if you are interested in purchasing it please just email me (nicsearth[at] or please help me find the perfect home for it by sharing to your heart’s content via Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Instagram or any other way you like! It’s much appreciated. 

Wednesday, 3 June 2015

The Eildons and a green award!

The Eildons - impasto acrylic on canvas 30cm x 24cm 

According to Wikipedia, Eildon Hill lies just south of Melrose in the Scottish Borders although it is usually referred to as 'The Eildons' because of its three peaks. I must confess to never having heard of the Eildons until recently when I received my first ever landscape commission.

impasto painting+close up texture+wrapped canvas+Nicola McLean

The brief was wonderfully unrestricted. I was advised of the predominant colour scheme of the d├ęcor of the room in which it would be hung, but other than that I was given free rein to have at it and paint my own interpretation of the reference photo I was provided with. 

Close up of the Eildons

Doing this was so very different from painting a custom pet portrait because obviously then the onus is on ensuring that you capture the personality and looks of the animal whereas with a landscape it's so open to interpretation and ten different artists could be given the same photograph and come up with ten totally different paintings. Then of course it all comes down to personal taste - the lady who commissioned it had already purchased one of my tiny easel paintings and was familiar with my style and I'm delighted that she loved the final piece because I really had so much fun painting it.

Another close up!

In other news, I won the artist category of the Scottish Renewables Green Energy Awards 2015 with my Wind Farm painting!! All the other category winners were at the event in Glasgow on Thursday 28 May and were presented with their awards at the time but as it's a 6 & 1/2 hour drive to Glasgow from here I wasn't able to make it so I only found out I'd won when I saw a tweet from Scottish Renewables the following morning! 

The tweet (favourited by me and my brother-in-law!!)

S has said he will collect my award for me when he is next in Glasgow as apparently it's very heavy and therefore tricky to post! Anyway, lack of physical award notwithstanding, I'm chuffed to have won!

The Eildons

Thanks for popping by and be sure to also pop by Paint Party Friday later in the week to see what everyone else has been up to. 


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