Monday, 25 January 2016

Spirit Animals - The Butterfly

Spirit Animal+Cosmic Butterlfy+Surreal art+Planets+Universe+Milky Way+NicseARTh
Spirit Animal - Butterfly 

The butterfly represents transformation, going through important changes with grace and lightness. One definition I found was that the butterfly as a spirit animal can perhaps guide you to be sensitive to personal cycles of expansion and growth as well as the beauty of life's continuous unfolding. Isn't that lovely?

Spirit Animal+Cosmic Butterlfy+Surreal art+Planets+Universe+Milky Way+NicseARTh

I wanted to continue with the cosmos/universe theme as these are spirit animals after all, and had the idea of turning the spots on the butterfly's wings into planets. Oh, and I have no idea what the planets are other than earth and they definitely aren't to scale!

Spirit Animal+Cosmic Butterlfy+Surreal art+Planets+Universe+Milky Way+NicseARTh

Then during a yoga class last week I was concentrating on holding a pose and the image of lots of little butterflies breaking away from the main one popped into my head - honestly I totally recommend yoga and meditation for getting the creative juices flowing!

Spirit Animal+Cosmic Butterlfy+Surreal art+Planets+Universe+Milky Way+NicseARTh

As before I used acrylic spray paints all over the page to get the purple background. Then to get the butterfly looking like the night sky I drew the outline onto thin paper, cut the butterfly shape out, blue-tacked the paper onto the page and then sprayed the cut out area with the deep blue acrylic spray paint. I used ordinary acrylic paint and Derwent Graphik Liner paint pens for the planets and tiny butterflies. To keep with the surreal theme of the cosmic butterfly I had her sit on the milky way instead of a plant.

I used a reference photo taken by Gary Jones on Paint My Photo but as you can see if you click on the link, my final piece bears little resemblance to the original!

spirit animal+butterfly+cosmos+planets+NicseARTh

I am enjoying the path my mind is taking with these paintings so much right now. I just hope the surreal cosmic ideas keep coming for the rest of the series!

Sunday, 17 January 2016

If life gives you lemons... surreal art

lemon slice+moon+starry night+surreal art+NicseARTh
If life gives you lemons - acrylic on canvas 5x5 inch

I love how inspiration can strike at the strangest moments. It will always be present in sunsets and northern lights but sometimes it puts in an appearance when you're just going about your normal routine. Say, for example, slicing a lemon to put in hot water for your morning drink!

lemon slice+moon+starry night+surreal art+NicseARTh

So, I'm slicing this lemon and looked at this perfectly round slice and it occurred to me that it would make a good moon for another surreal little space painting (a still life in space, if you like!) The expression 'if life gives you lemons, make lemonade' popped into my head but instead I decided to make art!

lemon slice+moon+starry night+surreal art+NicseARTh

I already had a canvas sprayed with the night sky so I actually set the lemon slice on it and took some photos. I guess I could have just painted the lemon slice from life but I knew I wouldn't get it done in one session and besides, I needed it for my lemon water!!

lemon slice+moon+starry night+surreal art+NicseARTh

I used all kinds of acrylic for this as usual - spray paints, paint pens and regular acrylic out of a tube.

lemon slice+moon+starry night+surreal art+NicseARTh

Anyway, I took those photos in November and just decided the other day to bring it to life before I make a start on my second spirit animal painting. I've got several ideas for more of these wee paintings, again just every day objects that I suddenly see in a different light and I'm very happy to report that this one has sold.

lemon slice+moon+starry night+surreal art+NicseARTh

In other news, my wee art studio (henceforth known as 'The Art Shed') is really taking shape inside now. S has been out working away in the evenings insulating the walls and measuring and building the work surface. It will even have running water! I'm very excited for it to be finished as it's going to have one blank wall that I can hang canvasses on when painting them rather than using an easel and that way I can start painting on much larger canvasses than I'm able to at the moment!

Monday, 11 January 2016

Spirit Animals - The Deer

Stag+Deer+Spirit Animal+Power Animal+Surrealism+NicseARTh
Spirit Animal - Deer
acrylic paint on watercolour paper 18 x 26 cm

I keep a little notebook in my handbag in which I write shopping lists and have started jotting down arty ideas that pop into my head so I don't forget them. A few months ago, around the time I was painting the giraffe against the starry night sky I had an idea to do a series of animals based on the Native American belief of Spirit or Power Animals and I wrote it into my notebook. I didn't want to start painting them right away as I wanted to do some research first, find out a bit more about them and what each animal represents. So I've spent the last few months reading about spirit animals. I bought a set of spirit animal cards with beautiful artwork on them but very different to how I intend to paint them so that there would be no danger of my being influenced by the style of these cards. 

close up stag+spirit animal+NicseARTh+surreal art

I've even listened to guided meditations which help you to discover your own spirit animal guide and was more than a little surprised when almost as soon as the meditation started a stag popped into my head and stayed with me for the entire guided visualisation. (Sorry if this is a little woo-woo and new age for some folk but don't knock it til you've tried it!) It was funny that the stag was my spirit animal as I had included a stag in my very first surreal painting which was part of my Reiki Master training back here which set me off on the path to more surreal paintings!  Anyway, as the stag is my spirit animal I thought it would be fitting if I started the series with one of these stunning creatures which we're lucky enough to see out on the hills around us all the time.

close up stag+spirit animal+NicseARTh+surreal art

I've always been fascinated by Native American culture and the way that they respect the earth and all it inhabitants. Animal Spirits are tied in with the Native American Indian belief in Animism which is a belief based on the spiritual idea that the universe, and all natural objects within the universe, have souls or spirits. 

close up stag+spirit animal+NicseARTh+surreal art

An animal spirit is believed to be a supernatural power that embodies the traits of the animal. The animal spirit is also regarded as a guide who might appear in dreams in the form of an animal. An animal spirit, or spirit guide, walks through life with a person, teaching and guiding them, and in some instances protecting them. 

stag+spirit animal+NicseARTh+surreal art+power animal

You can read about the qualities of the deer/stag as a spirit animal here if you're interested. 

Because I'm planning to do a whole series of these (and there are a lot of spirit animals) I wasn't sure whether to do them on paper or canvas but decided on paper as I have a couple of pads of watercolour paper that are glued down on all sides with just a little gap to slip a knife in to separate the paper from the pad when the painting is finished (this means you don't have to stretch the paper beforehand and it won't buckle under the paint). 

I had sprayed the acrylic spray paint onto the first page to see if it worked. It did and so I thought it would be good to use this as it means I can still work in acrylic but the paper is small enough to fit in the scanner which means I can get much better reproductions than trying to photograph it which is good if I wanted to make prints (I have an idea of turning these into spirit animal cards if they turn out to be any good) and also it means that they won't take up as much space as forty odd canvasses would! 

Anyway, let's see how the rest turn out before I get ahead of myself but I'm quite pleased with this one for starters and I'd like to say a massive thank you to a very talented photographer I discovered on Instagram recently called Bryan Buckley who has taken some fantastic photos of Scottish stags and very kindly gave me permission to use one of them as a reference for this painting.

Wednesday, 6 January 2016

Nature's Fireworks...a landscape painting

Aurora Borealis+vibrant artwork+impasto+acrylic+NicseARTh
'Nature's Fireworks' - acrylic on box canvas 40 x 30cm 

Happy New Year. I hope everyone had their own version of a perfect festive season. As always, ours was quiet and I ate too much. On New Year's Eve we stayed home as we always do but we missed the fireworks being broadcast live from London, Edinburgh and wherever else because we were lucky enough to be experiencing nature's own fireworks right above our cottage! 

Here I am looking terribly glamorous with fleecy pyjamas, beanie hat and glass of spiced rum and coke in the driveway enjoying the light show!

The northern lights theme continues with my artwork this week as I finally finished a larger painting I've been working on for a few weeks now.

Aurora Borealis+vibrant artwork+impasto+acrylic+NicseARTh

I started this when we got back from Iceland inspired by some of the photos that S took while we were there but the days have been so dreary and dull that by the time I'm finally ready to start painting I only get an hour or two before the light fades so things have just been taking a lot longer. Roll on spring!

acrylic spray paints+impasto acrylic+landscape art+vibrant+NicseARTh

The sky was the easy part of this one as it was all mostly done with acrylic spray paints. I wanted to keep it quite loose and impressionistic so I just added a little definition to it with ordinary acrylics. 

acrylic spray paints+impasto acrylic+landscape art+vibrant+NicseARTh

Although, when I say this was the easy part, can I just quantify that with the confession that this is actually the second canvas I've painted this on. The first one I had the sky how I wanted it with spray paint but then I decided to try to make it much more defined, hated the result and ended up spraying over it. 

aurora borealis+northern lights+iceland+vibrant art+NicseARTh

Then I managed to smudge the paint when it was still wet which, with spray paint, can't be smoothed over without leaving a tell tale dent in the paint. I ended up attacking the wet spray paint with a palette knife, scraping it all off in a fit of pique, and surprised myself by seeing an idea for a very different landscape emerge. It's currently a work in progress so let's see how it pans out. Here's a sneaky peek of part of it:

beach nightscape+impasto art+NicseARTh
A sneaky peek of part of the salvaged canvas!

This is the photo that inspired the painting. The yellow/orange glow was caused by the moon as it was going down behind the mountains.

Once I figured out that I should stop messing around with the sky, it was the mountain that caused me to emit more than a few expletives. In the photo it is pretty much in silhouette against the bright sky but I'm not really a fan of silhouettes as I think they can look a little flat and one dimensional. 

So, I did what I always do. I added paint and I scraped paint off. I added some more paint and I scraped some more paint off. Eventually the scraping produced exactly the effect I was looking for and I carefully added a little more paint with a palette knife to get the look of snow in the craggy parts of the mountains. 

Nature's Fireworks

Anyway, I got there eventually and, sure, isn't the joy of painting keeping going until the vision on the canvas matches the vision in your mind?! 

So, this is the first finished painting of 2016 and I intend to procrastinate less and paint more in 2016 so hopefully it will be the first of many. I promise they won't all be of the northern lights but I suspect I've still got a few more to get out of my system!

I'll be linking up with Paint Party Friday and look forward to catching up with everyone after the holidays. 


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