It never pays to absent yourself from your blog for too long because while your back’s turned Word press comes up with some new editing wizardry to cause some brow-furrowing.
Anyway, enough of that. January has been unexpectedly busy (and profitable) on the Art beat, it turns out. I’ve had a couple of commissions, which I can’t talk about yet, and I’ve given my first workshop!
Just before Christmas I had a long, flattering and hence persuasive request to give a workshop to a local Art Group. Some members had visited my exhibition during Somerset Art Weeks and asked if I ever did such things and I replied that I didn’t – too scary, too difficult, too time consuming.
But this group has a very nice, friendly and encouraging organiser. So this week on Wednesday I used my village Art group as guinea pigs and on Friday went out into the big wide world (well, Taunton) with my easel, paintings, paints, books, photocopies and tracing paper.
The group was interested in seeing and trying some of my painting techniques, so after discussion I decided to choose a simple image that offered lots of scope for messing about with paint rather than too many time-consuming problems of composition.
I created a level playing field – to be more accurate it was a snowy hillside with lots of hoof-marks – and provided everyone with an outline drawing to trace or re-draw. I thought they might be insulted at the prescriptiveness of the situation but most seemed happy to start from the same point. In true Blue Peter style I also provided a ‘step by step’ sheet prepared earlier to show how I arrived at my result:
I explained and demonstrated that my method was to do as little palette mixing as possible, rather to let the paints (blue, red, yellow) combine on the paper and see what happened, starting with a bit of undefined background and foreground. Snow and snowy skies lend themselves to a lovely free, sloshy approach, and liberal use of a squirty bottle of water combined with kitchen paper (my two secret weapons!)
Later when everyone had got some paint on the paper I painted in some of the darks on the pony, adding burnt sienna to the mix. I think they were quite surprised to see my palette at this stage as proof that you don’t need to do much stirring and mixing :
The final stage was ‘finding’ a background in the swirls and lines that had emerged. But by then there were as many different versions of my original painting as there were artists in the room, which was exciting and gratifying too. Here is a selection: