Monday, 18 June 2012

Cold Crags

Cold Crags, 40cm x 30cm
While waiting for gesso to dry on what was intended to be the next painting in my Accidental Tourist series, I decided to do a quick small study of something I might not otherwise have chosen. This is what I enjoy about taking up a theme, a collection of related paintings become like a music album where every track contributes to the overall feel with some lesser known pieces acting as support to the better known songs. The reference for this image was just one of hundreds in my bank and there is nothing at all special about it - I took many more spectacular shots on that day but the large dark mass of cliff side warmed by the waning sun caught my eye. I liked the way the dark mass continues in the gorse hedge as it trickles its way diagonally across the canvas towards us. So this painting became less about depicting a landscape and more about the esoteric arrangement of shapes. For such a simple thing there are some quite complex relationships going on. At a base level each quarter of the canvas yields and intriguing detail in its own right. Alternatively, the horizon splits the painting into two equally intriguing segments. Or you might notice the arrangement of flowing curves pretty much converging at a point where the path disappears round a corner. Here you can just see a couple of tiny figures who, together with Anna provide a reference for the scale of the landscape. You may also notice Anna is placed on the line which splits the canvas into thirds while her long shadow supports the hedge diagonal and reveals where the light is coming from as well as the time of day. The distant clouds also counter these diagonals providing symmetrical shapes either side of the horizon. I could go on!

3 figures on path provide scale
Again I used Atelier Interactives, this
time employing a quick and direct dry brush technique. I laid down a Burnt Sienna wash before using a palette of Titanium White, Toning Grey, Prussian Blue, Burnt Umber, Cadmium Orange and Permanent Alizarine. I like this sketch and it demonstrates to me the value of not discarding imperfect reference photos. :)
Click on images to zoom.

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

The Accidental Tourist

The Accidental Tourist, 91cm x 61
Following on from my last post which featured a digital painting of The Accidental Tourist, here is the physical version executed on MDF, coated with Liquitex clear gesso and measuring 91cm x 61cm. This is part of a continuing exercise in learning how to use Chroma's Atelier Interactive acrylics and the more I do use them, the more I fall in love.
Fast Underpainting
Here I used the paints together with accompanying mediums, impasto gel, slow medium and unlocking formula to fine tune my workflow. The imapsto gel makes paint more textured, glossier and aids quick drying, allowing the rapid build up of underpainting textures. A standard oil underpainting takes much longer to build up. Fast drying impasto layers mean you wait minutes rather than days before dragging fresh paint over them to create ragged edges which catch light and suggest more organic detail than is actually painted. Not surprisingly, slow medium slows down the drying time and also aids paint flow which helps achieve sharper edges for detail work, while unlocking formula allows you to reactivate parts of the painting so that you can blend fresh layers with previous layers. For the final finish, an even sheen was achieved by brushing impasto gel over areas where thinner paint dried dull. Impasto gel is milky when applied, but dries hard, clear and non tacky. It is a very pleasing finish, not at all like the plastic acrylics of old but more akin to an oiled out oil painting.
The scene shows Anna with Britain's highest peak, Ben Nevis behind. The arrangement of rocks around her could easily suggest ruins of an old stone circle, but these boulders are in fact glacial erractics. Click on images to zoom.

Friday, 1 June 2012

Path to Culcrieff

Path to Culcrieff - Acrylics
Quite some time ago I painted an image in ZBrush which featured Anna being caught in a photo I took of Ben Nevis. I Liked the idea that her silhouette accidentally appears in so many images of outstanding views and decided to paint a series of them in my spare time. Life being what it is, spare time has been limited since then - my to do list gets longer every day, so I have only just got round to the first traditional image in the series. Painted with Atelier Interactive acrylics on canvas board, Path to Culcrieff shows a magnificent conifer splitting the canvas from top to bottom. It is late afternoon, the shadows grow longer and the waning sun projects intense patches of light and shade onto the tree. We used a wooded path to get back to the cottage every day and this was the point at which it opened up to reveal gorgeous panoramas of distant Munros. Anna provides a sense of scale as she  steps into the tree's shadow and I love that she has since replaced her rucksack with a little pink one - something likely to become a signature of the series. I think the next painting will be a traditional version of Accidental Tourist with aforementioned change of bag colour!
Accidental Tourist - ZBrsuh (Digital)
I'm still learning how to use the Atelier Interactives so this painting was all about exploring the materials. The result is rather tentative and I want to get to a stage where the strokes are looser, wetter and more confident, but all in good time. Click on image to zoom.