Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Accidental Tourists Continued


My series of paintings titled 'Accidental Tourists' is gathering pace. So far some 20 images have come into being showing Anna, her pink rucksack and increasingly, other tourists in the landscape. You can see other paintings in the series by clicking the accidental tourists label at the end of this post.

A Quiet Moment. Acrylic on Board
'A Quiet Moment' shows a silhouetted figure sitting in the window of The Boy's Dormitory, a stunning holiday apartment in a prime position of the Fort Augustus Abbey complex. The view of the abbey grounds and Loch Ness is stunning. Owners Mark and Laurie have made my year by requesting giclée prints for both the apartment and their own home and If you visit the Boy's Dorm website, Mark's incredible photos will make the effort well worth your while.
Incidentally, I have a couple of giclée prints left over from this particular run sized at 61cm x 25cm and 40.5cm x 17cm. The quality is amazing. If you're interested in owning one please do email me using my contact page. Or, as with all of these images, you can request a custom size up to a metre long. Links: Boys Dormitory. Fort Augustus Complex. Mark's Website.


Summit. Acrylic on Canvas Board
The summit of Arthur's Seat gets pretty crowded in fine weather and I am somehow reassured to see it so well used and loved. This could be a series all of its own, because every time I go up there  the randomly positioned figures make mesmerising arrangements of composition. Even though there is not much height to this panoramic image, I still bow to a love of big skies from my North Lincolnshire roots. I also like the way Anna (bottom left) bypasses the summit and is purposefully striding toward the precipice, beyond which you can just see the Firth of Forth <insert appropriate life metaphor here.> Finally, what a strange coincidence that everyone wore a pink rucksack that day. Or... my brother Luigi, a contemporary artist who studied under John Bellany at Goldsmiths jokingly suggested everyone should have one. The idea tickled me. I hope he's not reading this because he also teaches English and will no doubt feel the urge to take a red pen to my grammar and/or punctuation!!!?•$¿:) Chortle.

Path to Luss was painted with Winsor & Newton Artisan oils, a water miscible oil paint. I can't currently accommodate the toxic odours of solvents and they act very much like the traditional oil paints I used to use. This image is one of several employing a limited palette: Titanium White, Yellow Ochre, Burnt Sienna, Pthalo Blue (red shade,) Prussian Blue and Dioxazine Purple. A touch of Permanent Alizarin Crimson was added for the rucksack. True, it is not a choice for photoreal colour matching, but then I'm not a realist painter and I enjoy exploring possibilities within the limits.
The scene shows a figure descending from a short way up Beinn Dubh. In the mid distance you can just see sleepy Luss and some floating islands fading to a hazy horizon towards Balloch.
Incidentally, I tend to use Pthalo Blue (green shade) as my main blue but it is not included in this range. However since painting this image, I finally got round to processing some PB15:3 dry pigment from the fabulous Cornelissen & Son. The pigment suspends beautifully in Artisan's modified safflower oil and works to a smooth buttery paste easily and quickly with just a palette knife. The colour and covering power of this paint are astounding, so the eyeball sized amount I made up will last a long time.

Cornelissen say that on such a small scale, the toxic risk is very low, but it doesn't hurt to be over cautious. Open windows, wear gloves and a mask and proceed with care. If your gloves get too stained or develop tears, replace them with a fresh pair. If there are any grains of dust lying around, dip a paper towel in the oil and slowly mop up the pigment.


Admiring Beinn Eich
This very simple image also uses a limited palette of Titanium White, Yellow Ochre, Burnt Sienna, Pthalo Blue and Dioxazine Purple. Again painted with Atelier Interactive Acrylics. Those broken cloud patterns really set the mood for me, but it also works nicely as a panoramic crop. Digitising and working up to large sizes brings opportunities to play more. Detail crops become new versions of the same idea in a completely non destructive way. I totally embrace the extra 'geek out' options digital art gives us.

Boat Ride. Acrylic on Canvas Board
Ha! I love this image. I love the way the two figures are posed. I love the way the bottom right quarter represents the hard angles and manufactured colour of humanity pasted against a vast beauty of nature. The painting started life in a 30cm x 40cm canvas sketch book and as it developed was removed, cropped, then glued to an acid free card support.


Folly. Acrylic on Watercolour Paper
Those of you who have visited Calton Hill in the heart of Edinburgh will no doubt agree, it is a great place to take in 360 degree views of the city, Holyrood Park and sweeping vistas across the Firth of Forth. And yet one of the figures in this painting is oblivious to it all, preferring instead to indulge in a spot of texting. Or maybe she is looking at virtual 360 degree views from Calton Hill on her smartphone. Too catty? Yeah, maybe. Sorry whoever you are, I will refrain from further caustic observation on the validity of your relationship with technology. I only mention it because the title, 'Folly,' has a double meaning. Yes choosing technology over reality is a folly of modern life and I am as guilty as the next person, but the structure in the background is the National Monument of Scotland, also known as Edinburgh's Shame, Edinburgh's Disgrace or Edinburgh's Folly.
The caption says acrylic on watercolour paper, but that is only half the story. This image was originally painted on Hahnemuhle Cornwall watercolour paper, which is a lovely surface. However, the version shown here was taken into natural media software ArtRage, upscaled to a metre long then painted over.

Crags at Dusk. Acrilic on Canvas
Finally, this tiny 7 x 5 inch image is among my favourites so far, painted alla prima with a palette of Titanium White, Cobalt Blue, Burnt Umber and Cadmium Yellow Medium. I like the figure's pose glancing up to her left as she struggles against gravity and the snow while climbing Salisbury Crags. Dusk is a stunning time to walk around Arthur's Seat, especially in the snow. You can see (and feel) why history saw twilight as a magical time where the boundary between mundane reality and supernatural realms fades away.