Monday, 30 December 2013

(Almost) The End OF 2013

Well, last year I reviewed the year just gone and then looked forward at what I might be doing. So, what did I achieve from my list?

I did go to Italy, as well as Paris and up to Connel. In particular, I went to a residency with the Jerusalem Studio School in Civita Castellana. It is advertised as " an incomparable incubator-like environment to the serious artist seeking a setting attuned to intense work, reflection, exploration, artistic growth, conversation, exchange and excursions – an artistic experience that can nourish a lifetime of work." and for once the advertising actually down plays the experience. Being there, talking to other artists, seeing their work in progress and experiencing Rome has clarified my path. Although I wrote last year about doing more landscapes, I now feel that this is something that should wait. It is people and their stories I am passionate about and therefore will be painting. Rome showed me what kind of work I really do not like - all those half naked, posturing, empty-headed women - which has given me a very strong urge to create the opposite - strong, intelligent people.

The other big events of the year was moving into a studio, then having my painting shoulder operated on a couple of weeks later. The two together has enabled whole new ways of working - in series, at an easel, using bigger brushes and bigger canvases, for starters. In many ways I am still processing the changes, but the results should be visible over the next six months - and next week I will write about these aims for the year to come.

Sunday, 22 December 2013

Thinking Time

The last few months have been full of thinking and research - activities that so far haven't produced an image I can show.

But taking the time to plan a group of work has been very rewarding. I can see quite clearly now the themes of the paintings I will be doing for a bit and although this means I am restricting myself in many ways this feels natural. Several outside restrictions (bad shoulder meaning being unable to use an easel, not having a studio, not having decent light, not having good reference material etc) have now been resolved so for the first time what I make is up to me.

So I have decided to mainly work with people, particularly how they use their appearance to communicate. Still a very broad area - but one I am finding fascinating, especially as it is allowing me to look into how we transform ourselves. Watching Disney films (looking at how the idea of the princess has taken hold in our culture, among other themes) has suddenly become research. Reading Shakespeare, Alice In Wonderland and The Sandman series is data collection. Talking to people about their day dreams and playing dress up is work.

The first paintings are in progress, so expect more specific musings in future. Also, posts will be more regular and mainly on Sundays. Except for February, when there will be a drawing a day, hopefully as part of 28 drawings later .

Friday, 29 November 2013

Now Showing . . .

This one (and a slightly bigger portrait done on the same day) will be on show at RGI Kelly Gallery from tomorrow - this is normally a really interesting and tempting show, so am pleased to be in it and looking forward to seeing all the other artists work. But before then is the opening of Art Exposure's christmas show, where the Teacakes and the Daisy will be on show, along with another couple of mine.

Also, I have a little self portrait at the RGI and two Rapunzel paintings at Mansfield Park Gallery . It seems I'm on a mission to fill Glasgow with art!.

Thursday, 24 October 2013

Tidy Studio

For those who missed the Open Studio event - you won't see it this tidy too often.

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

The Perfect Palette Table (and a messy studio)

Well, I promised some piccies of my studio in use. Only a day late - sorry folks, getting ready for the open studios really is taking a lot of time!

Anyway, this is my super magic glass palette, made from Ikea products. It is pretty much the right height for me both standing and sitting as well as being pretty easy to clean. It is also at least twice the size of my previous palette - so much space! What can't be seen is the paper lying under the glass, with graduated tones. This makes life just that bit easier, since I can see at a glance where on the tonal scale a colour lies and what it needs to become darker or lighter. Sounds complicated but is really rather easy.

This is the studio in use - a bit of a mess. Quite a difference from when I moved in - now you see why I'm doing so much cleaning . . .

Sunday, 29 September 2013

Hanson Street WASPS Open Studio Event 5th and 6th October

Less than a week to go!

All the paintings are painted and most of the drawings drawn, as shown in my last post although several of them are still with the framer , who is having his usual annual sale during the event. Most of the booze (prosecco and spritzes will be served, as well as water and juice for the sober types) and nibbles (teacakes and ameretto biscuits mainly) have been gathered.

What needs done now is the scrubbing - the next couple of days will involve much elbow grease - those windows need cleaned again! - and I will post a picture of how it looks when sparkling clean. Better, though, is to see it for real, so do come along if you are able. Otherwise I'll have to eat and drink everything myself, which may not be popular with the husband!.

Also, to recap, here is how the studio when I moved in - Day 1 and Day 2 . I do have more photos of the progress after that and will look them out and post them tomorrow - as some of you know, I underwent shoulder surgery a fortnight after moving in, which stopped me typing as well as painting for a while.

But now it is full steam ahead and I hope that my visitors at the open studios will inspire me over the next year - feedback, both good and bad, is very important to me and I feel helps me progress. So don't be shy in telling me your opinions!

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Drawings of Roses

WASPS annual open studios will be on the 5th and 6th of October - not next weekend, but the one after.

This will be the first time I've taken part as a tenant and not part of the life group - which is proving quite terrifying. There is a lot more organising than I was initially prepared for - but thankfully is now almost done. Just some elbow grease to go!

These drawings will be on show - it has been years since I've done this kind of detailed drawing but it was a very useful exercise while I was figuring out ways to paint them. Sometimes, especially when working with tonal values, changing from one media to another can really illuminate matters. And I feel the results are quite fetching, too.

So do come along and see them.

Monday, 2 September 2013

Civita Castellana

Just a few photographs from my balcny, which overlooked the main square of the town.

As you can see, the place is gorgeous, whatever the weather. Most of the buildings are a pale yellow/pink, which are in harmony with the sky pretty much all the time.

At night the lights have a strong yellow glow, to contrast with the deep blue of the night sky. Stunning.

Saturday, 31 August 2013

Palazzo Massimo

The photographs kinda speak for themselves - the Palazzo Massimo is beautiful.

On the top floor is Livia's room, along with other frescoes roman houses - one of which may be Agrippa's and although less stunningly breathtakingl is still quite amazing.

There are stunning mosaics, in black and white and colour, of geometrics and fanciful scenes.

Further down are statues of a quality much higher than I expected from all the "roman statues are just poor copies of the greek" stuff you read in art history books - the portraits are particularly fine and interesting.

A trip much recommended - especially as the place is lovely and cool, without all the crowds you can get in some over museums (yes, Galleria Borghese, I'm looking at you!).

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Morandi in Bologna

Last Thursday we went to Bologna - and it took five hours.

But was most definitely worth it. And I got to share the bus with Sharon and her group as well as being able to watch the lovely Tuscany landscape, so it wasn't all bad.

Once there, we went to MAMBO , which was mainly full of all the sort of stuff you see in GOMA - what is it with these capital letter acronym places? - but also had a set of rooms set aside just for Morandi. The above is some of my notes from this - fascinating stuff. Lots of ideas to steal for my next still lifes. If you ever get the chance, go. It may change your life . . . or at least your painting.

After that I wandered up to the old town. It was 41C, but all those colonnades made it comfortable even for me. There I went to the Munipical Art Collection which was quite fascinating - there wasn't really any stunning, big name stuff, but instead lots of charming very old altarpieces and icons, very competent portraits and a lovely little room at the end, painted to be like standing in the middle of a particularly well looked after wood. There is also an art gallery, but sadly I was running out of time (or so I thought) so went back to the meeting place, drank wine and chatted about the Slade School with a charming gent who knew Coldstream and Uglow amongst others. Its a hard life . . .

Saturday, 24 August 2013

Civita Castellana - The Terrano Studio Center

This is my little studio while I'm here. Stunning, no?

It is however a twenty minute walk from the old town - and my shoulder still isn't really up to carrying my painting equipment for this length of time. Oh well. So I have moved most things back up to the Palazzo and am mainly using the studio for lining up the paintings once they are done.

So far I do feel they are improving - there are so many things to learn here - not least the logistics of what to take, where to find a shady spot and so on.

Think it may well be like New York, where it wasn't really until I got home that I felt my painting really started to improve.

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Civita - First Day Painting

This morning was my first day painting - these were really just little experiments to try and figure out what paints to carry with me. Everything is so much bluer here - guess I'm going to have to ditch the sap green!

Above are some drawings from yesterday as I was wandering about, getting my bearings.

Sunday, 18 August 2013

Roma Day 2 - Barberini Palace

Day 2 I spent in palaces - the Barbarini , the Spada and the Corsini.

All three of them are lovely buildings - the Barberini has famous stairs, as well as a guard cat, but I think it would be the Corsini I would like to live in the most - the views looking up to woods is lovely. However, I presume the garden at the Spada down towards the Tiber must have been rather great, too - but the whole place was much pockier than the other two.

All three had lots of paintings. Lots and lots, crammed all together, mainly of saints wringing their hands/being killed or Magdalenes repenting with bare bosoms. Not to my taste but as I've said before, looking at second rate paintings can be very useful in my own painting - they are much easier to analyse as to what works and what doesn't, and why - for example, I saw two St.Francis's by Caravaggio - one in the Barberini, one at the Capuchin Crypt - and I felt that the Barberini one was preferable - it is less sharp, has more humanity and mystery to it - and was pleased to note that the scientists agree. And this is something I need to remember when painting - lack of definition can be a good thing (his hands, for example, have a clearer junction between the fingers in the copy than in the original.)

If you can only go to one of these places, choose the Barberini. The Corsini was nice, had some lovely stuff including one of Rubens heads, but the Barberini has a nice Caravaggio or two. As well as few more stunners - and I never got to see floor 2, so there may well be even more than I saw.

Saturday, 17 August 2013

Roma Day 1 - Capitoline Museum

And finally I've arrived.

Pretty knackered after all that hanging about airports (it was a ten hour journey from my house to the hotel) so decided to go wandering towards the Capitoline Museum . The walk was shorter than I expected - seems the center of Rome really isn't very big - so I got to enjoy a couple of hours there. It was very quiet, especially up with the paintings, which was great for me as I could get very close and really peer at them - something the guards (who were both more stylish and more numerous than the tourists) seemed quite happy for me to do. The selection is limited and almost all bible themed but getting a close look at a maybe Velazquez partially finished self portrait and an early Caravaggio alone would have made the trip worthwhile. Was also very taken with the dragon in Giovanni Girolamo Savoldo's Portrait of a Woman - a very early photo bomb?

Thursday, 15 August 2013

JSS in Civita Residency

As you may have gathered by now, I'm off to Italy.

This is for a residency for two weeks with The Jerusalem Studio School , or JSS for short. They have been going there every summer for quite a while as Israel Hershberg who runs the school felt that his students needed more access to some of the masterpieces of western art - an awful lot of which hang out in Italy. For the last few years the school has settled on Civita Castellana , a town an hour or so north of Rome and not far from the road to Florence. Naples, Sienna, Bologna, Arrezo, San Seplochro and Urbino are also all on the excursion list - the two planned trips when I am there are Florence and Bologna.

This is the first year there has been residents - and the first year Terrano Studio Center has been open. So its quite an honour for me - especially as one of my co-residents is the amazing David Kassan who has been busy wetting my appetite over the last few weeks with his postings on facebook.

Also there will be students and teachers of the masterclass and also there are the students of the affiliate group run by Sharon Sandberg who is an american painter of lovely, calm still lifes. So, plenty folks - all of whom are representational painters. I'm guessing most will be oil painters like myself and most will be concentrating on landscape (also like myself!). This will be a first for me - even in life drawing there tends to be few oil painters - and I am really looking forward to talking to everyone else and seeing how they work. Lets just hope I don't spend so much time gassing I don't actually do any painting!

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

What Paints I Am Taking For Plein Air Painting

As mentioned in my last post, I have decided to take a more limited range of paints this time - partly because paints are heavy, partly because I prefer working with a limited range of colours per painting and partly because I did a workshop last time that had an very long list of required paints - this time, I get to make my own mind up!

So how have I done that, bearing in mind that I have done very little landscape painting (as I intend mainly to do) and I expect Italian landscapes will be little different from Scottish ones?

Well, firstly I looked at the recommended list provided by JSS and also the post discussing Isreal Hershberg's palette, which is essentially the same but has more detail.

Then I set all these colours apart and painted only with them for the last month. If I felt it was necessary to add a colour, I did so - and so decided on eight more tubes, which you can see circling the rest. Most of these were added when I was painting skin - as I might do some of this while away - as well as Sap Green and Black, as these are colours I have found useful for painting scottish landscapes.

A couple are missing which are on the recommended list - Provence Violet and Cadmium Green - and I may buy them once there. Titanium White is also missing - I haven't yet decided whether to get some there, as I could easily go through a small tube in two weeks, or persist with my lovely Flake White, which I have instead of the Cremnitz.

So what are the colours? Flake White, Lemon Yellow, Cadmium Yellow Medium, Indian Yellow Deep, Cadmium Orange, Cadmium Red Light, Alizarin Crimson, Burnt Sienna, Windsor Violet, Cobalt Blue, Ultramarine Blue, Phthalo Blue, Phthalo Green, Emerald Green, Cadmium Green Light and Raw Umber. To which I have added Brilliant Yellow Light, Old Holland Half Burnt Yellow Ochre, Vasari Rosebud, Scarlet Sienna, Video Blue Extra Pale, King's Blue Deep, Sap Green and Ivory Black.

Will report back how I found these - most of the green's at least are new to me!

Sunday, 11 August 2013

Preparing For An Art Residency

Well, as I may have mentioned before, I'm off to Italy next week for a residency with the Jerusalem Studio School summer programme.

Being both an organised (ish) type, and super busy this coming week, I have started packing today - the above shows what I am taking, minus the laptop and the camera. Inside the suitcase, along the bottom, is about 20 prepared panels - I just hope they are enough. So far it weighs about 15 kilos, so will be able to acquire a few bits and bobs while I'm there. I had a bit of a hard time of it coming back from New York - I hadn't realised the monday I was flying back was a bank holiday, and I therefore pretty much had to carry a lot more than I had planned to - as the post office was shut. My suitcase then was right at the limit of 23kg - plus a laptop bag and an overnight bag carried as hand luggage. The total weight must have been close to half my weight . . . an experience I will be glad not to repeat.

This time around I am wanting to really focus on oil painting. Over the last few wee while I have been playing around with limited palettes and I have narrowed it down to 23 colours - still quite a range! - and will buy titanium white once I'm there. My pochade box, which has a small palette inside. As the shoulder surgery was fairly recent I am planning on sitting on the ground most of the time - so I don't have an easel. Turps and oil will be provided by JSS - which is just as well as you can't take them on flights anyway - Making A Mark has a useful page about transporting art materials. My fountain pen is going and I am thinking about taking along some charcoal as well as watercolour pans or tubes and pencils for making tonal studies - these, along with a waterbrush, are very transportable and can be used in the moleskin.

So, what else am I taking? Behind the box is all the clothes that are going - including a very large man's shirt with inbuilt UV protection that I am planning on painting in. There are some advantages to being short! There is a huge sunhat as well - and I'll buy loads of sunscreen once I'm there. The spotty thing is a very lightweight raincoat - I've learnt that sunshine means thunder storms . . . The only shoes are two pairs of nike free TR fit shoes - shocking pink and black - which are the most comfy, blister-free shoes I've ever had. Sadly, there are no heels. None.

The Kindle is a must - as is my shuffle and a trusty moleskin or two - I love these, as they function as a diary, a place to write lists and details of hotels/phone numbers etc and a place to draw both when waiting and more formally. Pretty much everything else will be bought over there (including, probably, a kettle so I can make a brew).

So, have I missed anything? Any advice?

Friday, 9 August 2013

Studio In Use

Finally, a pic of the studio in use. Apologies for not posting this earlier, but it has been a tough couple of months.

Two weeks after I moved into the studio, I had an op on my right shoulder - my painting arm. I couldn't drive for a couple of weeks and was plenty tired so didn't make it in very much. Then I got to the studio, tried to paint standing up at the easel and had to give up after half an hour. But what a half hour! There and then I decided never to go back to crouching over my paintings . . .

So since then I have gradually been increasing the length of time I can paint before my arm starts cramping (presently, about fifty minutes, but repeatable with ten minute breaks for most of the day) and have been working on finishing all the paintings lying around, as well as starting a couple of little ones in time for the open studio in October.

Next week I'm off to a residency in Italy with the Jerusalem Studio School , which I'll tell you all about on Sunday. After that I aim to paint big.

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

White Flowers

Testing, testing, anyone still out there?

Ah, good. Sorry folks for the lack of postings - first there was the new studio, then shoulder surgery in June, then the recovering from shoulder surgery, then the heat. Two weeks ago the sun came out, and us Glaswegians are used to stopping everything to enjoy every moment of such a rare event - but it has been two weeks now, so we are all gradually getting back to normal life.

So I am beginning to use an easel - it has been well over five years, pre-oil painting days, since I have been able to thanks to a pesky frozen shoulder. And boy, it is amazing. So much I have heard about/read/seen suddenly makes more sense. I can lay things out and not have to move a chair to lift things up - suddenly using different brushes for different strokes is easy. And I can both see all the colours on my palette at a glance and reach them without twisting. Also, the turps is no longer at my elbow.

It is still early days (four weeks post-op) and I am gradually building up how long I can stand and paint - up to about six hours with breaks - but these are my first finished efforts. They are still little paintings, and some of the detail is done with the painting in my lap as previously. But I am quite pleased with the direction I am taking - bigger brushes! more subtle colour/tone changes! more thought out compositions! and have many, many plans for when I can do more.

And I will start posting again, promise.

Sunday, 26 May 2013

The New Studio - Day 2

Yesterday was Day 2 of the studio project. I spent it mainly cleaning windows and the floors (again). My husband put up wood strips for me to hang my paintings on and then assembling my cheap and cheerful furniture - a desk, a work surface and some shelves to start with.

Then time for a last sweep of the floor then home with aching muscles.

Friday, 24 May 2013

My First Proper Studio - Day 1

Yesterday I got the keys to my first proper studio.

It is no 37 at the Hanson Street Studios run by Wasps. I have been going to life drawing in the studios for years and have friends there so it is quite a familiar place.

The studio is on the ground floor round the corner from the framers and along the corridor from the photographer which I expect will make life easier. It is north facing with the two big windows you can see in the photos, so there is plenty of good steady light - so different from my current south facing set up.

First job was to clean the clay that was everywhere - on the floors, on the skirting, on the windows . . . this took a couple of sweeps and a down on hands and knees scrub. Then all the holes in the walls were filled then sanded - creating a new layer of dust to be swept up and cleaned off. Then the painting - at which stage my incredibly able husband got on with it and banished me for a while. Two paint layers later took us to the final photo and 6pm - at which point we finished for the day.

And today is my birthday so shan't be cleaning floors. Work will resume tomorrow . . .

Friday, 10 May 2013

Spring has sprung

Just a little painting (20x30cm) that I did yesterday - I am so glad to see the blossom, I have always loved it and would love to have a blossom tree in my garden. Last year I missed the blossom altogether, as it hadn't come started in Glasgow by the start of May but was been and gone in New York.

So this year I am appreciating it enough for two years!

Monday, 6 May 2013

Paisley Art Istitue Annual Show 2013

The Paisley Art Institute Open Show opens next Saturday and I am pleased to have two works up on display. This is my fifth year as this was the very first open exhibition I entered, the first time my work was shown to the public - and my first sale!

Anyway, promises to be a good show - I'll try and post my favs on facebook next week - so hopefully you can get along.

(For those of you wondering why I'm posting less these days, it's because big things are afoot.)

Wednesday, 1 May 2013


Is this photograph too dark?

This morning on my laptop it seemed fine - but now, on a different computer, it looks far too dark. This sis a problem I have had before - and as I use my laptop for most image manipulation etc it is important for me to work out. For example, I find the image shown on the camera itself is often too small to judge, so I take the laptop too, download an image or two, and adjust from there.

The worry is that doing this makes all my images too dark - reference material, publicity shots (ha! as if!) as well as the photographs of the paintings that I take. Although I do try and get most of my work professionally photographed these days, there are always some that slip through the net . . . or there isn't the time before a competition deadline.

What do you guys think?

Monday, 15 April 2013

Discussing Scale

Just a little one today - at 8x10 inches. Recently I have been thinking quite a lot about scale and I have decided that I will mainly work at a maximum of life size - it just seems to work better for me, rather than the big heads popular at places like the BP portrait award.

Partly this is because that although I do work in (many) layers, what you see (especially skin) is generally done in one go - and that gets difficult beyond a certain size.

The paintings done in the life room are also "one-go" paintings and don't seem to work if any edge is longer than 12 inches. I suspect this will hold true of painting plein air too.

So currently I am investigating supports - how to get good, small surfaces in various proportions - and this seems much harder than you'd think, with most manufacturers producing a very limited range. However, I have found a source of small stretcher bars and am working on stretching and preparing my own small canvases. Boy does oil primer stink!

Sunday, 7 April 2013

How To Think Up Titles For Paintings

Titling paintings is a very odd thing. Some have a title before they even start, some develop titles as they are painted where as others just stay "the blue one" while others only graduate to a title once they are painted.

And some still do not have a title then - like this poor painting. It has a name - that of the model (and bonus points to those who know who it is) - but not a title. Which is beginning to become a problem as it soon needs to go to the framers and then on to an exhibition.

So I am opening it up to the floor - any suggestions out there?

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Life Drawing In Glasgow

The above clearly is a painting, not a drawing, but was done at Wasps Studios Thursday Life Drawing Group.

It occured to me that I have been to lots of life drawing around Glasgow over the years, and it might be useful to you folks out there if I listed a few of the untutored, drop in groups.

My favourite still has to be the Friday group at Wasp's Hanson St, which runs from 1:30pm till 4:30pm, with a break for tea in the middle. This is the group that really encouraged me and set me on the path of being a professional painter - I cannot thank them enough.

But these days I can't go on Fridays, so have started going on Thursday mornings instead to Pam's group. This also runs in the big room on the right and often has the same models, but tends towards longer poses - perfect for painting. There is also cake and much chat.

All of these groups tend to be around seven pounds - to cover room hire and the cost of the model.

A cheaper option at four quid (but only two hours, not three) is All The Young Nudes at the Flying Duck every Tuesday night from 8pm. Being in a bar, there is booze - always a bit of a plus - but sadly as I normally drive there (there is a car park is just round the corner) I stick to the mugs of tea. There is a much younger, more informal group here - lots of student types - and a very wide range of ability and experience. Much effort is put into the music playlists, which is sadly lost on me as I'm a bit deaf. Oh well.

Another fun option is Dr Sketchy's monthly at the Tron. Must admit I've not been for a while, but they let you take photographs which was brilliant for figuring out stuff in the early stages. Also, the models normally do a bit of a burlesque routine which again tends to be a little lost on me but I can see the appeal.

Sandy is an amazing teacher (who first got me using oils) who runs both tutored and untutored classes in the Botanics - very handy for me - the Sunday afternoon four hour poses are especially useful and I'm glad to see more oil painters coming along to it now!

These are all the ones I have personally attended - please comment if you know any others.

Saturday, 30 March 2013

Carousel - Start Of My Most Ambitious Painting So Far

My biggest and brightest painting so far - this is about a day's work. Had to stop this stage as most of the canvas covered in paint and I need it to dry before beginning the next stage.

There is a little slide show of how I got there over at youtube .

What I've done is pretty much just a sketch so far - general placement of values and colours - although I've not yet used any opaque paint, so the creams have still to be added. What'll I'll probably do next is work on the main horse - which is pretty dark - with a full range of colours and brushes, adding to it stroke by stroke, using what I've done so far as a guide as to where everything goes. This may take some time.

In theory everything should darken, except for the lights - leaving them to glow.

Thursday, 28 March 2013

Sandy's Sundays - Art In The Botanics

A couple of sundays I went along to Sandy's class in the botanics where you have about four hours with the model in the same pose - I hadn't been for a while, as sundays seem to fill up easily, so was glad to finally get along.

This was where I first tried to paint the figure in oils a few years ago. There has been a bit of improvement since those first efforts, but it is still a very useful thing to do, to try and record what I can see, with the light shifting, the model moving, and all the other difficulties. Somehow I seem to learn something new each time - or notice where there may be deficiencies in my work. Part of this is because of the other people - all a friendly bunch - there is nothing like seeing the magic other people can create with the same model and in the same time.

Anyway, it has been a long time since I painted this model and it was great to try and paint her hair. I really should go along more often.

Friday, 22 March 2013

Recent Paintings by Jane Gardiner

My most recent paintings - properly photographed by Lighthouse Photographics.

Self Portrait at 38 - Winter

Reflection - Self Portrait

In The Louvre

University Blue

The Guard Chair