Monday, 31 January 2011

Water Colour and portfolio tidying

I have noticed more and more over the last year or so that many people have difficulty getting the right tonal balance in their paintings (as opposed to in their drawings), which means that they are put off by the colour they see.  So last week I gave my students a Tonal exercise, drawing first and then painting tulips using Sepia only. I did it myself too, and found it interesting... I don't use Sepia in my water colour palette, and I found that the colour, its permanency, seemed to be absorbed a bit into the paper as it dried, so that it wasn't as dark as I intended it to be. This is one of my studies, and in a moment I will paint a very dark background, to see what happens... (If its a disaster, I won't be posting it!) 

I spent half the weekend making a big mess in my living room, in fact, almost Total Coverage with paper, plastic sleeves, lists, extra lists and tape everywhere (think of your teenage daughters bedroom, but multiplied..).  I was snipping and trimming and chopping and arranging students portfolios for submission this week to NCAD, just the first round of submissions, with all the rest to follow over the next couple of months. As I took the over-stuffed portfolios off students and sent them off downtown shopping and chilling,  I began to wonder what on EARTH I'd been thinking - hang on, I'm coming with you... But the reward of finding a calm out of the chaos is great, and everyone was relieved to receive their work back, neat and clean and Ready, at last. Well done everyone. And thanks, all the mums, for the big hugs - but I'm afraid I can't adopt your children just now, thanks for asking, (and I think 18 is too late to adopt - and A, don't even ask, you're older than I am!) but I'm a friend for life, don't worry.

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Sweet Treat

The first painting I put on this blog was of chillies, which was part of a series for local shops, small paintings reflecting the shop which displays them. Todays post is another from that series, which is ongoing. It is Oil on canvas, size 9 inches by 7 inches, making it a really large cream cake. It was great fun to paint, as the folds of cream became quite voluptuous at that scale, and it always makes people smile when they see it. (Yes, of COURSE I ate them and they were as light as a cloud, as soft as...angel breath mmm..)  It was displayed in the bakery for a while and has now moved rather upmarket to the Boutique B&B round the corner, for guest to see while enjoying their Afternoon Tea! 

Painting on canvas is a particular torture. It is springy, which at first is disconcerting, but worse is that the paint bleeds - that was a surprise to me, coming to Oils after many years of dry media and Water Colour. I never expected oil to bleed, into the little grooves of the canvas. And while I am working on board at the moment, which has other characteristics, in comparison, the paint blends more deliciously on canvas, allows itself to slide arond the surface more willingly than on board... 

Next up - new evening class in Belfast due to student demand,  so now two evenings and a morning class to choose from. 
And in February, a Big Drawing Day, hooray! - in Dublin. 

Monday, 24 January 2011

Water Colour workshop, Dublin

Here are a couple of shots from my Water Colour Workshop at the weekend. It was pretty intensive as it was designed for my Distance Learning students, as the starting-block to their water colour term, but many other students decided to come along too, jumping in at the deep end. They produced a mountain of paintings (or rather, EXERCISES), accompanied by screams of Torture, huffing, muttering under the breath and wailing for More Coffee... (and that was just me!! Only joking...) But today, I'm getting emails from them saying how Relaxing it was! How quickly we forget, which is how it should be, or we'd never start another painting.
Lovely that students came from far and wide, including flying in from Kerry, how civilised(compared to me driving through the fog!),  and Wales.

Next up, Portfolio Assembly for NCAD portfolios. This is a horrible job, but I was nearly knocked over by stampeding students when I sort of Thought-out-loud about offering this... Presentation of artwork is very important, and can transform the feel of the whole portfolio.  Portfolios need to be dropped off for a couple of hours to be sliced, cut and rearrange to its most glorious advantage ready for submission. Sunday 30th January. 

Monday, 17 January 2011

Portfolio Course, Dublin

Well, seven girls with a looming deadline for portfolio submission to college makes for highly entertaining, fast-production stress. Many had reached the difficult stages, of dealing with thought-process evolving as they unravelled the brief, but after pushing them through that pain barrier its a joy to see students come to grips with the problems before them and begin to blossom.  With hardly any kicking or screaming... Amazingly, this group said they liked it better when I got cross and said it Even More Like it IS. Eek! Girls, you are Charming, and Enchanting.
This photo puts a whole new meaning on Tidy the Table..

The only causalty of the day was a very plain but lovely cake stand from the 1960's which I intended as a prop for a student. I was putting it in the car not carefully enough, and I knew instantly from the shape of the bag that it had split into several pieces. I'm not precious about Things or Stuff, but I do like Props, so it was a shame to lose this one, which I hadn't painted yet. Never mind, there will be others!

Friday, 14 January 2011

Fabric study, pencil

This week I resumed my weekly classes in Belfast and have started a waiting list as numbers are so big - I will add another evening as its proving so popular. How lovely! On Wednesday I had a smaller workshop which enabled me to join in (why should the students have all the fun...?) and we drew knotted cloth. I love this exercise, its a great introduction to looking at fabric and the difference between folds and shadows and kinks..  This photo shows two drawings either side of the subject matter. The top drawing is a student study, the bottom one is mine.  Almost cruel, but honestly, its addictive once you get started. And no, I'm not obsessive compulsive, sheesh, how could you even think it?

Here's some of my Monthly Monday group in Killaloe, Co Clare, working away, giving the impression that they're all studious and Good Behaviour. These folks have shaped my week for many years, and their work is inspirational. 

Upcoming workshops: 15th & 16th January - mini portfolio preparation, Dublin
Two day Water Colours, as part of the Distance Learning Course, Dublin
Oils, Belfast
Call for info
Weekly evening and morning classes, Belfast. 

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Portrait Commission

I have just finished a portrait commssion of two lovely children, in Colour Pencil. This is a great medium, which gets a bad deal. Many people think of it as pale or lacking intensity, but with the right paper, the right pencils (magic ones, obviously) and the right amount of Observation, colour pencil is as strong and wonderful as you could wish for. Its also a fabulous way to learn about colour, and how they mix and blend, so that just 15 or so pencils can give you the whole spectrum. This portrait is on Bristol Board, which has most of the qualities of an ice rink, but without being just so cold... It takes a mulitude of layers without complaining, but is Unforgiving of a heavy hand or a little slip of the pencil - you can't rub out easily. (so its handy to not let the kids share the table while you're working if its a little wobbly, for example, and if you're a bit jumpy when the phone rings, well - turn it down... those moments only happen when you're working on a delicate area. One slip and your model is scarred, or aged by 20 years) The photo isn't great, but here's the end product.   

Monday, 10 January 2011

Distance Learning Course - drawing module

Below is a great drawing by Patrick McCormack, a student on my Distance Learning Course. This course started last term and just weeks into it, I am so delighted with the students progress. I am impressed at how hard they work, and the speed of improvement is magnificent. The Course began with a very intensive drawing workshop and students were then given 8 exercises to do at home and send to me for crit. This one, knives, forks etc, is by far the most difficult. (don't beleive me?? Why not have a go yourself?!) 

Upcoming Workshops: mini portfolio, final check-in, cropping, presentation and general last minute fine tuning. Dublin.
2 Day Water Colour, 22nd 23rd January, Dublin.
2 Day Oils, Belfast

Thursday, 6 January 2011

Water colour workshop, Belfast

Here are my demonstration drawings from yesterday - the aubergine & lemon is in water soluble colour pencil.

Well, what a difference a day makes! Yesterday my students were all smiles, but today it was tension, stress and even paint-envy...! (Oh that's LOVELY..! Is it? I don't know..., I like THAT one...) Eventually they remembered to grit their teeth and trust me, and say Thank You... It's ok not to be sincere, so long as they say it... Today we looked at drawing glass, then water colour skies and trees. Delicious work from everyone, who were smiling brightly once again by the time they'd finished.

Below is one of the students sky exercises. Fabulous!

Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Drawing Workshop, Belfast

Today my students were mostly using water colour and water soluble colour pencils, with food as the Subject as usual... Great learning experience, and VERY well behaved students, hardly any back chat or paint fights.. Tomorrow, wash exercises and glazing in water colour.