Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Links Lenticulars

oil on card  30x15.5cm

The original source for this little sky study is a wide panorama I took from the Bruntsfield Links, looking north. There was a lovely mixed sky featuring a lot of very stable, lens-shaped Lenticular clouds (years ago, I used to think of these clouds as ‘whale’ clouds), and I used the section containing the glowing white one on the centre right.

Done on mid-blue primed card, I had a lot of trouble with the tones, then realised that my composition was a bit formless. There was a band of cloud stretching across the middle that didn’t do anything, so I had to import the sharper, more slender band now present from along the panorama. Likewise, I imported some trees from another part to fill up the middle foreground and break up the regularity of Glengyle Terrace.

I’m meant to be learning stuff from these exercises, so what have I learned from this? Well for starters, don’t use a mid-blue priming – it completely screwed up my control of the blues (odd-sounding but true). Get the tones sorted quickly – by looking at the sources properly. Keep the shapes and textures right – by looking at the sources properly. Finally, sort the composition out from the start – by looking at the sources properly – so that I’m not mending and playing catch-up all the time. The painting is on card, so I could’ve solved the composition very simply by cutting the top third off, but then that would have been for too easy. I do have a (slight) excuse for the tonal miscalculations too, seeing as I’m still coming to grips with the whole ‘Not-Using-Lead White-just-Titanium-and-Zinc Whites’ thing. But I shouldn’t push it.

Madam says it’s not as bad as I think it is, and some of the low horizon work is quite interesting, but it did take far, far too long for a small study. However, it’s done now, so I’ll just move on…

…into 2015 that is. Time for a song – should be Auld Lang Syne, but it isn’t. Happy New Year everybody, here’s hoping the next one’s better!

Post Publishing Edit: This was still annoying me, so this morning – 5th January 2015 – I sliced 1.5cm off the top edge. The image at the top is the amended one. Much happier with the painting now, though in making this edit I seem to have reverted to an earlier draft of the post and have lost a load of interesting stuff about measuring angles of view with your hand . So, my apologies for that - it's as if that little paragraph has been trimmed along with the top 1.5cm...

Monday, December 1, 2014

Orange Sky Study

oil on card 30x18cm

Another sky study from a photograph I took last month - I saw this sky developing from the window and nipped out to record it. I’m not really a sunset person – they can be spectacular, but I think they’re a bit obvious. Anyway, that’s the exercise done, and because I was dealing with colour problems different from those I usually face, I would say that it was worth the effort.

Laying a thin, warm, light layer over a darker base was an everyday problem when I was in furniture restoration - colouring patches and disguising glue lines. If I was using a coloured glue – a translucent glue to which I added my own pigments – there was less of a problem than when using the naturally-dark traditional bead glue. This was very useful stuff indeed, but couldn’t be coloured, and no matter how well a patch fitted, there would always be a dark line in the surface. If I simply painted that over to match the surrounding wood, it would just go cool and grey. I had to overpaint the dark line in Cadmium Orange (usually in Gum Arabic). This dried to a cooler colour, but warm enough to be a base for all the tricksy grain and figuring work that would camouflage the mend. Which was what I got paid for. 

No Gum Arabic in this though, or Flake White. I’ve had a shock concerning the (most) recent prohibition of Lead White, so I’ve decided to learn how to do without. This piece has only Zinc White, which has it’s own glow, but I’ll have to get to grips with the Titanium/Zinc permutations which are the only whites you can get in the shops now. (If anyone knows of a Lead White speakeasy, let me know…)

Anyway, this little painting was done over three sessions, total time 9hrs 35min – not great, but about right I suppose. It’s an adapted view from the canal bridge at Viewforth, just down the road. The trees suggested on the right are imported from Blackford Hill; what’s actually there is a new student accommodation block – higher and more rectangular than the building that it replaced, but the influx of students and their cash will no doubt be beneficial to the neighbourhood. I wonder how many of them will see my three paintings selected for this year’s Society of Scottish Artists Open exhibition at the Royal Scottish Academy building at the Mound/Princes Street, and whether they know it’s on from 5th till 20th December, and is free. Probably not many.

By the way, I knew we were a bit low on milk when I went out, so I got another litre - and some biscuits - from the corner shop on my way back. (So efficient)…