Monday, 27 May 2013

Hive of industry

From the title of this post you might think that I've been busy painting, but no, I haven't been particularly prolific. I'm really referring to the bees that nest in the roof space of my shed/studio every spring/summer. Each year I think they won't be back, and then around May it is rather disconcerting to hear them buzzing away just inches away above my head, just the other side of the tongue-and-groove pine panels. 

Their presence used to put me on edge so much that I found it difficult to concentrate on painting, and I didn't dare play any music in case the vibrations sent them into attack mode – or they're not fond of the Pet Shop Boys. But some research on the matter allayed my worst fears, because apparently they won't attack unless they think their nest is in real danger – and I don't plan on opening the loft hatch and prodding it with a stick. Anyway, as the bee population is under threat I am glad to offer a home to one swarm; it's the least I can do. 

Right, I've waxed on about bees for long enough; this is supposed to be a painting blog. Someone saw the 'Cows in Dorset' greeting card and commissioned a smaller version of the painting. I don't normally paint the same painting again, but I enjoyed painting the first one so much that I was only too pleased to create another version. So here it is, pretty similar to the original, and smaller. And the recipient seemed happy with the result, which is always a relief.

Cows in Dorset, Mark II. April 2013
Oil on board (25x40cm)
Copyright Karen Davies

Next, my then colleague (she has now retired), Lindsay FitzPatrick, showed my some fantastic close-up shots of a seagull she had taken while on holiday in Cornwall. She gave me a selection of them and suggested they'd make a good painting, so I gave it a go. Here's the work as it progressed.

charcoal sketch
block in main colours of sea and harbour
Start adding in more detail with smaller brush 
Seagull in Cornwall, May 2013
Oil on board. (30x20cm)

So, thank you Lindsay for giving me the photo: I won't show the photo because a) it's not mine to publish and b) you'll see that the painting doesn't do it justice. Ha!

What else is new in my studio? Well, I thought a new palette would inspire me, so after years of using disposable palette pads, I treated myself to a transparent perspex one. Here I am putting it to use for the first time:

My new see-through palette

Yes, I know, I could easily have gone into hand modelling. 

It was lovely to witness the splendid old magnolia tree that Stanley Spencer once painted at the Odney Club in Cookham, Berkshire. This beautiful property and grounds are owned by John Lewis and they open up the gardens once a year to the public. They also have a sculpture trail there too, with a wide range of pieces for sale. It's well worth a visit. And here is a picture of the magnolia tree:

Magnolia tree at Odney Club, Cookham.
Finally, good luck to everyone taking part in Art on the Street in Maidenhead on Saturday, 8th June. This event just gets bigger and bigger every year. 

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Coat of many colours

Family life seems to be limiting my creative output of late; that and the fact that my studio is very cold and damp and therefore uninviting during the winter months! Yes, I'm a bit of a lightweight, this is why I have only two paintings to show you. Perhaps the new year will bring with it a wave of inspiration for me!

The first painting was done from a photo I took on my last day on holiday in Croyde Bay, north Devon last summer. The waves were so rough that the lifeguards had put up the red flags to indicate that it was too dangerous to surf that day. Not that I am a surfer – I prefer to watch from the beach. I took some snaps from the garden of Baggy Lodge, a laid-back surfers' hotel and cafe, which backs onto the rocks on the road leading from the beach to Baggy Point. 

Baggy Lodge, Croyde Bay

It's great there because you can enjoy a spectacular view of the sea whilst supping on a very reasonably priced coffee. Here's the photo that I used for the painting. 

My photo of the rocks behind Baggy's

And here are three pics of the painting as it progressed. After looking at some paintings by Kyffin Williams, the Welsh painter famous for his use of the palette knife, I tried to be more gestural in this particular piece of work. I thought this style would suit the mood of the picture.

On the rocks (one)

On the rocks (two)

On the rocks. 2012 (final)
Oil on canvas (25.5cm x 30cm)

It is difficult to capture a moment in time with paint, but I enjoyed trying.

The other work that I have completed is a painting of my sister's beloved cat, Stella, and it was for her birthday so I didn't want to make a hash of it. I took a few pics of the cat, mainly in repose – her preferred position! I chose the one I thought would make the strongest composition and set to work on a large canvas.

Stella (one)

Stella (two)

Stella, 2012.
Oil on canvas (40cm x 50cm)

The painting framed

I ordered a frame that picked out some of the colours of the cat's coat, blue and gold. I used Picture Frames Express again as I have been impressed with the quality and price of all the frames I've had from them so far. I'm pleased to report that Angela was delighted with the result and it now hangs in her living room. 

Lately I've been dabbling with acrylics again. The benefits are that they dry quickly and can be used indoors, so could solve my problem of not wanting to work in a damp studio. I'll let you know how I get on with them. Some other news is that designer Annette Taylor-Anderson has kindly put some of my prints for sale on her new website ATA Designs interior online shop. Her work is cool, urban and contemporary and sells internationally. So a big thanks to Annette!

Great, another blog done and dusted. Now I can get back to my favourite Christmas present: David Walliams' autobiography, Camp David. Gripping stuff. So before my 'Computer says no!' I'll bid you a happy new year.