Wednesday, 28 December 2016

Just Keep Swimming

With Christmas behind us and 2016 drawing to a close, it's a good time to loosen my belt, sit down at the computer and review my creative journey of late. And that's how I see it – a journey – because by looking at other people's work, using different subjects and keeping an open mind, my artwork is evolving and changing (hopefully for the better). That's why I've given this post the title, 'Just keep swimming'.  It's a phrase used by the eponymous blue tang in the Disney film 'Finding Dory', voiced by Ellen Degeneres. Dory has qualities that I think are helpful in being an artist (and life!), namely, to persevere despite set backs, and to keep moving forward. Ellen says these are qualities that she aspires to and she's done okay!

So what changes have I made these past months? Well, on reading that one day Lucian Freud decided to paint standing up, I thought I'd do the same. After all, he was one of our greatest ever painters and probably had some good reasons for making this decision. I think one of the benefits is that it gives you a better perspective and I think my brushstrokes are stronger. So no more sitting down on the job.

Another quite big change that I've made is to use palette knives. This came about after looking at work by Oliver Akers Douglas. He paints large oil paintings outside in the Wiltshire countryside. He says he likes the speed at which he can mix colours using the palette knife, sometimes even on the canvas itself. I'm impressed with his bold compositions and the way he captures the drama of our skies.  You can see his work here The very nature of using the palette knife means you have to use loads more paint and this gives a much more impasto effect. I like this side effect as I love the feel of laying on the paint thickly. The first painting I tried this out on was of Crantock Beach in Cornwall, and when I posted the image on Facebook I received some good feedback so I've decided to explore this further.

Crantock beach I, 2016 (using palette knife)

 Compare this with a recent landscape I did using brushes only and I think using the palette knife gives a stronger painting. Hard to tell without seeing the pictures in the flesh, though, I appreciate that.

Lulworth, Dorset 2016 (using brushes)
I supported my daughter's school Christmas fair by donating a seagull painting to the silent auction. It was this one below. But I miss it already so I'm painting another one, only this one will be done using the palette knife.

Cornish seagull

I was recently asked to paint a portrait of a dog for a friend. I've always really enjoyed painting animals so welcomed the opportunity. Here is the finished painting of Monty below. Next I will have to paint our own dog, Phoebe. She looks much more like a poodle now she's had her puppy fur cut off.

Monty, 2016
Finally, if, like me, you are interested in the work of Lucian Freud then check out this link The page provides visitors with Freud's biography, over 50 of his works, exclusive articles, and up-to-date Freud exhibition listings.

So, until my next blog, just keep swimming. Or I suppose I should really say, just keep painting.