I’m learning Photoshop skills, very slowly! I had a wonderful book for a Christmas gift from my brother and this resulted in a lightbulb moment…..
I had got ‘stuck’ with a painting – I knew it wasn’t right, but what I didn’t know is where to take it next and how to complete it.. I knew that the background was wrong, that the lighting seemed uneven… all in all I just was not happy
My start point was a background that had already been repainted four times.. I exmerimented with the image in pgotoshop and found the right colour… then it was simply just a job of painting in the right colour and adjustingv the lighting….. Finally completed!
My second experiment I took my original reference photograph and worked it in Photoshop with a number of other layers. I created the image exactly how I wanted to paint it, then ran to the studio to get cracking… As I worked, the painting and my ideas evolved as I changed the shadows and added silver leaf….
The below images show this process….
Now I can almost use Photoshop, I’m not intending to bypass my sketchbook every time, it was just that the computer manipulation gave me the chance to be brave at the click of a button!
Thanks for joining me!
I’ve been delighted to be invited to deliver a talk on the horse in art, or more specifically, the horse as the artist’s muse…..
It’s a fact that I’m happily obsessed with painting horses, my intention is to examine how and why this magnificent animal has featured heavily throughout art of the different ages:
from cave paintings,
The age of Chivalry (knights in armour),
The Renaissance (classically trained and complementing their humans),
The Baroque period (the power of the horse = the power of the rider, full of drama)
The Age Of Enlightenment (the entire focus was the horse – George Stubbs)
The Romantic period (the horse as a wild and untamed spirit)
Move towards modernisation (horses move into leisure bracket – advent of photography)
The horse and modern art (artists own personal interpretations)
The journey that these equines have taken throughout the history of art is inspiring in it’s very self!
I’m due to speak at The Cooper Gallery in January on Saturday the 26th… please see the below link for further information and contacts for ticket sales….
I will keep you up to date on my progress towards doing this immense subject justice!
Thank you for joining me, and a Happy and creative New Year to all!
In preparation for booking my flights for a painting holiday in France (with David Mcewan at www.paintfrance.com) I’m stoking up my obsession for white horses to practice for painting the little white Camargue horses.
Thing is my horses are anything but white!
Many moons ago, whilst attending a workshop run by The Society Of Equestrian Artists, the great Malcolm Coward (sporting and equestrian artist/guru) told me I used way too much white… I cannot remember his exact words as it is now over 10 years ago… but he said that there was only ever a ‘sliver’ of white on a ‘white’ horse, and that I had to look harder and see more colour….
It probably took a number of years until these wise words sunk in and I really understood what he was telling me…. In fact, I sort of wish the penny had dropped quicker for me, but everything in their own time, eh?
So, inspired to paint the Camargue ponies, hoping that whilst on my holiday I can take hundreds of my own reference photos to work from back in the studio, I searched out an image and set off working….. I have taken a number of progress shots to share my methods, procedures, mutterings and brushwork as I went.
The reality is that I will have to sell this painting to be able to fund my trip! Any takers???
Working to a pencil line sketch, with tonal variations marked, I start to lay in some base washes onto the lead horse. I’m using acrylic paint as though it was watercolour…. Why? Well I find I can badly cheat on the complex watercolour rules of technique! I can lay down some of the darker tones and wash over them with a thin glaze of lighter shades, knowing that the underlayers will not move or bleed. In this way I can keep the accuracy I crave and not turn my painting into a muddy mess of layers.. all being well that is the intention anyway!
I do love the colour combination of brilliant blue alongside the warms of a burnt sienna… really does it for me!
I keep on adding the base colours and looking for the shadows and darker tones. I know at this point that one major area of difficulty will be the flowing tail hairs, which I’m really not looking forward to trying to paint. The darker legs get some layers of an ultramarine and umber mix and then I glaze back over the dry paint with a weak brilliant blue to give a tint of colour, something which I wouldn’t have been able to do in true watercolour medium. The more I look at the reference picture I am working from, the more peaches, pinks, lilacs and purples I see.I’m trying to leave a minimal amount of naked white paper, but also trying to be subtle. Times like this I wish I could have a little more courage and get a stronger tone without feeling so worried!
Stages 3 and 4.
The basic colour layering and tonal work is developed further and continued into the two other horses. I want my lead horse to stand out in the foreground, so I’m hoping to make her darker and use a higher level of detail. I’m allowing the rear two horses to be lighter and more suggestive… at this point I’m struggling a little with the tonal balance.. I need a lot more layers!
I’m also considering if I am going to add a background, as I quite like the bareness of the paper.. I realise also that I will need at least, to state some cast shadows and ground surface detail, so I’m still undecided… ho hum….
Now I’m really pilling on the layers, steadily darkening the tones, I seem to be progressively adding layer and layer of brilliant blue, each one acting as a thin veil of colour, gradually achieving the required depth, I hope.
I’m still considering the background (or lack of!) trees, pebbles and hedgerows are not my strong point, and in fact, hedges are most probably number one on my most-hated-list. These horses are galloping in the air though, and are really in need of some grounding. Humbug…..
Stage 6 and 7
I’ve bitten the bullet and started to add a background and of course, instantly, regretted this. BLOW IT.
I now feel really harassed knowing I have to commit to hedgerow, pebbles et al….. Totally my own fault. So I head back to the easel with a very strong coffee, put some monotonous dance music on to give me ‘energy in the zone’, push my sleeves up and crack on with the job in hand.
After a good few hours slog, much coffee and muttering, I think I am coming out of ‘the other end’. I feel much happier with the background and thank goodness, now feel that I may have made the right choice! I again feel I have made the right medium choice for me; I’m in acrylic and now have applied maybe 15 glaze washes over the foreground, and then a pinky-peach wash over the horses and the sky so that hardly any bare paper is remaining. In watercolour, my whole image would be swimming away like the painting in the flake advert!
Am I finished?
I’m not 100% sure. I may need gto go darker in the cast shadows, put more definition into the rear two horses, add more colour to the roadside vegetation…. But to be honest, my eyes are now too tired to keep painting and the coffee has done it’s worst, I’m yawning wide and caffine wired!
This piece entitled ‘White Horses’ will be for sale within a week. I’m going to stare at it all weekend to judge if I can improve it without spoling it or overpainting. The funds of the sale will go directly to my ‘Camargue fund’ to pay for a horseback day trip to collect hopefully, a delectable cselection of reference photos. Fingers crossed!
Thank you for joining me on my blog. I will keep you updated on any action in the painting studio!
I’ve just completed day 2 of my 5 days of opening my painting studio up to members of the public…. This year I am the only studio based in Barnsley, all of the other 62 studios participating are in the Sheffield area. Check out the catalogue online for a colour image of each artists work, there are 150 artists! Just click on the web link below:
It is now my 4th year of this event, my visitors have been trickling in to my secluded countryside base, quality not quantity I say! I can happily report that 3 originals have now found new homes. I have over 60 paintings on display and have converted my studio and dining room into gallery spaces complete with white voile drapes and matching labels (really pushing the boat out here!)
Over the course of the last few days I have completed some new works shown below…
It has been lovely to open my private space to visitors and to talk about the inspiration and techniques I use, my last year’s artistic journey and also my plans for the future.
I’m a stones throw from The Yorkshire Sculpture Park and welcome you to pop into my secluded countryside base and have a cuppa and scone….. it would be great to meet you!