On my easel I use some raw (unprimed) canvas to catch paint drips and splatters, to wipe brushes and painting knives. Every now and then I swap it for a fresh piece and use the paint-covered piece to sew sketchbook covers and, sometimes, zipped pencil cases. These are photos of the ones I made this week, which are now in Skyeworks Gallery ready for next Wednesday’s Christmas event. (The sketchbooks are the same ones I use, with 140gsm mixed media paper.)
Celebrating the sale of this large tree painting which is dominated by an unusual blue — for me — ultramarine rather than Prussian. It was sold at Skyeworks Gallery and will be heading to Zurich. I’ve found my fingers itching to paint trees again recently; it’s that time of year when the trunks stand out starkly as leaves are shed and the ground becomes golden-brown. And of course I’ve recently driven between Skye and Fort William, a journey filled with so many beautiful trees, from thin silver stems to majestic oaks.
“It is tempting to ‘freeze’ a moving subject by taking photographs … This makes it easy to analyze the split-second motion recorded on film, but it tells you nothing of what came before or after or how the movement fell within a pattern.”
— Mastering Sketching by Judy Martin, p100
It can feel as if you’ll never be able to sketch a figure or animal or bird because they’re moving too fast. Now you see them, now you don’t. And saying it does get easier with practice as you learn to observe more rapidly, doesn’t really help when you’re faced with the frustration of a blank page or a few sketchy lines when what you want is a perfect sketch.
Initially, try to capture one specific thing only, for instance the angle of the shoulders and arms, the position of the wings. Look hard for a bit, take a mental snapshot, then use a pen or pencil to transfer this snippet of information onto your sketchbook page. Don’t overthink it: look for a minute, draw for 30 seconds. Repeat a dozen times. Repeat again, and again with another aspect. (Be patient while you learn: remind yourself that learning to write all those years ago took time too, it didn’t happen overnight.)
I remember a wildlife photographer telling me that to get the perfect photo you had to take several and, more importantly, anticipate what an animal was likely going to do by having studied the species’ behaviour. What he presented as the one perfect shot was part of a process.
If you’d seen my new sets of coasters and tablemats on my stand at the Country Living Christmas Fair in Glasgow at the weekend, the good news is that I’ve just added them to my online shop (here) — at a special price for the festive season! They’re sets of six, either coasters or placemats, featuring one of my large sheep paintings. Keep all six for yourself or share with your friends.
This weekend, Thursday to Sunday, I’m going to be in Glasgow at the Country Living Christmas Fair at the SECC. I’ll be on stand K88, next to the newcomers area and the bar.
I’ll have this little 30x30cm painting with me, and lots of others things including my new tablemats and coasters featuring my paintings!
“People are frugal in guarding their personal property; but as soon as it comes to squandering time they are most wasteful of the one thing in which it is right to be stingy.
— Seneca (via Brainpickings)
When you’re thinking about what you might give the creative person in your life as a present, consider giving time. Time to think, time to play, time to create, time to be by themselves, time free from the hassles of daily life.
How do you give time? Think of those things they do that you could do instead, all those things that use up our time in a week. Create a voucher that says e.g. “one basket of ironing” or “mow the lawn” and give these as a present. Consider leaving it blank, and letting the recipient choose, if you dare.
Or take time out from everyday life completely and go on an art retreat or workshop. Such as the one I’m doing at Higham Hall in the English Lake District next May. Or head up into a world where the internet (and cellphone reception) gets slower and narrower along with the roads and come to Skye for an art workshop (details here).
This weekend, Thursday to Sunday, I’m going to be in York at the Living North Christmas Fair (at the York racecourse). You’ll find me on the ground floor near the foodie temptations (I mean artisan food stalls).
I’ll have this 100x100cm painting with me, and lots of smaller things!
The last coat of varnish is drying on the second of two big sheep paintings — each 100x100cm — that I finished in October. One is reserved (someone who asked for first option on my next sheep paintings, and now I’m arranging for her to see it in ‘real life’ not just a photo) and one that will probably be heading south with me next week when I set off to the Christmas fairs at York (Living North Christmas Fair at York Racecourse) and Glasgow (Country Living Christmas Fair at SECC).