I have received my largest commission so far with this giant canvas. This should keep me busy during November as the completion date is for the end of November. My dog, Poppy, seems suitably intimidated - or is she bored?
Hopefully all goes well and I can reveal the final painting at the end of the month - with my client's approval of course. So phone off the hook and get to work!
Speaking of work you will be able to see some of my paintings on exhibit at the huge Port Elizabeth Christmas Fair from 26 November 2014. Although I will probably still be working on this painting you can check out some of my latest paintings at the fair.
There are a few projects in the works such as a pastel paper and framing demonstration coming soon and my next art course Paint Better Landscapes expected in January.
Pastels are often regarded as the poor cousins of oil painting and watercolors. No doubt those cheap and nasty pastels in the stationery store add to this idea. There are also much fewer pastel paintings on display than oils and watercolor. This has added to the perception that pastels are not equal to other media.
Pastels may however be making a strong comeback. They should and here is why:
The versatility of pastels is second to none. They can be used as a basic drawing medium. Pastels are handy to plan a painting as you can draw, establish values and settle color plans before embarking on a painting.
Pastels can be used as a painting medium too as you can layer and mix pastel colors easily. The control of this mixing and placement of color makes pastels ideal for loose impressionist work or highly rendered realism. You choose.
Additional variety can be obtained by using various forms of underpainting. For example underpainting in watercolor or diluted acrylics can create exciting effects to subsequent pastel layers. Alternatively the first layers of pastel can be mixed with a brush using water or artists spirits. This is especially useful in establishing darks for later pastel layers.
Note that artists pastels bear no resemblance to cheap and nasty oil pastels found in some stationery shops. The latter are simply oil crayons and are best avoided. Artist's pastels come in three main varieties - hard, medium and soft. The hard pastels can be used for underpainting or drawing the composition. Medium pastels and soft pastels will be used more often for the painting stage. Unison make excellent medium pastels while Sennelier are famous for their soft pastels.
What about pastel paper? The main issues here are the tooth and tone of the paper. Tooth refers to the texture of the paper while tone is the color of the paper. The texture should not be too rough, but still have enough texture to hold layers of pastel. A fine portrait canvas will work too.
Pastel paper can be expensive so experiment with good water color paper. I have tried this to good effect. Try mounting watercolor paper onto board to get a painting panel similar to an oil painting panel. You can prime watercolor paper with gesso on the rear of the paper before sticking it to a board (MDF or similar good quality board). This gives an excellent painting board that can be transported in a painting carrier outdoors. The paper will not buckle once framed either. I frame these boards without a matt board, but more on this my next article on framing pastels.
I also enjoy the fact that I can paint outdoors very comfortably with pastels. Setting up is easy and there are no liquids to worry about. But make sure you can transport your finished painting in a panel carrier to protect the surface.
So give pastels a try. Oils are still my first love, but pastels are fast becoming a regular part of my painting process.
There is a bit of Walter Mitty within us all. That part of us that dreams of adventure, excitement, new directions and acknowledgement. Do you still daydream? I know as a youngster I was always in dreamland. The dreams became scarcer after I had to make a living in the real world. That is probably when most of us start to dream less year after year. Walter Mitty however kept on dreaming as an adult. His creative soul kept pestering him while a safe life tried to keep him locked into a grey existence.
If you recall the story in The Secret Life of Walter Mitty is about an average guy leading a dull life ironically working for Life Magazine. I am referring to the recent remake of the movie starring Ben Stiller. Walter is in charge of the photography processing and archives for Life magazine. Once again a world filled with art from the world's best photographers. Walter gets to see these images and makes sure that they are printed in the magazine. Naturally his imagination is fueled by these images and he dreams of leading an exciting life which will also help him win the love of a beautiful woman.
Walter is finally propelled by a crisis at work to seek out a famous photographer. We get to see that the universe is constantly placing opportunities before us if we choose to look for them. It reminds me also of the Mission Impossible message that says "...your mission, should you choose to accept it...". Walter finally chooses to accept his mission and take an opportunity, which leads to another and so it goes. Walter is finally living the life he once only dreamed about. Is it easy? No it is hard work and not always safe, but that is never part of the equation. It comes down to accepting your life's potential or simply existing.
Walter Mitty has an artist within him. He deals with photographs and knows what is a powerful image. He knows what is art, but lives vicariously through other artists. Until he chooses to live his own art. To create something unique and special with his life. Is this not true for all of us?
If our lives are something we get to create through choices and action then we are creating something unique. Life does not require us to sacrifice ourselves to an idea. The myth of the office, promotions and retirement at 65. The idea that one way is the only way. Sacrifice to these ideas is not an authentic way to live.
I think that we are misled by fear into these paths more than any other emotion. Of course we know that following a career out of fear is not a recipe for a fulfilling life. Neither is simply doing nothing. No we are required to work and create. The question is what are we meant to do?
An artist will see opportunities and know what is required once fear is put aside. That is the making of a brave man.
Be brave and do your art.
Prints remain a popular way to add a new look to a room or office. Although I have not added many prints to my range I have recently added the above print. The painting of Nieu Bethesda Farm remains one of my favorite paintings. The painting shows a scene in the village of Nieu Bethesda, Eastern Cape. This remains a special time for me and is one of the painting destinations that any landscape artist would love to visit. It was an obvious choice for my prints. more info