light: diversion

This week I took a short detour from my current project theme (‘Light’).

St Livrade. France, holiday snap

Rather than continue to make exploratory sketches etc, I had an urge to do a painting from a holiday snap that my Dad took some years ago. The effect of light and shade is quite dramatic and makes for a strong composition.

St Livrade, charcoal sketch, 42 cm x 30 cm

Last year I did a couple of preliminary sketches from the photo – one in charcoal, and ….

St Livrade, acrylic on paper, 38 cm x 27 cm

…… a sketch using acrylic, which I like as it has a fresh feel.








Last week I did two more pictures. The first is another using acrylic. I took longer over it than the sketch above. I tried using a palette knife.  The result  is heavier than I was hoping for. The second image is a water-colour. I’ll draw a line under this little diversion for now, and return to collecting some more exploratory images next week.

St Livrade, acrylic on board, 53 cm x 43 cm


St Livrade water-colour



life class: not lovely, but interesting

colourful nude, acrylic applied with a pallet knife on card, 64 cm x 45 cm

These are my most recent attempts. This one (above) was done with a knife and the paint was hard to control. I chose this method to set myself a challenge and to stop getting precious. As I’ve said in the title to this post, the result isn’t particularly lovely to look at, but that’s not the point. The point is to stretch myself.

The next two are warm-up sketches. The model in the life class is excellent; interesting poses and she keeps really still .

start of project 2 ‘Light’: jumping in and getting wet

I’m now into project two – ‘light’. These project titles are just there to provide a hook. Although I chose ‘light’ deliberately, as it’s such a central element in painting and image-making.

The chart below is my mind-map that I did to get me started – and I’ve included a list of artists to draw upon during the project. This list could go on and on.


Themes for exploration are:

  • sources of light
  • reflections
  • light and shade
  • highlights / drama
  • luminosity
  • illumination

Here is a selection of the images I’ve made this week:

life class: one step forward, two back

I’ve selected two images from last week. The first is fairly ‘safe’ and conventional, but I like it:

30 minute sketch, charcoal, chalk and pastel

The second image is an attempt to link the shadows into an abstract shape; our tutor said it would be difficult and it was. I’ll try this some more during project 2, which is about light.

acrylic on card


What’s Alan Titchmarsh doing in my blog?

I’m learning water-colour techniques in a class. At the moment we are doing portraits and to get me started I chose an Alan Titchmarsh photo from Gardeners’ World magazine. Here he is:

I’m getting to like water-colour, now I know more about how to manipulate the paint.  Knowing when to stop with a picture is hard, though.

Scale and space: assessment

Ok, I’ve finished working on this first project now. The final three images, which I did yesterday and this morning, are inspired by Paul Klee. I made three monoprints using sun, moon and stars as a theme and then enjoyed myself painting over the prints.

sun moon and stars 3, water-colour and ink on card, 43 cm x 30 cm

sun moon and stars 2, acrylic and ink on card, 43 cm x 30 cm

sun moon and stars, acrylic and ink on card, 43 cm x 30 cm

And here is a picture of most of the other work done on this project:

I have decided that I’ve passed this first project (I’m not grading it). It has made me think about how to capture the feeling of distance and scale. Comparing my DIY degree with the Foundation in Art and Design that I did last year,  I haven’t done as much work as I would have done on the Foundation programme and I’ve missed the imput from my tutors. However, I’m still pleased with how productive I’ve been. During the summer before starting on the DIY course I’d been apprehensive that I would be motivated to get down to work.

Doing this blog is helping in that respect.

Scale and space: not quite the end

I didn’t make much progress on the project this week, although I am scheduled to finish it today. A friend has pointed out that I can negotiate an extension with myself, so that’s what I’ve done and I’ll finish off on Monday. Meanwhile, here are some images that I selected as fragments from the painting I made from the NASA photo. As things stand it is my intention to develop one or two of these into bigger abstract images .