Good bye 2017

I’m finding it a little hard to believe it has been so long since I have written! The last two years have been very busy ones although not the kind of busyness that gets much painting done. I have rearranged my schedule and will be devoting regular time to writing and posting here in 2018.

Commissioned portraits are a major way I support my studio practice and I have been doing various commissions.  Beginning in 2016 I added pet portraits to my skill set. These examples below show the composition I am using always a 20×20″ canvas with a trompe l’oeil mat cut in a circular opening as the setting for the subject.  I enjoy doing these very much and welcome the opportunity to do more.  For these pet portraits I have been using photos provided by my clients. Like photographing babies and toddlers the family often has the best photos that capture the pets at their most relaxed, secure and loving moments.  You can contact me about my fees and procedures here.

Tia

Stewie web

Kobber complete

Thanks for reading and check back in January for more or watch for links on my Facebook page and on my Instagram here.

More soon!

 

Dream, Breath, Mist

I have just completed the newest of a group of paintings I began over a year ago. You can read about them here, here and here.  With this piece I am continuing the themes of meditation, contemplation, mindfulness and deep awareness and this time I’ve explored the experience of what the “inner” space feels like to me.

Dream detail

When I first conceived the idea behind these works I was considering how one image could morph into another based on the subconscious projection of a viewer the way a Rorschach inkblot is meant to work. I described my interest in the multivalence of an image and of the emergence of meaning that might come from interacting with the paintings that I had not expressly put there.  Specifically it was interesting to me that the image of the portraits facing each other might, more than just “flip” to the image created by the negative space in between them, but combine with it in some kind of third composite image in a viewer’s mind.

Dream detail 4

The first ideas behind these works may not matter so much to you at this point, except to notice that the idea of three levels of the image- one element, a second element, and the third element that comes from the combination of the first two-is here in three layers of the painting. There is the “back” layer upon which everything else happens, the layer of the portraits and a third atmospheric and abstract layer on top of the other two; a back, a middle and a front layer.

Dream detail 3

As I said, with this piece I was more conscious of the experience of inner space, which for me is very colourful and full of texture and movement. These rich colours and mistiness is what I might assume others experience in a meditative space as well.  In this painting  I think of the three layers described above as follows… first, the blue in the back being the “field” of inner space, the colour that registers after one’s eyes have been closed for some time. The second layer, the portraits, is the subject of one’s thought which is has form and description. And the third layer, the mist, is the abstract activity of colour and movement that comes with having one’s eyes closed for any length of time. It is this layer on top of the others that symbolizes to me the third composite image that might arise from the combination of the others.

Dream detail 2

By the time I was finished working I was deciding between three titles for the piece.  Dream (being in the blue ground of a dream), Breath (the portraits and the pink breath between them) and Mist(the abstract level of inner mind activity).   In the end I think the most appropriate title given the rhythm of three that is present might be Dream, Breath, Mist.   It is 24×30″, oil on canvas and you can see it now at the Jarvis Hall Gallery.

 

Thank you for reading!

 

My latest work

The project I am currently working on is a pair of portraits of twins. They are part of a larger portrait project of a sibling group and the previous ones have appeared earlier on this blog. All the works share the same dimensions and scale and they all include meaningful items and settings from the family’s home.

Today I have the first twin to show and the next and final portrait in the group will be complete and posted here in May.

The very beginning stages of work on these two I did simultaneously including the initial drawings on paper.twin portraits

I use photographs to paint my portraits from but I never paint from a single photo.  I design the images from many pictures first composing on the computer and then om paper in the form of a drawing on paper. This stage is always very important and there is a good amount of invention and creativity as I get the structure of the design just right.  In these pieces this stage was especially important as we had decided upon doing a mirror image of the girls. They were photographed on either side of a symmetrical buffet cupboard but I did much work to make”mirror” quality of the setting just right which hadn’t appeared so in the photos. The work included tacking string on the wall across the room from my easel to follow the perspective lines.

I stayed working on the two as I began the finished pieces. Here you can see I had both on the easel as I transferred the images by grid onto the boards and began the underpainting.inprogress4

Once inprogress3

Once a fair amount of paint was started and I felt confident they would match enough. I decided to give all of my attention to one until it was done.

So here then are images of the first one in progress.  It follows my usual working process except that this time I used clear gesso.  I have been enjoying working on coloured grounds recently and so began this way.

The initial study on paper…

drawing2drawing1

Then details of the drawing transferred to the board.  I do this all by hand with French curves and rulers with graphite on one coat and then another coast of gesso on top.

first stage4first stage3first stage2

My painting process is one of many layers painted on top of each other with areas of all application of paint from glazed colour through to very opaque scumbled texture. The very first underpainting has some form to it but is quite flat compared to later stages will add form and light.

inprogress2

Here the work develops over a few “layers” of paint…

inprogress6inprogress8

Eventually over many weeks of work the image arrives at a point where everything is finished. As any painter knows there are hundreds of details to refine and the last stages can go on for some time.  I know a piece is finished when not another mark I could do will truly make a difference, the likeness is perfect, the surface is rich and satisfying with colour and texture and when, finally, when there is a breath of life enters and inhabits the work.

I did go to art school but was not trained to paint portraits or to paint realistically and have learned by looking at other painters, reading books, by trial and error and instinct so there may be faster ways of getting to this end but I haven’t found them.

And now the finished work…

Meyer detail 1Meyer detail 6mdetail2Meyer detail 12finished portrait

Thank you so much for taking the time to read and I will be back next moth with the next one.