This Week Colour

If last week was all about value, then this week has been all about colour.

After a few months of consolidation I feel like I am in the middle of another period of development in my art practice.  I’ve been aware over the last three months or so that I’ve not been as keen to go into the studio, the work hasn’t been flowing quite as easily and I’ve been feeling slightly dissatisfied with the paintings I have been making.   Reflecting on this, it seems that I’ve not been that excited by what I have been making. It hasn’t felt that new, but more of a variation on a theme that began about a year ago.   And I haven’t quite known how to change that.

So I have been thinking, and painting and getting feedback, and painting and thinking some more.  And then I watched one of Nicholas Wilton’s short videos on Colour and something clicked.  I already had knowledge and awareness of how to de-saturate colour to reduce it’s intensity.  As we do this the colours adjacent will then be seen with greater contrast. But like many things that are part of ongoing learning and development we can come at something we think we already know and with a new context experience it differently.  We can find a different perspective and discover something new or that we hadn’t quite grasped.  Sometimes we experience a greater level of understanding and integration.  So, the video was something of a light bulb moment as several things fell into place and I understood why I’d not been liking my work.  I began to get some ideas about how to change it.

Working with Limited Palette

Firstly I had been working with limited palettes. Generally no more than three colours, with variations of light and dark.

I had also been wanting to bring in a sense of space and simplicity to the design of my work.  But because the colours were so limited, the paintings were feeling too simple. As a result I was then using lots of texture to compensate and create more interest.  Resulting in work that was beginning to feel the same or certainly very similar.

When I did use more colours, because I was working with paint that was only slightly de-saturated the work would feel garish.  And rather than think to de-saturate the colour further,  I would paint over it and go back to the limited palette. And round again.,

 

So, armed with a greater understanding  I have playing with de-saturating colour and it has felt very different. I think  I have a lot still to learn about how to do this, make it work effectively with how I paint. Design takes on a whole new set of exciting challenges.  I definitely feel a sense of lightness and space that wasn’t so easy to attain before.  And I am experimenting in new ways with new ideas.

Does this experience sound familiar to you?  Have you found something in your art practice that you revisit and gain new understanding each time?

Useful Links

See some of my work at the Chatsworth Exhibition during January and February with Peak District Artisans.

Sign up for my email challenge which has a exercises all geared to support you in boosting your artistic confidence.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Art Books

I love books and I’ve quite a few art books on my shelves. Some are almost encyclopaedias of techniques with different media. Others more inspirational – examples of other artist’s work I use when I want to think about new ways of developing my own style of painting.  My collection reflects my development as an artist, so I have books on impressionistic oil painting, landscape painting, working with acrylics, watercolours and finally developing abstract work. Here’s mixture of some of my favourites.

The books of techniques I have found helpful over the years are:

The Search Press Guide to Painting Techniques: a detailed book of techniques across a wide range of different media. Search press produce a good range of books that cover different techniques.

 

Compendium of Acrylic Painting Techniques: a rich source of ways and means of creating with acrylics is also excellent, particularly if you are new to acrylics and interested in learning more about all the many and varied ways you can use the paint.

 

 

Betty Edwards – a great writer and really helpful when it comes to understanding how to draw. Her book Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain is excellent.  She offers a very clear and effective process for representational drawing.  She’s also written a book on colour techniques  as well that is full of great exercises and ideas to help you understand about tone and hue.

Some of the books I have used for inspiration:

Experimental Landscapes in Watercolour by Anne Blockley.  Anne is a watercolourist and her book is full of glorious images of her work along with lots of suggestions and ideas for how to use watercolour. Her use of colour gorgeous.

 

Acrylic Colour Explorations by Chris Cozen. This is a book of Chris’ work along with  some of her students. Another lovely compendium of inspiring images that I’ve very much enjoyed leafing through.

 

 

And finally, Creating Abstract Art is a book  by Dean Nimmer.   Emeritus Professor, Dean Nimmer, is the former Chair of the Painting, Printmaking programs at Mass College of Art, where he taught from 1970 to 2004.  This book looks at the nature of intuitive painting is is a rich source of exercises and ideas for loosening up and getting in contact with our intuitive artist.

Do you have a favourite art book?  I’d love to hear your suggestion if so.

Interested in learning to paint with me?  My new workshop programme for next year is now available here.

 

 

 

 

Falling in love?

Last night I fell in and out of love. With a painting.

Creativity

You may remember that I have recently completed a 12 week online art development programme (CVP) with  Nicholas Wilton, from Art2Life. One of his phrases about painting, and one that has stayed with me is  “Don’t fall in love too early”

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Too Early to Fall in Love.

What Nick was talking about is the inclination to get attached to parts of our art work in a way that stifles or stops our creativity. If we become overly invested in an idea, an aspect of the work, a corner with some lovely texture, paint marks etc then our creative exploration can be be halted.  I notice this in myself.  if there is section of a piece I am working that I really like I can get a bit precious and tight not wanting to inadvertently paint over something I love.  Then that tightness will often stop me exploring and creating freely.  And the work loses energy and can feel unexciting and habitual.

The impetus for this post was this painting. I was working on it a couple of evenings ago.  It was very early on in the process that the landscape forms began to emerge.  Possibly as early as the second pass so in the photograph it hasn’t had a lot of development and there isn’t a lot of history to it.   At this point my inclination was to stay with it pretty much as it stood.  This may also have been because it’s one of my first large pieces in this new series and with an exhibition coming at Art in the Pen in August I’m keen to keep on moving forward with pieces.

A day later as I was working on again and taking a moment sitting in front of it thinking what next?

Risk

I was noticing a lack of excitement in the painting  and found myself thinking “have I fallen in love too early?”  I was aware that it felt like there wasn’t anything new in this piece. So I started asking myself the question “Am I willing to risk what’s there and go in another direction not I knowing where the piece will develop.  How can I push this further? What would a risky move look like?

So, I took a risk, not as big as some but I did take some big moves in a new direction.  I took my used paper from my palette and pressed it onto the painting in a few places and I also introduced orange as a complementary colour to the blues which I think has resulted in a new feeling in the work, a new energy and vibrancy.

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In a long term relationship!

I’m much happier with this piece, in fact we are in a long term relationship!  There are a few more adjustments I will make to this before final finishing but the essence of the work is there for me now.

Is this process something that you recognise?  How do you deal with this your own art practice?

First Steps Art Workshop: How did it go?

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Abstract exercise

First Steps in Art is a one day art workshop for absolute beginners to art.  Firstly after all the snow we had been having we were lucky with the weather.  No snow and everyone had a relatively easy journey. Six people assembled on a Friday in Buxton to take their first steps into learning about art.  Several people in the group were completely new to painting and drawing whilst  others had some experience but wanted a chance to explore and play with materials and find out more.

After a taking a little time to introduce ourselves we quickly got down to putting paint to paper and began the day with a short briefing on the materials.

Using Watercolour and Oil Pastel

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Collage

The first exercise was using watercolour, wax crayon and wax pastel. Do you remember as a child making rubbings using wax crayons of interesting surfaces. Well that is exactly what we did. Our venue, The Green Man Gallery is an old building and there are lots of interesting nooks and crannies to explore with a variety of surface textures to play with.  This was part of the first exercise –  using the rubbings and making collage papers to use later in the day.  We all made an abstract piece and then a collage before lunch.

Lunch was an opportunity to see something of the town.  Buxton is a place with lots of history and an excellent range and choice of places to eat and drink. there are cafes within walking and a deli just up the road from the gallery. And of course you can always bring your own food as the gallery has a large space on the ground floor where you can buy a coffee and sit and relax.

Acrylic Paint

The afternoon was mostly given over to looking at acrylic paint. Painting on wooden board is interesting as the hard surface allows for a wide variety of techniques to be used and because it is pretty robust you can scratch and scrape into the paint as it begins to dry.

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Acrylic on board

After cleaning and clearing up we gathered to reflect on the day.  All delegates rated the teaching style as excellent or good and here are some of the comments from the participants.

Delegate Feedback

I would definitely attend another class.

Lin, you are enthusiastic and supportive, this helped my creative process and willingness to use the various materials. the workshop activities were enjoyable and fun. Thank you. 

Great day,enjoyed having the time to explore the different media and learn some new techniques. 

Enjoyable day. Thank you. 

Perhaps you’ve been thinking about this course for a while?  Not sure if it was for you?  I hope this information and feedback lets you know a little more about what to expect.

The next date is Friday 28th September and there are still some paces left. Contact me to reserve your place and come and play with paint for the day.

Free yourself

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Plein Air watercolour and ink.

I’m thinking about new ideas in my work particularly how to join up the skills I have as a psychotherapist of over ten years and as a practising artist. Having been on my own journey of artistic development; from someone who hadn’t picked up a paint brush since “A” level I’m very interested in working with people in freeing up their creativity, whether it’s because they want to paint, play music, act dance or sing or because they want to find a way to improve their creative energy in a more general way and free themselves to be more expressive.

Critical Inner Voice

When I was at school I can remember how difficult art felt sometimes.  My inner voice criticising, feeling unable to express myself feely, being scared about what others might think or say about my efforts. From my own recent personal experience I can definitely say that my confidence in painting and in being willing to experiment now comes from having done so much personal development work as part of my training to work as a psychotherapist. That work has been all about understanding myself better and growing my confidence in my thinking, feeling and ways of being myself. Which has fed through into my painting in a willingness both to experiment and test out new ideas and to put myself out there, for my work to be seen and commented on.

Understanding Self

I’m not by any means suggesting that everyone who is an artist or who wants to express themselves in a more creative  way needs to undergo a course of psychotherapy – however I do think that there is something to be said for understanding how we might be limiting ourselves and then finding ways to liberate ourselves from old patterns of criticism, or insecurity in our expressiveness.

Coaching for Creativity

I work with people in just this way, whether in a small groups or on an individual basis I provide creative coaching support.  My approach is to focus on what each person wants to gain from the time with me.  So, we might explore practical techniques as well as how your thinking and feeling might be influencing your work. In my experience it is the ideas we have about our abilities and what we are doing that feeds into what and how we create.

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Mixed media experiment using collage. 

If you think you might be interested in exploring how I might be able to help then please give a call or drop my an email using the form below. we can have a 20 minute conversation free of charge to explore some of the areas you might like to work and if this might be for you.

 

Doodling

I was in Sheffield this week and found a second hand book shop on Sharrow Vale Road.  I bought three lovely art book bargains, one on drawing for beginners that I thought might have some useful exercises for my upcoming workshops, one on painting outside as, although I sketch outside, I tend to work mainly in my studio, and one on watercolours.

There are some very talented watercolourists out there whose work I love,  spontaneous, unusual and fresh work.   I think because I came late to watercolours it has been, so far, the medium I find the  most challenging.  The work so often ends up muddy, or overworked.   I aim for spontaneity and brightness and am often dissatisfied with the results.

So, when my bargain book, Fresh Watercolours by Ray Campbell Smith suggested doodling as a way to play with the effects of watercolour I decided to experiment.

The learning has been very interesting and I have discovered quite a few things:

I have been adapting (doing as told without evaluating or thinking about my own ideas) to an artist whose workshop I attended quite a while ago who said that round brushes are “the best to use.”  In my other work I mostly use flats, I like the definite marks that result and they are flexible enough to make quite a range of different marks too.  So a change of brush to test this out for while.

Because I work mainly with oils and acrylics I tend to work quite quickly and I think I have a habit of getting lost in the work and not standing back often enough to evaluate what I am doing. This does not work well with watercolour when something I am working on can go from fresh to muddy in a couple of brush strokes.  I need to slow down and pause.

Planning in advance. I do sketch out my ideas before painting and test out colours using thumbnails.  However I have to own that for most of my acrylic and oils I mostly have a broad idea of where I am heading at best and the rest evolves as I am painting.  I think this can be a problem with watercolour as an unplanned colour or brush mark cannot be changed.  So, I need to spend more time planning and working through ideas.  I do find this quite a challenge as often want to get in there and get painting  and it sometimes feels like I might lose the spontaneity by too much planning in advance.  Although maybe that is the challenge – to find a balance between planning and spontaneity.

Finally less is definitely more.  Simpler palettes, simple compositions seem to work most effectively with watercolour.  A doorway rather than a complex street scene, a tree rather than a whole wood etc etc.

To all those dedicated watercolourists out there, what do you think?  What have been your greatest challenges?  I’d love to hear from you.

 

 

 

 

Art Workshop Programme 2016

IMG_20150920_125717 (2)I’ve been putting together my new programme of workshops for 2016 and as a result thinking about some of the comments people have made to me at times.   When I talk about painting I so often hear a response that goes  something like – “Oh, I’d love to, but I can’t draw”, or “Someone told me I can’t draw/paint” etc.   Often said with a strong sense of regret.

Unfortunately it seems that there are quite few people have had some kind of negative experience when growing up around artistic or creative expression. Either that, or that art is not the kind of thing that’s worthwhile or that you can earn a living at.  Even without this kind of interaction people do seem create their own inner critic who sits on their shoulder (metaphorically) getting in the way of them being creative.

As a personal development professional and an artist I am interested in helping people step around this and connect with their inner creativity to express themselves in the ways they want and to be satisfied with their work.  So all my workshops pay attention not only to the techniques of working with the medium in question, whether it’s acrylic or oils, but also to the conversation we might be having with ourselves while we are working.  I’m looking to help the person begin to identify if some of their thinking might be getting in their way of their creativity.

And along the way we’ll be having some fun and Play with Paint! Interested?  Call me to find out more 07985 936393 about workshops or coaching.

Tips, Techniques and How To’s

I’m exhibiting at the Horsforth Walk of Art this year on the 4th and 5th of July.  I like these type of open arts events, they attract a lot of people who like to paint, draw and craft themselves.  I get to meet people who want to find out about the work and who are often interested in trying the techniques for themselves. So, I thought in the run up I’ll do a weekly post where I will share one of the techniques I use, a tip about how to make use of a material, something I find useful in my painting or possibly a resource that I’ve found interesting or inspiring.

Centre outside
Come and see me at The Horsforth Centre, Low Lane.

If you want to be sure to receive each weekly post then make sure you sign up either to my blog, and if you have a technique or tip that you’d like to share then post a comment.

Happy Painting!