New painting from old

Sometimes looking at an old painting that you never really liked is a great opportunity to reinvent and start afresh without having to confront the scary blank canvas.

 

I had this garden painting hanging on the wall for ages but had never really felt that it was finished or ‘resolved’ with its two clumsy white spots, an excuse for introducing some tonality to the blue meadow inspired imagery.

 

So I took it into the shed and started to paint over it in warm contrasting colours to see what I could do to refresh and renew and make something beautiful out of something I had fallen out of love with.

Sticking with the intuitive process that has dominated my art this year especially, I kept at it, adding colours and marks with varying tools to arrive at a stage where the original painting had not disappeared but provided a backdrop for some new exciting things to emerge and start happening.

 

Slowly I began to see the outline of a face suggested in the marks and I worked with this. 

 

The meadow of the original painting was still there in essence so I started to think about how I could incorporate the two elements to create a figure immersed in landscape. The headdress morphed several times, at one point a bird was flying out of it, but I preferred the organic flowery, feathery, meadow suggestions and brought these kinds of imagery into sharper focus. 

 

I’m learning the power of tonal depth, something that my colourful offerings have lacked so much in the past. Flora Bowley showed me how what she calls value contrast adds to the overall cohesiveness of a painting. For this painting deepening the outline of the figure and introducing translucence to the dress has I think brought some tonal contrast to colour explosion that is her headdress.

 

My subliminal inspiration for this painting is a vintage 1970s print bought in a charity shop, some photos that I took on a trip to Bali about 30 years ago and drawings of meadows in Branscombe. I love how different aspects of life and memory can impact on how a painting becomes what it is. There are also shades of inspiration from Girl with a pearl earring by Vermeer.

 

 

I will be getting prints done of this painting for sale in my Etsy shop in the near future.

Girl with meadow headdress – mixed media on canvas

 

 

Paint Mojo with Tracy Verdugo in Brighton

The Paint Mojo experience with Tracy Verdugo was my first ever art workshop. Where I have I been all my life? Along with 20 other artists who had travelled from different parts of the UK I enjoyed a two day journey into Tracy’s process for intuitive painting at Brighton’s Hannover Centre.

I had come across Tracy’s book ‘Paint Mojo’ at around the same time as discovering the work of Flora Bowley. Having just been through Flora’s wonderful e-course I was wondering what similarities there might be, especially as Tracy told us that her first art workshop was with Flora a few years back.

Both artists start with encouraging you to break rules, to be brave and not to worry about perfection or comparison. There is a similar sense that you need to trust in process and not get too hung up on end results. 

What I loved about Tracey’s workshop was the emphasis on creating a backdrop embedded with personal symbols that we were all encouraged to keep bringing back into the paintings as we progressed. 

  

I had given this a little bit of thought before the workshop began, almost like doing homework, and prepared a selection of symbols that are reoccurring images in many of my own paintings. These included palm trees (my obsession), flowers, leaves, palm fronds, twigs, pebbles, grass, seeds, seed heads, water symbols including waves, flowing rivers and rain… so there is a bit of a theme going on here around growth and life and so on.

The course introduced me to a new mark maker, a bamboo skewer – I’ve always used a range of tools but this was a first and lovely for teasing out tiny delicate lines from dribbled acrylic ink. I am astounded that I had not used this medium before…the colours are so vibrant – they give a depth to the acrylic paints and come in a wonderful selection of colours.

  

I went off piste towards the end of the first day when we were encouraged to calm the paintings down and block out marks with  opaque colours – the painting was looking a bit lifeless suddenly so I just reintroduced more marks and colours.

On the second day we returned to our paintings and at this point we were encouraged to search for imagery that we could develop. It’s amazing what you can find if you stare hard enough at an abstraction of randomness. 

Tracy then showed us how she defines imagery using an ink dropper to draw in motifs and then a wash brush to bring the motifs into sharp focus. Her painting demo was an underwater theme that she is currently using as a series and it was lovely to watch how this really accomplished artist gently feels her way around the canvas, looking out for little bits of magic to start happening, happy accidents of colour juxtapositions just waiting to be found.

  

I’m so glad I went on this course. I made friends with lovely intuitive artist Clare Wassermann who I had been following on Instagram who had been travelling a similar artistic journey for the past year or so. Read more about Clare’s beautiful work on her blog here. http://clarewassermannart.com

I came away from the course feeling uplifted and inspired yet very conscious that there are elements to take away and elements to leave behind. The  intuitive process as defined by Verdugo and Bowley has it’s basis in mark making and freeing up followed by ‘calming the canvas down and looking for images (Verdugo) and ‘working with what’s working’ (Bowley). Details about Tracy Verdugo workshops can be found here. http://tracyverdugo.com

I still think you can paint intuitively without it all being so random and also with your subject in front of you and this is where I think I am going to be taking my work during it’s next phase.

Here is my almost finished painting from the course and another canvas that I worked on during the following couple of days.

‘Flowers for an Angel’ 76 x 76 cm mixed media on canvas

  


‘Discovering love’ 30 x 30 cm mixed media on canvas

  

Brave Intuitive Painting – Flora Bowley – be inspired

Messing around on the net looking for artists to inspire me I stumbled across Flora Bowley about  six months ago. I think I typed ‘intuitive painting’ into Google and her name popped up. Her influence on my way of working since has been such an incredibly joyful experience.

I now know that Flora Bowley is at the top of the game in this genre but at that time I had never heard of her – hooray for the internet! Her paintings are an astounding blend of movement, colour, imagery and freedom of spirit. And then there was this beautiful video Flora Bowley ~ Brave Intuitive Painting on Vimeo https://vimeo.com/58224937 – I had to find out more!

Two weeks later Flora’s book ‘Brave Intuitive Painting’ dropped onto the doormat. 

  

I read it cover to cover the day it arrived and then spruced up a space in the house. It was winter and although I call myself artistintheshed it was basically too chilly to paint outside. I had been thinking about painting but not actually doing much. There was pretty much something on the go all the time but I wasn’t on much of a roll.

Things were about to change. I thought I would just try some techniques suggested in the book. Prior to this I had been working intuitively by making movements of paint onto canvas until something started to subliminally suggest itself. Usually the images would be linked back to memories of holidays or sometimes plants or flowers. 

My paintings have always been intuitive. Here is an example of a painting created about four years ago. 

  

This was painted in the garden on a summers day, using plants for inspiration but as usually happens in my work the imagery moved on quickly from the starting point as I became immersed in shape and colour. 

But I needed to move my work forward and to get away from using two dominant colours – I just needed some direction.

Brave intuitive painting gives many prompts and is so much more than a painting manual – it gently invites you to embrace a new way of being – it’s almost like being shown to how to wake up to the world around you and refresh the way you see things. The last time an art book made me think like this was John Berger’s amazing Ways of Seeing.

Flora’s mantra ‘Let go. Be bold. Unfold’ invites you to explore intuitively ‘to embrace the unknown’ and ‘make space for the unexpected’.

Here are a few examples of where my paintings went when I started to trust in the power of intuition.

  

 Using some of the prompts in the book I started by making marks using tools found from around the house, to drip paint and to consciously layer acrylic to build depth. I was introduced to sponge paint brushes – now a real favourite -and the marvels of the water spray bottle! And I was reintroduced to the playful joy of finger painting.

Flora shares some of her techniques to help you free up and move away from the fear of the white canvas and paper. The book also invites you to get out into the world and to be inspired combining this with prompts to encourage you to think creatively and work towards exploring your own unique voice.

My verdict is a resounding 10/10 for this book and since reading it I have been lucky to take part in Flora’s Bloomtrue e-course. I will be reviewing the impact of that experience on my painting in a later post.



20/100 paintings

Here are my first 20 paintings completed for the 100 artworks challenge. I have used a variety of surfaces including paper, canvas covered board and gessoed MDF. The media used for each painting includes acrylic paint, acrylic pens, fine detail markers and sharpie pens. It’s good to have completed one fifth of the challenge – only 80 more to go!

The techniques used in these paintings are to a degree influenced by lessons learned on an intuitive painting e-course that I recently participated in that revealed some great techniques around acrylic layering. I am using the 100 challenge to experiment with acrylic layering, intuitive painting and to hone my style. These paintings are all fairly small in size to enable the 100 challenge to be achievable in a six month time frame.

  

      

The 100 artwork challenge

I have recently signed up to the 100 artworks challenge, joining over 200 artists from around the globe, in an effort to build up a body of work and also to try to hone my style.

The challenge was set up on Facebook by artist Kellee Wynne Conrad earlier this month. It’s a fantastic group with some really beautiful creations and lots of feedback from other artists If you are interested in taking part just visit Kellee’s blog http://www.artistwriterdreamer.com

You just have to wait a short time for Kellee to accept your request to take part. I am finding it hugely inspiring to see all the different styles of painting and learning so much from the experience. There are no rules as such but Kellee suggests that everyone attempt to stick to a theme and a medium. This little painting is acrylic on 300 gm paper.

I am working intuitively playing with marks and colour and building up depth through layering and applying the paint with a variety of tools.

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My theme is to work intuitively on organic creations ( I have deliberately kept the theme quite loose to give me lots of freedom) using acrylics. I have reached 14/100 and the intention is to continue to post here as well as on my Instagram account @artistintheshed. If you wish to view process and paintings in progress then do feel free to sign up to follow me on Instagram as I post there more frequently. All work will be for sale in my Etsy shop that I plan to open in the near future. I hope you enjoy the paintings – I’m having lots of fun making them!

This painting is inspired by organic forms that emerged intuitively, it’s all about colour, pattern and dots!

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