Cactus and carnival inspiration

Tenerife is an island of fantastic beauty, a hard black landscape sculpted by massive volcanic lava eruptions, where prickly cacti grow with so many triffid like variations in weed like abundance.

This week I took photographs of the riot of colour at the Los Gigantes carnival and made a series of quick sketches of cacti.

Here are a few drawings and photos capturing some inspirations together with a painting made at a little studio in the main square at Los Gigantes.


Cactus celebration – acrylic on canvas


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‘Lives lived here’ – progression of a painting

Last weekend we wandered the quiet winter streets  of Porto stealing photographs of street art, old doors, old windows, strings of washing, lived in windows with decorative lace curtains and watched as birds circled in the sky above us.

This post shows the progression of my current work in progress, a large canvas depicting an old door and integrating motifs based on memories of the city. I’m calling the painting ‘Lives lived here’ as so much of this city has buildings that are unoccupied but which speak of their history in subtle ways.


First layer with outline composition painted onto wet canvas                                                                                                                  ©Mary Price 2016


Second layer introduces dark tones and a variety of marks scratched into the surface with sharp bamboo skewers                   ©Mary Price 2016


Third layer and more colours added and elements and motifs to bring meaning into the work are added, symbols, arrows, birds and the washing line strings ©Mary Price 2016


Memories of the street art by Hazul Luzah are introduced into the bottom right corner in the figurative form and the diamond shapes that appear on many of his works; the words ‘lives lived here’ are etched into white paint reinforcing the history of people who inhabited the crumbling buildings that abound in this wonderful city. A lace curtain with a finely stitched bird is a stolen image from a window on the waterfront. I signed the painting thinking it finished but I think I was a little premature. There is more to do. ©Mary Price 2016


The street art image becomes more defined looking like a huddled ghost whilst the swifts are brought into sharper focus against pale backgrounds. Maybe the figure gives a sense of the past lives lived, a symbol guarding memory. Notice the padlock and chain on the door sealing in the memories. I have since added a heart to the padlock – it may remain or it may be taken away! ©Mary Price 2016


Inspired by Porto

Today I am sharing a selection of paintings inspired by Porto.


Porto inspired paintings current works in progress in my shed – image ©Mary Price 2016


Current work in progress  – fiesta colours bursting into the canvas ©Mary Price 2016


Fiesta inspired work in progress ©Mary Price 2016


Detail from one of my Porto window paintings ©Mary Price 2016

Curiouser and curiouser - secret lives lived ©Mary Price2016

Curiouser and curiouser – secret lives lived
©Mary Price2016


Mini intuitive painting

Sometimes painting small is a good thing and this week I am producing a series of jewel coloured intuitive paintings.


Flight – work in progress ©Mary Price

It is so good to work small. I bought a budget variety pack of hard surfaces from Cass art and I particularly like the smooth gesso so I will be using this in bigger sizes in the future. It’s such a wonderful surface to layer on, very different to the rougher texture of canvas, my usual chosen painting surface.


Mysterious garden – work in progress ©Mary Price

I am about three layers in with these current works in progress. The jewel colours are building beautifully and the next stage will be to introduce more tonal contrast, add some details and see what happens.

The final paintings will all morph into something quite different by the time they are considered finished but I am sharing the progress. Progression is something that always intrigues me, sometimes more than seeing finished artwork. I love to see how artists make what they do and what techniques they use.

With this in mind I signed up for Flora Bowley’s December studio diary this week. I was intrigued to get an insight into her process when she makes mini paintings.

The studio diary is a year-long e course and you can buy a whole year or simply dive into one as I have done this time. It includes a couple of great videos of close-ups of work progressing as Flora develops a series of mini paintings for participants in her workshops. She also paints four small paintings on different surfaces, bamboo, paper and wooden panels.

Watching an artist you admire who shares their process so generously is a brilliant way of learning new techniques. It also kick starts inspiration to try something new so I recommend this to anyone. The first diary is actually free so there’s no excuse not to at least take a look.

Letting go and embracing mystery in painting

Intuitive artwork by its nature has no preconceived finished article. Process is everything. Change is possible. Magic happens. At least sometimes it does. My experiments on canvas this year, and that it how I am treating each and every painting, as an experiment, have been catalysts for change in more ways than in my painting style.


Embrace mystery – a painting in progress ©Mary Price 2015