Friday, 21 October 2011

Painting on the ring road on Le Morne, Mauritius.

This was done very quickly, 4 hours, on a pink ground. Notice the slanting horizon! this is because I am above the horizon so it is acting like perspective! (You can see in the photo below, the same thing happens in the photo).   I enjoyed the corals 'under' the sea and the channels created by the currents, but the main attraction for me was the 'deep space' and the 'feeling of looking down' which I think I have captured pretty well. Overall, I am very happy with this painting - the quicker they come out the better, no fuss or too much detail! After all, it's the FEELING we are painting not a visual reproduction. I drove up this can see the road in the photo, far right...I was having kittens! Thankfully, a kind watchman came with me to show me the way and give me moral support..he came up on his motorbike after and guided me back down! It all adds to the excitement of the day!
Painted today from mid way up the Morne, Mauritius

This is where I was yesterday. I walked to my spot, which is important for me. It took me an hour but was very enjoyable and helps me to absorb the 'feeling of the place'. It was beautifully quiet, not a soul in sight apart from the butterflies, Paille en Queue birds and huge crickets. I enjoyed being alone, I concentrate better and in a private hunting ground felt very safe. The 'well being' of the artist is extremely important for producing work. I will go back and make more sketches and next time take a canvas to start a bigger picture. The 'space' is what attracts me, the 'feeling' of looking down. I really enjoyed 'trying' to paint the shallows around the little islands..SO difficult. There are some strong diagonals (foreground, islands, lagoon, coral) which make a good composition and very subtle colours. But it is that feeling of standing on an edge and looking down, that 'pulling feeling' which I enjoy and will explore more next time!

Painting in Cape Town

This was a charcoal sketch studying tone and then a watercolour/pastel sketch afterwards. There was lovely mist coming in from the left, difficult to draw!! I liked the composition, the path and the tone, the dark trees to the right.

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

My Pochade Box

If anyone would like a hinge like this contact me for price. A local copper smith makes these for me as well as the bungee clips (in fact he made everything: handles and closing hook). I'm going to get this round knob made smaller as it's too heavy.

This is my Pochade Box. I got the details off the internet,  Jim Serrett has posted  very good instructions of how to make your own and I modified it a bit by making it deeper (for paints). I also added a removable perspex palette with corks stuck in the corners so that the wet palette doesn't touch the painting when I close the box. I use a light tripod. All this goes in my rucksack. I squeeze my paint out onto my palette before going so as not to carry heavy tubes of paint. Ben Haggett also has a very good website and blog

I do several small paintings, 2 or 3 usually, and a sketch sometimes.  These then all form part of the preparation for a very large painting (160cm x 120cm) later when I feel ready.  I have just done this one at the weekend. Using  two of paintings and my pencil sketch I squared it up using charcoal. Then I wipe off the 'grid' and fix the drawing, then paint away. I work very quickly for 2 days then leave it.

As you can see it's not finished yet. I then WAIT until I feel like going back to it and doing some more. This
can take a few weeks or months. It is very important not to touch it until I feel like it! This is the frustrating part as you think there's something wrong with you and if you do go on with it, it becomes a mess. But believe me, the inspiration WILL come...sometimes it's a year later but this is all part of the gestation period. 'For every creation there is a period of gestation' I read somewhere..

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Going Painting at the 7 Cascades

This is the climb down...very tricky.  I have to first organise for a guide to come with me which takes a few telephone calls in the morning. I then have to plan what I'm going to take...not easy as you know! I squeeze my colours out onto my palette, put my turps in a light plastic pot, pack some fruit and water, chose my boards and make a dash whilst the weather is still good! It takes me 45 minutes to climb down to my spot. I have to concentrate very hard as one false move and I would slide all the way down. I have to look for roots and rocks to put my feet on and hold on to guava trees. It is very dry and the soil is very powdery and slippery, but once there, I'm in heaven.  The difficulty adds to the tension in the paintings. The other day, I forgot to put white on my palette but I was forced to use the white undercoat from the board as my white (like in watercolours where the artist uses the white paper as his white) so I kept wiping off. In the end I had a great picture as I had used a different technique than I usually do. If I'd been within walking distance of home I would have gone back to get it, but stuck down there I had no choice but to improvise! This is painting!

Studies done on site at 7 Cascades, 4th Pool Sep/Oct 2011

You can see how much work goes into one painting!
I've been down there at least 5 times, each time takes a whole day

7 Cascades 2nd sitting

These were done on site in oils alla prima, (wet in wet).

7 Cascades 1st sitting