The World in Acrylics

Posts from the ‘Painting’ category

I’m Giving Up Featured

“I’m giving up painting. I’m useless at it. I can’t paint like Lesley or Dave or Picasso. Stupid painting. I never liked painting much anyway. I quit!”

Believe me, I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve heard that from painters who chuck down their brushes in frustration or annoyance because they’re dissatisfied with what they have produced, believing they have no real talent or skill.

I know how they feel and can readily empathize with their emotions for the simple reason I’ve been there. I’ve done that. Many a time, even now after painting for 16+ years, I’ve ripped up my efforts and walked away, in the hope I can find a more fulfilling hobby, something I’m better at, like stamp collecting or flower arranging. Thankfully, each time I’ve picked up my brush one more time, determined to give it another go. And am glad I did.

Frustration in learning something new is a real and a normal stage of progression we all go through, be it learning to drive a car, play the piano, plastering a wall, and it’s no different with painting. It’s a natural part of the learning process, a hurdle to be overcome. It’s during these moments of low self-esteem it becomes all too easy to give up, to assume you have no natural talent and rapidly reach the conclusion being an artist is not meant for you. You look at other more accomplished artists and assume they are lucky to be born with the talent, and you weren’t, sending you further into a spiral of negativity and self-doubt.

As I’ve said, I’ve been there. I’ve had those feelings. I have many paintings I’m not satisfied with and binned a fair few more. So, how do you get over it, because I don’t believe painting is a natural talent. It is a skill that has to be learned by a) studying other artists and their work, and included in this is watching demonstrations and painting programmes. And b) by practising. Practise, Practise. Practise.

But let’s go a little deeper than that. Ask yourself why you want to paint in the first place.

Accept that not every painting you do is going to be a masterpiece to you, so avoid judging the final result of each effort. Art is subjective and in the eye of the beholder. You might believe something you have done is rubbish; another person might love it. As I found out over the summer when I was asked to paint a large picture in a style I had not attempted before. I hated it. My client loved it.

Art is about pushing yourself, challenging yourself. With each painting you will learn something, even if it’s not to attempt that style again. You don’t know until you try.

Look for something in your painting you feel worked well and learn from it. Take notes if necessary of the materials and colours you used to help in this process.

Do not spend a lot of time trying to save paintings that are not working. Understand what wasn’t working well for you in that painting. Ask yourself why and how you can approach it better next time.

Be patient with yourself. Learn to enjoy the process, relax as you are creating and never be a slave to whatever it is you may be attempting to do. If working from a photograph or image, don’t be a slave to it. Miss out what you don’t like in it or feel you can’t do yet. Don’t angst and think you’ve done it wrong if you cannot get exactly the same colour as in a photo or identical to the original you are trying to emulate. Instead, use the photo or image as a reference only, a guide. Make the painting your own.

There is nothing wrong in copying another painting, it’s how all the painters and masters of old learned, by copying. You learned to write by copying letters and words. From babyhood and throughout life, we learn by copying. And learn when we haven’t got it right we try again. We practise until we can do it. It is no different with painting.

Most important of all: DON’T GIVE UP. Tell yourself you can do it, because if I can do it, so can you.

Exhibition News Featured

One of the best moves I have made in being an artist is joining a local art group, in my case the SAA Frome Valley Art Group in Winterbourne, South Gloucestershire. Each year we hold our annual art show, our 26th, having taken place this last weekend. And boy, what a show!

In the 5 years I have been attending, the wealth and variety of talents across many mediums used has grown from strength to strength, this year’s event exceeding everyone’s expectations in both numbers of visitors, and numbers of works sold, and with over 60 members, there was much to see, although not all of our members exhibited.

The lead-up to the show is hectic, both from the committee’s point of view in organizing, and ours as the artists. In my case the busiest being that of deciding which paintings to put in, then pricing each work (always a problem). More so this year due to the current economic crisis. Would people want to pay what is a frivolity, a non-essential, when they have worries over fuel and food bills. Our exhibitions have always proved popular but the usual concerns as to whether anyone would come let alone buy anything are constantly there. Once entries are decided upon, next comes the business of obtaining suitable frames and mounts etc, not normally an issue but stores here supplying these, are struggling to obtain stocks or have limited choice.

My seven paintings were hung along a wall all to themselves, with the theme of water running across four of them.

My wall of paintings, and some of our many guests on preview night

From the moment the preview evening’s doors opened the room was packed. One of the many joys at these events is being able share and talk art with people who love your work, often more so than the satisfaction that comes from selling one. I was of the mind that even if nothing was sold, it was unimportant. To my surprise and delight one of mine, the bluebell painting, sold within half-an-hour. People love my bluebells, it seems. The purchaser was even more delighted to be introduced to me. A second joy came when another couple sought me out to chat about one of my works they had purchased in late 2021. Saturday proved equally busy, as did Sunday, the only lull being during lunch time.

Some of the many works on show

Arriving for stewarding duty on the Saturday afternoon, I was greeted with news that 2 more of my paintings had sold that morning. On Sunday, arriving to enjoy an afternoon cup of tea and cake from the refreshment table before the raffle was pulled and the event closed, I didn’t notice at first that a fourth painting of mine had also been purchased.

A happy band of Sunday afternoon stewards, all members of the art group

It was a thoroughly enjoyable, and successful show for everyone involved, if tiring. Over 40 paintings sold, not including those from the mounted tables.

The mounted artwork tables

Many artists, including myself, are donating our sales money to our chosen charity, the Ukrainian Red Cross, as has one member who ran a table in the foyer selling her bespoke, hand-crafted and beautiful individual greeting cards.

What a show!

Sold Painting

NewsFlash Featured

This weekend (14th and 15th of May 2022) sees the 26th Annual Art Exhibition of the SAA Frome Valley Art Group at Winterbourne, South Gloucestershire. There are excellent paintings in multiple media on show, the majority of which are for sale, including seven of mine, in support of this year’s chosen charity. Do come along and see the great work produced by this ever-growing and thriving art group. Refreshments available, disabled access, and free parking.

The 25th Frome Valley Art Show Featured

It has been a busy month for me to date, leading up to my art group’s 25th Annual Art Exhibition. I was delighted when the committee asked if they could use one of my paintings (“Sunflowers”) on the advertisement poster, placed in local newsletters, on many sites and pages on the internet, and in local shops and libraries.

For me this year, the hardest part was in deciding …Read On

(NB: The painting of the rose above my head is by another artist.)

Exhibition Nerves Featured

No thanks to the world issues of Covid, my local art group had to cancel last year’s annual art exhibition. Although some restrictions are still in place here in the UK, the group is busy making preparations for this year’s, scheduled for next weekend 10th and 11th July. Sadly because of current restrictions we are unable to offer refreshments during the weekend which is a great pity as we enjoy making homemade cakes, biscuits and treats to eat with tea or coffee for sale and all profits from this part of the exhibition goes to our chosen charity (see below).

The SAA Frome Valley Art group currently has 47 members, an eclectic mix of age, mediums and styles, from acrylics (my medium of choice), pastels, watercolours, oils, gouche, ink and pen and everything in between. And, like me, most of us have found the past 16-18 months difficult to become motivated to paint, so for me it was hard determining what, if any, artwork to exhibit. But the choice has been made, and I am currently busy framing and labelling my five pieces of art. Sorry, let’s rephrase that: I am exhibiting five paintings, three framed and two on stretched box canvas including the one in the poster below.

This is our 25th annual exhibition and to celebrate, the committee asked for all frames to be either silver or white coloured. Believe me, finding good quality picture frames in silver is no easy matter and I am relieved I only needed three.

I was delighted when the committee also asked to use my painting of “Sunflowers” on the exhibition poster. I hope it entices people to come along as see what the group has been up to. the majority of the work exhibited will be for sale, with a percentage of each sale and all of the monies raised in the raffle going to this year’s good cause: The Southmead Hospital Covid-19 Charity.

With only a week to go, nerves are setting in. Will further restrictions halt the exhibition in its tracks? Will any members of the public come? Will anyone like my work? Will anyone hate what I’ve done? Will I be lucky and sell anything? Will we raise any money for the charity? What do I wear to the preview evening? What do I wear for my 2-hour tour of duty on Saturday? Can I cope with wearing a mask for 2 hours? Why am I even doing this?

I know why. I love it. I love painting. I enjoy the company of other like-minded artists. And most of all, I love seeing and hearing the reaction of others. Like books and films, not everyone is going to like the same thing. What appeals to one, will not to another, but it doesn’t not matter. It’s the being part of this wonderful group and for the support, encouragement, help and boost that matters most.

I hope some of you are able to find the time next week to pop in, have a look and enjoy the beautiful work by everyone on show and contribute a little something to the cause.

Meanwhile, stay safe, stay healthy and most of all, have some fun!

A Long Awaited Return Featured

After a much long-awaited time, the art club I attend (the SAA Frome Valley Art Group) finally re-opened its doors last Friday afternoon and evening. As a matter of safety, COVID rules where adhered to and we were assigned “bubbles” to work in. We are only a small group of 12, compared with our fellow members who meet Friday afternoons (30), so we were able to spread ourselves out around what is a large hall, with a work-table each. Plenty of room to spread our equipment out.

It felt strange and a little surreal arriving at the venue, masks on as we registered and elected a table, fetched our own chair and unpacked. But as everyone arrived and masks were removed, it didn’t take long before we settled, reacquainted ourselves and chatted about what we had or hadn’t painted during the long absence. When everyone said they had, like me, not painted a great deal during lockdown, often not having the inclination, I felt relieved I wasn’t the only person who hadn’t done much. Okay, I have painted what: six? maybe seven? paintings in the previous 14 months. That is not a lot for me, I am normally prolific; a painting a week, if not each month in normal times.

Until all restrictions are lifted, the kitchen is out of bounds which meant we could not stop for refreshments and a natter around the coffee table. Nor were we able to obtain water for paints and washing brushes so had to bring our own. Being an acrylic artist, this caused a dilemma for me as I could not leave my brushes unwashed until I returned back home. The paint on them would have dried by then and virtually impossible to remove; brushes would be ruined. Having a selection of watercolour pencils which I have not used and water-brushes (the water is contained in the brush itself, a little like a fountain pen), I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to practice with them.

Now, I’d be the first to admit I am not very good at drawing and sketching, something that is necessary for watercolour painting, and the image I chose from a photo of wallflowers picked the day before from my garden was, with hindsight, a little too ambitious even for me.  I was also pleased I used my “practice” sketchbook and not wasted expensive watercolour paper in learning how to paint with watercolour pencils. Plus the paper in the sketchbook is very smooth and didn’t take the pencil well. Still, all good practice, as they say. Here’s what I produced in the allotted time.

As it will be a few more weeks yet before we have full use of the venue and access to water etc, I shall continue with the pencils, but next week, start with a lot simpler image and on the correct paper for the medium. You know me, I love a challenge.

Painting A Jaguar Featured

After successfully completing a recent commission of a pet dog, I wanted I’d try my hand at painting another animal. This time a big cat. As I love painting against a black background, I thought the colours of this beautiful creature would stand out rather than lost in a background of jungle scenery. Slow steps over many days were needed to create the final painting, which I outline here. I hope you find the process interesting.

First, having drawn an outline of the pose I wanted on 33×24 cm heavyweight canvas linen texture paper (I use Canson brand), the background was painting in using black gesso and a 1 inch flat brush, painting in outward strokes from the outline to the edges. I then drew in outline of the eyes, nose and mouth. When drawing, I always use pastel pencils as these can be easy corrected and wiped away with a damp sponge and do not show through transparent paint.

The eyes were painting in using lemon yellow, paynes grey and titanium white, checking frequently I had them in the correct position, followed by the nose and mouth. Using a mixture of burnt sienna, lemon yellow, yellow oche, and titanium white I under-painted the complete animal. Already his character was starting to appear on the canvas.

Using the same colours the fur was slowly added along with the markings to include the shadows, hind quarters and the start of the face markings. A small amount of light green was added to the eyes. Both eyes were painted over with a clear glaze. A small amount of dark purple mixed with white was used to paint the nose.

The fur and patterns were slowly built up in layers until I was happy with the overall result.

Further depth and highlights were added as were the markings below his mouth.

Finally, and carefully, whiskers were added to complete the painting.

The Sunflower Project Featured

The Sunflower Covid Art Project in association with the SAA

Image may contain: flower, plant and nature

A few days ago I was more than honoured to be approached by the Society for All Artists (The SAA) for permission to use my “Sunflowers” painting as part of the social media promotion for a new fundraising project the Society has been working on in collaboration across the art industry with artists, art suppliers and others to announce “The Sunflower Project”. The sunflower is a symbol of hope and healing, so of course I said yes. There was no hesitation.

These past 6 months have been a terrible time worldwide thanks to the Coronavirus Pandemic, and many of us have lost someone to this dreadful illness. A close family member, a relative, a friend or colleague, and as a consequence of lockdown, the virus has affected how we have been able to mourn their passing at such a sad and difficult time. We’ve been unable to seek support and comfort from our families and friends. No shoulder to weep on, no comforting hand to hold or hug from those we hold dear and so often the case, unable to attend the funeral of one so cherished, whether their passing was from the illness or other causes. Such lonely and strange times.

For those in lockdown, art has proved a comfort. Many people and children taking up the hobby for the first time. My painting has certainly helped keep me going, although my “Sunflowers” was painted a couple of summer’s ago, inspired by those growing in my garden that year.

About the Project

With this in mind, the aim of the Sunflower Project is to encourage people – artists and non-artists alike – to draw or paint a sunflower in memoriam of friends and family lost during this terrible time, in order to create a lasting memorial website which will enable people the opportunity to upload their artwork, creating a gallery of creations to share with the world, and ensure that every life lost during the crisis was remembered and treasured. To build and maintain such a dedicated website is expensive, thus the society is looking to raise £20,000 from the public in order to facilitate what will be a spectacular permanent memorial to our loved ones.

The website will be launched in late August, and free of charge to use. In addition to the artwork gallery, the site will include signposting, advice and support for bereavement and mental health. In addition, it is hoped the project will be used to actively fundraise for the much-needed support of those with mental health difficulties.

To see more information and to donate, please visit here: https://www.gofundme.com/f/Co-vid-Art-project-sunflower

Please donate a little something if you are able and help create a permanent art memorial to those who have lost their lives to Covid-19. Or even better, paint a sunflower and submit to the gallery on the SAA website.

“Sunflowers”

“Sunflowers” is for sale at £100.00 (UK only). Should you wish to purchase it, I am donating the full amount to the Sunflower Project, so you will be helping this exciting and lasting cause. Contact me via the comments box to this post or direct on my email kitdominoart@gmail.com.

Painted in acrylics on stretched canvas, it measures 50×36 cm (18″x14″) and will be supplied ready to hang.

Prints and notebooks, and other items will be available soon.

And a big THANK YOU.

Sold at Auction Featured

Gorse Covert Bluebells

Back last autumn, a local junior & infant school asked if local businesses would consider donating a “prize” for auctioning at their annual fundraising ball scheduled for January 2020. I offered one of my paintings, especially as it was pertinent to the local area, being a framed scene of our local bluebell wood, a few yards from my home.

Once part of a large woodland, this small copse, known as Gorse Covert, sits on the edge of a local open area and park. The covert is maintained by local residents and boasts a small pond with fish, frogs and newts, plenty of birdlife including woodpeckers and owls, and populated by foxes and grey squirrels. When the native natural bluebells are in bloom, the covert is a delight to walk through, for the flowers and the gentle perfume wafting in the air. As many of you know, I love bluebells, so I have plenty of inspiration right on my doorstep.

The school was delighted to accept my donation of “Gorse Covert Bluebells”, which sold at the auction, exceeding the reserved price and helping to raise a considerable sum for their coffers and making me one happy artist.

The Angst and Agony of a First-Time Tutor Featured

What a busy month January turned out for me. If someone had told me a little over 12 years ago when I began painting that I would find myself being an art tutor, I would never have believed them. Likewise, when I accepted the opportunity to teach acrylic painting to a group in my art club, I never expected how much of my time it would take. Who would have thought teaching for 2 hours every Friday afternoon for 4 weeks would take over my life entirely. I had no idea of the abilities of those attending, and without this information, I had to structure the sessions to fit all comers.  I found out at the first session at least six had never painted before. Others were already members of the art group…. read more  

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