A long time between iPad paintings

I don’t know whether the rest of you are the same, but I seem to have bursts of obsession with particular media. I might spend a month making a mess with charcoal, the next, covered in pastel dust then weeks mixing oils. Today, I fell back into iPad painting with Artrage… and wondered how I could have neglected it for so long.

I’m still very messy, technique-wise, and struggle a little with the small scale but I can’t deny that it is addictive.

Here are a few screen shots along the way – complete with notifications from the many games my children have installed on my iPad.

I start with my usual pencil sketch, then block in flesh tones with oils. I still have colours used previously on my palette which saves me a lot of mixing time.

Fleshing out on the iPad

Fleshing out on the iPad

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Double Portraits, Double the Fun!


The City of Ryde annual art show is coming up in October and I thought I’d throw my hat into the ring. When contemplating a subject for my entry, I decided that a double portrait would be ideal. The interaction between the two subjects elevates the piece from portraiture to narrative, telling a little story… and who doesn’t love a story?

I created this double portrait of my good friend K and her baby especially to enter into the show. When they were last visiting, I took continuous shots of K as she was trying to get her baby to smile. You can see that baby is smiling here almost as a reflex or against his will – his defences can’t hold faced with such affection from his mum!

Here are a few other double portraits I have done which all have a little extra to say.

This is a picture of my daughter, Caitlin, reading to my friend’s little girl just before bedtime on her first sleepover at our place. The little girl couldn’t read yet, and was captivated – and big-girl-Caitlin was enjoying the new role of bedtime reader.

Mother and Baby This picture was a commission from a photo provided by the client. He loved the way his baby is clinging to his wife and the gentle, protective way she is holding him. You also get a sense here of the relationship between the subjects and the person taking the photograph.

The Happy Couple

This is another commission of a recently engaged couple, obviously happy and ready to start a life together.

The reference for this piece is a photo by Graeme Taylor of his grandma giving his dad a hug. That smile says it all … and is infectious! I can’t help smiling myself whenever I look at this picture.

If a portrait is an attempt to capture the character and essence of the subject, a double portrait needs to do that and reflect the relationship and interaction between the subjects. While creating a double portrait requires more skill (and patience!), I think the outcome is, dare I say it, doubly satisfying.

 

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Lucian Freud and Me

"Man with a Blue Scarf" Lucian Freud 2004

“Man with a Blue Scarf” Lucian Freud 2004

Source: Royal Academy of Arts

For anyone interested in Freud‘s methods or what he would have been like to sit for, “Man with a Blue Scarf: On Sitting for a Portrait by Lucian Freud” by Martin Gayford is a fascinating read. It is a diary of the creation of a portrait from the point of view of the sitter, a diary of mutual observation.

This medium-sized portrait took Freud seven months to paint.  And this was considered speedy for him.

I like Freud’s cheekiness and contrariness – tell him to do something and he will do the opposite. While sitting for his portrait, Andrew Parker Bowles complained that his stomach was protruding from his jacket in an unflattering way. Freud admits, “He complained a bit about it, so I thought I’d better emphasise it more”. (1)

"The Brigadier" by Lucian Freud

“The Brigadier” by Lucian Freud

Source: National Portrait Gallery London

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Too Busy for Words

Ashley finished

Ashley finished

After finishing Ashley, I watched this demo which inspired me to buy

Black panpastel & Generals charcoal pencils

Black panpastel & Generals charcoal pencils

and I created
Marie

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“Ashley” Week 3: Diary of a Child Portrait Painting

Ashley Week 3

Ashley Week 3

Well, I didn’t do any oil sketching during the week, but I did eat quite a bit of chocolate. It’s important to achieve goals one sets for oneself …

This week I am looking at the overall painting – particularly the hair.

In the reference photo, the edges of the hair are lost into the sky background. This is a nice effect, but I am not going to be able to achieve it with the colours I am using.

Instead, I reduce the contrast between the sky and hair by using colours of similar value and by softening the edges.

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“Ashley” Week 2: Diary of a Child Portrait Painting

The paint is dry enough now for me to continue work on this child portrait painting.

Local photographer, Nicole Anderson, has been kind enough to send me the original of the reference photo I have been working from. There is a lot more colour in the original, which I love, so I have added some more colours to my palette.

I use a violet by mixing quinacridone violet, ultramarine blue & zinc white. The light blue I use is ultramarine blue + white.

I also apply some cadmium red light and cadmium yellow light in areas then rub them off with a rag – this leaves a slight stain of the paint on the canvas.

I start working on the eyes and mouth and reshape the nose.

Adding More Colour

Adding More Colour

Next, I add some more colour to the eyes (combinations of ultramarine blue, white and pthalo blue) and start working on the warm side of the hair.

I add two new tubes of paint to my collection today: naples yellow and indian red. I have read that these aid in achieving good skin tones, so I put them to the test … with the hair.

I mix naples yellow, raw sienna and a tetch of cadmium yellow light. I apply this almost all over. I then add some indian red straight onto to the canvas to give the hair a reddish glow. For the dark areas I use combinations of ultramarine blue and burnt sienna.

Starting work on hair

Starting work on hair

I start working on the cooler side of the hair with a mix of white, naples yellow and raw sienna, adding some burnt sienna and ultramarine blue in the darker areas. I also drag some indian red through some areas.

The colours are starting to mix too much and get a little muddy so I am leaving it here today to dry so that I can paint over it again.

That's it for today!

That's it for today!

She is gradually looking better but there is a LOOONG way to go. I think I’ll spend the drying time practising with some oil sketches… and eating chocolate.

Both very worthy puruits.

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Renovation Sale – ends 30 June!

Please help me clear out some art before our renovations! I have displayed some items for sale here.

Those of you familiar with my old work, I am also willing to sell any old ones you like including:

  • the acrylic painting of Caitlin running up the garden path – $150
  • the Mudgee grapevine acrylic painting – $100
  • “An idea of you” – the blurry acrylic of Courtney in San Fran – $150

(I don’t want to post photos on here of the works here as they are so old 🙂 If you are interested, I can email them to you as a reminder)

If you would like to buy any other work in my gallery which is not shown on the “Works for Sale” page, let me know.

I have also added a new charcoal pagegraphite page and page for iPad art.

Girl in Pink Revisited

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“Ashley” Week 1: Diary of a Child Portrait Painting

Time to dust off the paint brushes and prise the lids off the paints: it’s my first oil portrait painting for quite some time.

I’m very excited about this one. I was originally approached to do this portrait two years ago but for a number of reasons, it has taken a teensy little while to settle on a reference picture. In the meantime, my subject has grown from a quiet 10 year old into a beautiful 12 year old – “child portrait painting” seems a bit of a misnomer, now.

I approach oil paintings differently depending on the outcome I want. If I am painting for my own pleasure, I will do a rough oil sketch and refine the details as I go along, similar to the way I worked in my charcoal workshop. Emotion and energy is usually the focus rather than exact likeness.

When painting for someone else, of course likeness is very important and I feel more comfortable if a reasonable likeness is established early in the piece.

I have a new app on my iPad (have I mentioned that I love my iPad?) called CopyIt which applies a grid to reference photos. I do this and then scale it up and draw a large grid on the canvas. I then do a loose drawing using the grid to establish points of reference.

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Giving Oil Pastels Another Go

You may recall the workshop I attended in February run by David White where I tried using oil pastels for the first time and despaired at the result.

I don’t like being beaten by arts supplies, so for Mothers’ Day, I asked for a set of 24 Sennelier Oil Pastels  –  I decided to give David’s method another go.

First, I tried a sketch without any underdrawing to see how it would look. 

Oil sketch with no underdrawing

Oil sketch with no underdrawing

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Creating Carl: iPad Art with ArtRage

Creating iPad art is easy with ArtRage. I think it feels as close to real painting as you could expect from a tablet.

I’ll show you how I use it, but the best way to work it out is to play with it yourself….

Now some would say this first stage is cheating. I say it’s time-saving. I know that I can get a likeness without tracing – but I want to get to the fun bit! So I tap the tracing icon and tap “import image”.

I select the picture of Carl from my photo library, choose the pencil tool by tapping the bottom left corner and loosely trace the image. I zoom in to draw the detail using the usual iPad finger gestures.

This is what happens when you tap the tracing icon after you have imported your image.

 

Tracing Icon

Tracing Icon

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