Back on home turf, quite literally, I was moved to try and capture the springtime beauty of the apple blossom on the tree in my mum and dad’s back garden.
This was the result of the face painting practice run I conducted the week before a Halloween party, having searched the internet for ideas.
I laughed so much that it all ended up quite smudged around the eyes.
Then I made it my Facebook profile picture…
During the party it became apparent that eating made the makeup even more disconcerting – video evidence below!
I worked from photos as there was an element of surprise involved in the project.
First I roughed out the composition by making a preliminary sketch (right).
The bike is part of the exterior decor!
Next came the watercolour painting…
And here’s the finished piece…(click on the image to enlarge)
With a couple of details singled out below…
The food is a clever and delicious blend of the homely, exotic, luxurious and healthy; the wine list is extensive and expertly composed; the staff are incredibly warm and hospitable while at the same time being efficient and savvy; the outside terrace is sunny, shady and breezy with wonderful views over the surrounding countryside (Vejer’s perched on top of a steep hill, 200m above sea level); the interior is cosy and gorgeously crafted from reclaimed materials (by Retro Nuevo) and houses an extensive collection of Vejer themed paintings by local artists.
As the sign says Comer – Amar – Vivir = Eat – Love – Live
This is a delightful place full of loving touches.
The pen and watercolour sketch to the left was my first of the autumn season, having been invited to see the sherry grape harvest in the the Faustino González vineyard just outside Jerez.
The grape pickers moved too fast for me to capture with my painting hands!
The sketch on the right is of one of the old town gates in Vejer de la Frontera, you can see one of my fellow sketchers on the left.
The last sketch in this trio is of the Roman aquaduct in the beautiful village of Santa Lucia.
This summer I spent a few weeks in London which meant that I missed out on my weekly Saturday sketch date with the Vejer sketchers. Despite the busy-ness of my city visit I made a little time to go out with my pens and watercolour paints.
The gorgeous view from my friends’ flat next to Caledonian Park in North London
The clock tower in Caledonian Park
I love a visit to a cemetery; they inspire, calm and ground me all at the same time.
I made my first trips to Highgate (above) and Nunhead (right) cemeteries this summer and found both to be oases of cool, damp, quiet wildness in the hubbub of the hot summer city.
The chaps who were restoring Karl Marx’ grave very kindly moved the scaffolding for a while to improve my view and a lady dog walker told me that her dog once refused to walk past the spot I was painting which raised some goosebumps.
Late last year (2014) I was delighted to be invited to join Arte Vejer, a community organisation which aims to promote visual arts and creativity in and around the Andalusian town of Vejer de la Frontera.
The sketching enthusiasts, from various walks of life, of different nationalities and ages, meet once a week; usually to draw in the streets of Vejer, sometimes joined by sketchers from other towns,
sometimes traveling to join sketch groups in other locations,
life drawing with a model,
or even drawing each other.
In this Arte Vejer video, which features stills of some of my pre-Sketchers artwork, I talk (in Spanish) about my New Year’s Resolution to join the Vejer Sketchers, saying that street sketching in a group is brave and interesting and a great contrast to my usual controlled method of drawing and developing images in my studio with photos for reference.
Actually, the Vejer Sketchers experience has surpassed all my expectations; the group dynamic is incredibly friendly and supportive and diffuses the potential self-consciousness associated with drawing in public places (safety in numbers!).
I’ve enjoyed painting with watercolours since I was a child and the Vejer Sketchers have inspired me to try new techniques and different formats – my confidence, speed, motivation and skill have all improved.
Come and join us if you can!
I made this portrait of my parents’ dog Sam as a surprise Christmas present and luckily they were delighted.I worked from a photograph I took while we were out for a walk a few months ago, first I made a pencil drawing which I worked over in water resistant pen, then I applied several washes of watercolour paint.
These are my mini art works for tonight’s (22nd December 2014) fundraising party organised by the community group Arte Vejer.
They’re post card sized and will go on sale for 5 euros each along with the mini artworks of other contributing local artists.
Here they are in more detail:
Both drawings were made with charcoal which I fixed before applying a wash of acrylic paint and a crackle glaze. The glaze was then stained with white acrylic paint and bitumen in beeswax with a smear of glitter gel over the top…very festive!
About a week after my Dad had a mild heart attack in the spring of 2014 he had an angiogram to find out which of his coronary arteries might need stents to open them up and improve the blood flow to his heart muscle. He asked the cardiologist if the stents would stop his supraventricular tachycardia – also known as SVT, a sudden acceleration of the heart rate which usually resolves without treatment and causes no harm.
The cardiologist replied “No, this is plumbing and that’s wiring”.
When my Dad told me the story this picture sprang to my mind, almost fully formed.
I started by researching related images and sticking them in my sketchbook and then set about making some sketches.
The power switch and plug represent the sinoatrial node, or pacemaker, which is the area of heart tissue that generates the electrical impulses which cause the heart to beat. My Mum has had a pacemaker fitted so this part also refers to her.
The fairy lights are a celebratory representation of the electrical impulses which drive the heart, they are also inspired by the ring of flowers or thorns which typically adorn a sacred heart and by the nostlgia for the childhood Christmas times when my Dad would take the lights down from the loft, untangle them and replace the dud bulbs ready for my Mum and me to decorate the tree.
Once I was happy with the basic layout I enlarged the rough drawing,
traced it onto my working surface and began to collage.
I used sheet music for the lungs/wings because music, lungs and wings all need air to work properly.
The map which forms the background for the heart and blood vessels is of the Brecon Beacons, my Dad used to lead trekking holidays there for apprentices of the engineering company where he worked as a training instructor. He told me that he’d had a clear out of his old maps and I said “I’ll have them!” but he’d already taken them to the charity shop so I went straight there and bought them back.
Once the lungs/wings were collaged I added charcoal outlines and stuck on the map pieces.
I then applied a wash of acryilc paint and more charcoal outlines and shading
All the plumbing and electrical components were made in the same way:
I drew them onto thick paper,
applied a wash of acrylic paint and reinforced the outlines and shading with charcoal,
cut them out,
and stuck them on.
The electrical flex and glow from the fairy lights are painted with acrylic.
Working with collage, drawn collage, acrlyic paint and charcoal in this way was really fun and liberating.
Details: 36 x 41 cm, mixed media comprising collage, painted collage, acrylic paint and charcoal on paper and card.
…or ‘Yellow Roses for Adrián’
This painting was commissioned as a gift for the flamenco dancer Adrián Brenes (https://www.facebook.com/pages/Adri%C3%A1n-Brenes/505485442831689?fref=ts)
It’s a pen and watercolour piece with collaged elements (also pen and watercolour on paper) which overlap the mount.
When I saw Adrián dance, as well as being struck by the passion and power of his performance, I was fascinated by his footwear (he’s a very dapper chap). So I chose the boots to represent Adrián, the yellow roses signify friendship, they are set on a window sill which is draped by curtains, suggesting a stage and you can see Adrián’s home town of Conil de la Frontera in the background. The text ‘tiriti tran tran tran….’ is a flamenco refrain.