For sometime now I've been adding a touch of gold leaf to the foreground of my paintings. Not all of them. Not very much. But every now and again I like this little extra bit of business for the eye. The images below are little details of foreground using gold leaf.
The thing is with gold leaf, is that I have the devil's own work to get the damn stuff where you want it. Also, gold is one of the few metals that can "cold solder" - i.e. it will stick to itself given half a chance, and you can't unravel it like cling film. It's also rather expensive to make those kind of mistakes all the time.
Guilders cushions, that keep your equipment and gold leaf all in the same place and keep all the annoying little wafts and drafts out, are all the thing for guilders.
But I'm not a guilder, I'm a painter that wants just a touch of guilding.
So I've been experimenting with other forms of gold.
It's jolly hard to find the right shade. I want it as close to gold leaf as I can get, nothing too brassy.
After much searching I've found some gold style powder and you can mix it with oil mediums, gold size, and glaze mediums so that you can paint oil colour along side or even on top of it.
The medium I mix with the powder has an impact on it luminescence and it's colour.
After a lot of playing about...I mean serious experimentation and chemistry, I've discovered that my gold mixture makes a rather splendid background for some flowers for my daily painting project.
I posted one of Magnolia on Facebook and twitter the morning and it's already sold. Its the perfect gift for Mother's day. (I happen to have a lovely Mum who has her birthday the same week as Mother's day, so I always need an alternative to flowers planned!)
Despair not, there are four more gold pictures on my website, that went live today. Just as beautiful as the Magnolia, on gold and gorgeous. And I have a sneaking suspicion that there might be more. I absolutely love the effect.
Last week I wrote about the arts scene in Salisbury.
This week I'm focusing on why it's such an inspirational place.
Salisbury is an extraordinary and unique city. It's medieval city centre is build on a grid system during the 1300s. There are some fascinating little buildings all around the city that will delight anyone one who studies them.
The Cathedral is set in a beautiful close, it is such a luxury to be able to stand back from the building and admire it in all its glory. I still get a thrill out of hearing tourists gasp "wow" once they’ve walked through North gate and get their first real view of the Cathedral.
Inside the Cathedral there's enough inspiration to keep any artist going for an age. The architecture alone takes your breath away.
If you have a head for heights the tower tour is simply brilliant, the views inside the tower almost as amazing as the views looking outside.
Head further away from the close and you have the views across the water meadows, made famous by Constable and Turner and still hugely inspirational for local artists like me.
Out towards the city limits is the site of the original settlement Old Sarum, my studio overlooks the valley over to Old Sarum. Walking around its ancient ramparts offer yet more great views for landscape artists. The light across the Plain is incredible.
Head just a few miles from Salisbury and the world famous Stonehenge sits waiting for you. All weathers and lights provide a backdrop for this most beautiful of ancient monuments.
Most recently, in addition to landscape painting, I've been focusing on what is in the landscape! This rural part of England is home to sheep, pigs, and cattle, an I’ve been delighting in the faces of these beautiful animals. Inspiration from the landscape and the animals that live there, will form my next, newest collection. All will be revealed soon, on my website, but here's a sneak preview of what I've been up to.
How can I fail to be inspired when I'm surrounded by beauty?
Several of my artist friends, paint every day, no matter what. I've always found the idea great if a little daunting. If you missed my first blog on the subject I refer back to Carol Marine's book you don't necessarily have to paint every singe day, but the point definitely is little and often, rather than trying to splash some paint on seven canvases every Sunday and pretend you're doing every day!
So I've been painting everyday (mostly)
I've been posting my work on my Facebook page, but here's a catch up if you haven't seen what's been going on.
On Saturday and Sunday, both canvases have been a little bigger than I planned for most of the project. These are both on 25cm x 30 cm, which are pretty manageable as a professional artist, but if you're just starting out you'd be wise to go a bit smaller. Remember the whole point is to be able to experiment, find your artist's voice and paint fearlessly.
For me, both of these paintings are a departure from my landscapes and seascapes.
What am I getting from this so far?
Observation is key.
Discipline is important.
Colour mixing essential.
I'm obsessed with how light changes in nature, but having control over how you light your subjects in still life is a revelation.
I'm delighted that the perfume bootle with the blue bottle is sold already. Nice start!
For two of my my days this week I didn't do an oil painting, one was a watercolour and one a relief print, whilst working in Salisbury museum. I haven't included them as they're not for sale. Also I really want to focus on oil painting, as that's my bread and butter, and it makes sense to really use the project to experiment with such a vast and diverse medium.
So for the next three paintings I've gone smaller, and I've now ordered some more of these cute little canvases from Jacksons art supplies.
They are 15cm x 15cm with a deep edge, they look so cute and chunky. They are professional standard and you can really feel the quality. I really like the impact these chunky little canvases can have. They look particularly lovely when hung in rows of three or groups of four.
During Studio 53’s Winter Open PV I was chatting to a fellow artist who was also extolling the virtues of painting everyday.
“Sure, I paint everyday” I thought.
“Well I sort of do” I reviewed in my mind.
“Well I definitely draw everyday”.
That at least is true.
I had excuses.
Tonnes of them.
I’m a solo entrepreneur, I do everything for my business, my website, my twitter feed, my facebook page. I run workshops, I blog, I research, I’m an oil painter which is hard to do on the run, quickly or in a hotel room….la la la.
All these excuses have faded away, because in-between Christmas and New year I read, a much recommended book - “Daily painting” by Carole Marine.
The basic premis is simple. Paint every day, or at least most days.
Minimum 4 times a week.
Paint small so that it’s manageable.
The benefits are huge and varied, amongst them:
You’ll be painting in an experimental way, without fear.
You’ll improve your skills rapidly. If you're already a pro you'll find your artistic voice.
And you’ll have loads of paintings from which to learn, or if they’re good, to sell.
The book has a wealth of information for the amateur and professional alike, as it covers media, composition and colour. I recommend it.
So trying to get one up on a new year’s resolution I started my Daily painting habit just before new year's eve.
When the weather (and light) is good I want to be outside painting, as a landscape artist it's essential. My years of teaching have led me avoid relying heavily on photographs in the studio, and will only work from them if accompanied by my sketches.
So, inspried by the book, I felt some small still life paintings, in oil would be the way ahead.
I painted the inside of a box with black acrylic paint.
Used a little box inside it and covered it with an old shirt of my husband’s rather than cutting up a big white table cloth.
I cut a hole in one side of the box and stuck an angle-poise lamp through the hole.
Then I picked up a lovely handmade golden pear off of the Christmas tree.
I placed it in my black cardboard box on my old-shirt-tablecloth.
There it was. A simple, lit still life.
I painted two in fact.
So here are my first two paintings using the Daily painting habit.
Both are oil on canvas.
Can’t recommend it enough.
I’ll be posting more.
Many many more.
The best examples of my daily paintings are available to buy from my shop.
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