When I'm at art fairs, probably the most common question I'm asked is "How long did that take you?"
I'll admit, that most artists don't really like that question.
But since running workshops, and building rapport with my customers, I really understand where they're coming from now and when you're trying to find out about the art, actually it's a great question!
I guess artists don't like the question (especially when in a selling situation) because it feels like someone is testing how much we're paying ourselves per hour, or maybe they're seeing whether or not we can magic the art in a matter of minutes.
But I've realised, that's not really the question that's being asked. I think "How did you do that?" is woven in there, "How much work do you have to do before you start painting?" that's in there too. "What inspired you to create this?"
Well now you're talking, I'd love to tell you how and why I created something.
Followers of my blog will know that this year has seen a new collection, Countryside companions. And I love how it compliments my landscape work; I'm ultimately inspired by nature and the world around me.
This shows the start of my highland cow "Chewing it over".
Its 60cm x 60cm oil on canvas.
The first stages are sketches in my sketchbook, based on photos and life sketches (I'm not a farmer, so the sketches I do from life, tend to be at horticultural shows).
Then I sketch onto the canvas. Interestingly, the pencil lines are rare for me, in landscapes and seascapes I paint straight away. But my animals are quite "loose" and spattery. In order for the splatters to work, I have to start quite carefully in pencil.
I ensure everything in is the right place.
The first paint, is very diluted French ultramarine blue, and it carefully makes out the darkest areas.
When this layer is dry I can then add the finishing touches. If I was going to create a far more detailed and realistic cow, this is the stage I would start to do that. As I still want to keep the streaks and spatters I simply add more tones, including carmine pink to the nose, highlights to the horns, the grass he's chewing, and some white glints in the eyes.
When he was finished he was completed with a rather grand frame.
I've been going through exactly the same process with my Stag, who appears to be much more serious than my cow!
The process, is sometimes punctured with moments of self doubt. Sometimes, I get too excited by what I'm doing, and carry on for too long, which is dangerous as an oil painter, one false move and you've ruined a day's work. Sometimes, I work too closely and when I step back I realise the light is wrong.
However, all these moments can be overcome, with a bit a patience and skill.
And, after weeks, maybe even months of working on a piece, when it's done it's a great feeling.
If you would like to see more of my most recent collection go to:
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