“The decline of our personal momentum might be the great untold story of our time. That electronic media, incoming, ‘breaking’, please reply, didn’t you see that, react right now, click here… this has a cost. And the cost is our internal drive to initiate instead of to just react.” — Seth Godin, “The Motor“, 1/8/18
The Muse doesn’t so much whisper in your ear as illuminate the possibilities around you, and that comes only because she is entranced by what you are currently trying to accomplish. The Muse has to arrive to find you painting or drawing, not passively waiting for inspiration to hit.
For Kathleen who asked to see a photo, here are the three paintings I put into this year’s Lochalsh Art Fair (held in the community hall across from Eilean Donan Castle), my little red tractor painting and two of my new mountainscapes (mentally turn the one on the right 90 degrees anticlockwise):
Photos taken on the journey to drop off my paintings for the Lochalsh Art Fair which is on until Wednesday.
First stop was the classic view towards the Cuillin. A visitor who was parked here, looking on her phone when I stopped, got out and asked me what the speed limit was because everyone seemed to be wanting to go really fast. I later saw her pull into a parking spot to let cars past.
Second stop the most-photographed-waterfall-on-Skye:
Though it’s more the view in the opposite direction I still want to paint:
Obligatory Eilean Donan Castle shot:
What caught my eye far more were the patterns by the road bridge:
Went into Balmacara for the “dark wood”:
And stopped near Kyle for hillside colours (last of the purple heather and bracken turning autumnal) :
Obligatory shot from the bridge at Sligachan (it wasn’t really this dark, I had the exposure set for the bright cloud):
Plus moody clouds:
Abstract minimalism with Glamaig:
Reflection of the sun:
And the usually ignored beautiful little bridge:
Stopped at Aros (outskirts of Portree) for a photo of the house across the bay with its becoming-autumnal trees:
And headed into the pine plantation (thanks for the reminder of how rich a location that is Izzy!):
And a final stop for moody cloudsand sea near home:
PS: I think I’ve got my websites all moved to the new webhost, but if you see anything strange or missing, let me know! I’ve seen some quotation marks changed to question marks!
“‘Repetition’ is about chasing something again, whereas ‘reproduction’ is about leading something forth again.
“In the former you’re always going after some unachievable idea: the resulting ‘things’ only approximating that ideal. Reproducing implies bringing out the identical thing again and again.
“… As an artist I’m attempting to use [pottery and calligraphy] to point out the sublime joy of ever deeper interaction with the earthy world precisely by never being able nor willing to make the same thing twice.”
Repetition, not reproduction. Working in a series, chasing an idea, chasing the “what if?”.
Using painting techniques that embrace “happy accidents” as an key element means you can’t do identical no matter how hard or long you try. Similar, yes, in terms of composition and colour. Identical, no, because drips and blended-together colour-runs are serendipitous. That lack of absolute control is what makes it so much fun.
From Margaret: “21 thinking is the position I found myself in thinking how to draw thinking. I think my alien 13 and my octopus 7 are related. The animals look a bit grumpy as I was when a found a number 27 deposited in the middle of the front garden last week. Lastly I have no idea why my suitcase 7 is dancing.”
From Eddie: “Lots of interesting subjects this month.”
Lots of interesting drawings! I find myself fascinated that three poodles are facing to the left and one to the right. Dominant hand influence maybe? Thanks for sharing!
Where’s mine? Well it wasn’t in its usual spot in the corner of the table, and I must have scooped it up with something when I was tidying up and sorting out last week, so I’m going to have to go with “the studio cat ate my homework”.
And don’t forget to send photos of your August word prompt pages — I’ll be posting them in a blog tomorrow on Tuesday. Don’t worry if you haven’t done every block, the aim is more days than not, but every single one counts!
If you’ve been enjoying these drawing prompts, how about giving a friend a copy of my book version? Take a look…
Back into my studio, taking a fresh look at this painting, I felt it was, overall, too muted and midtone and bland and had lost all the vitality it’d had in its earlier stages.
First thought was to shift some of the grey towards blue, so out came my favourite problem-solving blue, Prussian, which I glazed over the sea and dabbed around into the sky. I used glazing medium as well as water to thin the paint, letting it drip towards the bottom.
This of course eliminated the highlights on the sea, so out came some cadmium orange (mixed with titanium white using my blue-not-entirely-cleaned-from-it? brush to subdue the orange a little). Added to sea and clouds, knowing it’ll have additional layers over it.
Next thought was to the headlands, to refind the shapes and increase the sense of distance between them. Masking tape along the lower edges means I need only worry about where the brushmarks need to stop on the top edge.
It may seem as if I’m obliterating the distant headland, t’s not quite a solid colour what becomes the underneath layers will show through somewhat. My aim is to make the headland lighter and bluer, and that I will lift off some of the paint with paper towel once I’ve got it across the whole area.
Some of that ‘headland grey’ also added to the sky.
And yellow to the nearer headland. Then some blue, some red earth, tweak, tweak, tweak, fuss, fuss, fuss. But I do like how the distant headland is looking.
Realising I was going nowhere slowly, I decided it needed a dramatic change to shift things out of tweak-ville. So I reached for the Payne’s grey acrylic ink and started adding a new ‘drawing line’, to see if I could re-establish the energetic markmaking layer I’d so enjoyed however many layers ago. A couple of years ago I wouldn’t have done this, but over the past little while I’ve been enjoying dancing between line and brushwork. Besides, if it all went horribly wrong I could wash it off, or overwork it.
Where the ink ran into the sea, I didn’t fuss to try and lift it, just scratched into it with the ink-bottle dropper.
The Payne’s grey ink at this point is a bit stark on the headlands, but I was feeling re-energised by it, so continued adding it down the sea.
When I got to the rocky shore at the bottom of the canvas I put it on the floor to work flat so the ink wouldn’t run with gravity.
Paused with the Payne’s grey ink on the sea to add a little to the sky, and lots more white.
Decided the sea was too bitty, so sprayed it with lots of water and turned so it’d run at an angle. Flicked leftover white and grey onto it, sprayed again to encourage the paint running and dripping, then after a bit left it flat to dry.
What will happen next? I can’t say until I’ve had a slow hard look at it with fresh eyes. I suspect I might find it all a bit dark, that I might add highlight to the sea and a little more colour to the foreground.
Don’t forget to share photos of your August word prompt charts! You’ll find September’s here.
So that day with the beautiful light on the sea at Uig has taken me on this seascape-painting journey in my studio (working on a 100x100cm canvas). I don’t yet know where it’ll ultimately end up; the last photo is where I left it yesterday to dry. Colours: Payne’s grey, lemon yellow, red earth and Prussian blue acrylic inks, plus titanium white acrylic paint.
Starting point, ‘drawing’ with Payne’s grey acrylic ink.
Spraying the surface with water, letting the Payne’s grey spread and showing its blueness. I did this with the canvas turned 90 degrees.
Adding some lemon yellow, and then red earth..
Adding titanium white.
The point at which I decided to take out the pier because I was irritating myself trying to paint around it. I might put it back later.
More layers, more drips.
Brushing across the sea to mix splattered-on colours, probably coming? down too low into still-wet red earth. White added to sky.
Spraying the sea to let it run and colours merge, to resolve it feeling so bitty and to create happy-accident colour mixes.
Added lots more white to the sky, and lighter layers to the sea. This is the point at which I decided I wanted everything to dry completely before continuing.
Where will I take the painting from here? I don’t know other than the vague “needs quite a bit still” and the aim of sticking to “interesting greys” rather than getting colourful.
This is Monet’s “Apple Trees in Blossom by the Water”, painted in 1880.
1. What’s the focal point?
2. Where’s the water mentioned in the painting’s title?
Turn page 90 of Monet: The Seine and The Sea 1878–1883 by Michael Clarke and Richard Thomson, where it’s explained that:
“Such is the density of the surface activity that the painting has no conventional focus or compositional base. … This is a canvas about touch, texture and colour…”
The trunk does leads your eye up into the branches, but then it takes it off the top. There’s so much going on with the leaves and shadows it’s hard to make out any single bit but simultaneously inviting you to get lost in it all. Paintings don’t have to have a traditional focal point, positioned according the Golden Mean, with a composition leading the viewer’s eye towards it. It’s your choice.
The water in the painting is supposedly implied by the sense of a tree growing on a bank. (It’s thought it’s one of the paintings Monet did from a river boat .) I’m not sure I’d think about it if it weren’t in the painting’s title. Would you?
Mostly I find myself wondering how Monet didn’t get fedup with all those shades of brown from burnt umber to beige, and whether in real life the painting has more yellows and green visible. What would your third question be?