“That contented concentration is what I love about making art … I don’t call it fun. My non-artist friends would invariably ask … was I having fun? True, art can feel like play, can actually be play. But I’d say fun is too frivolous [a] word for the contentment, the concentration, the peace of mind I experience when I draw or paint”
I have had people give me that “you’re weird” look for calling it fun, and once a landscape painter took offence at what they was perceived as a trivialising of their hard work by my using the f*n word.
I do call it fun, because fun is a serious business and we should work at having more of it in our lives. Wishing you a week filled with serious fun.
Theoretically I was painting sea blues and sheep, but every mix involving blue my mind was asking “would this fit into a bluebell blue?”. Ultramarine, phthalo, Prussian, cerulean…
I know it’s bluebell season, and I spent a bit of time taking photos of bluebells under the trees by the Uig community centre at the weekend, but I think the root of the quest lies in a conversation with my Ma about her trying to find a wool that was truly “bluebell blue”.
I think part of the problem is that bluebells are blue-purple not sky or sea blue, yet the “blue” part of the name resonated so strongly. Plus the colour also varies with the time of day and how much shadow they’re in. I’ve also been wondering what other languages call bluebells, whether colour is still part of their name.
Here’s the finished painting on my easel, not a bluebell in sight.
Word Promp Chart for June: It being the end of the month, it’s time for a new chart. You’ll find June’s as a printable .pdf here. Looking forward to seeing photos of May’s charts!
I was practising “clouds shapes” and mixing “cloud colours” for tomorrow’s art workshop when I took the photo below. Looking at it I registered how I tend to rest my little finger on the page if I’m using this watercolour brush in my right hand. Add that to the reasons, beyond mere dexterity, as to why I get different results with my left hand.
I was thinking about ways for getting white in clouds besides leaving the paper white, and have ended up with a contender in the “most useless how-to photo” competition. Top to bottom there’s masking fluid (blue so you can see where you’ve applied it), white oil pastel, and white gouache. Why did I take a photo? Well, I had to do something while it dried.
It looked at little more, urm, interesting after I’d added some watercolour. Though the gouache hadn’t quite all dried (not helped by being it cold and humid, or that’s my excuse for impatience and I’m sticking to it) so the cloud shadow colours mixed in with it. Looks more like a flying saucer. than a cloud. Back to the drawing, I mean painting, board.
If you’ve any cloud-painting tips — besides being more patient and waiting for paint to truly dry — do let me know!
When I was wandering around the Monet and Architecture exhibition** currently on at the National Gallery in London I heard someone say to their companion that a particular painting wasn’t meant for look at up close. I refrained from introducing them to the concept of a painting “rewarding close looking”, of how a painting can tell a different story depending on the distance at which you’re viewing it.
Photorealism tells you the same story up from across the room and up close — it still looks like a photo — whereas Impressionism tells you a whole new story, about colour and mark making for instance, rather than about appearance.
We hear lots about what painters should and shouldn’t do, but far less about what expectations might be had of people looking at our paintings.
**I will be writing a blog about the exhibition, but in a nutshell, if you like Monet go and see it if you can or get the exhibition catalogue* if you can’t, not least for the various painting from private collections.
“Make lots of drawings. The more you have under your belt, the less ego is wrapped up in each one. The volume of work creates a buffer, making it safer to make mistakes.”
— John Muir Laws, Constructive Critique
Yesterday I caught the ferry from Uig to Tarbert to deliver a painting, being met at the terminal because the ferry turns around rapidly, 20 minutes between scheduled arrival and departure. It was a nary-a-cloud-in-the-sky day with glorious sunshine, albeit wish-I’d-remembered-my-gloves cold.
“In traditional water-ink [Chinese] painting, the artist often uses a shifting perspective so that the eye travels from one place to another and the viewer feels like a traveller moving through the painting. — Sungsook Hong Setton, “The Spirit of the Brush“*, page 68
If you struggle with perspective and are fedup with bumping your head against it, have you considered using a perspective tradition from a different style of painting? Earlier styles of European painting, pre-Renaissance, didn’t do vanishing points and horizon lines and vantage points aka linear perspective. 20th century modern art abandoned it. Chinese and Japanese art traditionally never used it. Between all the options lies your truth.
I heard today from Higham Hall that my April workshop is fully booked! I’m looking forward to it and am sure we’re going to have as much fun as last year. If you missed a spot on that, the good news is that I’ve a new workshop at Skyeworks Gallery in April (and in September), part of the gallery’s new Art Retreats, which gives the option of a price including tuition, accommodation, breakfast and lunch at The Isle of Skye Baking Company.
Sketch to Studio on Skye
2 to 6 April 2018
17 to 21 September 2018
Exploring ways to gather reference material on location (including sketching and photography) which we will then use to develop paintings in the studio at Skyeworks.
Skyeworks Art Retreat prices: including tuition, accommodation (shared house within short walking distance), breakfast, lunch and welcome dinner, basic materials £795. Art Retreat including tuition and basic materials only £450. Email me on art(a)marion.scot if you’re interested and I’ll put you in touch with the gallery.
I’m also doing another “Capturing Skye” workshop at Higham Hall in November, which isn’t up on their website yet but you can contact them to register an interest and be amongst the first to get the details. This one is mixed media, so an excuse to dig out all those supplies you don’t often use or have been too intimidated to try.
This word prompt chart for February comes from Issie. Once again, fun to look across the squares, noticing all sorts of things, such as the apple (12 apple core) being a green apple rather than red. I think my favourite blocks are 22 Cheese and 26 Spoon.
Now to the surprise: I’ve decided to create a a printed book version of 365 word prompts, on paper that would take pencil, coloured pencil, or not-too-wet paint. It will be A5 size, 56 pages, and wirobound so it opens flat. The paper will be 170gsm uncoated, the same as in my updated Pocket Muse. My thought is that this way you have a journal of your drawings all in one place. It should be ready early April, but you can pre-order a copy, for a special pre-publication price, here.
And one from Tessa, who says: “I have attached my Feb word prompts. Stella my dog (sadly no longer with us) appeared several times. Studio cat and some of the words were the prompts. I found myself extending ideas out of the box and linking ideas between boxes. Again fun to do.”
I love that your sandwich has a bite out of the middle Stacey, and the ball Stella’s chasing being outside the grid Tessa. Once again, it’s fun seeing what each block/word has prompted. My thanks to you both for sharing!