Sunday, 26 October 2014

Melvich Sunset. A landscape

Melvich Sunset+Scottish Abstract Landscape+vibrant acrylic+Miniature+Nicola McLean
'Melvich Sunset' - Acrylic landscape 

Ever since I went on Ashley's workshop in Cornwall I've really changed my opinion on abstract art. Well, not all of it - the non objective stuff is still a bit of a mystery to me - but certainly representational abstract work is much more appealing to me than it once was. 

It's like it tripped a switch in me and I feel like I suddenly can't learn enough about art and other artists whose work appeals to me. I've been pinning beautiful vibrant, semi abstract works of art on Pinterest like nobodies business - art that is more or less abstract or certainly impressionistic at any rate, but still very clearly landscapes.

The original inspiration

I'm drawn to vibrant colours and bold textures and brush strokes and, more and more, I find I truly enjoy painting most when I'm not confining myself to adding every detail and aiming to exactly replicate the subject. Of course, this doesn't necessarily apply to my pet portraits as I want them to capture the essence of the animal but even there I'd like to loosen up my style a little.

An online art buddy, Laura, recently mentioned a book she'd bought called Painting Realistic Abstracts by Kees Van Aalst and. although it is mostly in relation to watercolours, it's also relevant to acrylics. It's well worth a read if you want to move away from purely replicating the subject and instead want to adopt a more intuitive, emotional way of painting.

Scottish Landscape+Impressionism+Semi Abstract+Vibrant Acrylic+Texture+Nicola McLean
Just as well it's so tiny 7.5cm x 7.5cm) givem how many
layers of paint I went through!
I'm now working my way through Vibrant Acrylics by Hashim Akib, whose work I absolutely love and I already feel I've learnt so much just by seeing how these artist's prepare their canvas and choose their composition.

Anyway, in between pet portraits and sweet paintings, I've been experimenting with a looser more vibrant style and the landscape here is the end result. You can see how very far away from the original reference photo it is but if you scroll down you'll also see the many, many incarnations it went through until I found something that I was happy with and that felt like me. 

The 1st attempt was pleasant enough
but something wasn't quite right

More colour

Even more colour

just a bit more

aagh too much colour

starting to wish I'd left it at stage 1

another day another palette of left over paint to experiment with!

now we're getting somewhere

nope let's start over again add more and then scrape it all off and...
Now I'm happy with it!

I finally found a colour palette and texture I was happy with but ultimately it was a happy accident that involved lots of applications of paint and lots of scraping off of said applications of paint - a technique which I have no idea if I'll be able to replicate on the next painting but even then I learnt new ways to apply paint to get the texture and feel that I want. It was frustrating and fun! I'd love to know if you have a preference among the many stages it went through (even if it's not the final version!)

**Update - Thursday 30 October 

I'm very pleased to report that I posted a photo of this little landscape on my Facebook page on Sunday and it sold on Sunday evening! 

I'm linking to Paint Party Friday - I've been a bit remiss with my visits to the Party this year, dipping in and out when I get a chance but I'm going to make more effort to link up as it is a great opportunity to catch up with fellow art bloggers and what they've been up to. 

Monday, 20 October 2014

Licorice Allsorts

Licorice Allsorts+Glass Bowl+Vibrant Acrylic on Canvas+Still Life+Nicola McLean
'Licorice Allsorts' - acrylic on 5x5 inch box canvas
What seems like a very long time ago now (nearly 2 months), I painted a small canvas of some jelly babies in a glass bowl and I was planning to do a bowl of licorice allsorts to accompany it. Pet portraits came along and took priority and the poor licorice allsorts canvas was left languishing with only the faintest of pencil sketches to show what it was going to be.

Anyway, I decided to get back to it after finishing Little Man's portrait and before starting Tibby's and so I started painting it on Wednesday afternoon and with a break where I came up with some new Christmas Cards designs on Saturday, I put the finishing touches to it today. These are a gift for my sister for spoiling me rotten during my visit to her in London in August but I'll give them to her when she comes to the Far North next month to dog and cat sit so S and I can get a weekend away together for our anniverary without the pitter patter of multiple paws!!

Licorice Allsorts+Jelly Babies+Glass bowl+Acrylic+Vibrant Colours+Nicola McLean
A sweet pair!
I enjoyed painting these as something a little bit different from my usual subject matter. I got to use some wonderfully vibrant colours and the reflections and distortions caused by the glass was similar to the effect a raindrop has and I do like painting them so this was equally challenging.  I suspect I'll be painting more sweets in between pet portraits and I've even bought some sherbet fruits individually wrapped in clear cellophane which will hopefully give some great reflections to paint (I've taken the precaution of photographing them in advance just in case they don't last long enough to paint from life!)

Licorice Allsorts+Glass Bowl+Vibrant Acrylic Painting+Nicola McLean

Saturday, 18 October 2014

The C word...

There is still just under 10 weeks until Christmas and I wouldn't normally start thinking about it just yet (despite the insidious Christmas adverts already popping up on TV screens everywhere) but I sold five Christmas cards in my Etsy shop a couple of days ago so I think it's safe to say that some folk are a lot more organised than I am when it comes to getting their Christmas bits and bobs sorted early. And very grateful I am too.

Sheep+Christmas+Christmas Card+Paint Spatters+Nicola McLean
Buy Me Here

So, although I've not been thinking of Christmas in a 'buying presents' sort of way, I have been thinking of it from a 'creating some new designs to add to the Christmas cards in my Etsy shop' kind of way. 

I had a vague idea involving Skye's nose and the reflection of a Christmas bauble but in the end up I designed something entirely different for the simple reason that I couldn't be bothered to go digging around in the attic to find a bauble to then faff around trying to get a photo of Skye's nose reflected in it so I could paint it. So, for now, it'll remain 'an idea to add to the ever growing pile of ideas I'll complete someday, maybe'.

Highland Cow+Paint Spatters+Christmas Card+Whimsical+Nicola McLean
Buy me here
Anyway, for these I've incorporated a couple of illustrations from the past - Twisty Towns and Big Skies, Little Planet and added a couple of my favourite four legged neighbours into the mix. I deliberately tried to make the animals a little bit twisty and quirky like the houses. I'd like to do at least 3 more with perhaps a pig or a chicken and maybe another cow or two. The vegan in me decided to use the phrase 'peace on earth and goodwill to all' but deliberately leave out 'mankind' just to remind us to be nice to all living things this Christmas!

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Little Man...a little dachshund portrait...

This is Little Man, he's a gorgeous wee dachshund from Mississippi and my latest pet portrait commission.

Dachshund+Pet Portrait+Acrylic+Miniature canvas+Art+Nicola McLean
'Little Man' - acrylic on box canvas 5x5 inch
All the pet portraits I've been doing recently have been acrylic on the little miniature box canvasses 5x5 inches (as opposed to the 5x5 cm ones I accidentally ordered from GreatArt a few weeks ago!)

Oops - that'll teach me to check the measurements properly next time!

The real Little Man (photo courtesy of his human granny!)

I really enjoy doing them on the small box canvas as they're the perfect size so I can get in enough detail without it taking me weeks to complete. Plus they're light enough to post anywhere.

Next up is a change of subject - remember I painted a bowl of jelly babies a while back? Well, I had started a bowl of licorice allsorts to accompany it but it got left on the back burner while I got on with a few other pet portrait commissions. I'm going back to finish it now and then after that I'll be painting the winner of my pet portrait give away - Tibby, a very beautiful cat, who has sadly passed away so I'm really pleased her person, Wendy, won the give away, as this portrait will have extra significance for her. And I'm looking forward to painting a feline fur baby in between all the dogs I've been doing lately!

Pet Portrait+Doxie+Dachshund+Nicola McLean

In other news, I decided to contact the local paper to see if they would be interested in writing a wee article about the GreatArt postcard competition win (I decided that if I didn't blow my own trumpet, no one else was going to do it for me!) I sent them an email last Wednesday telling them about the competition and including a photo of the leaf painting. I got a reply from a journalist asking for a number to call me on the Thursday but I never got the call. Then on Friday I was at the animal shelter and the manager came up to congratulate me as he'd just read the article in the John O'Groat Journal! Turns out they'd gone ahead and written a piece based on the information I'd given them in my email and used a photo of me from February 2013 when I did the Artist in the Spotlight feature! It was a nice wee piece and who knows maybe it'll help when it comes to the next local art exhibition!

The wee article in last Friday's John O'Groat Journal

Sunday, 5 October 2014

Scooby the Shy caught on canvas! A pet portrait.

pet portrait+Nicola McLean Artist+Labrador+Retriever+acrylic
Scooby - portrait in acrylic on 5 x 5 inch box canvas

Way back on 29 July I posted about a pet portrait I did of a lurcher called Scrappy. He was my first (and, to date, only) time lapse video of a painting from start to finish. Anyway, I was waiting for photographs of his pal, Scooby, so I could paint his portrait as well. What with Scooby being a little camera shy then delays with various holidays, it's only now that I'm able to post the finished portrait.

Because he isn't comfortable with having his photo taken, I had to work from two different photos for this portrait, his head in one and his shoulders which is harder than you'd think. He also has the darkest eyes - they look almost black in his photos but hopefully I've done him justice. 

pet portrait+Nicola McLean Artist+Labrador+Retriever+acrylic

Anyway, both portraits finally headed off to their new homes in Bedfordshire a couple of days ago and I'm delighted to report that Scooby and Scrappy have just gotten a new pack member in the form of a rescued saluki called Marley and I'm honoured to be painting his portrait as well!

In the meantime, I've just started another portrait of a wee dachshund called Little Man from Mississippi so I best get off the computer and get cracking.

Before I go I just want to thank everyone who left such lovely comments both on my blog and on Facebook about my good news last week! 

pet portrait+Nicola McLean Artist+Labrador+Retriever+acrylic


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