Colour Wheel

I found these in my painting folder. 

They're from some colour studies I did back in 2013, the colour wheel starting life as an attempt in oils at a YURMBY wheel, which places red, green, and blue, between cyan, magenta, and yellow.

It went through GIMP at some point, lost the pencil lines and got tidied up a little after gaining an inner circle which places colours against their most contrasting colour.

Some painters are natural colourists, others do better with form. Which camp are you in?

Current drawings

I'm taking a break from landscape, given that the local countryside looks like a midden right now, to concentrate on figure drawing.

I started by drawing myself, after catching sight of me one morning in the mirror in the process of getting up. I thought, 'You know, you look good.' Good being a relative term, and strictly dependent on who I'm standing next to.

I began to draw myself,
which set me several difficult tasks. Such as, have you ever tried to draw your own hands from life? It requires astonishing feats of juggling.

I finished that drawing and began another. I took reference photographs, and painted a small colour study. I'm currently working on a drawing of my head from the photographs, which you can see here. 

Yes, I got the nose wrong and I have to do it over.

A Modest Proposal

During my morning constitutional I found this scene at a favourite painting spot.

Now, I'm an old softy at heart. I believe in rehabilitation rather than punishment. I think mercy is the better part of justice.
I do not favour the death penalty.

But people who fly-tip should be beaten to death with wire coat hangers.

Some of the gentler souls among you might find that opinion a little challenging, but hear me out.

The local authority provides a state of the art recycling centre that anyone can use for free, and they'll actually send someone in a truck to your house to pick up bulky items for a small fee. Someone who thinks it's a good idea to go to the trouble of hauling their household junk into the middle of a local beauty spot, in order to spread it around like a hippo marking its territory with faeces, therefore, is probably taking the micky, and should be taken out with extreme prejudice. No judicial process, just two behind the ear and a last journey to the nearest pig farm.

Ever have one of those veins throbbing in your forehead? I think mine's calmed down now, but my hands are still shaking.

On a similar note, I've seen pictures of graffiti tags on rocks in American national parks, miles from anywhere. Which means the perpetrators went to the trouble of carrying their spray cans through miles of beautiful wilderness in order to deface it. And of course, the savages in the east have taken to blowing up priceless art treasures and historical monuments. 

Hmmm...perhaps there's some ideological component to these people's decisions to deface the natural world.

So there you have it: proof that fly-tippers are in league with Islamist extremists. Well, maybe not proof, but good enough, by the standards of today, to start waging war on them.

If that doesn't get the drone strikes lighting them up, I don't know what will.

RIP Flip Mino

I bought a little Flip Mino video camera in 2009, and used it to make the painting videos I put up on my YouTube channel. I carried it everywhere, to take reference footage for paintings while I was out and about.

The camera was light and small enough to slip into a coat pocket. The video quality was surprisingly good given its size, and the stills I took from it had a pleasantly painterly character, with extraneous detail smoothed out into blobs of tone and colour, like this:

Alas, it is no more.

Did it wear out? No, it was still going strong, and I used it daily.

Did I drop it? Several times, but that never seemed to trouble it at all. Six years of banging about in my coat pocket with a clasp knife and a pencil had barely scratched the finish.

Did I leave it in a coat pocket, then forget to check the pockets before I put the coat through the washing machine?

Yes. Yes I did. While most delicate electronics stand at least a chance of full recovery after a brief dunking, an hour and a quarter in a 40 degree suds bath followed by a 1200 rpm spin dry proved to be one ordeal too many. I glumly dried it out for a few days in an old yogurt tub filled with uncooked rice, then hooked it up to the computer. It recharged nicely, but apart from that, it's stone dead. Software and memory wiped. It was a useful tool, but now it's a paperweight at best, and a disagreeable reminder of my capacity for stupidity.

What moral can we draw from my tale of woe and the consequences of absent mindedness?

- Always check your pockets on wash day.
- Download your images frequently, lest ye put your camera in a washing machine.
- And better still, buy a waterproof camera. That's too big to fit into your pocket.

The good news - well, the least bad news - is that a comparable replacement camera costs a lot less nowadays. 

2009-2015 R.I.P.

Why are you painting that?

Back in February of last year I stood on a path at the edge of a field and painted a small wood.

Some kid walking his dog stopped to take a look and asked me what I found to paint 'in this place'. The way he said it set me thinking. He sounded local, looked like he might have had a rural job. And he was evidently baffled as to why I chose to paint what, to him, looked drab and ordinary.

Except it plainly wasn't. The winter sun glared like a flashbulb going off. That hard light lit up the edge of the wood, but left the depths a rich, dark, velvet brown. Ragged clouds, cream and smoke grey, writhed across a sky of intense blue. The next field's bare turned earth glowed an unlikely salmon pink. It all looked beautiful. The only problem I had with it was how to paint it and do it justice.*

If I divide the world into painters and 'civilians', it's because of encounters like this. I had friends from school who were inept at drawing and painting, mostly because they didn't look at things.

They've all done well for themselves - in some instances, considerably better than me -  so looking plainly isn't a requirement for success. But it leaves me feeling sorry for people who don't, won't, or can't, see the world the way a painter does.

I've never had a dull journey. Give me a three hour train ride with a window seat, and I'll happily stare out for the whole way.

Shadows on a landscape, like that Inness painting? There's a real life example, take notes. Sheep on a hillside like ticks on a blanket, as in several Turners? What do you know, they look exactly like that. Dark out? Even better. Artificial lighting, perspective, and window reflections.

I don't get bored. Waiting rooms? Window light on walls and radiators, the stately change in shadow tonal depth. Every view presents a challenge. How would I paint that? What colours would I mix to do it?  

In the end, that's what painters do. They look at things so the rest of you can see them better. They show you the world as it really is: intensely beautiful.

* Which I signally failed to do, which is why you see a different picture here.