Charity painting in memory of 22 year old Abi

I have painted a carefree portrait of three ducklings for charity, in memory of my friend, Abi French.

Puddle Ducklings

Puddle Ducklings

Leicester born and raised, Abi French (née Edwards) passed away in February 2015, just days after her 22nd birthday, from a sudden blood clot. The entire sale price of the painting will be donated to Glenfield Hospital’s Blood Clot Prevention Unit – in recognition of the care they had given Abi over the last four years.

“I painted Puddle Ducklings just because I really needed to do something positive and proactive to take away from the horrible unfairness of it all. Abi was the first friend I made when we both moved to RAF Marham with our partners. She was a rock for me while they were on deployment last year, and I will never forget her.” 

Ferrers Gallery in Ashby de la Zouch will be exhibiting and managing the sale of ‘Puddle Ducklings’, which goes on display on Saturday 25th April. They will also be selling a series of fine art prints of the ducklings, with all of the profits going to Glenfield Hospital.

The exhibition will run to the 5 July 2015, with the painting being sold by an open bidding process.

“Ferrers Gallery is delighted to be able to help Imi Woods raise money for Glenfield hospital. The painting of the ducklings will be on display at the gallery and mounted prints will be for sale also, with all profits going to the cause.”
Rachael Chambers – Ferrers Gallery

If you are interested in bidding on the painting or a print, pop into Ferrers Gallery to see the exhibition.

Thank you so much for everyone’s support so far. Let’s raise as much money as possible to stop this from happening to someone else.

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The Four Commissions of Christmas

On the first day of Christmas, commissioned to me, Lyra the dog for a lady named Dee.
I painted the piece mainly at a fair, many were captured and stopped to stare.
This painting was one I enjoyed the most, I missed it when it went in the post.

Lyra artbyimi

On the second piece, pressure began to show. It was a Samoyed surrounded by snow.
With one shade of paint I couldn’t be tight. Yes you have guessed, it was the white.
With purple shadows for snow and cream for the body, the outcome wasn’t too shoddy.

Zola artbyimi

The third commission I was stumped to begin. It was no animal, but a mandolin.
A mirrored surface and fiddly strings, I used best handwriting to write “Recording Kings”.
I painted a throw on which it sat, could have stitched it in the time it took to paint that!

Andrews Mandolin

Commission four was a kitten that lives on a boat, with wide green eyes and a tabby coat.
The painting began at my Christmas stand, surrounded by punters, paintbrush in hand.
Thin stripes of whiskers were the finishing touch, the end result I liked very much.Capi artbyimi

Merry Christmas everyone, enjoy your day, I hope Santa Claus has visited with his sleigh.
I’ve had lunch and games with my mum, dad and sister, now out for presents with the Mr.
My books are open in the new year. Commission some art for some cold weather cheer!

A survey – as soon as October hits, suddenly it is Christmas!

I have just found out that I have been allocated a stall at a Christmas Market at Farnham Maltings on the 13th December!
It is great news, but I am wondering what I will be able to sell that close to Christmas.

So PLEASE, put yourself in the punters’ shoes and imagine you are floating round a Christmas market. You have had your mulled wine, you have bought your Christmas tree decorations, and you come across my stall. What next?

Any additional comments and tips you have, please share them in the comments, as I don’t want to invest in stock that won’t sell, and I really want a successful market!

 

How to paint a short haired cat

I was commissioned to paint Gumdrops the cat for fellow blogger, Kate. I thought it would look really striking on a tall thin canvas, walking proudly, tail in the air.

To Create a painting of a short haired cat, you will need:

  • Acrylic paint
  • Large flat paintbrushes
  • Small rounded brushes
  • Play mat
  • Water
  • Palette (or foil case)
  • Canvas (I used 75cm x 30 cm)
  • Pencil
  • Ruler
  • Photo to copy.

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Gumdrops was posted off to Gibraltar, and has safely arrived with the proud owner.
I got this lovely email, which just makes my work SO worthwhile!

“I’ve collected Gumdrops the painting and he’s wonderful! .. you’ve really captured his essence .. thank you so much for all the skill, care and attention you’ve put into this lovely painting :)”

Refer

 

Going off photo when the photo is… off

Caution: the following includes an artist with a serious case of “a bad workman blames his tools” syndrome.

As an artist who strives to get animals as accurate as I possibly can,
going off-photo goes against all my principals. 

Funnily enough, it is only when I perceive the photograph to be “wrong” that painting stops being a lovely relaxing experience that comes naturally to me.

Instead, it can instantly become stressful, and I can be heard muttering “hate this stupid dog / eye / leg / insert anything here”.

It’s at that point that I know that a quick fix is not possible. The photograph looks all wrong, and to avoid my painting looking all wrong, I have to go off book, or find a new bit of photograph to copy.

Exhibit A… the loveliest little King Charles Cavalier Spaniel, Bertie.
bertie

Look at his lovely face, fluffy ears and glinty eyes.
Awww. That makes for a lovely relaxing painting session, with a hint of a challenge.

Now scroll back up and look at those legs.
What the heck is going on there???
They are all over the place!

Paws are conveniently cropped out of the image, so I can’t really even work out what is back leg and front leg, what is body and what is tail.

I am left stumped as to what is going on and to how on earth I will paint this random assortment of white limbs.

So I painted it as per the photograph.

And as expected, it looked all wrong.

My own mother gave herself the role of “Quality Control” and told me I needed to change it.

Grumble Grumble.

I love painting, but I don’t love repainting a painting that I thought was a finished painting.

 Back to the drawing board!!

How to paint a Golden Retriever

This guide tells you how I painted Annie the Golden Retriever for my Godmother. She is a friendly energetic dog and very much loved. I finally got to see her today to hand over my masterpiece.

You will need:

  • Paint – Dog: Flesh tint, Burnt Umber, Raw Umber, White, Mars Black, Burgandy, Violet, Rich Gold
    Grass: Sap Green, Olive Green Burgandy, Violet, Lemon Yellow, Raw Umber etc.
  • A Canvas –  I use 30cmx40cm as standard
  • Playmat – I use a big old plastic table cloth
  • Paintbrushes – a large flat one and a variety of small round ones.
  • A pot of water
  • A palette – I use foil cases from quiches.
  • A photograph to copy – I have mine up on my laptop screen with gridlines drawn on
  • A pencil
  • A ruler.

Canvas Preparation

1. Mark up your canvas. For a 30 x 40 canvas it is easiest to do 5cm2 squares. If you grid out your photo on a screen, make sure that your scaled dimensions are the same. You will probably have to crop parts of your photo and expand it to fill the space. With this painting, I made the call that the edge of the paws could be missed out to make the rest of the dog fit onto the canvas.

IMAG0867_1[1]

2. Draw the outline shape of your subject onto the canvas, following the corresponding squares on your screen. For a more detailed way of doing this, see here.

Painting Grass

If your background is grass, you can follow this guide for long grass, and this guide for short grass.

IMAG0881[1]

Painting a Golden Retriever  

1. Paint areas of shadow on the face with a grey / Flesh Tint, Burgandy mix. The areas around the nose seem to be darker, whereas under the eyes is blonder.

IMAG0882[1]

2. Use paler colours on areas of light (Flesh Tint, White, Raw Umber) and small sweeping brushstrokes with a little rounded brush to create fine hairs all over the face, concentrating on areas of light and shadow. Outline the nose in a near black, and use black to draw the gums. Use small dots of white to create hair follicles around the nose.

IMAG0883[1]

3. Continue adding layers of hair and volume on the face, and rim the eye in black with a gentler grey surround.

IMAG0884[2]

4. Start to paint the ear. Firstly paint a short colour wash in a mix of Raw Umber, Burgandy, Burnt Umber, with the ear becoming darker and more shadowy towards the bottom. Then when that is dry, create little curlier hairs in white, Flesh Tint and Raw Umber.

IMAG0886[1]

5. Start to paint down towards the dog’s chest using your big flat paintbrush. Using Violet mixed with white creates really natural looking areas of shadow for a predominantly white chest.

IMAG0887[1]

6. Lengthen areas of shadow (greys, Violet, Burgandy, Flesh Tint etc) up the dog’s back and towards her paws.

IMAG0889[1]

7. Pay attention to the direction of the hairs and blanched out areas. Little curly patterns of hairs formed on the back of this photograph, so I used longer brushstrokes in a roundabout motion to capture this.

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8. Keep adding layer after layer to make the painting look really 3D and fluffy. Work over the shadow with lighter tones, using little sweeping brushstrokes.

IMAG0893[1]

9. Continue the shadow down the legs using a grey based paint. Create lots of individual hairs with a watery white / Flesh Tint, going lighter and lighter towards the paws.

IMAG0895[1]

10. Lengthen strands of grass to come over the dog’s body to join background and foreground together.

IMAG0899[1]

11. The dog’s eye was a REAL challenge for me. I know it looks fairly done in the photos above but it just wasn’t quite right. I ended up painting over it entirely to try again. It put about five hours onto the end of my painting. I had to study other photographs of Annie to appreciate her nutty brown eye colour – which didn’t come across in the photo I was copying. Anyway, I am finally pleased with it.

eyes

FINITO. I estimate this took me about 30-35 hours although I never keep proper tabs on these things.

Annie 2 ARTbyIMI

Please let me know what you think!

How to paint long grass in acrylic

I have already written a How to paint grass guide here.
It may surprise you to know that this is my most popular post ever, so I thought I would write another focussing on long grass. It is a different technique and a new skill to learn after all.

You will need:

  • Paint for Grass: Sap Green, Olive Green, Burgandy, Violet, Lemon Yellow, Raw Umber, burnt umber, black, etc.
  • A Canvas –  I use 30cmx40cm as standard
  • Playmat – I use a big old plastic table cloth
  • Paintbrushes – a large flat one and a variety of small round ones.
  • A pot of water
  • A palette – I use foil cases from quiches.
  • A photograph to copy – I have mine up on my laptop screen with gridlines drawn on
  • A pencil
  • A ruler.

Canvas Preparation

1. Mark up your canvas. For a 30 x 40 canvas it is easiest to do 5cm2 squares. If you grid out your photo on a screen, make sure that your scaled dimensions are the same.

2. Draw the outline shape of your subject onto the canvas, following the corresponding squares on your screen. For a more detailed way of doing this, see here.

Painting Long Grass

1. Create a colour wash over the grass area in a watered down sap green using a large flat brush.

IMAG0871_1[1]

Here you can see the watery wash over the background

2. Start to pick out areas of light and dark with a small rounded paintbrush. Use gentle dabbing with your paintbrush in a watery white to create little soft focus flowers.

IMAG0873_1[1]

In the right hand corner you can see the beginnings of flowers

3. Pay attention to the direction of the grass, and use a variety of watery shades and a quick sweeping  movement to get that feeling of motion.

IMAG0876_1[1]

Here you can see the grass being blown around through the directions of my brushstrokes

4. Make glints of sunlight with a Rich Gold paint, and break up dark shadow with longer strands of grass in paler colours 

IMAG0881[1]

Have a look at part 2 – Finishing the Golden Retriever. 
I haven’t yet given her to her owner so can’t ruin the surprise on here!!

How to paint a Cairn Terrier

This guide tells you how I set about painting a little golden terrier for a lady at my work. A repeat customer, previous owner of a lovely lemur. It was a present to her in laws for Christmas.

With this painting, we decided together to keep the background plain, to keep the costs and painting time down. You can see here that this backfired disastrously as it took twice as long to do. No, I don’t know how either!

You will need:

  • paint: I used System 3 acrylic paint in the following colours:

Mars Black, Titanium White, Flesh Tint, Burnt Sienna, Raw Umber, Burnt Umber,
Velvet Purple, Cadminium Red, Burnt Sienna, Rich Gold, Magenta, etc.

  • A variety of paintbrushes
  • Masking tape
  • Water
  • Play mat
  • Easel
  • photograph or photographs of your subject
  • a canvas
    rosie photo

1. Grid up and draw out your canvas. You can read a detailed post how to do this here.
Basically, it used to involve a ruler, a photograph, a pencil and a canvas and a bit of maths.

Recently, my printer has become broken and I have become lazy, so I draw up a rather sneaky grid on my computer (an exact scale of my 30cm x 40cm canvas) and then crop and shrink my photograph to fit it on the screen.

Why did I never think of it before?!

IMAG0753

It does always help to have a print out though, or else your laptop will start to look a bit like mine. (Covered in paint and quite broken…)

1. Paint in the background using a large flat brush. So far I have done posts on how to do leaves and grass. This background was plain, so I mixed up some damson paint (magenta, a bit of black and a bit of violet) and painted the entire background in one matte colour.

Don’t worry too much if the background goes into your dog- that’s why you put it on first!

To paint the dog, I used my brand new posh paintbrushes that I got for my birthday, and WOW they made a difference. Such a pleasure to use them, and they made really lovely fine strokes that looked just like fine hairs. Maybe this painting was only good because of these lovely paintbushes. Who knows…

1. Start with the tail. I did the dark area of shadow first in burnt umber and black, before using raw umber, flesh tint, white etc to weave in some lighter shades.

IMG-20121216-WA0005

2. Create a wash in raw sienna over the dogs back, then extend your little brushstrokes round using a series of little sweeping brushstrokes in burnt umber, burnt sienna and raw sienna and flesh tint, gradually using lighter shades towards the dog’s main body.

IMG-20121216-WA0004

3. This type of terrier’s back has a speckle of several different colours through it- grey, golden shades and cream shades. Start by painting a wash in grey over the back, before using your little rounded paintbrush to blend and weave other colours in.

IMG-20121216-WA0002

4. The tummy was softer and longer fur, so use longer motions, still using your small round brush in shades of brown and creams to achieve this look
IMG-20121216-WA0007

6. The ears had the shortest hair, more like velvety fur. Use only tiny brush strokes in slightly more golden, darker colours to create this.

7. The paws also have quite short hair, so a very small brush should be used with small repetitive movements to achieve this look. Keep referring back to your photograph, zooming in on the screen to make sure that you have got the shape of the paws right, and the number of pads etc. An owner will always know if it’s not quite right!

IMAG0756

7. The face had a large variety of different colours. The hair is long again on the face, and droops downwards, so be sure to show this using downwards motions with your brush.

Around the ears, there were complex areas of shadow in the folds, and the hair goes in a variety of directions. Pay particular attention to your photograph to get this bit spot on.

The dog also had a cute fluffy pale beard, so use flesh tint, raw sienna and white to create this.

IMAG0757

8. The eyebrows were paler than the rest of the face, and long and droopy. Use long sweeping brushstrokes to frame the eye, then sweep them outwards like whiskers.

IMAG0760

9. The dog had big dark eyes that looked down and were hidden by eyebrow. Firstly I painted in dark grey eyes, with neat black to rim them. I then picked out glints of white, around the bottom of the eyeballs. I then used my artistic licence to add glints of white on the round of the eyeball to give the impression that the dog was looking directly at you.

IMAG0762

10. Paint the nose big and grey, then frame the bottom in black paint and a little inverted u for each nostril. The dog’s fur extended into the nose at the top, so I used my little round paintbrush to put in some hairs and some glints of white.

IMAG0761

11. Add long pale droopy hairs and whiskers around the mouth, nose and ears, using your littlest paintbrush and watered down paint to get really smooth lines.

12. Finally draw the dogs shadow, using a very  thin wash of a dark brown or black, with no white shades in it. This will make the dog look 3D and stand out from the canvas.

Rosiepainting

How to paint a fluffy cat

Hello all,

Last month, I painted my first cat, Spike, as a Christmas commission for a man at work.

Spike is a big black and white cat with very long fluffy fur.

I hope you enjoy this guide!

You will need:

  • Paint:I used System 3 acrylic paint in the following colours:Mars Black, Titanium White, Flesh Tint, Burnt Sienna, Burnt Umber
    Velvet Purple, Cadminium Red, Burnt Sienna, Copper, Sap Green, Lemon Yellow…
  • A variety of paintbrushes: Big flat brush ones, and little rounded ones for detail.
  • Masking tape
  • Water
  • Play mat
  • Easel
  • Cocktail sticks
  • Photographs: a main one and secondary ones to give you different areas of detail.
  • Canvas: I used 30cm x 40cm

catforpeter

  1. Grid up and draw out your canvas. You can see a guide how to do this here.
    The trick is to get your drawing at exactly the same point in the grid as the photograph.
    It is honestly easier than it seems!
    IMAG0671
  2. Start blocking in your background, With this painting, I painted a garden background, similar to the jungle background I painted here.
    I initially did plain dark colours and then painted leaf shapes on top.
    One side of the photograph was lighter with more yellowy greens, the other darker with purpley greens.
    The darker side (left hand side) was surprisingly easy, all I needed to do was paint star shapes on a dark background in purples and dark greens, and they looked like ivy leaves.
    Background
  3. Paint in the post. For this, your masking tape will come in handy to get really clean lines and angles.
    Concentrate on areas of light and dark, going up to almost white for the flat of the post, and to burnt umbers and black in the shadows.
    Post
  4. Start on the tail. I initially painted the dark area black before adding reds, browns and pale colours into it, creating layer upon layer of paint to make the hair really realistic.
    I then created thin white hairs over the dark areas to create the effect of the tail being caught by the light.
    Tail
  5. Extend the pale area of the tail up; mix greys and creams and continue to use thick layers of paint, and your cocktail stick to create individual hairs.
  6. Start on the dark patch on the back. Paint in the patch in black using a big brush before adding detail – this ensures that no part of the canvas will remain unpainted.
    If you look closely at the photograph, there were lots of red shades in this patch, which show that it is sitting in direct sunlight.
    Use burnt sienna mixed with extra red to achieve a variety of warm browns.
    Then pick out individual hairs in white paint again to show glints of sun.
    Back
  7. Paint the face near black using a big brush, leaving a white stripe up the nose. Weave in different dark shades using a little rounded brush, and create pale tufty ear hairs using your cocktail stick.
    IMAG0734
    The cat also had a little fluffy black beard, which I had to really refer to the photograph to get in exactly the right place and at the right angle – pet owners will always know! I then painted in the cats upper lip, where the whiskers grow from, using a pale grey with lines of white dots for the whiskers roots.
  1. Create block areas of white, cream and grey on the upper chest, then weave together using a small rounded brush and long brushstrokes. I then mixed in a bit of purple paint to make the areas of shadow more real and deep. Make the hairs fan outwards to make it look really fluffy.IMAG0736
  2. Extend the cream, white and grey fluffy hairs down the cats tummy. I also mixed in browns, as it was darker, soft fluffy hair which angled downwards towards the paws.
    IMAG0739
  3. Paint in the paws. They are predominantly pale, with very short hair. Create the pads with shades of browns and purple, blending the shadow into the paw using a little rounded brush.
  4. Paint in the eyes. These are so important to get right because they are such distinguishing characteristics. The cat had big green eyes, so I painted in the colour, then lined the eyes in black paint. As the cat was outside, its pupils were thin slits, so a small brush and a steady hand was needed. Finally a little white glint in each eye.
    DSC_0152head
  5. For the nose, use pink, flesh tint and a bit of brown paint to create a little triangle. Put in two round nostrils, then flick this to the outside to line the nose.
  6. Finally put in long white whiskers, coming out of the eyebrows and the face. You can even use masking tape to make these lines cleaner.
    DSC_0152 - Copywm

Ta Da!! Stay tuned for part 2 of my how to guides, Rosie the terrier 🙂

Imi x

So stuck in my complex niche that simplicity is now… difficult.

Hello three readers! Or are there four of you? Speak up! Dont be shy!

I can only apologise for my lengthy absence.

My excuse? Not that I have been slacking, that’s for sure!
I have plenty to share with you all… I just cant share it… yet.

I will give you a hint though.
I have been a busy busy bee and…
done two new (super super!) paintings, and created two new lovely “how to” guides!

That’s a pretty hefty hint!

The snag is that I cannot share them, due to the (unlikely) event that one of my avid readers (!) might well be receiving them for Christmas (no, its not you mum!)

So instead, I will leave you with this.

Why is it that a detailed background…
Detailed (Adjective): developed or executed with care and in minute detail.

Is easier and faster for me to paint than a plain background?
Plain (Adjective): Not decorated or elaborate; simple or ordinary in character.

Let me elaborate.

Painting an entire:

cat background

The whole background was complicated leaves

is quicker than painting an entire:

rosie background

The most detail was my signature in the corner

I am so reliant on copying photographs that I freak out when I have to do the simplest bit of improvisation.

I happily painted a garden background, but painting a single colour threw me.
It made me sulk. It stressed me out.

I put down my paintbrush in a huff. I left it until the next day.

I never do that!
QUE?!

Are you so practised at doing something complicated that you can now do it with ease?
Are there easy things that you make a dogs dinner of? 

I love a good discussion, so get in touch, leave a comment and let me know!

 

How to paint a greyhound

This guide shows you how I painted Frosts the greyhound. I hope you enjoy it.

You will need:

  • paint: I used System 3 acrylic paint in the following colours:

    Mars Black, Titanium White, Flesh Tint, Burnt Sienna,
    Velvet Purple, Cadminium Red, Burnt Sienna, Rich Gold, Magenta, etc.

  • a variety of paintbrushes
  • Masking tape
  • Water
  • Play mat
  • Easel
  • photograph (this is a cropped version, see below)
  • a canvas

Choose a good composition: This is so important and is so frequently overlooked (…by me…)! Play to your strengths – if you are good at painting animals, don’t chose a composition which is mainly background (that is a note to ME!) I ended up cropping the photograph was trying to replicate to just include the dog’s face and a bit of its body.

the first composition


the second composition

Mark up your canvas: You can see how to do this here. It is a very easy way of ensuring everything is in the right place and in perfect perspective.

Paint in the background: It is easier to just do a plain colour wash, using a variety of shades – creams, golds, ivory etc.
Of course… I chose to do a grassy field, an edit from the original photograph – a muddy field. Always one for the easy option, me! See how I did it here.

After you have completed the background, start painting in simple areas of light and shadow on the dogs back. Use pale colours like Flesh Tint, Burnt Sienna and White, along with blues, purples, browns, greys etc for the areas of shadow.

Use your initiative: on the photograph I used, there were unnatural areas of shadow. They just did not look right taken out of the context of the photograph, so I removed them from my painting.

The painting was then looking really patchy, so I kept working on the dogs back to blend it, to make it all look realistic.
The nose: The nose on the photograph had very clear areas of dark and shine, which I duplicated using black, white and a bit of blue paint. I then carried the shading in grey around the dogs nose.

Paint in the areas of shadow and light on the face: Dont worry if it is really exaggerated at the moment, you can blend in another colour with a small paintbrush to soften the appearance later.

Greyhounds have characteristic muscular bodies and strong cheekbones. Create an area of shadow behind the cheekbone in purples and browns,and a highlight on it to capture this essence.

Put thin colour washes over it if the dogs coat doesn’t seem to be the right shade: These are made from a small amount of paint and mainly water. They can easily be blended in with fingers or a large paintbrush.

Paint the dark areas on the ear: Dark paint should always go down first when using acrylic. Really pay attention to your photograph, keep referring to it to make sure you are getting the colour matches right. Blend areas with your fingers to create a more even and natural finish.

Outline the shape of the eye using near-black paint: black with a bit of blue or brown in it. I put a thin line on top of the eye to create an eye lid too. Then you can use grey to create a spherical shape to the eye. Add a big white glint to make it come alive.

Create light areas on the ear: using flesh tint and white and burnt sienna. Use a small paintbrush and a repetitive motion. I like the liken the motion to plucking your eyebrows – quick, confident motions in the same area in a variety of similar shades. You can then start to add other colours like purple using the same motion. Dogs ears are tricky, so don’t lose confidence if it doesn’t look quite right, you can work over it again and again – that’s the beauty of acrylic!

Pick out individual hairs: As greyhounds have short hair, its difficult to really pick out individual hairs, so make sure you pick these out on areas around the nose and eyebrows. You can use watered down paint to do this to create really defined hairs.

Make a start on the mouth: I left this until near to last as it uses vibrant colours that I didn’t want to bleed into the rest of my palette. I started by painting the black gums and shadow in the mouth.

The tongue: this was tricky as it was folded over creating lots of different shades of red in the mouth. Really pay attention to the photo, using magenta, red, white and Flesh Tint.

The teeth: get the shape right and use greys, Flesh tint and white to create shadow and a glint on the teeth. Teeth are never white. Nor should they be, it is unnatural, especially for a dog.

The collar: This was metal, which was tricky. I really need to invest in some silver paint. I love metallic paint, it is so useful! Even for painting animals!

You have to be really blunt with areas of white, black and grey. Use a really little paintbrush to create shadow around the edges of each loop and a glint in white. I then created each hoop in white and shaded around each one. I made sure that I counted the loops on the photograph and put the exact same number on my painting. It just wont look right if you cut corners, tempting as it seems.

And there we have it, please tell me what you think!

How to paint grass in acrylic

Once you know how to do it, its easy.
The secret lies in the range of colours you use.

You will need:

  • a photograph to copy from
  • a large flat paintbrush
  • a small rounded paintbrush
  • water
  • a palette or makeshift palette (foil quiche case!)
  • a range of green acrylic paints
    Do not use greens in the emerald spectrum.
    No Hooker Green, no Phthalo Green.It will make the grass look artificial, or like it has spent too much time hanging round a nuclear power plant!

    February 2012

    Although this is one of my better paintings, I really regret the grass
    but I hadn’t yet learnt my golden rule.
    The result is that it looks slightly artificial.
    You live and learn…

    Instead, choose Sap Green, Olive Green and others in that spectrum.

  • a range of brown acrylic paints
    I love Burnt Sienna, Raw Sienna, Burnt Umber and my secret weapon Flesh Tint!Flesh Tint is great as it adds white tones and brown tones which blend naturally with green.I also like to use gold paint  to make the grass glint.
  • Burgandy / Deep Violet acrylic paint
    Purple blends really well with browns and greens to create areas of shadow. Next time you look shadows you will notice that they are never ever black.
  • Mars Black acrylic paint
    You can use this to mix with other paints, but try not to use it neat.
  • White acrylic paint
  • Masking tape
  1. Draw out your design on your canvas. It may be helpful to put a line of masking tape along edges to stop the colour bleeding into the wrong areas.
  2. Do a colour wash in Sap Green over the entire grass area, using a large flat paintbrush. This makes sure all areas have a layer of paint. Please paint the sides of the canvas, there is nothing less professional than leaving unpainted sides… see my previous rant!
  3. Use a small paintbrush and mix up various shades of brown and green in your palette.Be adventurous, using purples and blacks too to create lots of natural shades.
  4. Using a small repetitive motion, create lots of small strokes in varying shades across the area.
  5. Make the grass darker at the bottom of the painting – potentially to near-black, and lighter at the top with whites, greens and gold shades.

Do not worry about making it too perfect. I assume you will paint something in the foreground, which will no doubt spoil your grass background slightly.

You can neaten this up later, using the same colours and the same technique of small repetitive strokes with a small paintbrush.

But… don’t rush either. Give it attention, care and patience like you would the foreground, and you will be onto a winner.

Click here for my guide on how to paint long grass in acrylic.

Click here to find out how I finished this painting of a Greyhound!

A Painting Legacy

Yesterday, I used my Grandmother’s easel.

the beginnings of a masterpiece.

 

My dad had found it tucked away in a corner of our garage (aka the assorted junk and crap room, I don’t think it had ever housed a car.) much to my delight.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I don’t think I ever saw my Grannie paint. I know her mother (mum’s very own Granny Smith) was a keen artist, so perhaps it was bought in good faith or as an experiment to see if the art genes had been carried down the family tree.

Granny Smith did some lovely paintings.

They are a different style to my own, although, like me, she focuses on painting things that bring happiness and make people feel good. Aesthetically pleasing and realistic.

Its commercial art. And it is not ashamed to be so.

People would want it on their wall. We have it on our wall.

Its not what I call “Forced Art”, like you are taught in school or college. It is quite happy existing context free.

Ceramic head – created age 15. 

Random punter: “Hey Imogen, what were you thinking when you made a screaming, paint-splattered ceramic head with severed hands?! It must have been a horrific time in your life!”
Me: “Not really… I was probably wondering what was for tea.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Anyway, I like to think I am now carrying on Granny Smith’s legacy. Or my own Grannie’s legacy. One of the two.

It makes me sad that I never asked her whether she painted.
If she actually used that easel.

So from now on, whenever I use it, I will think of them. While I carry on making my commercial art. Art that doesn’t really tell a story, but the important thing is, it doesn’t try to either.

Whats more, its truly a delight to use. What luxury not to be hunched over painting and getting back ache. People should have thought of this centuries ago…

its coming on 🙂

An interview with… Mary Herbert, Animal Artist

So this week, I interviewed Mary Herbert,
a UK-based artist who does exactly what I hope to do,
create realistic animal portraits for a living.

One of Mary’s commissioned portraits

She had a few great tips for me and others as new artists starting out.

Mary Herbert
Mary is an artist, tutor and photographer who is based in Wales.
She trained as an artist at university and has been a portrait artist for over 20 years.
She specialises in using pastel to create her art – a medium I have yet to succeed with. 

Hi Mary, Thank you for answering some of my questions.
I guess what I really wanted to know was the practicals!

Sorry for the brevity of my replies, I’m afraid it’s a rather frantic time of year for me right now!

How many paintings do you do monthly to get by?

It varies hugely depending on what commissions I have, how complex they are, whether I have exhibitions and what size work I’m doing.

Mary specialises in horse portraits

How else do you generate an income?

Charge a professional fee, be professional, be consistent, work hard, have high standards.

My income comes from selling paintings and prints, tutoring art and occasional article writing.

How do you advertise your painting?

Most of my work comes via word of mouth.  To reach new audiences I enter exhibitions, work with publishers who promote my name, hold stands at events, use websites, youtube and facebook.

How did you make the transition from whatever you did before to being an artist?

I have always worked as an artist, I’ve combined it with various full and part time jobs over the years but have painted full time for the past five.

Any tips of the trade to new artists?

Avoid offering your work very cheap or free, as I’ve seen many new artists do.  Not only does it undermine the whole ‘industry’, a customer base of bargain hunters is never going to support you on a living wage.

The art market is extremely poor at the moment.  Use this time to develop your skills and your portfolio so you’re ready if/when it recovers.  Build a network of useful contacts, find a mentor.  Avoid offering your work very cheap or free, as I’ve seen many new artists do.  Not only does it undermine the whole ‘industry’, a customer base of bargain hunters is never going to support you on a living wage.

When setting your rates remember the (non-painting) marketing and running of your business will take up around a quarter of your time, up to half of it with a new venture.  Charge a professional fee, be professional, be consistent, work hard, have high standards.

The quality is really inspiring me to keep practising.

Thank you!

Find Mary’s website at: http://www.portra.co.uk/

How to… paint a lemur

A niche market, I know. 

But I thought you might like to know how I did it!!

You will need:

  • Paint: I used System 3 acrylic paint in the following colours.
    Mars Black, Titanium White, Flesh Tint, Buff Titanium,
    Velvet Purple, Cadminium Red, Burnt Sienna, Rich Gold, Copper.
  • A variety of paintbrushes
  • A couple of cocktail sticks (!)
  • Masking tape
  • Water
  • Play mat

There is less of a defined way to do this.
But I will talk you through the steps I followed.

  1. Start with the dark areas first: I created a colour wash of greys and purples over the lemurs head and down his shoulders.

    Here you can see a variety of greys and purples down the shoulders.

  2. Pick out areas of dark and light: using a cocktail stick and a repetitive motion. This is great for adding texture and making the lemur really fluffy.

    Here you can see I am starting to pick out detail and texture on the lemurs head.

  3. Block in key areas: First in a plain colour before adding detail.

    Here you can see I blocked out the eye area.

  4. Use your cocktail stick to add detail and fine lines: Using copper paint in the eyes, and don’t forget to add a little white glint to bring them to life.

    Here you can see I have used a copper colour to paint in the eyes

  5. Start capturing areas of shadow and light: Use your white paint to create fluffy legs and texture, scratch into the paint to create individual hairs.

    Here you can see I am starting to put the lighter areas in on its body

  6. Continue to add detail: Using greys, purples, whites, flesh colours, capture areas of light and dark, build up layers to make it look more cuddly and fluffy .

    Here you can see I am starting to shade in purples and greys to add shadow.

  7. start on the tummy: The tummy looks softer and smoother, so put down the cocktail stick, building up layers with your paintbrush instead.

    Here you can see I am continuing to shade and add detail

  8. The feet: Block in the main shape in a pale colour before being tempted to add detail. I found the feet really difficult to do to make them look three dimensional and realistic.

    Here you can see I am starting to paint in the hands

  9. Finish off the hand detail: Again, using your cocktail stick, draw on individual hairs on the feet, using greys and purples. 
  10. Don’t be afraid to redo bits: I ended up repainting in the whole log, using more shading and toning to make it really stick out from the page. I then painted in the tail using black white and purple.

    Here you can see I have painted in the tail

  11. Add texture and dimension to the tail: I felt the tail looked a bit flat so I added shades of blue and a lot more texture into it. VOILA!!

    Here you can see my finished painting!!

    So, after 2 weeks of painting and preparing every day after work…
    Mounting up to about 30 hours…
    It is finished!! 

    I give it to the girl at work next Monday when she is back from holiday and I am really excited.

    Stay tuned for reactions!! 

How to… paint in a jungle background

This should really be called a “How I…” instead of a “How to…”.
I am sure that there are many ways to successfully paint a jungle background.

However, this guide shows you how I have achieved the background
on my current project,
along with some hints and tips to achieve a really professional finish.

You will need:

  • Your marked up canvas
  • Your photograph (with gridlines drawn on)
  • Lots of colours of acrylic paint
    (Blog to come about my favourite staple colours that every art box needs.)
  • A palette (I use empty foil dishes from quiches. My parents are quiche fans!)
  • Water
  • Masking tape
  • A variety of sizes of paintbrushes
  • A playmat!
    Before the existance of my playmat (a 2m squared wipable table cloth) I was not popular with my mum as my painting studio of choice is the lounge floor.
    Hello paint on the carpets!
  1. Masking tape along major outlines. Masking tape is a great way to contain your colour. I use it in copious amounts on nearly every painting I do.

    Here you can see I have masking taped along the logs before I paint the background

  2. Create a colour wash over the whole background. This is a thin layer of background colour which is spread across the whole background. Try holding the picture up to the light and see for the areas you can see through which need more colour.

    Here you can see I have painted in dark greens and purpley blacks around the lemur.

  3. Make sure you paint the sides of the canvas. It is a pet HATE of mine when I see beautiful paintings with scruffy sides. It completely detracts from the painting and it is just plain lazy. It takes two minutes more to paint the sides. DO IT!!

    Here you can see I am extending my colour wash around the sides of the painting.

  4. Start with the out of focus details first. Using a small round brush and referring back to your grid, sponge in splatters of varying yellows, greens browns and deep purples. My favourite to use are emerald green, raw sienna brown and burgandy.

    Here you can see the yellow and green smudges I am starting in the jungle background.

  5. Continue with the soft focus areas, using a variety of colours and shades. Don’t mind if your hands get messy or it doesn’t look perfect, this is the impressionist part.

    Here you can see I have copied the photograph using a variety of colours

  6. Use a variety of different paintbrushes… or fingers and sponges.  I always use my fingers to achieve a really smooth finish by rubbing paint into my canvas.

    Here you can see that I use my fingers to rub paint into the canvas.

  7. On areas of more detail, refer back to your grids in detail. If necessary, masking tape lines back in to make sure that leaves etc are in the right areas to get a truly photographic image. Use a thinner paintbrush with a round edge to paint in detailed lines.

    Here you can see I have used greens, purples, white and black to create leaves.

  8. To paint a log… Re-masking tape the area, slightly overlapping the jungle background to avoid any white lines. Mix up a range of different browns and creams, and don’t be afraid to use purples, pinks and blues in the mix. Use your fingers to really massage the paint in to allow for seamless shading around the log.

    Here you can see I re-masking taped the area, to avoid paint leaking.

  9. Remove masking tape to check on your progress, and paint on details.
    A trick I use is to use the opposite end of the paintbrush to scratch into the canvas to create a wood texture.

    Here you can see that I have finished the background.

    And now for the difficult part. The lemur.
    Although hopefully, for me, that is the easiest part.
    Leaves took me out of my comfort zone, but I think I did a good job.
    Thoughts? 

    I should have a lot of time this weekend to create my lemur,
    so that the painting is ready for my colleague upon her return from holiday.

    Stay Tuned! 🙂

How to… mark up a canvas

You will need:

  • A print out of your photograph
  • A canvas with similar dimensions
  • A ruler
  • A calculator
  • A sharp pencil
  • Space to spread out!
  1. Choose your canvas:The size I use is typically 30x40cm, and I manage to buy them quite cheaply. Check to see if there are any deals on, but you should be able to get one of this size under £5. For me they are a perfect size as I can get in the right amount of detail to do a painting justice.

    I use these canvases which are very affordable.

  2. Measure your photograph: Ideally I try to print the photo at about 21x26cm, as it is simply 2/3 the size of the canvas, meaning no complicated calculations to scale it up. Every 2cm squared of photo results in 3cm squared of painting.
    A bit of fiddling around with a calculator (or in your head if you are good with numbers) will help with this stage.

    If possible, try to keep your scaling to a whole or .5 of a number.
    It’s all very well knowing that your canvas is 2.63x larger than your photo, but try marking it up with a regular ruler!

  3. Edit the photo if it is not a suitable size: If the photograph is not initially at a suitable size on one or both dimensions, which this one wasn’t, try cutting the photograph smaller or extending the background. I also chose to grid up a smaller area on the canvas, and scaled up to 30x39cm (instead of 30x40cm) choosing to extend the background by 1cm at the top.

    Important point: although it may sound obvious, make sure that you are scaling up both height and width by the same amount, ie 1.5x larger in both directions. Otherwise you will end up with a very squashed or stretched painting… Unless that is your intention of course.

    Here you can see that I have trimmed the photo at the top and bottom to make it easier to scale up.

  4. Grid up: Once you have worked out how much you need to scale up your photograph by, work out a suitable measurement to draw in your grid. I don’t like pencilling in smaller than 2cm squares on my photographs as I find you can lose the detail a bit. So for every 2cm square on your photo draw out a 3cm (or 4cm if scaling up by 2x) square on your canvas. This will result in exactly the same numbers of squares on canvas and photo.

    Here you can see how I have drawn a 3cm squared grid on my canvas and a 2cm squared grid on my photograph.

  5. Draw out the outlines using your grid: You can now use your grid as a reference for the exact point on the page various features will be. Start with the vague outlines, and make sure you are drawing into the corresponding box – I have made the mistake before and ended up rubbing out my whole drawing.
    For my picture, I pencilled in the tree trunk and the outline of the lemur first.

    Here you can see just a vague outline taking place, following my grid to get it accurate.

  6. Draw in some of the detail: At this stage it doesn’t matter if things aren’t perfect. As long as they are in the right place. I had to move the lemur’s hand from where I had originally put it, by smudging and drawing on top.

    Here you can see I have marked out all the main parts of the image – with less focus on the background at this point.

    Now the canvas is ready for the background to be painted in, which I will do on Sunday and write a post about.

    Hope you are all well and happy! I am this week 🙂

    Stay tuned!

Exciting news

Sooner than expected,
my first genuine (ie not family / friends) commission has come in!

I am to paint a ring-tailed lemur for a colleague at work as a gift to her husband for their first wedding anniversary.
Very very exciting!
Hopefully now I have broken into the work scene, more of my colleagues will be interested!

I will be sure to hand it over in a loud vibrant fashion and attract a crowd!!

I am fairly sure that working professionals are more likely customers than students,
ie if they buy a painting they can still afford to eat.

I will start the painting early next week as I am a busy bee this week with company induction.

I will post regular updates and photographs of my painting in progress; explaining how I am doing it and giving hints and tips.

Stay tuned!
(I am aware that I am currently just talking to myself)