What is the best thing about your job?

For years, the best thing was the look on people’s faces when I handed over a painting. I get giddy on their shining eyes and compliments, thrilled that something I pour so much time and love into can bring them so much happiness.

But now I am not sure!

Last Spring, I had a stall at my local Village Fayre. I was there painting a Little Owl and selling my collection of cards, paintings and prints, when a lady asked me an interesting question.

“Would you ever try teaching?”

She said, referring to her nine year old daughter.

I was caught off guard. I had never even thought of teaching.

Being self-taught, I had no idea where I would begin. I don’t seem to create my paintings in a logical order – I flit from section to section, depending on what I fancy, or what paint I have on my brush.

We swapped details and I mulled it over for a few days. Why not?! I thought. It would be fun!

We agreed to start a series of six lessons in August. My boyfriend was being deployed, so it would be the perfect project to keep me busy and creative. Sophie (the nine year old) also seemed giddy with excitement.

Lesson 1

I went along, armed with a small box canvas, a bulging bag of paints and brushes, a ruler, a pencil and a gridded up photograph of a bunny. Not wanting to start off the lessons on a boring note, I explained to her that this step was by far the most important part of a realistic painting.

Under my lead, she gridded up the canvas into five centremetre squares, and into each one, copied exactly what she saw in each square on the photograph. I taught her to really look at the photograph, and appreciate all the sections of shadow, light and contrasting colours, and mark them all onto the canvas. I promised that next week we could get our hands painty.

Sophie 1

Lesson 2

We decided to do a green background full of vegetation. She was a bit timid at first, but with my encouragement, she started to mix colours and hesitantly dab them onto the canvas. I explained that the beauty of acrylic paint is that 1. If you made a mistake, you could paint over it and 2. That it was waterproof, so you could wipe off fresh layers of paint if they weren’t quite right.

“Woahhh I love acrylic paint!”

She said.

Lesson 3

I outlined the importance of getting down base layers of paint on the bunny.

“If you can see through it, you need more paint.”

Is my general rule of thumb. Together, we really looked at the photograph, and with my help, she was able to see subtle colours that you wouldn’t ever notice before.

“I think I can see some purple in there.”

I said, pointing at the bunny’s pouchy cheeks. She mixed and dabbed colours, using different techniques and different brush sizes as required. I couldn’t stop myself from getting stuck in, subconsciously mixing colours, and applying paint to brushes, before catching myself and handing them onto her.

Her confidence slowly grew as she spotted all the reds, purples and browns scattered throughout the bunny’s fur. I urged her to mix in subtle amounts of white paint, to which she asked :

“What does that do?”

“Think of it like putting cream into a tomato sauce.”

I said

“It makes it thicker, richer and paler.”

Sophie 3

Lesson 4

This week, we were ready to get started on the bunny’s face.

“III’m SOOOO EXCIIITEDDD!”

She said.

Together, we practiced painting eyes on a separate piece of paper. I showed her how to make them look 3D and alive, with a glint of light in them. We also practiced creating thin hairs with a little fine brush. After a few tries, she felt confident enough to have a go on the canvas. The result really started to bring the bunny to life.

Sophie 4

Lesson 5

This week, we painted in the nose, mouth, and continued making the bunny fluffier, using different shades of colour applied in short sharp movements with a little fine brush.

“I can’t waiiiiitttt for it to be finished!”

She said, anxious to take it into school and show off her work to her friends and teachers.

Sophie 5

Lesson 6

We had such a productive lesson, and really got into the swing of getting our hands dirty for the sake of art. I noticed with joy how much more confident my student, and how much more control she had over a brush after only six hours of tutoring.

She asked me how I made colours blend perfectly into each other in my paintings, and I admitted that the majority of the time, I use my hands! So that lesson, we did the same.

Sophie 6

Lesson 7

In the final lesson, we practiced creating very thin lines using acrylic ink, so that we could create realistic whiskers.

“Ooooh I’m scaaareeed!”

She said, unwilling to potentially ruin her precious artwork.

I reminded her that acrylic paint is waterproof, and if she got it wrong, she could wipe it straight off!

By the end of the lesson, she had marked on (and wiped off) dozens of whiskers, and painted on some grass around the bunny’s feet.

I was overcome with pride at the finished result, at Sophie’s reaction, at her mum’s reaction!

“I cant tell you how much she has enjoyed these lessons. This has got to be the most rewarding thing she has ever done!”

Her mum said to me.

I can’t wait to do some more teaching! It feels so good to share my skills with others!

Sophie 7

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While the man’s away, the girl can paint!

I am now about three quarters of the way through my boyfriend’s deployment (touch wood)! Rather than spending my days clock-watching, I have been filled with motivation to paint, plan and socialise!

So what have I been up to these last few months… apart from working full time five days a week?

ART

Exhibitions: First and most importantly, I exhibited in the prestigious Marwell International Wildlife Art Society Exhibition! This is the largest wildlife art society in Europe, founded and organised by Pip McGarry. I was at the exhibition all weekend – with a stall on Saturday 30th August and as a steward on Sunday 31st.

Beauty WM

It was a really enjoyable experience, although it made me realise that I am a relatively little fish in a big old pond.

The plus?

I am a young little fish with plenty of time and enthusiasm to grow into a whale (or at least a tuna)!

Tutoring: Each week, I have been art tutoring a talented and enthusiastic nine year old girl. I talk and demonstrate her through the steps to create a beautiful and proportional painting of a bunny. Doing this makes me feel incredibly warm and fuzzy and has made me realise that I love teaching (people who are patient and enthusiastic about art).

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Workshop: Tutoring has motivated me to organise my first ever painting workshop!

On the 28th and 29th October (half term), I am delivering a two-day ‘Learn to Paint your Pet’ workshop at Framin’ Art in Downham Market for 12 – 18 year olds!

The workshop will be kept to a small group, and we will cover everything the students need to create a masterpiece:
• gridding up and drawing out the canvas
• painting soft-focus backgrounds
• mixing colours
• painting eyes and noses
• painting long and short hair
• painting shadow and light
• finishing touches

Places are still available – please email me if you would be interested in attending!

aaworkshop

Paintings: I have completed three paintings and am about to start on a Christmas commission.

Hob-nobbing: I went to fellow Wildlife Artist, Lauren Dobson’s, private opening of her exhibition at the David Shepherd Wildlife Art Gallery in Guildford. I met Lauren, got inspired to try out different techniques, and had an interesting chat with the gallery owner.

SOCIAL

I tell you, there is nothing like living on your own to give you a kick to socialise.

Hostess: I have already had five of my friends / family come to stay with me in Norfolk for weekends. This has meant I have got good at whipping up food for a dinner party, and has spurred me to explore my local area – finding the lovely Wells Next the Sea, taking advantage of the rail line to Cambridge, and seeing wildlife at a nearby Bird Sanctuary!

aawells

Home time: I have spent a lot of time at my family home in Surrey, seeing my ‘home’ friends, having dinner dates, going to the Harry Potter Studio Tour, spending a weekend in Portsmouth with my sister, and going to a wedding! I am incredibly fortunate in that I can work from Norfolk or Head Office in Surrey, which means I can stay for longer than just a weekend.

aaharry potter

New friends: I have finally been making friends in Norfolk. God bless the WAGs! Having friends in the same boat makes this weird experience much funnier.

aawags

WHAT’S NEXT?

My diary is still chock a block, and so is my to-do list (with tidying the house and gardening taking a real back burner).

Paintings: I have a lot of painting to do! This includes:
• Christmas commissions – two booked, more expected.
• A couple of paintings for the David Shepherd Wildlife Artist of the Year Award – deadline February.

Marketing: I need to continue marketing my art workshop, buy all materials, prepare my canvases for demonstration… oh and deliver it!

Old friends: I have plans to see a friend from university in London, have a girly weekend with my three best friends before two of them go to South Korea and Spain for the foreseeable, and go for a nice dinner out with work friends.

Tutoring: I also have some more art tutoring to do! The bunny isn’t finished yet!

All I can say is BRING ON THE NEXT FEW WEEKS!
And then I can collapse in an exhausted heap and hibernate with my Jack.

Developments of a moonlighting artist

Day jobs and running a (however small) mothership are time consuming, aren’t they? How anyone has time for updating the world on their slowly developing painty plans is beyond me.

Excuses out of the way, let’s get down to the real news, a round up of all that has been and will soon be happening in the world Art by Imi.

David Shepherd Wildlife Artist of the Year

Back in December, I entered my kookaburra, Herman, into this prestigious competition – which sees the shortlisted paintings hanging at the Mall Galleries in London… right now. This week! GO SEE IT!

I just missed out on being hung, but a copy of my painting is being displayed in a folder at the exhibition (Selected not hung), and is also up for sale on their website.

The famous bird

The famous bird

Due to the curse of the surname, Woods, you will need to scroll right down to the bottom of this folder to see my painting! (Alternatively, it could be a benefit – the last one you see will stay fresh in the mind?)

It gives me lots of confidence that maybe next time, I might just get hung!

Rowledge Village Fayre

A rainy affair to say the least. Wrapped up in my ski jacket in late May, I spent the day painting Tomtom, an owl with a hella lot of attitude for someone only 20cm tall.

We met Tomtom (original name forgotten) at a Country Fair in Norwich, and I fell for him. Snuggling into the shoulder of his adoptive mother, he glared at us as we angled a camera in his direction, and we took some moody yet adorable photographs.

I got to hold a hawk, and we stumbled across concepts that I didn’t even know existed… like the Norfolk Goat Club.

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The girl loves birds

But anyway, back to Rowledge Village Fayre. Despite the weather, Rowledge residents were out in force, and I got snapped painting by photographers from the Farnham Herald and the Ash & Farnham News and Mail.

imiatrowledge

spot the difference

I met many dogs, and may have lined up some commissions for the coming months.

My new selection of cards also proved popular – please contact me if you want a pack.

cards

Zebs in every colour

Art tutoring

At the fayre, I met a mother of a nine year old girl, who asked me if I would consider art tutoring to me. When I was nine, I started having flute lessons. Breaking away from the norm, she will have ‘how to paint a bunny’ lessons.

After pinging a few emails back and forth, it is planned that I will teach my young apprentice in a series of six private lessons beginning in August.

Starting with marking up a canvas, I will cover subjects such as:

  • mixing acrylic colours
  • painting colour washes
  • building up detail through multiple layers
  • creating texture by getting creative with tools
  • painting eyes, hair, fur and feathers
  • using acrylic inks.

Having never been taught in animal portraiture myself, I think it will get me to ask myself why I do things how I do them, and consider ways of improving my own methods.

It will also (hopefully) get my apprentice enthusiastic about art, and enable me to influence her from a young age to ALWAYS PAINT THE SIDES OF THE CANVAS!

It is an exciting new project for me, and I hope it will open up doors to further teaching opportunities.

Doing that painting thing

Ah yes. Painting. I have been doing some of that too. Not as much as I would like, but some. Problem is, as soon as I get it out, the whole house looks like a bomb has hit it.

Cue whining to Jack: “pleaassee can we buy a house where I can have my own art studio?!”

oh I wish

I am currently painting a kingfisher (yes, another one). I am really enjoying it, it’s a fun project! Mixes of turquoise, phthalo green, and purple to create those distinctive teal feathers, and flashes of orange and gold for the glinting chest.
Marwell International Wildlife Art Society (MIWAS) Annual Exhibition
My new kingfisher is being painted for display in the Marwell International Wildlife Art Society (MIWAS) Annual Exhibition this year.

It’s at Rookesbury Manor in Wickham (which is half way between Portsmouth and Southampton) from the 29th – 31st August.

officially a member

I am giddy with excitement about it, and about the opportunity to be up there hanging with the big dogs of the wildlife art world (the pun was too good not to throw it in).

On Saturday 30th August, I will have a stall at the adjoining art market, where I will be demonstrating my art and selling my work, while on Sunday 31st, I will be acting as a guide at the event, greeting visitors and showing them round the exhibition.

For the amazing calibre of art you will see, I urge you to put the date in your diary and visit this exhibition. I was awestruck last year at the detail and beauty of the work, and how down to earth the artists were.

It’s not all black and white

When I was 15, I painted a huge monotone red landscape of the Cornwall coast. My art teacher suggested putting green, purple and blue into it. I looked at her as though she was mad!

“Err. Miss, it’s a REDSCALE landscape. As in: only red allowed.”

 But when does red stop being red and start being orange?

 When you print in greyscale, that’s it. The only colours present are white, black, blacker white and whiter black.

 When you paint in greyscale… that’s not it. And I understand that now.

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To paint a Zebra… you will need:

  •  White and Black paint, yes.
  • But also: copper, purple, blue – but a cobolt blue, not a turquoise blue, brown – a raw umber and a burnt sienna, green – something yellowy like hookers green, burgundy, gold and yellow. And fancy ones like flesh tint. And it wouldn’t hurt adding in a lot lot more either!
  • A canvas, I used 50cm x 50cm.
  • Water
  • Flat paintbrush & small rounded paintbrushes of varying size.

 How to guide

  1. Lay down the basics: Grid up your photo and your canvas.I have a grid that I use digitally on my computer screen to put over the photograph.

    I then use each square on the screen as a 5cm square on my canvas. Then you just copy what is in each square onto your canvas in pencil. It keeps all stripes accounted for.

    Paint the background white. This may take several layers.
    IMAG1656

  2. It is just black and white: Paint the black stripes in black, and the white stripes in a pale grey (I won’t tell anyone if you just use white paint with a little bit of black in it. That’s what I did for the base coat!).The trick at this stage is just to make it so that every part of the canvas is covered:

    Trick: hold it up to the light and see if you can see through it.
    IMAG1665

  3.  Cruella-style Mohawk: Use a flat brush to paint the white areas in grey, and the black areas black. Then use a small rounded brush to add individual pale hairs into themane. I find that using acrylic inks can really help get precise brushstrokes.Mix a bit of cobalt blue into your grey, to get cooler tones, and hints of yellow, brown and copper to get richer tones.

    I also used flecks of pure copper at the tips of some of the hairs, which gives the impression that they are caught in sunlight.
    IMAG1668

  4.  Hairy ears and eyelashes: For the ears, you need a reallydiddy brush, definitely mixing in some blue and a hint of green to get cooler tones.The trick is lots of tiny short brushstrokes on the outside of the ears to get a look of fur, not hair, and then warmer shades of longer, curly strokes inside the ears.

    For the eyes, paint the area a deep blue-grey, and then put in a darker pupil. Use white acrylic ink to flick delicate eyelashes from the top eyelid.
    IMAG1674

  5.  The White Stripes: Pay particular attention to the different tones in the photograph.Once you get past the idea that the ‘white’ stripes should be paler than the ‘black’ areas, and start seeing them as just tones, you will go forward in leaps and bounds!

    Use a range of varying watered down grey-blues using a little rounded brush, and create little delicate hairs.

    Sculpt areas of shadow and light so that you can make out the muscles of the body.
    IMAG1678

  6. Crinkly snout: This was the part that I found the toughest. No hair! Firstly block in the different tones of shadow, mixing green into your paint to achieve an accurate shade. Then pick out the areas of highlight with a pale grey.

    Use short brushstrokes to carve dots and crinkles into the skin to give the impression of wrinkles and pores. IMAG1696

  7.  Plug away: There is no secret to achieving detail. Just lots and lots of layers of little hairs, covering all of the stripes, all over the body.A lot of hours of your life… As soon as one stripe is done, onto the next!
    Zeb - Imi Woods

I am thinking of getting giclée prints made of Zeb.
Please let me know if you would be interested in pre-ordering.

 

How to paint a barn owl

Meet a barn owl: I went to the Andover Hawk Conservancy and met little Echo. Ideally, I would have liked to keep him, but at least I got to take away some amazing photographs!

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Grid up your canvas: On this 20 by 20cm canvas, I went for squares of 5cm each, making sure that my photograph was also gridded up with the same dimensions. Then it’s a simple case of putting the basic shapes from the photograph into the same place on the canvas. Some artists may scorn at this approach, but to me it is just planning for success and avoids abortive work later on.

barn owl

Paint the background: For this painting I went for a simple matte violet (violet paint with a hint of white for extra creaminess.)

IMAG1545

Paint the face base coat: I find where you have white fur or feathers, paint a base of a purpley grey, and then use white over the top to add final detail.

IMAG1546

Rim the eyes: use long curled brushstrokes fanning out from around the eyes to create that characteristic heart shaped face.

Eye eye: paint the eyes as squashed circles, with a dark black surround and pupil, and a paler iris. Then put paler grey sheens where the light catches, and white glints.

Paint the beak: I used a pale pink, with a paler stripe down the middle. This then disappears into a darker tip, the same colour as the two (for want of a better word) nostrils. Then use white paint to flick little feathers over the top of the beak.

Body base coat: Start with a base of a slightly darker tan colour, using a mix of sienna, gold and white. Following this, add more white and gold and create areas of highlight and detail.

IMAG1565

Shades of grey: Barn owls have beautiful speckles of grey on their back and upper body. Refer to your photograph and use a mix of black, white and a hint of purple to give the grey an added dimension.

IMAG1566

Speckles on the speckles: I then cross hatched over the grey speckles using a darker grey and a lighter grey watery mix and a teeny tiny paintbrush.

IMAG1568

Finishing touches: Then I put on small black freckles with white tails. Check the photo if you don’t believe me! Bird’s feathers are so detailed and surprising when you look at them up close

Echo ARTbyIMI

How to paint a beady eye

Pencil in the shape of the eye
Think slightly squashed circle, with a smooth line right the way around. 

pencil eye

Paint in the feathers surrounding the eye using acrylic paint
The feathers close to the eye are often in an outwards direction, so use a little rounded brush to detail this. 

outline eye

Just close to the eye, the feathers will be darker, gradually getting lighter as distance from the eye increases. The feathers above the eye often catches the light, whereas below the eye is slightly more in shade – so alter your colours accordingly.

 Dig out your acrylic inks to create a glossy eye

 *Clue is in the name, these are inks made out of acrylic. They are much more fluid, and give an ink shine when dry, but are waterproof like acrylic paint. You can buy them online or at all art stockists*

 

Mix up black, white and a hint of blue ink
Create a really deep bluey grey, and paint over the entire eye. Once this is dry, paint in a fairly large oval-shaped pupil in deep black acrylic ink. 

iris eye

Rim two-thirds of the eye in a thin pale grey line
You should be able to control this by using the acrylic inks. Slightly extend the line in the corner nearest to the beak where you would find a tear duct.

Rim eye

Use black ink to rim the remaining third of the eye
This is where you would find the eye lid. Meet this black line at the ‘tear duct’.

Rim blackeye

Use a pale grey to create glints of light in the eye
These will be 2/3 up the eye, around the fullest part. Slightly overlapping these with the black pupil. Dab this with your finger to blend slightly.
glint eye

Use a bright white to create a long glint of light at the fullest part of the eye.
This again will slightly overlap your pupil and pale grey blended glints.
 

white glint eye

Ta da!

The result should be a beady eye that looks alive! Acrylic inks can also be used on feathers to give them the slightly oily and magnetic appearance that can be seen on birds like magpies and penguins.

Oh and… guess which Football team the owner of the painting supports?!

Magpies

 

Laugh, Kookaburra, Laugh

Kookaburras are remarkably underrated birds. A more sociable cousin of the Kingfisher, they are full-feathered and expressive – an excellent painting subject.

We met a Laughing Kookaburra at a recent visit to Marwell Zoo. He was incredibly patient and tame, sitting just a metre away from us in an open aviary. He posed for us for a good ten minutes, and we got some really beautiful shots of the Kookaburra and the leafy background in soft focus.

I knew that it would make an amazing statement piece, so I bought a 40 x 60cm canvas and set aside quite a bit of time (I estimate it took 50-60 hours of work) to create Herman the Kookaburra in acrylic paint on canvas.

Why Herman? My sister told me he was a Herman. I wasn’t convinced by the name at all.
I decided to look up the Laughing Kookaburra using the fount of all knowledge, Wikipedia.
What do you know, it was actually founded by someone called Johann Herman.

It was fate, and you can’t argue with fate.

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If you think your house would benefit from a Herman, please contact me as he is for sale.

Have you ever had a similar experience with fate? 

My art journey so far

Here is my art journey so far and exactly what art means in my life.

This used to be a page on my site, but I feel as if this part of my journey is over, and I am starting on a new phase of my life, where this is no longer so relevant… so I am taking it down but sharing it with you today. 

I did a GCSE and an A level in art, but I never really stood out until I found my talent for painting animals.

My Godmother asked me if I would have a go painting her late dog, Hattie, back in July 2009.
I agreed I would have a go, but warned her not to expect much!

I was wrong. I am still particularly proud of the nose and mouth, and I must admit, I admire it every time I go round.

hattie ARTbyIMI

I gave it to her as a thank you for tutoring me through my French A level.
It was the first time I have ever seen her speechless.

I started my first year of university and forgot about art for a year. I was too wrapped up in first-year-fun. But when my Grandpa commissioned me to paint him a tiger in Winter 2010, I jumped at the chance.
First-year-fun was matched with first-year-funds (or lack of) after all.

Raja ARTbyIMI

He hung it proudly in his conservatory and
it gave him great pleasure to look at.

With a free time on my hands the next February, I turned the living room of my house at university into my own personal art workshop, to the slight amusement / annoyance of my friends.

Ernie ARTbyIMI

Ernie the kingfisher was created really within the space of a couple of days, and I gave him as a gift to my dad who has always loved birds, especially kingfishers.
In fact, he is such a bird-swot, he discovered by the markings on the beak that Ernie was, in fact, female.

I finished my second year at university with a high 2:1,
and immediately started another painting in June 2011, having well and truly regained my thirst to create.

kingfisher ARTbyIMI  

This is my personal favourite, and it hangs on my wall. I don’t think I will ever sell it.

That summer I worked at a summer camp as a Creative Art Activity Instructor. It was the most carefree six weeks of my life so far, playing, laughing and teaching children how to make tortoises out of plasticine (among other equally useful skills).

In September 2011, I created a new project, which was a greater spotted woodpecker after seeing one in the garden.

woodpecker ARTbyIMI

This painting gets the most compliments as being “like a photograph”.
I have used it to form my logo for my business.

After starting back for my third year at university, things went downhill really really quickly. Stress and worry made me very ill, which made me stressed, worried and more ill.. I didn’t do much for the term other than worry a lot and (thankfully) work a lot in the library.
My confidence took a huge knock, and I became… someone meek and self absorbed who wasn’t really me.

I was asked to do a painting of my boyfriend’s grandmother’s dog, which I started tucked away in my room away from everyone. It stopped me from worrying too much, as my mind is a lot clearer when I paint.
Morris ARTbyIMI
It was then transported half-finished down south for the Christmas holidays. I finished it on Christmas day 2011, sprawled in front of the TV with my mum and dad, before heading round to my boyfriend’s house to present it.

I very quickly got asked to paint his grandmother’s partner’s dog too, which I pencilled out and painted within about 48 hours in February 2012 when things were all getting a bit too much.
I remember it being a rare worry-free day, and I felt like myself again as I painted it.

Basil ARTbyIMI

This painting again got a lot of compliments.

The owner was very pleased with it and showed it off to his fellow dog-walkers.

During Easter 2012, I volunteered at an Art-based therapy workshop. It was open to help support people who experienced mental distress, such as depression, substance addiction and chronic illness. It was very therapeutic for me to be around people who were being healed through art, and it helped me to snap out of my self pity.

I was able to submit a painting into their annual exhibition for all workers, volunteers and members. I created a painting of a puffin, who I named “Little Brother” after the Latin name. Apparently their white and black feathers look like monks robes.

Little brother ARTbyIMI

I was slowly beginning to heal. My confidence started to return as I realised I was still interesting, talented and worth knowing. Art played a huge part in that due to its ability to quieten my mind, fill me with pride, and bring happiness to others.

I then went back to university to sit my final exams.
They were tough, but I coped well, and was much more myself again.

I graduated with a first class degree and immediately got offered a job.
Things were beginning to fall back into place again.

I decided to paint my boyfriend a large painting for his 23rd birthday in August 2012.
It was a personal challenge because I am used to painting animals.
I got it framed and I am very pleased with how it turned out.
Planes ARTbyIMI

It is in pride of place on his wall.
He told me that if he saw it in a shop he would have wanted it :)

After a few weeks at my new job, I showed a few people my paintings on my phone.
I got a lot of compliments around the office about my talent.

My mentor at work had her first wedding anniversary approaching in September 2012.
She commissioned me to paint a lemur to give to her husband for a present.
The couple got married in Marwell Zoo and are animal mad.

It took me between 30-40 hours work. The pressure was on truly on!
I really wanted to create something beautiful for my first non-family commission.

Lemur ARTbyIMI

It was put on the wall at work for a day while my ego inflated.
She loved it, as did her husband, and I got personal thanks from them both.

I was learning fast at work, and was given more and more responsibility, but I still found the time to paint another puffin.
It took me many weeks to find stolen hours to finish before I was finally happy with the result.

puffin ARTbyIMI

I sold this painting to my Godmother; it is currently in her lounge near her golden retriever (the beginnings of a collection!)

Towards the end of 2012, my painting life hotted up! I worked after work and stolen hours at weekends to complete this painting for my nutritionist.

Frosts ARTbyIMI

She was thrilled when I presented it to her.
It is already up on the wall in her office space for everyone to see.

I got approached by a man at my work who had heard about my art.
He asked me if I would paint him a cat for his wife’s Christmas present.
The painting was quite a challenge, especially getting the face right, as I had not painted cats before.
Spike ARTbyIMI

The painting went down a storm with his wife, who “thinks the cat is really there” every time she sees the painting.

I managed to sneak in another Christmas commission for my mentor at work, a repeat customer, previous owner of my lovely lemur. It was a present for her in-laws, of their little terrier, Rosie.

Rosie ARTbyIMI

She absolutely loved it, and I heard that her in-laws loved it too and thought it was the “spitting image” of their cute little dog.

I found out about the British Wildlife Competition online and was very keen to enter, under the category of “World Birds”.
I created this painting of a golden pheasant on a large canvas.
Golden pheasants are bizarre, how on earth an orange feathered, purple-tipped, yellow Mohawk-ed bird adapted I do not know, but it was a pleasure and a big challenge to paint.

goldenpheasantjan13wm

I didn’t get shortlisted. Oh well. Mum does love having the painting on her wall!

My Godmother commissioned me to paint her current Golden Retriever, Annie, to hang next to Hattie. Life got in the way during this painting, so it took me a couple of weeks for me to complete it. The eye took me about five hours of painting and repainting for me to finally be happy. Painting was not as relaxing as normal during those hours!!

Annie ARTbyIMI

The two dogs will look very fine together on her wall. 

Since painting the golden retriever, I have thrown more and more time into forwarding my business and really getting my name out there. I have got a stall booked for a local fayre so have been busy ordering giclée prints and greeting cards and setting up a Newsletter! I am seeing it as a big investment in my future!

I decided my next painting would be a Tawny Owl. When it was just 1/3 finished, it was reserved by an interested buyer! It was such a challenge but a true pleasure to paint! I named it Nelson, after my Grannie who loved all owls.
IMG_1563
Nelson has been bought and will soon be jetting off to Canada to mark the beginning of IMI paintings overseas! 

Still thrown into fayre preparations, I found time to paint a cute jackass penguin on a 50x50cm canvas. The sea and sand were the biggest challenge for me, as they required a lot of persistence and patience.

Penguin ARTbyIMI

I was so pleased with how it turned out! 

Most recently, I have painted a little King Charles Cavalier Spaniel. I rushed to get it completed before the fayre so that he could come with me and cheer me on.
Bertie ARTbyIMI

Maybe due to the painting or due to me, the fayre was a success and I got a lot of lovely comments. The owner came to pick up her painting on Tuesday and I received a hand written note of thanks stating how much she loves it. 

I am working on a couple of projects at the moment but they are secret and not ready to share!!

I feel as though I am moving forward… painting and my art business has gone from being my calm-down activity into a full blown lifestyle.

I am so much happier and healthier and back to ME again.

One day I will conquer the art world, but for now, at least I have sort of conquered myself!!

 

Have you ever noticed a beginning to a new phase of your life? Have you given your site an overhaul as it no longer felt like you?

Like squats… only for your face.

On Monday, I had my first stall EVER at Rowledge Village Fayre.

But what did I learn from this experience?

IMG_1604

1. Don’t underestimate the weather: I obsessively checked the weather for about ten days before the fayre. As I grew closer to the big day, I was checking four or five times a day. Great! No rain due! Glance over the fact that there are gale force winds. 

I arrived at the fayre two and a half hours before kick off to set up my wall-less gazebo. As soon as my stock was put onto the table, it was blown over, even my large glass-fronted framed print kept toppling over. My large orange display board? Forget it, that was threatening to fall over on my head, catapulting my original paintings everywhere.

Thank goodness for mum’s friend offering me a space in the big gazebo. Everyone shoved along and, although it was cosy, it saved the fayre for me.

2. Do some warm up facial exercises beforehand: I am generally a smiley person anyway, but no person’s face is used to smiling constantly for over four hours! Think of it like doing squats in the weeks leading up to a skiing trip… only for your face. Face squats.  My Stall!

3. Paint on the day, but don’t expect a masterpiece: I didn’t take all of my paints and paintbrushes with me. I couldn’t get close to my photograph, and I couldn’t zoom in on a screen like at home to see the detail.

BUT it looks great, and it invites people to watch you without feeling pressured to talk to you. Its a conversation starter! My friends from work said “Now we have seen proof that you actually DO paint!” It makes your artwork authentic and more personal. 

Photo: Talented artist at work

4. I am king of the kids: The tiniest little boy stared in complete rapture as I painted a meercat. I had no idea that little boys’ attention spans could be that trained on something that wasn’t going VRRROOOOM VROOOOM! After a while, he told me “that is a really good painting.” in a sincere and strangely adult way.

Another little girl kept coming back to watch me, saying “I wish I could paint like that”. I told her that at her age, I couldn’t either, and if she started practicing now – she would probably be better than me one day! Inspirational words!

5. I need to man up: Imogen! Be brave! People have spent a while watching you paint and complimenting your talents. Give them a business card, invite them to sign up to your newsletter for the chance to win a painting! Do something or you are the nameless girl at the fayre who can paint, but other than that you are forgotten.

For any blog readers, I am doing my prize draw in June. Anyone who subscribes to my newsletter is in with the chance to win a bespoke painting worth £95! If you have always wanted a painting, what have you got to lose? In my own words, man up!

logonewsletter2

6. Don’t forget about your main market: At the fayre, I branded myself mainly as a painter of birds. I forgot my pet portrait leaflets, and I neglected the market of dog owners who were all conveniently at the fayre entering Fido into the “Waggiest Tail” contest. What a wally.

flyer

7.  People are wonderful: Seriously. I felt overwhelmed with all the lovely comments I received. I am so thankful to everyone who came to support me, including the strangers who have no previous investment in me – who just genuinely like what I have to offer!

One lady flicking through my portfolio said “Your paintings are more lifelike than the photographs!” Wow. Day made! 

What have you learned in retrospect after a big event?

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!!

Pick up a paintbrush and paint a penguin

Over the last couple of weeks, I have been painting an African Penguin skipping on a beach and eating a tasty fish.

The photograph was lent to me by a man at work. I loved the beautiful lights on the water, the pastel colours of the background contrasted with the black and white of the penguin. It was an exciting project and a brand new challenge to me.

The perks of being an Artist over a photographer though, are you can eliminate the tell-tale signs of captivity – the tag on the wing, the half masticated fish. I could also get rid of imperfections like the irregular beak and the red eye.
photo

The result – quite pleasing if you ask me!

You will need:

  • About 50 hours.
  • 50 x 50cm canvas
  • Photograph to copy
  • Large flat paintbrush
  • Range of smaller round paintbrushes
  • Large playmat
  • Water
  • Pencil
  • Ruler
  • Masking tape
  • Rubber
  • Acrylic paint for sea:
    • White
    • Deep Turquoise
    • Process Cyan
    • Flesh Tint
    • Leaf Green
    • Phthalo Turquoise
    • Cadmium Yellow
  • Sand:
    • Burnt Umber
    • Burnt Sienna
    • Flesh Tint
    • Rich Gold
    • White
    • Mars Black
    • Silver
  • Penguin:
    • Mars Black
    • White
    • Flesh Tint
    • Metallic Blue
    • Silver
    • Burnt Umber
    • Burgandy
  • Fish
    • Silver
    • Leaf Green
    • Burgandy
    • White

A fully stocked artist’s box is not a bad thing – makes all that paint so much more affordable over many years.

  1. Draw up your canvas: see here for a detailed how to guide!
    IMAG0950
  2. Paint in the water: Firstly do a colour wash in a pale blue, then use a large flat brush to paint horizontal strips of colour in varying shades across the area. The photograph was better than life – with gorgeous shades of green, yellow, blue and even peach.  The trick is keeping all the brushstrokes in the same direction and building up layers and layers which takes hours but is worth it!
    water
     
  3. Paint in the sand: Paint a colour wash in flesh tint over the area. They use a variety of rounded brushes to paint speckles of varying browns, silvers, white, sand colours over the entire area. This requires you building up layers, even more so than the sea. You will probably get impatient like I did and have to do this over several sessions. Keep referring back to your photograph to get big stones etc in the right place.Then paint the shadow. The trick here is to create a really watery black paint, with absolutely no white in it to make it creamier. Just neat black with water. Then use a flat brush to wipe this over the area so that all the stones and sand can still be seen through.
    sand
  4. Paint the wings: First do a wash in black. Then use slightly paler purple and bluey shades to create volume and areas of light. On the near wing, use metallic blue and silver paint to give it a wet look, and paint a white strip where the sun bounces off it. Keep all of your brush strokes horizontal to match with the direction of the feathers.
    wings 
  5. Paint the back: If you refer back to the photograph, you will see lots and lots of black feathers standing on end, glistening with oil and sunlight. To capture this, do a black colour wash, then use a little round brush and dab lines of small silver, grey and white dots to act as the tips of every feather. Going further down the back, the feathers lie flatter, so use longer brush strokes, angling them diagonally down the back.
    IMAG0980 
  6. Paint the softer white areas: Use white paint with a teeny bit of black mixed in to create areas of shadow. African Penguins have little grey speckles on their bellies too, so be sure to show this in your painting.
    IMAG0988
  7. Paint the face: Use the same technique as the back to create an area of light and areas of shadow on the face.
    IMAG0990
  8. Paint in the beak: I went off photo for the beak, to find a more visually pleasing one on another African Penguin! Use black, grey and silver, score likes and texture into it, and leave a gap between the top and bottom beak to show the background through. IMAG0995
  9. Paint in the fish! The original photo had a cooked and half cut up piece of fish. I wanted a fresh fish in my picture, so found one on the internet. Use shiny silver and pale greens to capture the beautiful shimmer of the scales.
    IMAG0999IMAG1020
  10. Paint in the feet: Use similar colours to paint the feet, carefully following the photograph to create mottled skin.
    Penguin ARTbyIMI

Ta daaaa

What do you think of my p p p penguin?

And more importantly, what should I name him?

 

 

How naïve to think that Artists have time to paint!

logonewsletter

Sales pitch over.

I have a secret to share…
Preparing for a fayre, holding down a full time job, eating, sleeping AND finding time to paint is nigh on impossible.
If you throw in enjoying the sunshine and doing a bit of exercise then you get to the situation I am in now. That situation does not involve a paint brush.

On the other hand, the business side of my business is flourishing.
On Saturday, I will visit Otters Pool Studio print shop to look at the proofs of three of my paintings! I will then give the nod for 40 limited edition prints in the three designs to be created!

The designs I finally chose are:
IMG_1563kingfisher ARTbyIMIwoodpecker ARTbyIMI

Thank you for your help in choosing them!

I have bought cellophane bags for the prints to go in, I have bought cardboard backing, I have bought struts to keep them rigid and undamaged.
No-one ever tells you how much these little throw-aways add up to!

Ten designs of greeting cards are also rushing their way to me by post right now!
I will then order the ones I like best to sell at the Fayre – monitoring to see which are the most popular designs.

I have created order forms and newsletter sign up forms.
I have arranged to borrow a gazebo, and a three panel display board.
I have written my first newsletter which is raring to be released to the world!

Most excitingly, I have created a to-do list, which is OH SO SATISFYING to tick off another finished item.

Rowledge Village Fayre, I am nearly ready for you……

The list is still long, but this weekend it will take the back burner!
I am going to be a hermit on a Friday evening (shock horror) and paint (SHOCK HORROR!) and watch Grand Designs and other high quality programmes which allow me to imagine my future barn conversion with art studio, swimming pool and photography studio. A girl can dream.

image from chloeulis.com.

Do you feel you have enough time to do the things you love? 

Fayres, newsletters and honest opinions

Hello ART by IMI followers 🙂

Some exciting things have been happening over the past week since beginning my Month of Paint. I would really appreciate some honest feedback from you all to progress my excitement further.

Month of Paint update

So far during my month of paint, I have got this far on a new penguin painting. It is a long way from ready but I am really pleased with how it is progressing. IMAG0960_1[1]

I also had to resort to doodling when away from my paints:

IMAG0963[1]

I have to admit I have somewhat bent the rules in my month of paint.
I changed them to be “spending at least an hour forwarding my business / creating art”

It may be a slight cop out but I don’t care because at last I feel like I am getting somewhere with this venture.

Rowledge Village Fayre

I have booked to have a stall at the Rowledge Village Fayre on the 27th May. This makes me giddy with excitement at the thought of all those people I will get to meet and show off my skills. I am going to see it as an investment, as the amount of money and time I have to put out in preparation will probably far exceed anything I get back this time.

Creating prints

I am getting high quality giclée prints made of three of my paintings, which will be for sale at the fayre and later on my Etsy shop. I need your help choosing which of my paintings to get made into prints. Please will you head over to my gallery and leave me a comment with your thoughts?

I am also getting greeting cards made in a larger number of designs. Again I would really appreciate your help choosing the designs!
woodpecker ARTbyIMIkingfisher ARTbyIMILittle brother ARTbyIMINelson ARTbyIMIErnie ARTbyIMIgoldenpheasantjan13wmpuffin ARTbyIMI

Art society member 

I have become a member of the Farnham Art Society which is very exciting. I can now go along to their meetings, meet other local artists, and hopefully next year will be be promoted to an Exhibiting member. 

.farnham art soc

ART by IMI newsletter

I have just created a monthly newsletter which will have information about my art, local artist events, promotions I am offering and creative input from elsewhere. You can get on the mailing list by clicking the button below!
artbyiminewsletter

Facebook

I am only two likes away from getting 100 followers on Facebook. This is not a big number but it is a small milestone. If you could boost that to 100, you will make me a very happy lady.

And there we are. Lots of exciting news, and lots and lots to prepare. I would love to hear your feedback 🙂

Love, Imi

How to paint a Tawny… Owl by yourself!

As promised, I have been a busy bee over the bank holiday weekend as it is now officially April, my Month of Paint! I finished off painting this little cutie today. His name is Nelson, not after Mandela, but my Grannie, who loved all owls.

If you pay particular attention throughout this guide, you can see me sporting a lovely range of pyjamas. I really am spoiling you.

You will need:

  • About 30 hours!
  • 30cm x 40cm canvas
  • Photograph to copy
  • Large flat paintbrush
  • Range of smaller round paintbrushes
  • Large playmat
  • Water
  • Pencil
  • Ruler
  • Masking tape
  • Background Acrylic Paint:
    • Cadmium Red
    • Burgandy
  • Owl Acrylic Paint:
    • White
    • Burnt Sienna
    • Burnt Umber
    • Raw Umber
    • Rich Gold
    • Mars Black
    • Hooker Green (small amount)

Canvas Preparation

1. Choose your composition. I cropped my photograph really close so I could focus on the face and feathers and have as little background as possible.

Nelson the tawny photo
I grid up my photographs using microsoft word

2. 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.

3. 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.

IMAG0911
I just draw the main lines and markings

Painting the background

1. Mix Cadmium Red and double quantities of Burgundy together with a bit of water. This creates a beautiful rich damson colour. You can add a hint of white to make it more creamy.

2. Paint about four layers of paint over your background area. This will create a solid matte colour. Hold it up to the light. Can you see through it? If so, paint another layer!

IMAG0918
You can overlap the foreground as you will paint over this later.

Painting the owl

At first glance, I thought… how on earth am I going to get everything in the right place?! There is so much going on!
Then I chilled out a bit and decided to take a little bit at a time. What a life lesson.

1. Use masking tape to section off areas to paint: I started from the bottom taking the right hand corner, and gradually worked my way up the canvas in 5cm strips, completing each strip before moving onto the next.
IMAG0920
My art gear of choice was blue striped pyjamas. 

2.  Start with a wash of Burnt Umber mixed with white. This creates a brilliant basis to build up layers of white feathers over the top.
IMAG0921
The more layers you build up, the fluffier it will look

3. Use a cocktail stick to create finer lines and texture in the feathers. Scratch the black bards into place using a near black. Scratch little flicks of white feathers. Some feathers will look softer and fluffier, so use a little paintbrush to achieve this look.

Who would think my pyjamas would be so famous!
Who would think my pyjamas would be so famous!

4. Complete the whole strip using the same techniques, making sure the black and brown bards are painted into the right place. Keep referring back to your photograph – it’s only a little section, you can get everything in the right place easily!

IMAG0924
My photography skills are second to none.

5. Section off the strip above using masking tape. Paint on any bards and darker areas of feathers, blending them into the finished part below.

Be careful to blend the two sections together or you will get a visible line.
Be careful to blend the two sections together or you will get a visible line.

6. Build up layers using streaks of white and tan colours, using your cocktail stick to make texture and individual feathers. The body of the owl is generally paler and greyer, and becomes more coloured and brown towards the face.

IMAG0928
You can see that by taking it section by section, you can get it really accurate.

7. Introduce browns and golds to the upper chest area, below the face. The feathers here are darker, with more golden pigments than the lower belly (all very technical terms!). Make the paint really nice and thick, building up the layers with differing shades. Use your cocktail stick to introduce little speckles to the feathers.  Please keep referring to your photograph to get markings in exactly the right place. I assure you that patience is the only way to get a photo-realistic finish.

IMAG0929IMAG0930
With a little patience, the feathers are not as daunting as they first seem.

8. Begin on the facial disk. Below the face is a white fluffy curve, framing the cute little face. Use really thick white paint here and score shapes into it using a cocktail stick. Then add black, gold and brown mottles to it on top of the thick wet white paint.
IMAG0934
You can see the glints of gold I am starting to work in. 

9. Paint the area surrounding the beak a pale browny grey. Then score thin white and darker grey hairs into it to make it textured and fluffy.
IMAG0936
Use a cocktail stick to create texture.

10. Surround the eyes with tan, white and pale brown paint, using longer curved brush strokes  Continue to build up layer upon layer, with paler colours on the top layers. Paint the brown strip down the middle of the face, and overlap the face hairs to create a semi-symmetrical pattern.
IMAG0940
Keep painting on layer after layer for thick fluffy fur.

11. Paint the eyes deep black, then rim them with pale grey. Create pale grey glints in the eyes to make them look glassy and real. Put grey lines above and below to define the eye socket.
IMAG0942
He just came to life when I painted in the eyes.

12. Paint the disk surrounding the face, using small dabs of tans, browns and black. Again, continue to build up layers, joining the face and the surrounding disk with a darker join. Put dabs of gold into it to make the painting really eye catching.
IMAG0944
At this point, my dad normally starts going “its very clever”

13. Paint the visible wing with a brown wash, then dab several layers in shades of light brown and tan into it.
IMAG0945
Do you see the resemblance?!

14. Mix up a pale yellowy green for the beak. Put shadows in a more grey green and a highlight in a paler colour down the middle of the beak, then paint on little nostrils using near black paint.
IMAG0947
Are they called nostrils??

15. Neaten up any smudges on the background and then SIGN!
Nelson ARTbyIMI
I am a little bit in love with little Nelson 

Let me know what you think, and stay tuned for lots of updates throughout April, my Month of Paint! 

A month of paint

Painting is one of the activities I love the most. I feel happy when I know I have an afternoon with a film and a paintbrush… with company nearby if I need it! It is also a huge part of my healing and emotional wellbeing journey, as it quiets my mind and fills me with a sense of calm. I harp on and on about all the benefits and how much I enjoy it… but I haven’t actually done any at all for weeks.

Last week I was in Austria skiing which I guess is a fairly valid excuse. Paints are heavy, and I had very little time left in my day after skiing, swimming, supper, sauna, steam rooms and sleep (I know… what a hard life!). I don’t have any excuse for my days in England, apart from… I just couldn’t motivate myself to get the paints out after a day at work. Too much faff. Awful from a girl who wants to make a career out of this faff!!Image

Starting from April 1st, I am making it my mission to spend at least an hour a day painting or creating for the whole month. This may not sound too taxing, but other commitments such as a full time job, zumba, friends home for the Easter break and weekends with the boyfriend will make this pretty tricky. I will whip out my watercolour pencils at lunch or on the train, curl up in front of the TV after work with my box of acrylics and a chunky canvas, or use my long neglected sketchbook round at my boyfriend’s.

I don’t have any commissions in the pipeline (it’s the perfect time to swoop if you want a painting) so I will paint a range of recent photographs (such as beautiful shots of the Austrian Alps) kingfishers, owls, ducks and whatever takes my fancy. They will just have to decorate my room until they find a permanent home! If anyone has any other suggestions or photographs they have taken that would make a great piece of art, please please contact me!

I will document my progress weekly on my blog, sharing photos of my creations and weighing up the stress of finding time for obligatory art with the emotional benefits that painting brings.

Image

Stay tuned for my month of paint!

Every day motivation

Aside

This quote really struck a chord with me today, and I am sure it will with a lot of people.
It motivated me to do the things I have been meaning to, instead of letting life get in the way.

The Dalai Lama, when asked what surprised him most about humanity, answered:

“Man. Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices his money in order to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he doesn’t enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the present or the future; he lives as if he is never going to die, and he dies having never really lived.”

Thank you to Noora for sharing that.

It motivated me to finally buy marketing materials for my business. When they arrive I will put on my wellies and my biggest smile and go out on dog walks and meet people and their lovely animals. I will be able to reach more people and let them know how much I enjoy painting and how good I am.  I will gain new custom, and maybe even new friends that I wouldn’t have got otherwise. One day, I will accomplish my dream of spending my days painting and making a comfortable living from it. One day, I will own my own dog and paint him too. 

For the meantime, its the little things I do which keep me in balance of health, calm and presence, and I have to admit, I haven’t quite managed it today. I am looking forward to this weekend, when I can pretend that one day is today and will turn:
Image

into:

  Image

How to paint a golden pheasant

I painted a golden pheasant to enter into the Wildlife Artist of the Year competition 2013. It is on a 70cm x 70cm canvas, and it used a lot of paint! But I am pleased with it, so thought I would share with you today how it was born.

 You will need:

  • A 70cm x 70cm canvas
  • Your photograph with gridlines drawn on, (this can be on your laptop screen)
  • Lots and lots of colours of acrylic paint (including GOLD, purple and yellow 🙂
  • A palette (I use empty foil dishes from quiches. My parents are quiche fans!)
  • Water
  • Masking tape
  • A variety of sizes of paintbrushes (large flat ones, a set of varying sizes of little rounded ones)
  • A playmat!
  1. Firstly I drew up my canvas, gridding on the main outlines of the bird and the many different sections of feathers to the corresponding square on my photograph.

    IMAG0777[2]

  2. Next I did a thin colour wash on each section. A bit like painting by numbers!
    IMAG0793[1]
  3. With the section of thin yellow feathers on his back, I firstly painted the section a darkish yellowy browny colour. I then used a little round brush and pale yellows and oranges to swipe little feathers onto the canvas. This part took ages as I really wanted it to match the photograph totally.
    IMAG0795[1]

     

  4. With the orange feathers with purple tips, I firstly painted it orange. I then sectioned off parts using masking tape as it all looked the same! This enabled me to paint the purple patterns onto the canvas in exactly the right place.

    IMAG0799[1]

  5. After I had finished this, I proceeded to go over and over this section with swipes of white, yellow, orange and gold to make the feathers look 3D. I used blue, purple and metalic blue on the tips, again using a little rounded brush.

    IMAG0811[1]

  6. With the blue feathers at the bottom, I used varying shades of blues and purple and white to create large feather shapes.
  7. With the pink feathers, I used the little rounded brush again, with a mix of purple, magenta and white feathers, constantly referring to the photograph to get areas of light and dark in the correct place

    IMAG0812[1]

  8. With the narrow blue feathers above the yellow section and below the orange section (I am losing track too!) I firstly painted it dark blue. Then I used metallic blue mixed with normal blue and a touch of white to create a 3D effect when I painted each feather shape.
  9. Next I concentrated on the face , using my littlest brush, and a range of browns and purples and my favourite colour, flesh tint! I used little curly brush strokes to make the face fluffy.
    IMAG0813[1]
  10. I painted the eye using white with a hint of green, to create a pale aqua. I made sure to put a little white gleam on the pupil.
  11. I used a fairly large round brush and thick yellow paint to create the mohawk, using long sweeping brushstrokes in varying shades of yellow. I then used white paint to create strands of hair caught by the light.
    IMAG0818[1]
  12. Finally, with the beak, I used browns and gold paint to create a shiny pointy beak.
  13. Its not my normal style, but I painted the background last! Im normally a firm believer in painting backgrounds first. However, I really couldnt decide what to do with it. I plumped with a base of sap green, using my hands to rub in lighter areas with white and yellow and darker areas with purple to create a soft focus.
    goldenpheasantjan13wm

Ta daaa – Hope you liked the guide and let me know what you think!
I will keep you posted on how I do in the competition!

Rules are different when its snowing… right?

Some people find pleasure from sharing negativity, but I am not one of them.

I have seen several little instances around me of just that this week.

The first involved me. A guard fined me on the train for travelling without a railfare.

Satisfactory in itself, but I had sought him out specifically to pay, I wasn’t attempting to rob national rail, and it had been perfectly acceptable, sometimes even encouraged on all journeys prior. And it was snowing. Everyone knows that all rules are relaxed when it is snowing… right?!

Woods in snow

“Why don’t you have a valid ticket?”
“I guess I didn’t give enough time to walk to the station this morning in the snow… And I didn’t fancy waiting half an hour in the cold either when I could get on a nice warm train… nor did I fancy being late for my meeting at work…”

Apparently these weren’t good excuses, although I think they are pretty up there, only just below “My waters broke and I needed to get the train to hospital” or “insert another emergency situation here.”

I think he got a lot of pleasure from exerting this power, but not as much as I did muttering “jobsworth” under my breath and imagining him going home to his unsatisfying life still living at home with his mother and their pet gerbil, and putting on his Simpsons boxset.

The second instance was a man (also on the train) telling a lady off for making short (and in my opinion, quiet) phone conversation in the “quiet zone”, before he proceeded to natter more loudly to his wife.

“It says ‘no phones’, not no voices. We don’t make the rules.”

Don’t most people only sit in the quiet zone to try to avoid the shrieking child that runs around the carriage for the entire hour of journey? (My treat last week.)

It leads me to wonder, what is the point? You don’t make yourself any happier for doing that, and you don’t make others around you happier either. The accusee in question proceeded to point out a rather loud text coming through on the accuser’s phone five minutes, and rightly so – it disrupted me far more than her 2 minute phone call (although I couldn’t really care less about either, I was only there to avoid the crying children (sorry to any mothers reading.)

I have to admit, I do get wrapped up in what other people say and do around me, and let it affect me far more than I ought to. I used to stew over stuff like that for days, not letting things go that only deserve fleeting attention at most. But I am getting better at “not sweating the small stuff”. You can read my article on the Ramblings today which tells of my journey so far of letting go of worries and focusing on happiness instead!

When I need to give my brain a rest, I paint. My boyfriend actually joined me in playing with paint yesterday, which I really appreciated. We holed up in front of the television and watched the Prison Break box set (manly) and painted together. I succeeded in completing my painting of a golden pheasant for the British Wildlife Painting Competition , the most bizarre-looking animal. How is it adaptively advantageous to have orange feathers with purple tips, a yellow Mohawk and a pink body?

Image

I also drew some dog outlines for my boyfriend’s mum’s class at school (She’s a teacher before you wonder!) I found it pretty challenging actually, just drawing free hand. Back to basics for me!

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How is everybody this week? Hopefully sharing good moods and not ruining other people’s just for the sake of it!

“So how was your 2012?”

“So how was your 2012?”

…seemed to be a pretty standard question floating around last night.
Mine was ok. Not brilliant. But it saved itself in the last half.

So here are a few of my highlights, and let us forget all the bad, hard and sad parts because they no longer matter!

I painted this in February 2012, to the delight of the owner.

I painted this in February 2012, to the delight of the owner.

dissertation

I wrote and submitted a 10,000 word dissertation, gaining a first class mark.

I watched my boyfriend graduate his phase 2 training.

I watched my boyfriend graduate his phase 2 training.

I painted some puffins in some stolen free time.

I painted some puffins in some stolen free time.

I I spemt a carefree week partying after my final exams with all my university friends

I spent a carefree week partying after my final exams with all my university friends. In fancy dress. My favourite.

I went on the harry potter studio tour with a close friend, where the phrase of the day seemed to be "MIND BLOWN!"

I went on the harry potter studio tour with a close friend, where the phrase of the day seemed to be “MIND BLOWN!”

I started my job and got to go down the tunnels in the underground. Dressed in orange.

I started my job and got to go down the tunnels in London  Underground. Dressed in orange.

graduation

Two weeks after starting my job, I graduated with a first class degree, in front of my family and boyfriend.

I went to the Olympic games with the lovely boyfriend, and the Paralympics with my mum

I went to the Olympic games with the lovely boyfriend, and the Paralympics with my mum!

I painted the red arrows for my boyfriends birthday present. It was mainly painted while on skype to him, under the guise of "another puffin..."

I painted the red arrows for my boyfriends birthday present. It was mainly painted while on skype to him, under the guise of “another puffin…”

jk

I “met” (in the loosest sense of the word) my idol JK Rowling ❤ I couldn’t say anything more to her than “THANKS” but I didn’t meant thanks for signing my book, I meant thanks for making my childhood magical…

I painted my nutritionists greyhound / whippet

I painted my nutritionists greyhound / whippet

I have so far been commissioned to do 3 paintings for work colleagues.

I painted three commissions  for work colleagues.

I had a great christmas with my family, my boyfriend and his family... and to top it off had a fun new years eve.

I had a great Christmas with my family, my boyfriend and his family… and to top it off had a fun new years eve.

And most importantly, my attitude has changed. Now I know change is possible, and if I see myself thinking irrationally, I will catch myself (70% of the time).

I will think “is it a good use of my time to worry about this and be negative?” which has helped me go a LONG way in my health and happiness 🙂

So how was your 2012?  

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!