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.
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  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.
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  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.
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  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.
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  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.
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  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.)

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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!

Art framing for Dummies

You are cordially invited to attend my PREMIER ART EXHIBITION!

Where: Frensham Studios, Farnham, Surrey, GU10 3BJ.
When: Saturday 7th December – Sunday 15th December

If you are in the area, please come down and see me and the other exhibiting artists.

Do your Christmas shopping there, because art truly makes an amazing present!
It’s thoughtful, it keeps on giving, and it won’t lose its value. It will even increase! 

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To prepare for the exhibition, I have got several of my paintings made into prints, including a limited edition run of my Kookaburra.
I have framed all of these to make beautiful ready-to-hang gifts.

I’m sure you know, framing art can be incredibly expensive. It’s normally out of reach to the young artist starting out. But following some excellent advice, I have done it myself.

Same professional finish, but more affordable for me… meaning more affordable for you!

Here’s how you can frame your artwork too:

You will need:

  • Giclée prints on cotton rag paper of your artwork.
  • Black illustration pen
  • Black wooden frames of the same size as your print.
  • Gum tape
  • Scissors
  • Personalised stickers
  • Water
  • Clean cloth
  • Patience…

1: Sign and name your artwork using your black illustration pen

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2. Get a smart black wooden frame. Standard sizes are much more affordable than bespoke sizes.

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3. Pop your print in, and put a plain piece of paper behind it to protect it from the frame.
Put the back of the frame on.

4. Get your gum tape and cut strips of the right length to cover the seams on the back.

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5. Using a cloth and water, dampen the shiny side of the gum tape (like an envelope)

6. Carefully paste the sticky strip along the seams on the back of your frame. This will keep all the dust out, keeping the print safe and secure.

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7. Do this for all the other sides. You may have to cut into the gum strip to avoid pasting over wall fastenings.

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8. Pop one of your personalised stickers in the corner.

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Now your artwork looks fancy and framed, but you and your clients don’t need to shell out the big bucks!

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Don’t forget about the exhibition – It would really make all of my hard work worthwhile to see you there 🙂

Make your painting SHINE!

…by investing in some Acrylic Ink!

I am a true convert to this lovely liquid and am struggling to understand how I achieved so much detail in my paintings without it.

The benefits are:

  • They are much thinner than acrylic paint, but with the same depth of colour. This means they can be used to create thinner lines – like hairs and feathers!
  • They can be controlled far more than acrylic paint.
  • They are completely waterproof when dry – so all the benefits of acrylic paint come out here.
  • They give a slight sheen when dry, giving the canvas a different dimension. They are especially effective on beady eyes.
  • They are good value!
  • You can control easily how much you drop on your palette – less wastage than regular acrylic paints.

All you need is a teeny paintbrush, and a mutlipack of inks!

The Pheasants

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Ink can be used to create minute detail such as feathers on birds’ faces.

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Shake your tail feathers  – blend lots of colours to create depth and volume of metallic feathers.

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You can create detailed ranges of feathers with lots of different colours.

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You can get inks in metallic colours to really get a shine on.

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Not just the boys have beautiful depths of colour – create delicate girly feathers too!

Pheasants ARTbyIMI

Ta Da – This will very soon be up in the Cherry Tree Pub in Rowledge.

Apologies for my lengthy absence – the day job has got BUSY and my Christmas commissions have to remain secret for now!

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

 

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? 

Time lapse Meercats

Hello everybody!
Lots of busy and exciting things happening recently! I have just put a painting into the Society for Wildlife Art’s annual exhibition, I find out next week if it has been selected. It’s my favourite painting so far, really excited to share it with you soon!

I’ll leave you with Mossy… a painting a did a couple of months ago! I have put it into a handy time-lapse video for you, no scrolling – simples!

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The time I drew a caricature of my boss and didn’t get fired.

A couple of months ago, I was approached by a man at work about a possible commission.

“I have a potential project for you!”

Great! I am always up for a new project!

“How would you like to do a caricature of <<the big boss>>?”

I went home and saw my boyfriend / official advisor. He had a few words to say about this.

“This can ONLY GO BADLY.”
“Your options are:
a) your boss gets offended because it really does look like him and he can’t take a joke.
b) it’s rubbish and people lose faith in your abilities.”

Quick fact about me: I am notoriously bad at saying no. Instead I whine and worry to people who cannot make any difference.

Obviously I had already said I would try. I can’t let people down!

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * 

I started to collect photographs and fun facts about my boss, fed from a private detective…his wife.

“Loves Golf, Dr Who, Percy Pigs, Crystal Palace…

…Can you try to get those into the picture too?”

I said I would try… racking my brains as to why I was making these promises I didn’t know I could keep. With animals I have a track record. This was an unknown.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

After a week of promising to try… I actually began to try. My plan was to give him the body of a golfer, with an oversized head. That way, I need not risk exaggerating his features! Genius.

boss 1

I have remarkably little imagination for someone so arty. I find it very difficult to draw from memory, so I found a photograph of a golfer, mid swing, printed off big boss’ decapitated head, and quite literally stuck it on.

 

 

 

 

 

boss 2

As I started to draw my first draft, I completely relaxed! I just sketched it onto a scrap piece of A4 paper in pencil, before developing it with a black felt tip pen. It was looking good!

 

 

 

 

 

boss 3

Once the first draft was complete, I scanned it into the computer and printed it out onto an A3 sheet, to scale it up quickly and easily. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

boss 4

I then re-copied it onto a sheet of card.. I embellished the shirt with stereotypical golfing diamonds, and added a flag in the distance.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I got out my colouring pencils and I coloured it in. I didn’t want to risk paint, as you can completely lose your artwork beneath it! I patiently coloured several layers to get the colours lovely and bright.

 

 

 

 

 

boss 6

For a few personal touches, I coloured the diamonds on his shirt Crystal Palace red and blue, and the little flag in the background the tasteful company colours of orange and green.

 

 

 

 

 

boss 8

Finally I went over the artwork in my felt tip pen, and wrote a personal message on the gold ball “25 years”, his time in the company.

 

 

 

 

 

So the moral of the story here is: just because you have never done something, it doesn’t mean you will be rubbish!
You might just get it right.

What have you thought about writing off before even trying it?
Have I convinced you to give it a try?

boss 9

So you want them to actually READ your CV?

I, Imi Woods, Animal Artist, have given myself a metaphorical kick up the backside and decided to start contacting galleries, shops and (gulp) agents.

I looked up “How to write an Artist’s CV” on Google.
It depressed the hell out of me.

“Avoid any formatting at all if possible. No columns, tabs, multiple spaces, words all in caps, quotation marks, or bold formatting. The only formatting needed is italics for exhibition names, article titles and prize names. Stick to one typeface for the entire document. Preferably something simple like Arial or Times Roman. Leave creativity for the art. The CV needs clarity.”

As a self-trained, as yet barely exhibited young Artist… I don’t yet have the facts to speak for me. I have passion, raw talent, beautiful paintings and lots of happy customers… but not the lists of Relevant Education, Exhibitions at the Tate or MoMA, Associations, Publications and Awards that they are really looking for. Sorry, I forgot, I do have the Year 9 Art Prize and I write a blog. I’ll be sure to put that on my CV…

I know that I am going places… I just need a leg up to get on the ladder.

So here are my tips for creating a memorable and interesting CV. The sort of CV that will help the Emerging Artist who doesn’t yet have all the facts to talk for them. It might just get you to the top of the pile… or at least keep you away from the bottom.
Feel free to use ideas from my CV below if you would like.
Please note, this is applicable to other industries too!

print screen of CV

1. Design an interesting layout. Note: a few columns and bullets does not mean interesting. Challenge yourself! Using a table format in Microsoft Word is easy and keeps all of your information in the right place. Keep it clean and functional… but with a bit of pizazz. I put a column going down the left hand side with my name and job title, separated by a block line.

2. Use a bit of colour. I know, not everyone is like me and excited by colours. But one colour as a strong theme running through the CV will draw the eye directly to your CV for the right reasons.

3. Be creative with photographs. This is what is the biggest selling point of my CV. I cut the background out of a photograph of me next to my Artist’s Statement and put it into greyscale. I virtually framed a couple of my paintings too. They are my biggest selling point at the moment, so I see no reason for them not to be put onto my CV. I also cut out the background of a photograph of me painting. I kept the painting in full colour, and greyscaled myself. I guess it says “my art speaks for me”.

4. Do your research about where you are applying to. Angle your CV to bring out qualities that are important to that institution. But don’t fabricate information, tell the facts as they are.

5. Keep your CV focussed. Don’t be a Jack of all trades but a Master of none. I cut out the paragraph detailing my current work on this CV. I feel I have learned a lot in my role as a Submissions Assistant, but can see how galleries would fail to see the relevance.

6. Oh my gosh, proof read your CV! Or get someone else to. Learn how to use that apostrophe correctly. Learn the difference between you’re and your. It’s not that difficult!

7. Show your enthusiasm. I know. Risky.
But right now, my enthusiasm is what is getting me places. People like enthusiastic, friendly people and want to work with them and give them opportunities. On applying for a display space recently in Reading, I was incredibly enthusiastic. Embarassingly so. I was excitable and probably showed my naivety, but received the following as a reply:

“You sound a really enthusiastic and friendly person, just what we need!! Look forward to meeting you soon, oh, and don’t change a thing, you’re fine as you are!”

Wouldn’t you rather buy artwork from someone who loves what they do than someone who is just doing it to pay the bills? I know I would.

*Disclaimer: I don’t know if this will work. Please don’t blame me if you follow my tips and your CV does get put to the bottom of the pile. Maybe galleries and agents are not kindred spirits. Maybe they really do want lists and no formatting. It’s surely worth a shot though, right?

How to paint a King Charles Cavalier Spaniel

You may have spotted him at the Fayre, or you may just be coming across him now. This is Bertie the King Charles Cavalier Spaniel puppy. Judging by his expression, he knows he is royalty. He has a grumpy ‘superior than thou’ expression and gangly legs. Admit it, he is absolutely adorable!

You will need:

  • A lot of time and patience
  • 30cm x 40cm canvas
  • Photograph to copy
  • Large flat paintbrush
  • Range of smaller round paintbrushes
  • Large playmat
  • Water
  • Pencil
  • Ruler
  • Masking tape
  • Acrylic Paint:
    • White
    • Burnt Sienna
    • Burnt Umber
    • Raw Umber
    • Rich Gold
    • Mars Black
    • Cadmium Red

1. Choose your composition: I didn’t have to crop my photograph as it was already a closely cropped image. The customer asked me to keep the background exactly as it was. 
bertie

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.

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4. Paint the background: The customer wanted the background painted exactly as in the photograph. This was a pink rug and a window. To paint the rug I used various shades of pink and red, and a small round paintbrush to rub the paint in spirals into the canvas. To paint the window, I used a lot of masking tape, a steady hand, and about 50 shades of grey ;-).

5. Begin painting in the beautiful curly ears. This is using a range of rich siennas, raw and burnt umber, gold, flesh tint, etc. Use little round brushes and short curly strokes with a slightly watery paint.

Extend the shades onto the face around the eyes, leaving the nose and a stripe up the forehead in white. Concentrate on the direction of the hairs in the photograph – the top of the ears stick upwards and are paler.

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6. Rim the eyes with a near-black (black mixed with brown or blue or yellow.) Start to paint them in in shades of deep grey to bring out the spherical shape. Put glints in the eyes to bring them to life.

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7.Paint the body in grey. Once you have the grey base you can use paler greys and flesh tint to pick out lighter sections and shadows using a small round brush.

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8. Paint in the nose – make the nostrils a deep black, with a black line up the middle. The rest is a deep grey in a rounded heart shape. Pick out white glints to make it look damp.

Bring out the characteristic downturned mouth. King charles spaniels look grumpy. Really cute, but grumpy. Play on that!
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9. Paint in the collar. If you use metalic paint and a bit of nifty shading, metal rings and disks look very real!

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10. Decide that following the photograph is a bad idea after all and that limbs appear to be going everywhere! Re-paint the legs by researching other photos where dogs are sitting more nicely! *please note, forward planning and a better photo can eliminate this stage!!

Bertie ARTbyIMI

11. Sniff test of approval?

Bertie and painting

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?

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 prepare for your first art stall

Hello everybody,

This is a little guide on what I have learned for far in preparing for my first art stall at Rowledge Village Fayre. It hasn’t happened yet, so things could still go very very wrong… But I feel like I have learned a lot, so thought I would share my learnings with you today!

1. Never underestimate how much you have to invest: Bulk buying greeting cards, giclee prints and other items is EXPENSIVE. I was prepared for that. What I wasn’t prepared for was how much everything else costs!

You know those little mounts that you get around fine art prints, and even school photographs? They are as expensive as the print itself. And they just get thrown away. Then you add plastic wallets to put them in. EX PEN SIVE.

To keep my (and the customer’s) costs down, I got plastic wallets and just plain cardboard which I attached photo corners to to keep the print secure… considerably reducing the price of presentation of each print, but not impacting on how professional they still look.

2. People need to be shown exactly how to display your goods: Don’t leave it up to imagination, if your prints look great with a black frame and a smart mount, show people by investing in a nice frame. I am getting an A3 kingfisher framed to show people just how fantastic it looks. As proud painter and owner of the original, I hate to say it, but the framed print looks better!

3. The most simple of stalls still has many complex things holding it together. How do you create height to make an interesting display? How do you make all of your products look professional? How do you catch people’s eye in the first place? How do you hang items? Next time you visit a stall, look at all of these things. They all take lots of planning and lots of cost, especially the first time round.

I am planning on using coloured boxes to display my prints, cards and paintings at different heights on the table. I have borrowed two three-panel boards from my mum to hang my paintings off. I have drawn birds eye views of where the table, easel, boards and stock will go. Next weekend I plan on having a practice set up of everything to see how it all looks together.

4. Your painting time will seriously suffer: I am spending so much of my time thinking, writing blogs and newsletters, planning and buying for the fayre that any time spent actually painting is very limited. Someone once told me that when starting a new art business, about 50% of your time will be taken up with running the business, not actually painting. More like 80%!

5. Test the market by getting greeting cards in many many designs: A good quality place will send proofs through to you to make sure the colours are right before you buy. The proofs of mine are done and look great! I am getting between ten and twenty of each card, because who am I to say what people will like the best? I know which are my favourites, but which are yours?

6. Email addresses of interested customers are like gold dust: Create a newsletter so you can get people to subscribe to it – emails and advertising! In my opinion, my newsletter is full of interest and creativity, and I enjoy reading it… but for those that need extra incentive, I am choosing one lucky subscriber at random to win a painting on June 1st. I will tell every customer about this amazing opportunity so hopefully I will get lots of interest!

logonewsletter2

7. The little details will make you memorable: In each print and each greeting card, I am putting one of my business cards with a handwritten note saying “thank you for your custom!” or similar. I really really appreciate ANYONE who buys from me and supports my business, no matter how small a purchase. Even just a like on facebook. I appreciate it all! So tell them.

8. Be prepared for your boyfriend to appoint himself Managing Director and Marketing Manager of your company: I actually got told to “check with me before you make any business decisions please.” He was being serious. His Dad also seems to have appointed himself ‘Marketing Executive’… I feel there may be competition!

What important lessons have you learned in the lead up to a big event?

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?