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.

 

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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 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? 

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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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