Pause in the paint

Knackering my legs in France in a break from painting and the day job.
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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

 

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

 

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.
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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?