Thursday, September 29, 2011

Landscape Paintings of Tipperary -- Oil Painting of Knockalough from Foilagoul

Irish Landscape Art -- Oil Painting of Tipperary Landscape

This is a view of Knockalough "Mountain" (1400ft approx.) from the south side, in the townsland of Foilagoul, west of Thurles, North Tipperary. The photo might be a little off the reality as I tried to get it even light but the left seems a little in shadow. Anyway I am posting it here to give people a view of this beautiful part of the countryside. Here is a view of Knockalough from Ballyboy, the exact other side of this mountain looking south. Ireland really has some great scenery and not all of it on the west coast! This was a commission work and so is sold. I shall post other work soon as and when I finish it. Enjoy! Jim

Saturday, September 24, 2011

How to Draw a Horse -- Part 1

How to draw a horse

Because of their generally placid nature, and the fact that they quite often stand still for periods of time, means that painting horses or drawing horses can be a perfect opportunity for artists interested in painting animals. They really are a great subject, however that said, for you to learn to paint a horse you have to know a little about that subject too. Getting a good drawing established at the beginning is half the battle to creating a great horse painting. Also horse shape can be adapted too, if you want to paint a fantasy subject such as a unicorn or suchlike. So this series of articles is to help alerting you to the main characteristics of the horse that need to be right, and then to give you a little guidance on colours to use in painting. Here is an earlier post showing how to draw a horse's head.
As with all skills there is no substitute for practice. And it doesn't have to be total perfection everytime. Carrying a pocket size sketch notebook for quick little sketches can be a useful tool for making little reference sketches of the shape and flow of the horses movements.
Create as many quick sketches as you can from observing horses movements. You may not get to complete half of them as the horse moves, but each will contribute a little to learning. Alternatively, get busy with a digital camera, and practice drawing at home. The above is an example of a quick practice sketch. Now I have indicated the points to be aware of when making the drawing. These are parts of the horse that are essential to get right. The bones are forming certain direction changes which result in obvious characteristics of the horse shape. They must be right or the drawing will look strange.

Step by step Drawing -- Proportions of a Horse

If you are not used to drawing a horse it can be made easier by knowing how the length of the head and height of the head are in comparison to the body. From this you can quickly assess if you are more or less correct with your drawing dimensions. The below sketch illustrates this point.I have broken the body of the horse into five areas each the length of the typical head. Also height of the horse is four times the height of the head. This is a fairly standard guide to help you know that your proportions are correct. In the next post on this subject I will go into some detail on how to paint a horse. Here you can see a horse in landscape and also here. If you are interested in seeing some of my previous work check the gallery below. Just scroll down. I will be posting some more tips and advice soon, so check back. Also some new work. That's it for now. Jim

Friday, September 23, 2011

How to Paint Snow -- Having fun Painting Snow

Painting Snow - How to paint snow scenes

One of the easiest subjects to paint must be snow, or so most people would think. Yes, and no. The truth lies somewhere in between, as snow paintings really are fascinating, and great fun to paint. If you really want to capture the beauty of a snow-filled landscape, that chilly feeling of crisp snow just fallen, and make it seem as realistic as possible, then you really have to study the colours that are present on the surface. Over the last two years I have attempted three or four such scenes and learnt something from each. Each snow scene brings new challenges and reveals new colours that are found in the light reflection on the snow. Snow scenes really are something you can be inspired to paint. All sorts of colour is found in the shadows and reflections of snow. In some cases you can throw a wash over the whole surface and in other occasions you can add in warm streaks of colour such as yellow or warm tones. There is a huge variety of possible colours that can be placed in snow paintings, so don't feel compelled to paint just blue tones like many of the examples I have here.

How to mix colours for a snow scene

By looking at many snow scene paintings, you can build up a reference of colour combinations and effects that work well in paintings of snow. In the above paintings, I used combinations as follows: thalo blue and white, raw umber and white with a hint of mauve, and prussian blue and white. These are just suggestions. It is best to gather together a collection of several different snow paintings that you can refer to, to help in future paintings. So far I have used very little variation in the colours of such scenes but I am going to have to find or take a few good reference photos for future work which have good sunlight falling on the snow, so as to be able to include the warmer tones in the painting. Including the warmer tones as well as the more common blue range adds interest to the snow scene and makes for a more interesting painting overall. I hope to be able to show what I mean regarding how to paint a snow scene in a future post after I have completed a more colourful one. For now, don't be afraid to experiment - making mistakes is all part of learning how to paint.

If you are enjoying this blog, please help to promote my art and the blog by sharing it with any friends you can. Also feel free to comment on my art as I welcome all feedback. Thanks Jim

Thursday, September 22, 2011

La Costa Esmeralda - Children Beach Scene

The summer is over and for most of us, all thoughts of holidays are behind us. This was one of several paintings I have on the go, most of which are very close to being finished. This was an idea I adapted from a few photos of time I spent in Sardinia on holiday last year. The title is La Costa Esmeralda, the Emerald coast. This was the region where this photo was taken but in actuality this scene is from a small island in the Magdalena Archipelago of islands. This year I have not been away so have managed to complete a steady stream of paintings -- more than ever before in the so far nine months of this year. Also, many are large paintings and time-consuming. The above painting was one of these. It is 20" x 28" dimension and I did not rush it, but took the time to create what I feel is a quality work of art. I always think of the words of Robert Bateman, wildlife artist in that you should try to push yourself to create difficult work or work that stretches your ability, and that is what I am constantly trying to do. This and another large painting "High Spirits" are so far the major paintings, I have done this year. Also "Wonder" is another more than run of the mill work, from this year. Hopefully, the quality of these works will gain me wider recognition. That's it for this post, enjoy the painting and look below in the gallery for a larger view. More updates coming soon as I have nearly finshed a few other works. Jim

Friday, September 16, 2011

Pre-Raphaelites : John Everett Millais

"Autumn Leaves"


The pre-Raphaelites were a group of like-minded artists who formed a secret art group in the middle of the 19th century dedicated to the painting of works from nature by real observation and looking towards the style of works before Raphael and the Renaissance styles became popular. They were initially secret until they held their first exhibition in 1849 and they were met with rejection initially but after several years their work became more popular. This post is to give a brief history of one of the most well known John Millais.

John Everett Millais was one of the original founders of the movement, (the others being Rosetti and Hunt). He was born in Southhampton on 8 june 1829 into an affluent middle-class family of French descent. He was a naturally talented artist and joined the Royal Academy art school at age 11 where he completed the course by age of 16, being the youngest to do so. He was technically brilliant although he was criticised for lacking imaginative ability.

Isabella, painted in 1849 was the first major work that he painted and Ophelia 1851-1852, was the peak of this earlier period of his work. It is regarded as one of the best of the pre-raphaelite works. He rapidly grew to be a better artist than his contemporaries and gained further recognition with Autumn Leaves painted in 1855 which is seen as one of the greatest of the pre-raphaelite paintings. He had started out as a "rebel" against the establishment but through the 1860's and onwards to 1896 when he died he became more establishment material and gained entry to the Academy at age 24 before rising to be elected it's president in the year of his death.

His paintings were always the subject of much comment and usually praise. He became a portrait artist later in his career. He is regarded as the best of the Pre-raphaelites.

That's it for a brief synopsis of this artist. Check back for more articles about art history and technique which I will be posting on a continuous basis. Also you can see more of my current work as I progress them. Jim

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Portrait painting -- How to Paint a Portrait -- Part 1

The above is a close up view of a portrait I painted last year. Portrait painting is often seen as the hardest area in which an artist can focus. The skills required to achieve a likeness and maintain it as the painting progresses are often seen as insurmountable, causing many to never consider the genre. From my limited experience of portrait painting to date, having taken lessons from a professional artist and also acquired some knowledge from books -- there is a definite way to approach a portrait which can simplify the work involved. This post is just an initial look at what is involved in starting a portrait.

First the drawing needs to be in the right place on the canvas. For a child it can be better to leave more space than the usual above the head. This extra space allows the feeling that the child is small. For an adult's portrait you can just position in the normal way, as per most portraits you see in museums or galleries.

Initial drawing is key. Although you can refine the drawing to a huge degree as you paint, the important part is to carefully get the distance between the features accurate. The distances between eyes, and from nose to mouth and nose to eyes, and height of eyebrows, forehead height and position of ears relative to the eyes, these are all key to creating the likeness.

So the initial stage in creating the likeness is to position the features very accurately. Short of using a blown up photo and tracing it onto the canvas, (using carbon paper or charcoal) - the artist can draw these features freehand if they are very careful to continuously check the position of each line they draw in relation to all previous lines. Check for length of the line, the angle and curves of it, the distance of the extremities of each line you draw from the surrounding lines already drawn. This is the mindset of a freehand artist. Work on the outline shape of the head first if you find it easier, but sometimes I start with the eyes. Then proceed down to the nose and mouth. Then I can see the face easier how wide it should be or thin and height as well.
For beginners it might be better to have the lips together, no teeth.

One idea is to draw onto a paper such as see-through grease-proof paper and then you can move this over the canvas to position it. Then transfer it on using carbon or charcoal. Working on paper allows easier correction of mistakes as it is hard to erase lines of pencil from a canvas. A charcoal pencil is probably the best to draw straight onto canvas as it brushes off, just be carefull of your hand smudging it as you work, or else use a thin amount of raw umber oil paint with a very small brush, which is what I often use. The oil drawing is easily erased with a cloth and some white spirits.

So to get the likeness -- first the distances between features helps a lot. Get them accurate. Next is the shape of each feature. Concentrate on looking at each and say - what shape is that? Is it a thin lip or straight or curvy and draw the shape as you see it not as you think you see it. By this I mean, in the few seconds between looking and going to draw it, the mind holds the shape within and you "know" what way to draw it. But in those few seconds if you "forget" or are unsure even slightly about what you are about to draw, you must not draw. You need to look again. Keep the distance between the drawing and the reference photo close as this helps many people.

This should improve your drawing ability and so distance and shape of features should get a fair way towards the likeness. Next you need to look at complexion and colour...But for today I will end at this, and post again on that as there is a huge amount involved in that area. Check back for more posts on this soon Jim

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Painting a Series -- Focusing on a Subject

The above is a photograph I took last year in December. If it was a painting it would be a good example of a monochromatic colour scheme. We got a lot of snow last winter for a few weeks in Ireland, much more than we usually get, and it was an opportunity to get some good photos. I show it here as an example of a painting idea which I feel has good potential and as I have already done a few similar snowscenes I could be building a small series of this type of painting. I need to start focusing more on one or two particular areas in my art. By this I mean that it is what the market is looking for that an artist is recognisable by their subject matter and also it is necessary that their style is consistent. This doesn't prevent my style evolving but I am feeling for the first time that I have reached a fairly consistent degree of painting style. The thing I want to work on now is brushwork and refining my ability to use varying types of brushwork, smooth or dynamic for various effects. I also want to work on my creativity, something which I am doing as much as possible.

In terms of focusing on one particular area, I feel that I want to tread a path between painting realistically and not going overboard towards hyper-realism which to me seems too much like just repeating what a photographer does. I like a painting to say something different from what a photo does. By that, I will try to include colour and tones that are compatible in terms of colour schemes but which may not necessarily be in any reference photo. A good example of an artist who paints like this is Steve Quiller. He is an expert at colour schemes. So gradually I will try to make more changes in my art, (commissions excepted for now) towards more interesting colour schemes. In a few days I will be posting my latest large painting, so check back to see it. That's it for now Jim

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Painting Irish Landscapes - North Tipperary

Many artists consider the Irish landscape a very attractive subject. For the vast majority, that means basically the western coast of Ireland from Killarney to Donegal and perhaps the streets of the capital , Dublin. The interior of the country is also a worthy subject but just takes a bit more "looking" to find a suitable scene. I have been guilty of going for the low hanging fruit too, in painting many scenes from the west coast. However, I have now been commissioned to do a series of paintings of the wild vistas of the hills around north county Tipperary. So over the next few weeks I will be completing these commissions. I have completed one already just yesterday, measuring 20" x 28" in size. It is of Knockalough mountain which lies to the west of Thurles. The townsland area is Foilagoul and it is an area in which I have been privileged to have spent some time. I won't be posting it yet but have several other works which are new and almost finished which I will post shortly. Above is a photo taken on one of the backroads in this scenic part of the country.

Also I did not post for all of August as I wanted to see if the level of "hits" to the blog was affected by not posting and it seems to be holding steady as in it hasn't decreased or advanced in that time. For all the people who have followed my journey over the last three years I wish to say thanks and hope you will stay following this blog and tell others about my art. I intend to keep pushing my ability level and become a really good artist at painting in oils. I have decided to concentrate more on painting people and preferably in a landscape or landscapes on their own. I realise that galleries are looking for more focus in what an artist paints and that must be my goal if I am to be accepted by any of them. So now I will be concentrating on completing my backlog of commission work before starting any new paintings. Check back to see some more updates throughout this month. Jim