Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Just back from 'arty retail therapy'!

Hello again! I'm writing with excitement and a bit of a grin on my face as I've just got back from the Art department of our local garden centre with a bag of goodies to experiment with!!! This week, I've gone back to my printmaking roots and indulged in some mono-prints - a fantastic technique for creating atmospheric images and playing around with visual ideas with immediate results. 

Getting out all the bits and pieces needed for mono-printing really got my creative juices flowing and I soon had a set of interesting bird images which have a completely different feel to my other paintings and drawings. Excited to push the printing further, I had the urge to make some 'collagraph' plates , so out came the cardboard, glue and salt, and I began to draw on the card with the glue and salt to create a rich textured surface to print from.
   (A collagraph is a type of print where the plate is made up of a collage on cardboard to create different marks and textures on its surface. Collagraphs can be printed either in relief or intaglio, these methods give very different qualities to the final print but both are interesting. I prefer the intaglio version which needs a printing press to create a successful image, where a relief print can be made by hand using a roller, baren or a wooden spoon.)

Having varnished my collagraph plates to make them waterproof (so the damp paper doesn't stick to the glue during printing,) I was reminded  of just how beautiful the plate alone can be....and this is when I had my 'lightbulb moment'!! I'm going to try to paint paintings with this '3D' texture...DOH!!! I can't believe I didn't think to do this before...???!!!!!!! So....my purchases include Acrylic Texture Gel and Acrylic Modeling Paste. I can't wait to crack on with a new painting where I can experiment with THICK PAINT!!!! I'll post the results so you can see how I get on...for now I have a few paintings to show you...

The first is just a sketch I did the other night when I couldn't get to sleep. Instead of tossing and turning for hours on end, I decided to put my sleeplessness into action...here's the result: (I used some photos on my phone as reference)
Graphite Drawing of a Lanner Falcon and a Scops Owl

Next is a large scale Acrylic painting of Woolley, one of my favourite owls to paint! I wanted to paint this BIG with a view to hanging it in a large space, but feeling a bit nervous wondering if I could make it work at this scale...but I love it!! 

Woolley in progress

Woolley, Finished!

My next couple of paintings see a return to water colour. Both fairly experimental pieces as I have never painted either bird before. Daisy is an American Turkey Vulture - an interesting character! - I wanted to paint her in a 'loose' fashion, not too careful. The blue tit on  bulrushes is a picture I've wanted to paint for quite a long time, but didn't quite know how to approach it. I saw this over a year ago on the pond at Puxton...the shape and texture of the bulrushes intrigues me. This is still a work in progress as I need to work on the background, but I am happy with it so far.

Daisy, Turkey Vulture, Water Colour

Blue-Tit on Bulrushes, Water Colour.

My final picture for this blog is yet another of Woolley...again an experimental piece as it is a completely different medium for me - pastels. This came about through watching a Pastels 'how to' DVD with my Mum in the Easter holidays... the Artist made it look very easy (don't they always!) and I got the urge to give it a try, so Mum offered me the use of her pastels and a few sheets of pastel paper...and here's the result - Woolley in pastel. I didn't really enjoy using the pastels - they are quite messy and because this is a relatively small painting, fairly fiddly too! However, having said all that, this picture has grown on me and I like it! It could do with some 'finishing' around the branch area, but I'm in no rush to get back to pastels, so this is probably how it will remain!

Woolley, Pastel approx 10" x 7"ish!

So, that's all for today...look out for my next blog where I'll post my mono-prints and possibly a collagraph or two... bye for now,
Mandi ;)

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Harris Hawks and Eagle Owls...Its been a very busy month!

Its 2 days short of a whole month since my last blog...Its been a pretty manic time and what with the Easter Holidays I didn't think | had much to share. How wrong I was! I've done lots of paintings and drawings during the past few weeks, and as promised, there are some Harris Hawks inspired by the Hawk Walk in my previous blog!
This is 'Miller', a Harris Hawk...seen from a Hawk Walker's Eye View
This first painting is unfinished - waiting for a background, but I love the unusual angle of view. I'm hoping it will be quite impressive once its complete. The second is another watercolour of Miller in Action..soaring down towards the glove from his perch above! I love the colouring of these American Harris Hawks...their bright yellow heads and feet against the red, black and white of their feathers - they are beautiful!

Harris Hawk in Flight - Water Colour

Despite the diversion towards Harris Hawks, I've still been absorbed by Owls as subjects to paint - spending more time with them in the Falconry Centre has allowed me to get to know them even more as individuals - their quirky personalities becoming more obvious every week! Its one of my favourite parts of the day - cleaning the Owl Aviaries. Its one-to-one time, just me and the owls, having a chat, and more importantly for me, time to really look and see the intricate beauty of their feather patterns, crystal clarity of their eyes and the sharpness of their beaks and talons!!! STUNNING!!!!! Occasionally I get to give some of them a 'bath' or rather a shower from a hosepipe...fun for them and me...and great to watch! Here are a few Owl paintings...                                        

Woolley - Acrylic

 This is Woolley, an Indian Eagle Owl - a favourite to paint as his personality just oozes through his expressions! He is a stunning bird with striking markings. I find I can really relax and enjoy the ritual of painting when its Woolley...its like I know him so well, I don't have to concentrate too hard on 'getting it right'...it just seems to happen, right off the end of my brush!

The next two images are of an acrylic painting of Bumble, another Eagle Owl, but this is a Siberian Eagle Owl. He is much bigger than Woolley, and has a much more serious character. I've attempted this on a much larger scale than most of my other paintings as I wanted to try to convey the enormity of his wingspan - which at a guess is around 5ft. What you see here is the first layer..I'm finding the underside of the wings pretty tricky...I got this far and took a break - I haven't yet brought myself to attempt to finish it!! Funnily, seeing it here, small and digitised, I'm a lot happier with it (so far) but in reality it is nowhere near finished.

Bumble, coming in to land. Acrylic.  approx A1

Bumble, detail.

Bumble's Morning Bath!
My last image for today's blog...to end on a smile...Bumble having his morning bath...! Its a bit difficult to see, but the light blob in the centre is Bumble, on his branch, soaking up the 'rain' that I'm squirting him with!  I hope its brought you a smile...I had a big grin on my face when it happened!!! I'm going to finish here, but keep an eye out because I'll be blogging again SOON!! Catch you soon, Mandi ;)