Luck of the Irish? Gerberas, Chrysanths and Daisies: Oil painting on linen.

When I looked back to find the photos of the initial stages of this painting, I was shocked to see that I began working on it 5 months ago. Now, this doesn't mean that I've taken 5 months to compete the painting! No. In fact, it's still not quite finished, but another few hours on the background will do it.  In between bouts at the easel, I have been very busy illustrating and photographing my book, as well as doing lots of teaching.  I am trying to finish the painting in time for the book launch - I love a deadline!

The first pass 

The first pass 

I took the reference photo several years ago, just before Christmas in a florist in Lisburn. It was snowing outside, but the light caught the flowers beautifully. I don't often paint flowers - but it was painting light and colour that I was interested in, and in spite of the complex nature of the subject, I was happy to tackle it. 

This photo shows you the scale of the painting.

This photo shows you the scale of the painting.

I always enjoy the blocking-in stage - it's all to play for, and the true magnitude of the task in hand hasn't quite hit home yet... After toning the background, I did a rough layer of colour over the whole canvas. This should be as close as possible to the final colours and tones, but it acts as a good base for the final colour layer to sit upon.  I worked one flower at a time. 

Blocked in. 

Blocked in. 

I usually do my cropping at the photographing stage, but in this case I altered the composition slightly on the right hand side, removing a chrysanthemum from top right which I felt disrupted the strength of the patterns created by the tallest daisy. 

Putting in the first layer of colour, one flower at a time

Putting in the first layer of colour, one flower at a time

First pass complete

First pass complete

At this point, I went through a phase of getting paint everywhere, including my computer keyboard, which is... not helpful! So I decided to try working with gloves. I wasn't sure if I'd like it - but I do! Just about everything we use for oil painting is toxic to some degree, so it's sensible to protect the hands. 

yuck!

yuck!

I began the second layer by painting one flower at a time once more - when you know are going to have long gaps between visits to the easel, it's great to have small areas to 'complete' as you go along.  The second layer gives a richness to the painitng. Remember, oil paint is transparent, so the more layers, the more 'solid' and secure the painting will be. The background at the top is an ornamental cabbage, which currently looks like draped fabric!

Second layer on the first daisy

Second layer on the first daisy

Daisies on the left show the second layer 

Daisies on the left show the second layer 

gloved up!

gloved up!

a little crysanthemum added at the back.

a little crysanthemum added at the back.

It was somewhere between the photo above and the photo below that my camera stopped functioning. It just couldn't focus - the flower on the right, below,  is blurred.  (In reality, the flower is soft but not as soft as the photo!)  Oh no!!

Frustratingly fuzzy photo!

Frustratingly fuzzy photo!

JulieDouglas12.jpg

Above - the second layer on the flowers is complete. As you can see, the flower at the top is blurred - this, again, is the camera. For the photo below, which is the whole painting complete apart from the top background, I had to use the 'selfie' camera, so the quality isn't good, but hopefully you get the gist. 

The camera I've been using is the one in my iPhone. I consider myself VERY lucky. I used it to take every photograph in my book (over 500 shots printed), and the quality is excellent. The repair shop replaced it with a new camera, hoorah! But sadly, it still doesn't focus, which means, apparently, that it's 'a phone problem'.  I suspect that I've used up my picture allowance.

I've had the phone just 18 months. I think the time has come to buy a little digital camera again, and not rely on the phone for photographs. Gone are the days of repairing our belongings, it seems. But an 18 month life-span isn't long enough for me! This consumer is looking elsewhere... 

Next up: oil painting workshop, Belfast. For info email julie@juliedouglas.co.uk

BOOK LAUNCH and display of student drawings and paintings, Sunday 2nd April, The Engine Room Gallery, Belfast. All welcome!

 

 

 

 

 

 

David Gray Portrait Workshop at Atlier Nadai France

Last week I attended a wonderful oil portrait painting workshop in south-east France at Atelier Nadai, with the amazing artist David Gray (www.davidgrayart.com).

Attending workshops is a great way to practice what we know already, as well as learn how other artists tackle the process of painting. David was generous with his knowledge, kind and funny,  and hardly told us off at all... 

The first day was drawing the face, using the traditional measuring technique, and it took us all day. By the end of the day, after a lot of sighing and groaning (in arty agony), squinting and reworking, we had transferred the image onto the canvas ready for the next day. (David did try to make it clear that in fact, HE was the only one allowed to sigh. SIGH.. By the fourth day, I had resorted to growling in frustration at my painting.) 

                                                                 My drawing, flaws and all

 

David started each day with a long demonstration before letting us loose. On the second day, we began with a colour study in the morning, and then moved on to the underpainting. Trying out a different palette of colours is always interesting, and David used a couple of colours that were new to me - I liked them (which is just as well, as I was going to be using them like it or not!). One new one was Quinacradone Violet. 

Peering at David's demo. On the right is the lovely Kyoko, who managed the studio and kept us in order...

Peering at David's demo. On the right is the lovely Kyoko, who managed the studio and kept us in order...

                                                                 My colour study, top, and the underpainting by end of day 2

                                                                 My colour study, top, and the underpainting by end of day 2

 We were in the studio for long hours, from 8am - 6.30, on average, but it was still a struggle to get everything done. David's hurry-up phrase was, "c'm-ON guys..."

The view from my easel - next to Inge, Laurette, Kristin and Jean-Michel. You can tell that David is a Proper Artist, as he's donned a smock..

The view from my easel - next to Inge, Laurette, Kristin and Jean-Michel. You can tell that David is a Proper Artist, as he's donned a smock..

  I painted the hair in less than an hour, as my taxi was coming to take me to the train station, ah ah aaaaaaah!! But, there's nothing like a deadline to make you focus and slap something down.

                                 My painting by the end of day 4

                                 My painting by the end of day 4

As my painting was still wet, and very unfinished, by the time I had to leave,  I left it in the studio to dry. I look forward to receiving it in the post so that I can do some glazing.
 

The proof of the pudding, of course, is less what is completed during the workshop, and much more about what you actually take home with you to your own studio. I have spent two days painting since I got home, on an artwork that I'd already started. And yes, I am working slightly differently, I am seeing slightly differently and I... like it.  I DO feel the benefit of taking the course and would do it again. But remember, a course like this isn't dreamy - it's hard work and not for sissies. 

Our group of Not Sissies, L-R: Inge, Laurette, me, Nicole, Jean-Michel, Elias, Mirko, Keanu, at the back David Gray, then Kristin, Christophe and Michel Nadai. 

Our group of Not Sissies, L-R: Inge, Laurette, me, Nicole, Jean-Michel, Elias, Mirko, Keanu, at the back David Gray, then Kristin, Christophe and Michel Nadai. 

The students came from all over the place - Norway, Switzerland, South Africa, some from other parts of France, and David had travelled from Seattle. Obviously, we all take it pretty seriously! 

Atelier Nadai is evenly-lit, lovely and airy. Michel Nadai is a master craftsman, of painted murals and trompe-l'oeil (http://www.atelier-nadai.com/en_GB) and Kyoko runs the studio with an air of graceful calm. She also did an amazing job of translating everything David said, into French, as we went along. 

I know, south of France sounds lovely, but in March, the weather was baltic and wet - definitely the lower range of temperatures. But, we were there for the art and to be honest, it was pretty sunny inside the studio. 

For upcoming workshops, in Colour pencil, pastels, drawing, water colour and oils, please email julie@juliedouglas.co.uk 

 

The Draw in Symposium, Belfast, 2014 - an Extraordinary Experience

The last weekend in August 2014 was very special, for many many people. The Draw In Symposium was an incredible two days of open hearted sharing, with artists from many disciplines coming together to share their experiences, to swap stories and ideas, providing a lively, passionate, authentic creative experience for students of all ages and from all backgrounds. The place was buzzing, and everyone who was there was changed in some way.

L-R: Colleen Barry (from the Grand Central Academy, New York), Matt Weigle (also from GCA, NY) Aidan McGrath (architect and photographer, Belfast), Paul Foxton (artist, London), Peter Cooper (animator, Belfast), PJLynch (illustrator, Dublin), Shevaun Doherty (botanical artist, Dublin) and me, wth an L-plate,  introducing everyone to the sessions ahead. 

L-R: Colleen Barry (from the Grand Central Academy, New York), Matt Weigle (also from GCA, NY) Aidan McGrath (architect and photographer, Belfast), Paul Foxton (artist, London), Peter Cooper (animator, Belfast), PJLynch (illustrator, Dublin), Shevaun Doherty (botanical artist, Dublin) and me, wth an L-plate,  introducing everyone to the sessions ahead. 

Me introducing Paul Foxton

Me introducing Paul Foxton

And while, in my teaching, I have regularly witnessed individual students having AHA moments of understanding, watched the great relief some experience in truly understanding something they thought was beyond them, and seen many people joyfully uplifted through their own progress, I have never seen it happen to so many people at once. It was humbling and hard to describe. I think it was the most profound, moving, inspiring and fast moving weekend of my LIFE. Such an incredible experience, so much knowledge shared. Amazing.

But it was so much fun too. Energetic and delicious!

PJ Lynch giving his portrait demonstration. 

Big screen was so helpful behind PJ Lynch. my son modelled for him 

Peter Cooper encouraging students to view his sculptures. 

Believe it or not, Paul Foxton is in the middle of this crowd, doing his demonstration. 

Believe it or not, Paul Foxton is in the middle of this crowd, doing his demonstration. 

Shevaun Doherty, talking us through her wonderful botanic paintings, in the gallery. 

A bit of audience participation, playing with clay during Peter Cooper's demonstration

One of my figure drawing workshops

 On the first day we began with a panel discussion where the artists answered the questions I asked, each of them describing the relevance of Drawing within their own practice. This  gave the audience a glimpse into the practicalities and nitty gritty of creative development. We had demonstrations in Creature Sculpting by Peter Cooper, oil portraiture by PJ Lynch, Studio Practice with Paul Foxton, talks by Colleen Barry and Shevaun Doherty. In between all of this, students peered at the drawings and sketch books and roughs on display in the gallery.

On the second day, PJLynch, Paul Foxton and I gave workshops (in portrait drawing, Studio Practice and Figure Drawing) and this was a marathon for the students AND us! I worked out that over 300 pieces of artwork were generated that day - that's a lot of drawing.

It was an extravaganza. And I look forward to doing it again!

My wonderful volunteers, Pamela, Katy, Rory, Niamh, Liz, Lisa (chief whip) and Judith. I couldn't have done it without them, they were fantastic. 

My wonderful volunteers, Pamela, Katy, Rory, Niamh, Liz, Lisa (chief whip) and Judith. I couldn't have done it without them, they were fantastic. 

PJ Lynch portrait workshop

Here is just some of the lovely feedback I recieved from students:

From G.M. - A really talented and inspiring bunch of people - all gathered by you and infected by your enthusiasm. Well done on it all. The organisation, balance of presentations and goodwill engendered was fantastic.

From R.K - I just wanted to let you know what I thought of the weekend symposium which you organised. My sister and I thoroughly enjoyed every minute and we came home fired up and even more enthusiastic to get cracking to find out if we can do it! I felt as if the whole course was set up for me alone, as you made it all "do-able". I loved the artists, so cleverly selected and I would love to have heard more and more and more about their practice. 

PJ Lynch was so fantastic and I could have stayed with the portraiture all day but then I felt the same about the figure drawing.
Most of all I feel affirmed and a little more confident (something I have spent my life giving others in teaching). I don't know how long that will last but I am determined to give myself a chance now that I have given up teaching.
I loved the course, the tutors, the people, the art of course and the craic. You were a breath of fresh air to listen to and see in action.


From J.F. - Well I absolutely loved the course and was really pleased I got to take part in it. I was there for the weekend only. My highlights were
 

Colleen Barry's talk - I felt privileged to be in the same room as her. 
P.J.s Workshop - Thoroughly enjoyed this and was very happy with my portrait. I'm a member of Illustrator's Ireland, as is PJ and I was feeling trepidation about doing his workshop. I draw cartoon people while he creates masterpieces so I was feeling a bit mortified but he was great and I really learned a lot.
Your workshop and I'm not just saying that :)  I feel like my drawing is very stiff so your workshop was EXACTLY what I need to loosen up and look at things differently - inside edges instead of outlines. 

            So thank you again for the opportunity Julie, I left feeling really inspired.


Paul Foxton made comments about it on his blog here
http://www.learning-to-see.co.uk/belfast-draw-in

Delicious and unique offerings for March, Belfast 2015

After the success of the Draw In Symposium last year, I was asked to create a drawing theme throughout the Ulster Festival of Art & Design, which takes place from 9th - 14th March 2015 in Belfast.
The festival comprises of many lectures, at lunch times and in the evening, from speakers from all aspects of the creative field. I have always been impressed by the quality of the speakers, no matter what their discipline and I was delighted to be asked to contribute.

Here is what I have come up with - all events take place at Belfast School of Art.

On Monday 9th, Tuesday 10th and Friday 13th March" Lunchtime Location Drawing".  I will be holding tutored sessions at 1pm for an hour.

Saturday 14th March, 11 - 1pm,  I will be teaching a tutored Life Drawing session.

Wednesday 11th March,  at 11am - award winning illustrator PJ Lynch will be delivering a talk and oil painting demonstration.

PJ Lynch oils demonstration 

PJ Lynch oils demonstration 

Wednesday 11th March at 6pm - Katherine Tyrrell, artist, author and the UK's number 3 art blogger will be giving a talk about her new book about Drawing.

Thursday 12th March 11am - Drawing Together: a panel of artists including P Lynch, Katherine Tyrrell, set & costume designer David Craig, and Michael John Angel from The Angel Academy in Florence, will each speak about their work and answer questions from the audience and each other. This will be unique and very interesting.

Draw Together - a panel discussing the nuts and bolts of drawing practice. 

Draw Together - a panel discussing the nuts and bolts of drawing practice. 

Thursday 12th March, 6pm - Michael John Angel, founder of The Angel Academy of Art, Florence, will give a lecture entitled 'The Training of the 21st Century Realist Painter'.

Student from The Angel Academy, Florence, with his work

Bookings should be made through the festival website,
http://www.ulsterfestival.com
All sessions are subsidised and very inexpensive.

I hope you will be at as many of these sessions as possible!