Saturday, December 15, 2007
Referring back to my first blog, I briefly described the area around where I live and how this has influenced my work. While walking in the reserve a few years ago, I came across this deer skull lying in the woodland. At first I had thought that the deer had died a natural death (winter can be harsh on younger deer) but a bullet hole in the center of its skull told a much different story. Unfortunately some poaching does go on in the reserve and from time to time I hear gunshots coming from that area (I even found a hunting blind once). It was more recently that I found another deer skull lying next to the path which had had the antlers sawn off even though it was an immature deer probably only around a few years old. Still, I take my reference where I can find it. Skeletons of animals and birds are of great interest to me and I have drawn and painted them more than a few times. This deer skull above was an interesting study and I decided to paint it against a darker background which is somewhat unusual for me. One of the most fascinating experiences of the painting was discovering the intricate details of the skull along with the different tones and shadows etc. It was almost like a surreal landscape and I'm looking forward to painting this one again, but this time using a smoother paper and with a lighter background. "Deer Skull" is around 11'' X 18" and is in watercolour.
Friday, December 7, 2007
I started this painting some time ago and only recently finished it. Sometimes my work is like that - a painting can sit in my studio unfinished for weeks, months, years even. Then a feeling comes to me and I work on the piece until completion. This was a complex painting from the beginning (and very large one too) and it took me a while to work out exactly what I wanted to accomplish in the work. Some of you may recognise the statue; it's title is 'The Burghers of Calais' by Auguste Rodin. I think that for an artist, it is difficult not to be inspired by his work and from the first time I saw his sculptures many years ago, my first thought was that I wanted to do paintings of them.
Although most sculpture is designed to be viewed from the front, I found this view from the back to be the most exciting for me. I loved the hand just appearing in space on the right and the profound look of the older man on the left. But what really caught me was the afternoon sunlight almost cascading through the sculpture. The bronze had a lot of reflected light too, all of which I tried to capture but it is not a literal representation. I tried to add my own interpretation of the colours although the forms are as accurate as I could make them. This is a significant painting for me as in this work (again one of a series of paintings that I have done over the years), I finally brought to fulfilment a desire I had such a long time ago. The painting (an oil on canvas) is titled Reflection of Life and the size is 48" X 72".
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
Returning briefly to the theme of my last post (mainly my fascination with windows and doors) I wanted to share this image. While most of this series has dealt with the outside looking in, here I am inside looking out. The theme in this painting is of course the light. The scene is the interior of a abandoned house in a Chinese village. Unfortunately this building (and many others) no longer exists but I was fortunate to complete studies and paintings of both the outside and the inside. Here I concentrated on one window and the afternoon sun coming through the hazy window panes. Dust and other detritus has accumulated on the sill creating a secondary point of interest. I was careful to capture these details along with the subtle tones and textures of the wall. The bars are for protection against unwanted entry and add a further dynamic. Again, I was careful to capture a dusty feel of fading and chipped paint which I felt was very important to the painting. Outside is just a hint of vegetation particular to the area. The shadows are muted due to the almost opaque panes but are important none the less to the overall feel of strong sunlight outside. While inside the house working on the studies for this painting, I felt the strong presence of spirits and was thankful that I was working during the day! This watercolour is titled Afternoon Sun and measures 15" X 11".
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
I have always been fascinated by windows and doors, perhaps because for me, they represent another world. On the outside we view what is there but sometimes get a glimpse of the world within and perhaps a hint of life inside. This is a theme that I return to again and again. It started many years ago when I still lived in Hong Kong. Being interested in the Chinese culture, I often prowled around old and abandoned villages. What interested me the most was how the Chinese way of life had changed. Many old ways were left by the wayside and it was here that I found many clues to the past. Old lanterns were left rusting on dusty windowsills; wooden watering cans decayed beside the broken steps of a fresh water spring. In one old abandoned building, I found a rice winnowing machine that was still in perfect working order. Standing there, I felt the passing of the ages and was deeply moved. Looking outside was as interesting as looking in and these images and experiences gave birth to a series of paintings that continue on today.
It was in Maine that I saw the barn window above. I focused on the single window as along with the shadows from the noon-time sun, there were a number of interesting objects inside. Some were readily identifiable, others were indistinct and shadowy. I also noted the two cracked panes and took care during the painting process to include those details. This watercolor was a pleasant journey from the basic washes I first applied to establish the general tone of the piece through to the final details. As is usual in my watercolors, I slowly build up washes of color until I am happy with the result. The painting size is 30" X 22".