Monday, 31 December 2012

Timeless Figurative Oils

Saturday was a good day - my husband brought me tea in bed then went out and got the shopping. I was still loafing around when he got back with the paper . . . and I was in it!

Like many glasgwegians, I am a long-term reader of the Herald and always read the visual arts section before anything else.

So I was delighted that Jan Patience has written a lovely wee article about our show.

The bit about me reads "while Gardiner's timeless figurative oils mix contemporary with traditional." Not bad for my first press-cutting!

Friday, 28 December 2012

Looking Back at 2012

What a year it has been! At the start of the year I listed a few things I wanted to do. How did I get on? Well, much better than expected! Although I didn't get nearly as much out of the 28 drawings challenge this time around - although it was lovely to see Joe's drawings really take off. My Etsy shop was something else that didn't continue to develop - largely due to shipping troubles. Maybe I will revive it, maybe not. The New York Residency really made a difference, although there were bits I hated - the continual storms, the lack of internet access, the bad food - but I came back feeling I could paint anything - and have, indeed, started to. Roses, skulls, buildings, trees . . . Possibly the big things I learnt was the use of medium, how important the planning/thinking bits of painting is for me and the benefits of getting out there, talking to people and seeing art. The unexpected event was one of my residency paintings (a three-quarter's length figure) winning the Glasgow Art Club Fellowship at the RGI. This, of course, led to the prize winner's show, where I learnt how much work there is in such a show. It also led to me meeting some new people (such as Fran Hanley and Robert Kelsey).
As there was such a deadline (told about the show late Oct, show going up early December) it forced me to really push myself, get the paintings done, and not worry about how people will like them. This has been a good thing - what feedback I have had has been good. Some of the things I wanted to develop were composition skills and landscape painting - and the above is the result. This may well be a theme (as I am fascinated by windows and reflections, as well as cities) I am going to pursue much more over the next year - but that's the next blog post . . .

P.S. this is my 100th post!

Monday, 10 December 2012

Before The Show - Glasgow Art Club Winner's 2012

James Fraser's "Prezy Posy and Pot" along with my "Leaving" - I loved his work, and was considering fitted one under my coat before I left!

"In A Green Place" along with June Carey's "I sent a letter to my love" and Irene Blair's "On A Sunday Afternoon"

My "Skulls" and James McNaught's "The Return of Esmeralda"

Jane Carey's "Written in the stars", Elaine Speirs "Siblings" and my "View from the 11th floor"

Friday, 7 December 2012

Glasgow Art Club Award Winner Show 2012

Just a wee reminder that the opening is tomorrow.

The show looks great, with work from Irene Blair, Donna Briggs, Cara Broadley, June Carey, James Fraser , Fran Hanley, John Kingsley, Sheila MacMillan, James McNaught, Elaine Speirs and Euan McGregor

There will be wine at 3pm and a wee speech from Natasha Raskin.

If you can't come along tomorrow, the show will be on until the 5th January - opening hours and some photographs of the work can be seen at the art club webpage

See you all soon!

Friday, 30 November 2012

View From Glasgow University Library

Some of you may remember I took part in 28 drawings later in 2011, which encouraged me to start using a sketchbook for the first time. I will be eternally gratefull to Victoria for starting it!

A couple of the drawings I did were of the view from the library og Glasgow University - my first landscapes. Since then, I have kept returning to the idea and finally I plucked up the courage to try it in oils. Not easy or fun. Those straight lines where a pain - it seems I should have drawn the thing out first, rather than breenging in with the paint like I normally do. I'll know next time.

Anyway, I am already at work on another two based on library views - I can see a whole series happening. This one is going on show at the Glasgow Art Club Show

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Yellow Roses Painting

This is going to be a busy weekend, with not one, but three openings!

The first, on Friday night from 5 til 8, is at Art Exposure, where the above painting will be, along with a couple of small portrait paintings based on New York people. Most of the rest of the show will be small works under a hundred quid so should be quite inteseting. And, of course, the wine, canapes and chat is always good. There is a big, comfy sofa . . . .

On the same night is Virginia Gallery's christmas show. Being a little different, they have gone for a white theme - and I suspect at least a few of the works will be a little naughty. They also promise snow. Hopefully Jon Snow. I would like that.

The next day it is on to the RGI Kelly Gallery for their postcard exhibition - this year there will be small 5x7 inch works unframed for £250 as well as works up to 60cm in diameter. Promises to be very varied - my two little ones are both oils, one a painting done in the life room, the other a small landscape which is part of a new series that I am working on at the moment.

The big brother of the little landscape will be at the Glasgow Art Club Winner's Show from the 8th December - more on that later on!

Friday, 16 November 2012

Glasgow Art Club

The front door of the Glasgow Art Club

And the hall - the bar is just on the left here. Very important to know where the bar is . . .

Thought I'd show my american readers how lovely the Glasgow Art Club is.

The rest of you I hope will come along to see my show on Saturday the 8th December, at 3pm. I am showing with 10 other winners over the last year of the Glasgow Art Club award and it is promising to be a cracking show.

Or you can come for the free wine, the comfy sofas and the roaring fire. Anyway, all welcome.

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Skull Painting

Well, it is Halloween.

Painted for the fun of it and because I wanted to try a few things out. It is bigger than my more usual work at 36x41cm and is the first painting in which I really work with the possibilities of using medium and lead white. It will be going on show at The Glasgow Art Club award winners show (saturday 8th December, more details when I know them.)

Also I have been thinking about the stories we tell ourselves and how they affect our understanding of the world. And how the magical is always with us - if we look for it.

It seems to me that there are a limited number of symbols that are used again and again in these tales - roses, skulls, keys, tall towers, deep forests etc - and it is fun for me to imagine that all these people and things are still with us. (I know the idea is in Fables Graphic Novels ).

My journey to New York has inspired all this, resulting (so far) in The Little Mermaid and these Skulls - they are based on the skulls on display at The Evolution Store and very much remind me of the Baba Yaga tale.

Fred Hatt over at his Drawing Life blog has posted a very interesting piece about previous skeleton/skull paintings which really illustrates the flexibility these kind of symbols have.

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Oil Paintings In Progress

Been busy painting rather than typing as there are a few events coming up - The Glasgow Art Club's joint prizewinner show in December as well as the RGI Kelly and Art Exposure Galleries Christmas Shows.

So here are a few that have been begun - there are a few more finished works lurking about, as well, that will be photographed the next time there is a sunny day.

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Hanson Street Open Weekend 2012

It's that time of year again - the Hanson Street Open Studios!

This year I will only have the one little painting on show with the life drawing group - we normally have a live (clothed) model during the day in the big room in the right hand corner diagonally from the front door. Our work is shown on the walls of the room and is generally an eclectic mix - despite all being based on work done in the life room! Mine, for example, is a little oil painting sketch, done in about an hour and a half.

As there will be a cafe, I will be around most of both days, and will try and have the time between coffees to actually do some painting - although not in oils! Watercolour and ink will be my mediums, which will be quite a challenge as the model will be clothed and I therefore have to take into account different textures.

But I will also definitely take the time to explore other artist's studios - such as Linda O'Grady, Frank To, Joe Hendry and Moira Buchanan.

Also this week will be an opening of a mixed show at Art Exposure on Friday the 5th October from 5 til 8pm. I have a small selection of the oil painting life sketches as well as a teeny landscape and figurative work on show. My work has been selling well this year (both works at the RGI have sold already) so this is a good chance to see them before they move on to nice new homes and maybe even get one yourself.

Friday, 14 September 2012

Glasgow Art Club Award RGI 2012

It has been an emotional week.

Last Wednesday I found out through facebook that the postman had delivered the letters from the Royal Glasgow Institute Annual Show. I couldn't go home straight away, so had several hours of agonising until I ripped the letter open. Inside were three letters - the first, rejection of two paintings. I had expected that. In fact I had expected worse - which is why I hadn't told many people that I had entered this year. Next letter was an acceptance for two paintings - jubilation!

But the last letter was the best - so much so, I didn't actually read it properly . . . what it said was that I had won the Glasgow Art Club Award for The Little Mermaid. A prize! Me!

It is a particularly suitable prize for me, as a couple of my friends are already members and I had been talking about joining for a while. The Glasgow Art Club has been around for a while, with many great painters as members both past and present, so being given the award is a real honour.

Unfortunately the bit of the letter I didn't read was a warning to keep the information confidential. Oooops.

I did read about the photo-shoot and with a lot of trepidation agreed to go. This involved seeing the exhibition (lovely), meeting other prize winners (also great) - including Helen Flockhart , Jayne Stokes , James McNaught and Sheila MacMillan, who has been showing at the RGI for several decades. But I also had to get my photo taken. The photographer was friendly and professional, but had me standing on a chair as I am so short and my painting hung so high. (Which is why I don't have a better photo of it than the one above- sorry folks!)

Next, the award was given to me at the varnishing dinner. This is held in the Art Club, so I got to have a wee noisy around - the gallery spaces are (as you would expect) very well-lit. At my table was the club president and ex-president, both lovely, friendly men, with many stories of previous members. Greeting us at the door for the dinner was Karin Currie and Hazel Nagl of the RGI , both of whom looked amazingly glamourous - it is rare for me to feel under-dressed, but I did then.

Anyway, I better stop as this is becoming a long post - more later. The exhibition preview is tomorrow, with it opening to the public on Sunday at noon. It runs until the 6th of October.

Monday, 10 September 2012

RGI 2012

Well, this year has been a little frantic, what with planning the New York trip, and then trying to internalise all the new stuff I learnt and saw while there - a process that is still very much ongoing.
So when this years Royal Glasgow Institute Annual Show entry date came around, I wasn't really prepared. Fortunately, with the help of Donna Nicholson Arnott , we managed to choose which paintings, got them all titled (although one has had a title from the start - more on that in my next posting) and labelled and then delivered to the Mitchell. Then it was time for (a very leisurely) tea at Tchia Ovna, a place that oddly I had never been beofre.
A few days ago I got the dreaded letter through the post - I hate waiting for news - and it was good! Two of my paintings have been accepted - Mimi above and The Little Mermaid - I am so looking forward to seeing them hanging up. The Mitchell is a lovely space and every year there is some amazing work on display, so it will be heart warming to see mine amongst them.
Everyone is, of course, invited along - the show opens on Sunday and runs until the 6th of October.

Thursday, 2 August 2012

Oil Painting Figure Studies

A quick post today, just to show what I've been doing in the life room recently. These figure studies are all done from life, generally in less than an hour.

Since I don't have much time, they are pretty small - I now keep a supply of boards ready prepared in various colours - these ones are away to the framers presently, so I can see how they look framed up - then I will decide on a couple of colours to use more consistently. At least in theory. As you may have noticed by now, I can't seem to resist experimenting . . .

Working with limitations - both time and size - seems to stop me overworking. Maybe if I get a studio I'll put them up on the wall to remind me to stop!

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Palette Mixes - Earths vs Brights

This weekend I took advantage of it being the Glasgow Fair to work on choosing a palette of colours. To do this, I painted the same girl 3 different times using 3 different colour set-ups.

First was the so-called Zorn palette, of black, cadmium red, yellow ochre and white. Paring things right down to 4 colours was very interesting and is something I will do again at life drawing - where you really don't have the time to guddle about with colours. Black is a colour I really haven't used at all, so it was a nice surprise to discover all the deep purples and lovely greens you can mix, as well as how blue the straight black/white mix can look - this will be useful for eyes, I think. Unfortunately, the photo I took was too bleached by light to see the colours - and as it was a pretty bad painting I rubbed it all off.

Second was the brights - Phalo Green, Ultramarine, Scheveningan purple-brown, Cadmium yellow light and Flake white. (there is also black and red on the palette from the first try).

This combination was furthest from my comfort zone, as I rarely use green in painting skin. This particular green was one of the ones I bought for the Peter Cox workshop, and seems very bright - it produced the most complete string you can see, a very neutral mix. Next to it is the ultramarine/purple brown mix, which I deliberately made less neutral and more pink. And next to that, yellow is added - a colour I really under use, so I was pleased with how much it warms up mixes. However, I missed my yellow ochre . . .

Next up was based on Harold Speed's Oil Painting book (because it was lying around, and is based on the earth colours). He mixes up two blacks - one with burnt sienna and one with cobalt, which is actually pretty useful. The red was a mix of venetian red and burnt sienna - not exactly what he recommends, but close.

I then followed the stages in the book, which initially seemed far too pink, but snapped into place as the painting went on. Shame the underlying drawing was wonky.

Anyway, much was learned - and I like the new palette set-up. It is, of course, based on the previous little squares - the charts remind me where each colour starts and I can then darken or lighten by added the appropriate colour. Cadmium yellow light, for example, is a three to start, so lightens the five of yellow ochre but keeps the yellowness.

There is a painting in progress now using this system, and it does simplify things for me - letting me concentrate more on brushwork and relative colour temperatures while painting. It also makes me think more about composition and colour choices before I begin rather than just rush in. For me I don't think there is one right palette - each situation is different. But the more I understand what the individual colour does, the better . . . .

Thursday, 12 July 2012

The Joy Of Painting Squares

Today I painted squares. Lots of squares.

This is because I have been thinking about skin tones, and the wide range of colours different painters use - an obsession shared by others, as can be seen at this blog . So I decided to experiment - painting squares is the the first step, actual painting the second.

Each row is one colour, with the brand noted. One thing already evident from doing this is there can be quite a difference between brands - I have 2 burnt umbers, with the Gamblin one being much more intense. The row varies from a light shade up to black, using titanium white and ivory black to adjust the shades. The tube colour is outlined. All this gives me clear reference material for deciding which colours to use for a particular painting - I can see how light or dark the tube colour is, and how it changes with white.

Next, I plan on doing a few paintings using what is thought to be other painter's palettes - like Zorn's cadmium red, yellow ochre and black. Mainly these will be first layers only, or life paintings, but we'll see how I like the variation - the point will be for me to really think about my choice of colours and how they effect the final painting.

Hopefully, the end result will be more thinking, less painting time, and particularly less "darn, that's not quite right, I'll have to do it all again" time.

Monday, 9 July 2012

Dr Sketchy New York

A visit to New York without visiting Dr Sketchy's seemed unthinkable, so I duly went on my last Sunday.

Unfortunately, we were not allowed to take photographs - the main reason I attend Dr Sketchy's here in Glasgow.

A couple of years ago, when I was a newbie oil painter, I really needed photographic reference of faces and bodies to work from. I was still too unsure of myself (and skint) to hire a model, even if I had known one available. Dr Sketchy's was the answer, and when attending regularly I met lots of interesting people who are now friends - including, of course, Fiona Wilson

Not only were we not allowed photographs, there were an awful lot of very quick poses. That can be interesting, if you have the right media with you (the watercolour would have been fine, but the paper was far too thin for using a brush) and if the model holds lots of different, athletic poses. This one didn't - they were all variations of her lying or sitting on the table, with her head almost always turned in one direction. Even worse, although her costume was lovely, it covered a lot of skin as well as her hair, with virtually no bony landmarks visible. For some reason, I like to start with the clavicles, which generally weren't visible - or even guessable!

So I left. Terribly rude, and very disappointing, but I was pretty tired and had packing to do for the trip home the next day.

Oh well. Maybe next time. Meanwhile I am thinking about revisiting some of those old reference photographs.

Friday, 6 July 2012

East River Ferry

On the last weekend, I went down to Wall St, sat for a little at the Elevated Acre watching the helicopters and then onto the East River Ferry - this was drawn while waiting for it to arrive.

As I did the full trip - up to East 34th St - it took a fair while - unfortunately more than enough time to get sunburn, despite my factor 50! Ferries are dangerous for that . . . must be the wind.

After such a relaxing morning, watching the sights go by, was an afternoon of shopping. (Several folks have been horrified to learn I only spent a couple of hours doing this - and never went into any of the departments stores. Just not enough time - or the ability to carry anything more home, after all the paint I bought!)

Another thing I didn't have enough time for was sketching like this, which is one of the major regrets of the trip. Ah well. Next time.

Sunday, 1 July 2012

At The Jane Hotel

On the 25th, the day after my birthday and the residency open studios, I went wandering. A big loop was followed, down the highline from the Port Authority Bus Station (horrid place, not least because of the people hanging about in twos with guns) to Jane Street (I kinda wanted to have a look at the river here, but couldn't figure out how to get accross the traffic). At the eastern end of Jane Street is The Jane Hotel , which appears to be rather on the quirky side, with dinky rooms. The foyer is pretty posh, with at least two folks in fancy uniforms and potted palm trees.

There is an attached cafe, where I had one of the nicest meals I ate while in New York - maybe because it was french-moroccan themed, so the food was lighter and less sugary. The interior decoration, as you can see, was rather individual - alligator on the wall, lots of model boats, cake stands, a juke box, and who knows what else!

Thursday, 28 June 2012

Small Beauties at Art Exposure

Everyone is invited to Art Exposure Gallery tomorrow night, where I'll be showing the above painting ("The Profile") as well as the two below - the first of my New York paintings to go on show!

There will be nibbles and wine and good chat, as well as my paintings hung in a group (there are a few others going on show) and of course many other painters work on show.

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

The Little Mermaid and The Frick

Also recently finished (maybe) is this one, which has also gone through many stages since it was begun back in Vytlacil. She is based on photographs I took of what appeared to be a model shoot at the Staten Island Ferry terminal. There was something about the light that was just magical as well, of course, of all the effort that had clearly been put into her clothes, make-up and so on.

Later that day I visited the Frick, which I heartily recommend for anyone interested in paintings of people. They have an amazing collection of first class paintings that span from Holbein's Thomas Cromwell to fine Degas , hitting various high points along the way. Almost all of the paintings are not only by great painters but are among the best of their works - the Raeburn's , for example, are top notch, which is quite impressive. Having such great works in close proximity makes it very easy to compare and contrast and try to have deep thoughts. There isn't the scope of the Metropolitan, especially as almost all paintings are portraits. This is, of course, also a strength.

So, after seeing all these three-quarter length portraits I wanted to have a go myself - and this is the result. She started out much darker but seemed to become more mermaid-like as she progressed. I had gone on the ferry as I was missing the water (having grown up by the seaside and having a view of the Kelvin from my front window) and every time I started painting it took me back to the pleasure of the ride, the mystery of the sea and rivers, and the unfathomableness of what goes on behind another person's eyes.

Monday, 25 June 2012

The Princess

Here is the (probably) finished version of The Princess - she was the last painting I started in Vytlacil, and was hung on the wall at the opening while the paint was still wet. Back then, she had a yellow background and grey clothing - originally she started as an exercise in using raw sienna as a background. That didn't work out - turns out the paint was both too opaque and too transparent for what I was after. Never mind, I'll try something similar on another painting soon.

So, now she surrounded by shades of green/grey/blue and is looking much calmer - originally she seemed to have a little bit of a sneer to her, which just did not seem right. A real example of the painting taking over and the reference material being left far behind.

Looking at her here on the blog it is clear I am very drawn to these types of blues - all my most recent paintings are very blue themed. Oh well. Guess I should keep experimenting with the colours . . .

Just spotted something I want to fix. A painting is done for me either when I run out of things to improve, fixing it means starting from scratch, or when it has to be taken to a gallery to be sold. How does everyone else decide?

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Ribera's Hands at the Brooklyn Museum

One friday I went paddling up the beach from Coney Island to Brighton Beach, ate some fab russian pastries then took the train back to Brooklyn Museum.

Despite a woefully rubbish cafe, I enjoyed my visit here, although I didn't bother with any of the trendy, modern stuff. Instead I spent ages looking at second rate paintings, with a few first class paintings thrown in. At my stage of learning this can be very useful - they are, of course, still way beyond me, but tend to show the workings and give me use-able ideas. Masterpieces are great to look at, very inspiring, but often difficult to assess for help in how to paint. It can be hard to use the critical mind when your jaw is hitting the floor . . .

These photo's are of Ribera's painting of St Joseph of the Flowering Rod. Seeing these hands were a jaw-dropping moment, although I can't saw I am too keen on the whole thing - Ribera for me is a first class painter but his subject matter can make him a little hard to love. But look at these hands.

I'd hoped that the photo's might help me show how to paint skin better, but I think that they are just going to be reminders of how important hands can be, and of how much distance there is between my paintings and a class act such as Ribera.

Saturday, 16 June 2012

Curiosity at Washington Square Park

As may be clear by now, I spent a lot of time in New York hanging around the parks. Towards the end of the stay, I discovered Washington Square Park. It is easy to understand why the Fresh Prince chooses to live there in I Am Legend (beautiful, but rather stupid film. Much prefer the book . . . ) although I suppose he would not have the benefit of Caffe Reggio being nearby. The almond pastry I had there was very, very good - on my list of places to revisit.

One of the times I was there, a bunch of folks were sleeping on the benches near the arch (it was about half nine on a sunday morning). Attached to a lead was this absolutely gorgeous kitten - it was bigger than a full grown cat, despite being quite skinny and clearly not yet fully grown, so I have no idea what kind of cat it was.

Lots of pictures were taken, and this is my first drawing - I have a bug in my head about drawing movement which comes out every so often but does not seem to be anywhere near resolved. At some point there will probably be both more developed drawings of individual poses, and more work on the moving theme. Until then, this is it!

Friday, 15 June 2012

Patricia Watwood and Friends

Way back again to the start of my trip, I went to a talk organized by Patricia Watwood at the Forbes Galleries.

The talk was a panel discussion between Patricia, Nelson Shanks, Sabin Howard and Peter Trippi . I had a nice seat near the front and after a while began sketching. Sitting still for more than half an hour is a real trial . . . Obviously, they kept moving, Peter Trippi at the end in particular - while the others tended to go back to the same pose, he was always different. And the hands! They were absolutely fabulous, never stopping, very expressive - even when not talking. Odd that he was the one non-artist in the panel. He saw the sketch later (a very approachable chap) and didn't seem to disapprove too much.

It was Nelson Shanks (the first face in my sketch) whose viewpoint I understood most - he talked very much of the joy of painting what is in front of you and how expressive that can be, and how there will never be an end to the subjects to be painted. The others were more political and a lot of it went over my head - especially as I had not yet realised how very little representational art there is in NYC. It was a bit of a shock to me that my kind of art is seen by some as very old fashioned. But at the end of the day, does it matter? Only in the sense that the audience for my work may be smaller than I'd wish

Anyway, I got to meet Daniel Maidman, who introduced me to Joe Ongie (who is a big Raeburn fan), Nelson, Patricia and Peter, Karen Kaapcke (another great painter) and various other interesting folks. Wine was drunk, the party moved to the Salmagundi Club (which had a startling range of representational art on show, from the brilliant to the embarrassingly bad) and there was much talk of art amongst other things.

In the perfect world there would be many such meetings and we would all be better artists for them - it is hard to quantify how much talk enriches, but I have no doubt it does. Otherwise I wouldn't be blogging - so please comment, folks!

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Views From The Bus

An awful lot of my semi-awake time was spent on the bus - it was a minimum hours journey into the port authority bus station. Time I mainly spent reading (Fitzgerald's short stories) or dreaming. Occasionally I also did some drawing (pretty bad) and took some photographs (slightly better).

The view from New Jersey, just before the bus turned into the Lincoln Tunnel, is spectacular

At the weekend, the bus went across the George Washington Bridge, rather than through the tunnel. This gave a view at an angle down the island, but unfortunately it was raining pretty bad each time I made that journey, so the best I could manage was a shot of the bridge itself.

There are a few more photographs over at flickr

Monday, 11 June 2012

Art Supplies New York City

Now, as I mentioned in a previous post, Peter Cox sent me a very long materials list for his workshop - mainly of things I did not have. He had a list of preferred artists oil paint brands - which did not include Winsor and Newton. As you could potentially fail the classes I went to at University if you didn't have the right stuff, I just presumed I had to try and get it all - which took care of the first couple of days in New York. Then, on turning up to the class, it was apparent that virtually nobody had paid much attention to the list . . . that'll learn me!

View New York Art Supplies in a larger map

To look on the bright side, I now have a lot of bright new shiny colours, made by all sorts of different brands, so I can compare and contrast. In the process of buying them, I also have become fairly familiar with several art supply shops in New York, and had several fun hours wandering around them fiddling with all the lovely things on display.

Vasari Paints was the first I visited. I almost missed it, as it is many floors up and along a rather winding corridor full of various artist types. Not what I was expecting at all. Some galleries I never did find, possibly as they are similarly up floors and not clearly indicated. When I got there, there were two people deep in conversation, but the wall full of boxes of paints told me I was in the right place after all. So I had a look at the paints, until the conversation was interrupted for the chap to tell me off for touching his paints. Ooops. So then I stood and waited. And waited. And waited. Eventually I asked if I could buy something and suddenly he sprang into action, till was produced, paint was wrapped (red umber - in the list as absolutely necessary, and certainly seems a useful colour for cooler, dark flesh tones). Still not sure if this was a case of manners being lost in translation . . .

Next (after walking down the Highline and eating a NYC version of a double nougat - ice cream stuck between two cookies.) was New York Central Art Supplies. This place looked very ramshackle from the outside, and fairly dark and dingy inside. But had a more than adequate range of paints as well as some oil painting boards, so I was able to get get most of what I needed. Their specialty is paper - up some hard-to-find, narrow stairs there is a huge range of papers from everywhere, on two racks of boards that can be flipped. You decide what you want, then tell one of the many nattering staff behind the desk and bobs-your-uncle. That first day it was packed out (with about 3 people), so I went back during my last weekend - by then I knew I was at my weight limit, so wouldn't be able to buy any paper, but spent quite some time looking at them, and noting down the ones that might do in my eternal search for a good mid-toned watercolour paper. The one I did identify they didn't have in stock in the colour I wanted, but I do have an alternative to try out sometime soon. Will go back just for this place.

Near to it is an Utrecht store - which seemed to be aimed more at graphic designers etc. Didn't visit others in the chain (although there is one near Blick), so don't know if they are different

The little shop on the ground floor of the Art Student's League was the next stop, before the first class begun, as I hadn't had the strength to buy all the ingredients for the medium - or identified a bottle to put them in. They came up trumps, and indeed seem to have a very good, focused range of materials, all aimed at professional artists. Indeed, with the exception of Lee's Art Shop across the road from the ASL, I saw very little student quality materials at all. (Lee's was about the standard of Miller's in Glasgow - adequate, but aimed more at the craft market)

Another place I visited (for Noodler's ink ) was the Fountain Pen Hospital . If fancy pens are your thing, this is the place. And if not-so-fancy pens, or a big range of inks, is more to your liking, this is also your place.

Next up should have been Soho Art Materials , as it came with good recommendations from the rest of the class, but I couldn't find it. After looking twice. Oh well. So I went to Pearl Paints instead. Probably the biggest shop I went to, with a nice big range of sizes of oil painting boards (including ovals), as well as gessoed boards etc. Spent the best part of an afternoon there, looking at all the brushes/pencils/papers and so on.

My favourite of all of them was Blick . It was a bright, open shop, with plenty of room and clearly laid out. The range of oil paints was impressive, as were the watercolours - although they didn't sell pans and didn't have Daniel Smith's range (no-where I visited did. One of the major disappointments of the trip.) Even their bags seemed sturdy. If only the store was at the bottom of my road . . .

Obviously I have missed a few places out - does anyone out there have other recommendations, for the next trip?

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Peter Cox Workshop

To go back, my first week in New York was attending a Masterclass taught by Peter Cox. This was very hard work for me, for several reasons - firstly, I am not a good pupil, hate group situations and classes, as generally feel quite self conscious . Much rather have a book to read. Part of this is that I miss a lot, having problems hearing . Art classes are particularly difficult, as often the teacher is painting and I therefore have a choice between watching their face or their hands/the painting. Difficult - and why I avoid them. Being unfamiliar with workshops in general also made me more awkward, never mind getting used to a new city and a new culture. The dodgy shoulder meant I ended up sitting on the floor, which naturally limited my choices regarding composition and probably irritated everyone else. Getting in from Sparkill by the half seven bus was a trial, and meant missing the first 15 minutes of the class.

To continue with my woes, the materials list sent out (contact me if you want a copy) was huge. At least twice what I normally use - and that was just the "essential paints". Most of my first couple of days was spent finding the right shops and trying to figure out what I needed - so much was in another language (fl oz? turpenoid? coffee can?). And then once the class begun, we only used six colours. Bah. Much of the discussion was around anatomy (the workshop was meant to be on painting clothing. Peter's point was that fabric hangs and moves according to the underlying bony landmarks. These need to made obvious in the painting if it is to appear solid). Not what I was expecting - so as you can see, I got sketching to fill the time. The second drawing was from before he made his point regarding fabric, bony landmarks, and folds.

The first sketch was of the lovely model's head (She was really great), along with notes as to how he recommends laying out the palette - as you probably cannot see, he recommends putting white in the middle, paints at the outside, and premixing strings from red umber, red umber and cadmium red, burnt umber and ultramarine, yellow ochre or raw sienna. These can then be mixed with the adjacent strings, so the yellow ochre with the red umber/cad mix and the b.umber/ultramarine with the red umber. Not something I have continued with, but I have continued using a larger pallete, and premixing a much bigger range of tones and colours - and ensuring the whole thing hangs together before painting.

So, in summary, I hated almost all of it, and ended up with another ugly painting. But something at some point clicked and I now feel I have the basics so I will be able to paint anything I choose. There is a whole world out there . . . . Peter and his model were lovely people (even got a gift of a coffee can from them!) and the other students helpful. Much thanks to the lady who explained that half and half was not semi-skimmed milk, and to Elsa, who as a fellow european could actually tell when I was joking.

Saturday, 2 June 2012

The Open Studio at Vytlacil

On the 24th May, a special day for me, was the Vytlacil Open Studio event. Although I have attended many group openings, this was the first where I was on my own, responsible for the look of the whole thing and looking after my guests. (Although, of course, the other residents were also hosting their open studios. I will post about them some time soon).

For many reasons I had decided to work small during the residency - ranging in size from 10x10cm to 25x50cm. My subject matter was what I had encountered since coming to New York - especially the people in Central Park, where I had spent a fair bit of time, walking from the 57th St studios of the Art Student's League to the museums on the Upper East Side.

The following is my statement for the night - "Coming to New York from Glasgow has been quite a voyage, forcing me to reconsider attitudes and decisions as well as illuminating many possibilities. My first week was spent at Peter Cox’s workshop at the Art Students League 57th building in the mornings and strolling round the museums in the afternoons. Another place I spent a lot of time was in Central Park. Many of the people I saw there became the basis of my paintings shown here today. The museums (and the sunshine) led me to a realisation of how crucial colour can be in loving a painting and has encouraged me to be more expressionistic. Since then I have attended life drawing here regularly and have benefitted from critiques. Once back home my work is likely to experiment more with colour and composition – the journey has only just begun!"

The reward of night was the looks on folks faces - an entirely unfakeable look - and the many great conversations I had. Maybe I might even do it all again, sometime!