Sunday, 20 April 2014

2014 Exhibition Of KNOWLE ART GROUP

I have been a little busy preparing my entries for my art groups annual exhibition in May. Most year I have been prone to have to rush around the day before the hand over day, but this year I have cracked it. All ready for the day except for a little spit and polish of the frames.

I think I have posted all of these on this blog over the last three months or so but if you want a better look at these paintings then you could slip over to my new static web-site, PASTEL LANDSCAPES. Created under my real name, John Dyhouse, although just to be sure the first (home page) states:-


Hope to see you over there, why not post me a message to say hello; that would be great. Normal service will be resumed as soon as possible now that the bulk of the effort is done.

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Miniature Acrylic Landscapes

Painting miniature acrylic landscapes. Something I enjoyed last year and had been put aside for my pastels, but with the finalisation of my project Abstract Antics, I decided to get out the acrylic paints and have a little fun. I set up my pitch yesterday at my art group and found myself sitting next to a colleague who often paints quite large canvases, the contrast was stark. Last night he was working on a piece 20 inches by 16inches (quite small for him) and there was I with a pair of canvases 2.5 x 3.5 inches.

But I didn't care, I was there to enjoy myself and found myself working on a couple of favourites which I had recently worked at in pastel. Why waste a good subject?

Here are those two landscapes:


Sunset at Sea

Painting at a small size does bring its own problems and these are approximately actual size, so you can appreciate that a very small brush and a steady hand are necessary. A pity I had neither whilst painting these, :).

You can see more of my earlier work here on this blog, and also here. I have a number of these canvases and so will be working with these for a few weeks. The only issue is that my groups exhibition is very nearly upon us, just a few weeks away so I will be quite busy framing and getting ready for the big day. I sold a pastel last year and am quite upbeat about some of the art work I have on offer this year - all of which have been featured on this blog of course.

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Abstract Antics - a game developed for would-be abstract artists

As an artist, have you ever been put off by remarks like the following?
  • "It's easy to paint an abstract, my two year old can do it."
  • "Have you seen that elephant who paints?"
  • "What does it mean, what's it supposed to be?"
Well let me give you another quote, "How difficult it is to be simple". (Vincent van Gogh). It is one of many I have collected in an article on understanding simplicity in art.

The problem is that abstract art seems easy, but it is actually quite difficult. And often an otherwise competent artist can be put off painting abstracts when their first effort does not work out quite as they haad hoped. Many other quite capable artists find difficulty in even beginning to paint non-representational work. Not quite sure how to start, or what to do; always thinking about what it is that they are painting. When of course it isn't anything.

I found this out when I conducted a workshop for my art group, on this very subject. They had all said that what they wanted from the workshop was to leave with an abstract painting. I did not ask them to paint what I was showing them , but rather I gave them a few ideas and suggestions and told them to get on and paint an original abstract design. I was answered with blank faces in the main.

After this experience I wrote an article and a step-by-step tutorial and made these available as a PDF download from scribd, but I often thought about why it was so difficult for my colleagues and I have now developed a game using four decks of "creaativity cards" which gives the prospective abstract artist a set of instruction. Not a full set, but enough to create an abstract painting. I do not expect it to produce a masterpiece; it is merely a way of getting the artist to practice painting without any picture to copy.

Tonight at my art group meeting, I used this game to give me instructions for two paintings:-

I hope it won't surprise you to learn that the instructions for these paintings were the same. My method leaves plenty of scope for the artist to express his own creativity.

The way it works is that there are four creativity packs (of cards) representing three layers of the painting and one, called the style pack which covers colour and compostional factors.

Each pack (or deck) contains a set of suggestions which when dealt out provide the instructions for the abstract painting. So what where the instructions I followed to create the above two paintings?

The packs have different backs (all my own work of course) and are also colour coded. I have a set of instructions which I can interpret in any way I like.Here are thumbnail sketches I made for each painting before I started.

Rather than give any more details here, I would like to invite you to visit an article on Squidoo in which I fully describe the game and the methodology.

Remember it is just a game to help practice painting abstracts. I have found that painting abstracts now and then has helped me to loosen up my art work considerably and I would recommend it to anyone for that purpose alone. It is also fun - and disposable. Why not have a go?

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Pastel Painting, A Ray Of Sunshine

BAck to landsscapes this week. I happened to see a piece that I found grabbed me. The cnmposition, and that patch of sunlit just clicked with me. Of course, As ever I have not copied the original but created my own interpretation. The colours especially are my own, although the composition owes a lot to the original. But even the old masters repeated the same images to learn.

A Ray Of Sunshine

I was very pleased with this one, I usually am when I have a strong urge to paint something. Its those times I have to search for inspiration that I turn out the duff pieces.

I thought I would add a couple of images of the work as it progressed, to give an insight into my process.

This was after I had added the "first" colours for the background. As I do, I had built up to this point by layering colours (each layer fixed to avoid disturbing the former) to get that wonderful texture that I love from my pastels. This did not quite feel right though. I had the sunlit grass at thte top of the rise but was not happy with the sky.

Here I had added a darker blue to the top of the sheet and blended it into the very light blue sky to create that recession.

The next step was to put this aside and take out a sketch pad. I selected my colours for the bushes, etc and practiced what I was going to do. Using the side of some very soft pastels I then came back to the background (which had been lightly fixed) and painted in the bushes, as I had done in the sketch book. The last step was to take a few conte sticks and add the linear effects to the foreground.

I work dark to light mostly although some later details may be in dark tones. And I work from hard pastel to soft, again fixing layers as I proceed. The final details are not fixed to maintain their vibrancy.

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Abstract Holiday

from time to time my paintings start to become "samey" and I begin to lose my way, creatively speaking. Things stop working for me and I lose interest. It is on these occasions that I allow myself an "abstract holiday".

I can paint what I like, no need to worry about producing a great masterpiece and  it really helps me to find my way again.

This is tonight's result. I did not start with any preconceptions except that I was going to make this a work in two halves, with a large red area on one side, the smaller side of the paper. It is in pastel and is painted on a very rough 200 lb water colour paper; size about 16 x 12 inch.

Of course everyone thought it was an image of buildings but I did not have this in mind at all when in the process of  painting. It was purely geometrical considerations which were uppermost in my mind.

Of course, the magic of digital editing means that once I have the image in digital form, I can play around with the colours to my hearts content. In fact the original has been "re-coloured" so that the larger blue area has been made bluer to hide the purple/violet which I found I did not like. I normally do a series of thumbnail sketches to see if a colour combination works before I start on the actual painting. Unfortunately I did not do this with this painting.

Just to show the effect of different colours and degree of saturation, I include two edited images.

All three are better than the ooriginal unfortunately, c'est la vie!

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Watercolour Demonstration night

Knowle Art Group had a wonderful demo from watercolourist Graham Blaine, a member of the Royal Birmingham  Society of Arts, last night. One of the series of professional demos which we have thru the year.

I haven't done any for quite a while, except for a little playing around, but after this I may well put the pastels away for a while and knuckle down to start using watercolours which is the media which turned me on to painting in the first place. Take a look at a couple of my old paintings:-

"Where's Daddy?"

"The Old Lane"

But back to Graham Blain a wonderful artist and a very entertaining evening, even if Graham himself was not altogether happy with the results. It seemed to have conveyed some very useful ideas to all 20 of us who were captivated. See some of Graham's work at one of these sites:-

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

A colourful sky, a pastel painting

Painting has been taking a back seat recently as I have been very busy and also decided to start my very first novel. But I still manage to get to my art group, once a week for a couple of hours so it is great that I can usually complete one of my landscapes in that time.

This one for instance, one which I really like and received some very good comments from my colleagues at the art group.

But painting it was more involved than it might appear.

Starting with an A4 sheet of black general purpose art paper (cheap!), I covered the paper with a layer of black pastel. Simple linear strokes with the side of a softish pastel stick (origin unknown). This was then blended all over using circular strokes with the tips of three fingers and then fixed using an inexpensive hair spray.

I repeated this procedure twice using a mid-blue pastel and then a dark violet pastel. This was the background.

The next step was to use a mid-brown, again on its side, to paint in the top of the horizon at the bottom of the painting. below this a dark green was wiped across the painting. These colours were blended where they overlapped, and then grass-like strokes were added at the extreme bottom in a lighter green and other colours.

Cloud shapes were the next step. A light and mid-violet were used to create the main shapes and then a red to top off these shapes. A mid-blue was then added to create texture around the clouds.

Next, a red-brown was used -on its side- to create the colouring on the horizon. This was blended in a single direction (up) using the side of the thumb to create the spiky appearance. More colours were added at the horizon to ground this colour. I am not sure what it represents, make your own mind up but it does help the composition.

And finally, some dark brown was added and blended along the lighter brown of the horizon.

Here is a shot of the original from a book :-

it is in Ron Ranson's Painting School Series, PASTELS by Diana Constance.

Mine is not meant to be a reproduction of the original, I always aim to create a  painting from a reference which inspired me without copying. 

Perhaps this is more involved than you thought after all.