Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Coloured pencils, Out of my comfort zone?

Last night, my group had a demo/workshop from Carol Gordon, a local artist. Her subject was water colour pencils, what ther are and how to use them.

I must admit that I do have a set of these but have never really gotten into the habit of using them. I did have an enjoyable evening and found out a few techniques which I hope to write about in a future post. Just for my own reference if nothing else. I probably did not spend too much time lisening to Carol, but got really carried away with what I was doing - here is the completed painting. In order to spend time using the water-colour pencils, we were all issued with a line drawing to colour. Here is my effort.

An interesting little piece, and a very well worth while evening. I hope to do more work with this medium. I will talk more about the techniques and textures achieveable using water colour pencils when I have some of my own examples to show. So for now, enjoy and happy painting.

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Knowle Art Group exhibition 2014

I have been very busy with my art groups exhibition over the past two weeks but it was all worth while. The exhibition was held over a very sunny holiday weekend and visitors were 30% up on our previous highest figure.

Unfortunately, it seems that money is as tight as ever despite the chancellor talking the economy up. We only sold one painting in the actual exhibition although several items which were on sale (unframed paintings and greeting cards) were sold.

We have discussed the purpose of our exhibtion many times and have always agreed, as a group, that the exhibtion is a chance to show off our work to family and friends and just to see it in a well-presented display. sales are nice but that is not the reason we spend so much time and effort setting up the exhibition. The effort is not worth the money. But let me show you a general shot of the hall after setting up the exhiubtion.

The display boards are the groups own design and made by members, they enable us to hold exhibitions in any locations but we have found the present venue to be a superb choice for our exhibitions.

The design of the boards allows us to display more paintings per foot. We have ten boards altogether which fold away after use.

The main entrance display, showing the Group Name. This year flanked by items for sale for the first time:-

Greeting cards/ post cards and unframed paintings and also a number of miniature canvas paintings which readers of the blog will know are a favourite of mine.

The cards sold well this year and from the discussions going on I can see more artists trying to make a little cash next year by copying this approach, despite the comments above!

Back with more paintings next time.

Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Start and Run Your Own Art group

I and a few fellow students from an evening watercolour course wanted to start our own art group because the government saw fit some 25 years ago to close eveniing classes as leisure activities. A very backward decision in my opinion.

Anyway, we had no experience of such a venture but we were all confident that we had enough experience in the business world to be able to do this and make a success of it. Of course we made mistakes but by and large we came through. The group has been very successful and we have had to introduce a waiting list for membership.

I have written a book describing some of the experiences from the past 25 years and hope that if you feel you need to start (and run) a similar group, then this will be useful to help you to start without making those silly mistakes/errors which cause some groups to stumble.

How to Start and Run Your Own Art Group by John Dyhouse

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.