Monday, 25 April 2011

Artistic explorations: Gouache (1)

It was only a few weeks ago when I learned about designers gouache paint and instantly I loved it! The opaque water based paint is a great medium to create vibrant artwork in solid colours and very suitable for abstract paintings. That's why I probably like it so much and want to use it more often.

Here are my first paintings I made with gouache:

Magnificent Mountain ©Fenfolio2011

Retro Graphics ©Fenfolio2011

 The framed painting below was shown at the Balmoral Exhibition, but only briefly because I just heard it's sold! It's wonderful if an artist enjoys the creative process, but the icing on the cake really is when other people enjoy the painting so much that they buy it. This is just what I needed in my preparation for North East Open Studios in September.

Linn of Dee Tree ©Fenfolio 2011

I made this painting with the help of one of my photos I took while wild camping near Derry Lodge in the Cairngorms after a 10-hour walk. An unforgettable experience, especially because it was one of the hottest days in 2006.

Silhouette of Scottish Pine ©Fenfolio2006

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Artistic explorations: Mixed media (1)

When I start a new painting, it's mainly because I have been inspired by something I've seen in a gallery, an exhibition, online, a tutorial, or in a book. A while ago I bought this practical book "Creative Paint Workshop for mixed-media artists" written by artist Ann Baldwin. Just looking at her work and reading about the creative process felt like being a kid in a candy shop...I want it all!!

Last week it was finally the right time to give it a go myself. I started a new painting on the day I had to (or wanted to) submit it for the Aberdeen Art Exhibition. Normally I'm quite well planned and organised, but this time I left it at the last minute to finish it on time (does this mean that I'm doing well as an artist?). I had already collected and laid out the materials I wanted to use such as fabrics and paper. I had also made my own stencils, so now it was just a matter of selecting the colours, brushes and shapers, textures, composition, acrylic mediums and use of layers. With the theory in the back of my mind, I wanted to be experimental as well and create an abstract, organic and tactile piece with a certain flow/rythm in it. The result is this mixed media piece on canvas (40 x 40 cm):

Textile & Texture © Fenfolio 2011

Close-up of side of canvas ©Fenfolio 2011

Looking at Ann Baldwin's mixed media paintings (below), I think I did a pretty good job for my first attempt! Hopefully the judges of the art exhibition think the same. If they don't, well, that will be a pity but it won't put me off creating more of this type of work!

Addition © Ann Baldwin

Flying High © Ann Balwin

Roocoocooed ©Ann Baldwin

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Painted shoes (1)

Spring has finally arrived, with soaring temperatures of up to 21 C last weekend! It's time for gardening, lounging on our patio, cycling and....playing golf! I'd never thought I would love this game so much, but I guess it all has to do with the fact that it's a ball game (I used to play tennis and hockey), it's outdoors in beautiful surroundings and it's very sociable because you play with different people every time. The only problem I have with it is that their "fashion" is not very exciting and sometimes too traditional to my liking. Especially the shoes are boring even though some brands have started to create shoes in other colours than just black and white. So, a new idea was born; I would just paint my shoes in the colours and design I like! Well, that meant doing some internet research and finding the right paint and procedure to get (and keep) the best quality. The Fat Buddha online store gave me the right input.

Here's the result:

Glowy Golden ©Fenfolio 2011

Today I wore them for the first time and although my golf friends knew I was going to paint my shoes, they couldn't believe I had done it when they saw them. They thought I just bought them new in a store! Well, they made my day of course. Will this mean other ladies dare to get their shoes painted and set a trend? I'll just have to wait and see! At least I know that soon I will be busy painting my other pair of shoes in a different colour.

Friday, 8 April 2011

Artistic explorations: Abstraction (1)

Looking back at my time when I started my photography business PictureNature, I realise I was already unconsciously interested in abstract shapes. Take for example this close-up of a fern I captured in the Winter Gardens of Aberdeen's Duthie Park.

Close-up Fern ©Fenfolio2007

It was a reasonable image but too straightforward in my opinion, so I experimented with the bold lines by playing with the distort filter in Photoshop CS3. I was very happy when I finally produced this image. So happy in fact, that it's now Fenfolio's official logo.

Fenfolio Logo @Fenfolio2007
My creative process was not finished though. A few weeks ago I wanted to make a new painting and I didn't have to think long about what subject I would choose this time. The colours and shapes of the fern would be very suitable for using designer's gouache this time, so eventually a close-up photo of a fern has now become an abstract but non-digital interpretation of this beautiful plant!

Fen's Fern ©Fenfolio2011

The framed painting will be submitted for the Aberdeen's Annual Art Exhibition at the Art Gallery which starts the 30th of April and ends the 28th of May. Hopefully it will be accepted!
Notecards with this design are now available in my online shop and also in Buchanan's Bistro at the Barn very soon.

Monday, 4 April 2011

Artistic explorations: Commission Whirling Wave

A few months ago, one of my kayak friends asked me whether I could make him a painting of the sea. I was absolutely delighted to receive my first official commission! To get an idea of what type of image he wanted, I asked him to send me some photos that would show the right atmosphere. These are a few but you can see more of this amazing photographer on Flickr under Qayaq:

©Tadhg MacConeely

©Tadhg MacConeely

©Tadhg MacConeely

I found another image online which gave me more insight in movement, colours, tones and contrast:


At the same time, we were asked to create a self-motivated painting at art class which would be exhibited at the end. I used my painted studies as preparation for the final commission painting for that. After seeing my first study of a section of the above image, my teacher told me it resembled the way artist Joan Eardley painted; thick with lots of texture. So I tried to get as much information about her as possible and found this image (which is only half of the painting) that would take me and my painting further.

Left side of Foam and Blue Sky ©Joan Eardley

So far so good. But then I realised that my friend wanted to have a painting as big as a door! My garden studio wouldn't be big enough to manage this, so I decided to divide the image into three panels, each 56 cm x 42 cm in size. By using thick acrylics and only a palette knife, I tried to feel and transfer the flow onto paper by shaping and creating texture in the paint. It was really liberating! This is the result:

Whirling Wave ©Fenfolio 2011

Close-up of Whirling Wave ©Fenfolio 2011

The painting was exhibited at art school recently and my friend really liked it so very soon it will actually be hanging in his place!

Friday, 1 April 2011

Artistic explorations: Still Life (1)

Whenever I started with an art course, the first thing I was being confronted with was a set of different tools and/or things attentively placed in a certain composition on a table in the centre of the room. In 1989, when I first enrolled for a course, my instant reaction was when entering the classroom; "ohh no, not THIS, it's soooo boring, I don't like this at all, what am I doing here, etc.??" The same thing popped up in my head when I started my course last year at Aberdeen Art School.

The moment I put my pencil or brush on the paper, however, these thoughts seemed to become less prevalent. The longer I was working on a certain subject (e.g. bottles, cans, bowls, fruit, cloths, modern and medieval etc.), the more I started to appreciate this exercise. We were learning about how to interpret colour, tone, contrast, composition, perspective and proportion and how to eventually transfer this information as accurately as possible into artwork. Even though still life still doesn't thrill me, I can now see it's so helpful to further develop my creative skills in the areas I'm passionate about. As a matter of fact, I just signed up for the course Abstraction that will cover more of still life, so I'd better get used to it!

Here are some samples of still life drawings and paintings I did:

Still life Etching ©Fenfolio 1989

Still Life Drawing ©Fenfolio 2011

Still Life Collage ©Fenfolio 2011

Sometimes I had to take a photo of the composition so I could finish the exercise on time!

Still Life Painting ©Fenfolio 2011