Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Up coming workshops for 2009.... so far

I have three workshops booked so far for this year… if you are in the area and would like to find out more please go to the relevant links in my Links list on the right of this page.

Drawing workshop
21st March
A beginner’s guide to drawing wildlife
Spend a day with Bristol Zoo’s Illustrator Su Lees. Discover simple skills and techniques to make your wildlife drawings come to life.
Suitable for everyone, including the artistically challenged!
Held in the Education Building at the zoo.
Please contact Mandy Leivers at the Avon Gorge and Downs Wildlife Project – see Links list.

Batik workshops
28th & 29th March
A two-day workshop for those that have tried batik and want to improve and for those that have never ‘had a go’ before, here’s your chance in the wonderful, friendly and inspiring setting of the Museum.
Please contact the Nature In Art Gallery and Museum - see Links list.

20th - 24th July
The Gloucester Arts and Crafts Summer School
A 5-day workshop, for beginners and improvers. The Summer School also has many other workshops (2,3 & 5 day) covering a diverse range of arts and crafts.
If you are interested in my workshop or any others they might have during the week, please leave a message in my guestbook and I will send you the contact details for the organizer.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Up—coming Cruise

Yup! It’s finally come round! My second time as art tutor on a cruise ship starts on 27th Jan when I ‘join’ the good ship ‘Oriana’ in San Francisco. Only this time I shall have the company of my good friend, Marion, who will be my Assistant to help me in the art classes. Of course those that know me, or remember previous posts on this subject, know that this isn’t the second time I shall be cruising the high seas…. I was myself an assistant to another good friend of mine, Julie, back in 2002 & 2003. So this will actually be my 6th time on the magnificent ships of P&O.
The trip is 5 weeks long and takes us from San Francisco to Honolulu (Hawaii), Tutuila (American Samoa), Fiji, Tauranga and Auckland in New Zealand, Sydney, Brisbane, Whit Sunday Islands and Cairns in Australia, New Britain (Papua New Guinea) and finally Hong Kong, from where we are flown home.
Quite a journey and the first time for my friend Marion on a cruise ship, so she is particularly excited. I can’t wait to show her around the ship and I wonder if her face will be as mine was on my first meeting with the big white ships… all agog!

My job onboard is to teach drawing and painting to the passengers, which we shall be doing every ‘sea day’(that is – when we are not in port). I am looking forward to meeting the passengers I have met before again and, of course, some new passengers.

What I am finding quite surreal is that my friend Julie (and her fiancĂ© Hans) will be joining the ship as we leave it, to take over as the art tutor for the last 5 week ‘leg’ back to the UK. When I did my first cruise trip as her assistant in ’02, I would never have imagined such a situation. Yet here we are, a few years on, and it just feels a little strange… but good strange. Because of the opportunities she gave me to travel as her assistant and her encouragement (bordering on bullying!), Julie has introduced me to a bigger world, both for work and travel… I thank her so much for that.

I shall endeavour to post ‘ship’s logs’ during our journey, as I did last year, and in my Links list you can find the ship’s webcam; so, if you wish, you can see where we are on our journey… and maybe even catch us standing in front of the webcam!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Christmas commissions

I had two commissions to do for Christmas presents, and have been reluctant to post any pictures of them until after Christmas as I wanted to make sure the recipients had received their gifts. But because things have been so busy I haven’t been able to get round to putting the post here until now.

The ‘lion up a tree’ was lovely to do… lovely because it was a big cat and it seems far too long since I have painted one. So just that fact alone made it enjoyable to paint. I really did enjoy doing this guy…. he looks just so relaxed. It was also pretty straightforward technically, as the commission remit was to reproduce a photo taken by the person who was to receive it as a present; although they didn’t know it was coming.
It was painted in oils on canvas (16”x20”). I did a little enhancement here and there; mainly bringing more colour and form to the lion and tree branches and created more depth, by ‘knocking back’ the background by ‘misting’ it over slightly with a pale translucent glaze. I also shifted the composition slightly up and left of the original photo, so added more foliage and branching to the right and bottom of the image to make up the missing sections.

The other commission was technically a wee bit harder and challenging. The commission was for three dogs from separate photo’s to be made into one picture. I had to try and judge the animal sizes in comparison to each other and also the images of the dogs, in the photo’s I was to work from, were quite small with little detail… particularly on the black dog. Sadly, all three animals are no longer alive, so I could not see them for myself to get an idea of character and get better reference. Consequently, the painting of them was quite a challenge.
Painting pets is quite tricky, as your perception of an animal can be so different to the owner’s. Also the animal may react and hold facial expressions and body postures with you that are so different from when it interacts with its owners. So trying to portray an animal as the owner saw/sees it can be very difficult.

The painting was done in gouache on watercolour board and I used the background from one of the photos to set the scene. Due to the few photos that I had and their ‘quality’, I had to rely on them heavily for the dogs, as I had less scope for artistic manipulation than if I had many photos and had seen them myself. I had a few German Shepherd pictures in my dog ref file, and used them to help with some of the detail; although I had to be careful as each dog, obviously, looks different. I arranged the dogs in a composition, taking their stances directly from the original photos. I drew each one up separately then scanned them into the computer to play with composition and size comparisons. When I had something that I felt was comfortable, I printed them out to size and transferred them to the finished backdrop. The outdoor photos looked overcast, so I added more light than they gave me, both on the dogs and the landscape, to liven and warm the painting up. Finally a bit of improvising with the foreground grasses and it was finished.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Slimbridge Winter Festival

What a cold weekend that was! But I thoroughly enjoyed it. I met some lovely people... fellow stallholders, WWT staff and visitors alike and I did better on the sales than I was truthfully expecting. Nothing astounding financially, but very welcome all the same. It was lovely to have several previous buyers come and say hello as they passed by; some I had met before and a few I hadn't, so it was especially nice to 'put a face to the sale', as it were.

There was quite an array of lovely things to cast one's eyes over on the other stalls... yummy food, hand-made confectionery, toys, jewellery and craft items, to name a few. I would recommend a visit if you are local to Slimbridge Glos, next year... there were some great ideas for presents and a lady there sold the best mince pies I had ever tasted!

From a shopping point of view it was very productive for me... through the kindness of a fellow stall-holder who kept a watch on my stall whilst I went 'browsing'.... I managed to get one or two Christmas presents, including one for myself, which my parents were then to take charge of until Christmas Day! It was a necklace and a perfect match for some hand-made ear-rings I had been given.. how could I walk away and leave it there! So now it awaits the up-coming cruise to have its first official wearing.

Christmas and New Year Greetings.

Sorry that I am posting this after the events, but things have been a mite hectic work-wise for a spell.
I hope that you had a good Christmas with plenty of Festive cheer and goodwill and that your New Year was seen in just as you wished. May 2009 bring you health, happiness and harmony throughout.