Thursday, June 9, 2016

In Days of Yore

‘Happy Days’ 12”x12” Casein on Panel
A casein painting of a mounted skeleton. This reminds me strongly of my Foundation days at the long departed Banbury College of Art & Design. Years ago Banbury was the premier Foundation course in Oxfordshire - naturally it had to be closed, as all such traditional institutions are, to make way for a “University” that teaches at a far lower level. Ah well, that’s how it goes - practical monotechnic to multidisciplinary literary blancmange. 

Casein is a water-based paint that uses dairy protein as its binder; having many characteristics in common with both gouache and oils. It can be thinned to washes, or used for thick impasto. However, once it has “cured” for a few weeks it is incredibly tough and water-resistant; there are casein paintings from 9,000 years ago that have survived. Casein used to be very widely used for all sorts of painting, especially as it is so damed tough (my father once spent months blow-torching off 150 year-old casein paint from some window sashes - nothing else worked).

Every time I see a mounted skeleton I think of all the hours we used to spend observing, studying and drawing them back in Foundation college (we drew a heck of a lot of skeletons of all types). It was one of the chief tasks that we undertook, alongside life-drawing & painting, anatomy, and colour theory. We only did a small amount of Art History (perhaps 10% of our time) and no Art Criticism, as it really is’t needed to be an artist - and in many ways makes it actually much harder to be one at all.

Anyway, skeletons bring up happy memories for me. Old fashioned art education based upon observation, traditional skills and practice… and the parties were obscenely wild.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Finished Double Portrait

‘Double Dan’ 30”x38” Oil on canvas
The finished “double portrait” of Dan that I started a while ago. This has been worked up and fleshed-out in what could be called an “indirect alla prima” technique. 

Dan is posing, showing off his images of himself, but the completed painting does actually capture a side of him, I feel - that of his “entrepreneurial” character. He's a "Dude".

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Talented Friends

10”x8” Paper negative photographic print
Not strictly totally a painting made by me this post… although there is one of mine in it.

This photographic image is one of ‘The Paper Portrait Sessions’ taken by the very talented Ross den Otter.

As part of the Vancouver Capture Photography Festival, Ross sent out an open invitation to the public to visit his studio and have a large format portrait made. He took 40 images in just over 4 hours - which is pretty quick going.

Ross built his camera obscura as a box 4 feet by 8 feet by 8 feet, made of 2×2’s, wood screws and a few layers of tar paper... so just a tad smaller than a typical Vancouver condo. He used a a WWII era 14 inch Cooke Aviar type lens bolted to the construction. He actually took the photo standing within the camera itself (which also served as his darkroom in which he processed the large format paper negatives - although there was no running water in it).

The photo Ross took had an 10"×8" paper negative, capturing a portrait of me holding a portrait I painted of Ross. I’ve done a couple of paintings of Ross over the years, as I’ve known him for almost a decade - longer than I’ve actually been in Vancouver. 

Friday, April 8, 2016

Sitting in The Studio

‘Britt’ 36”x28” Oil on canvas
An oil brunaille portrait "in progress" that I'm currently working on of my girlfriend. This was taken a while ago, as I have already moved quite a way along the path of painting it up in colour.

More than anything this was intended as an exercise in lighting à la many 18th century English portraits - dappled woodland light and/or multiple light sources, that sort of thing. It’ll be interesting anyway.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Out of the Dark - Double Portrait

‘Double Dan’ 30”x38” Oil on canvas
The start of a double portrait of one of the many studio inhabitants that I know from the ACME building. This is again the early stages in the work with just the umber underpainting laid in.

I haven’t quite decided at the moment on the background, so have left it pretty open and flexible. I might put a suggested dark view in or, more likely, simply use a nondescript deep tonal colouration to fill in the area.

The whole image is, at the sitter’s request, slightly mysterious with a slight whiff of “edge” as he potentially might use it as a cover for an album of his recordings. But if not, it's still worth the doing.