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Gourd with Flowers: pastel 8x8 inches

, 10:20

... With several works in progress all at the same time (and in different media) it can be tricky getting one to completion without being distracted by the others. Today's pastel was, however, started one day and finished the next.

I currently have three gourds in the house, courtesy of one of the local shops. I've tried growing them before but not had much luck in obtaining the wide variety of colours and shapes. These, however, are rather nice and will be featuring in some still life work until they go mouldy or squish up.

This still life was a quick set-up, without a lot of planning. The purple zinnia is featuring in a coloured pencil drawing, so has been provided with a glass of water to keep it going, indoors. A dwarf marigold was picked to add balance to the glass and also team with the gourd's colour. The working surface is clear gesso on mountboard, mixed with a little pumice powder. In the end, I felt the surface had been a bit too rough for this work, but went with it.

After positioning the main shapes with a pastel-pencil, the flowers were worked in, using slightly harder Rembrandt pastels to start with. Likewise, colour was added to the leaves and water-glass with harder pastels. Then, very dark blue and dark grey Rembrandts were applied to the background (the backdrop was a black cloth). Since the support surface was rough, skimming the pastels over it left white areas between the coloured grains; some of this was covered over by light rubbing with a finger.

At this point the whole thing was sprayed with diluted acrylic polymer medium, which acts like a fixative but also has a dissolving effect on the pastel, in places. Further working with harder pastels added colour to the gourd; and then softer pastels went in to the flower-petals and centres. It was not possible to define sharp detail on this rougher surface.

Finally, some violet worked into the background; the gourd markings added and some tiny hairs to the stem. The finished surface is still rather dusty; I could have continued spraying and building up more pastel on top, but felt it might be better for a simpler subject.

Green Sunshine: pastel 12x9 inches

, 08:42

Many hold-ups this past two weeks, unable to do any artwork, scanning, nothing at all. However, here we are with a pastel that was underway during the last post back in late June. The back garden apple trees are quite old and have twisted trunks and branches. This one is casting a lacy pattern of shadows on the lawn, allowing an interplay of light and dark colours. The tree was drawn freely to begin with, keeping it at the upper end of the pastel paper to allow space for the shadows. A limited few colours were used from the Rembrandt pastel range to do the drawing, and ongoing shading of the branches; green greys, grey-browns and touches of yellow-green.

The lawn was initially begun with a spread of cross-hatched lines done with conte carre sticks, using magenta, dark blue and a purple; this helped to lay in the pattern of the dark shadows. The lighter areas were also hatched in, using paler greens; followed by a light fixing spray. From here, softer pastels went in for the shadows, using Unison's dark greens, along with touches of complementary red or violet. Even in shadow the grasses and small flowers were perfectly visible, so these areas still needed to display some detail.

The background to the tree was created with darker blues and greys and "grubby" browns, smudged a little to reduce the edges of the individual marks. The mass of green leaves was worked with various soft-pastel greens, allowing for areas of strong sunlight in brighter yellows. Touches of red were added to give a little "flicker" of complementary colour.

Eventually the sunlit areas of grass were worked in, using green-yellows and a golden yellow; dotted with tiny marks for the blades of grass, seeds and flower-heads.

The pastel paper used was white PastelMat. I decided to use white in order to assist with the luminosity required for the sunlit patches.

Cottages and Garden, small paintings

, 12:35

I have taken a brief break from my usual pastels and returned to some very small paintings, basically to produce a few entries for a local event. It is some while since I painted this small, but I found it relatively easy to return to it. The cottages above are 4x4 inches (10x10cm), painted on a heavily-gessoed canvas panel, using acrylics. The next painting further below is a large court-garden folly, probably used for shelter from sun and rain. It is painted on a 4x3 inch gessoed mdf panel, again in acrylics.

Some years ago I used to produce 3.5 x 2.5-inch ACEO paintings (art card editions and originals) and put them through Ebay; these days it just isn't a viable exercise, by the time one has paid listing fees, sellers' fees, and what have you. Each of these paintings took me around 4 hours to complete; maybe a bit more. When such works only fetch on average £5 to £10 on Ebay, it really isn't worth the effort to list them there. I do occasionally do them, but only for myself or maybe a local event/exhibition.

"Solar Fire": acrylic 12x12 inches

, 10:45

Back to the acrylic experiments, and this one completed last week on a box canvas. Having followed the books of Rolina van Vliet for a while, I have been trying out some of her technique exercises. It is interesting to add colour to a canvas randomly to start with, and then work at building it up into some sort of balanced image. The canvas on this particular work has rather prominent horizontal lines in its weave, which don't always assist when scratching and scraping paint. The lower section was originally very bright orange, so it was toned down by adding a more brownish mix of cadmium red with ultramarine blue; small highlights were then added back on top. All balanced against a black upper corner (mixed from thalo green and magenta, rather than tube black).

In the process of dabbling with acrylics on paper, I remembered that pastels are a good match with acrylic paint. The poor old pastels have been a little neglected of late, but as I had commented earlier, there seem to be fewer Internet buyers for pastels than "paint". I am, however, working on my own little sideline projects and there will be some pastels up here in due time. I'd like to explore combining acrylic underpainting with pastels on top but have to find suitable subjects close to hand....still life is the most obvious choice.

"White Horses Tower, Portmeirion": oils 8x8 inches

, 13:12



Finally, a new small oil painting, pretty much complete and now drying. It won't go up for sale just yet but I may put it onto the website anyway. I am planning a little series of paintings from scenes around the model village at Portmeirion, North Wales. For those who know nothing about it, there's plenty of info online....but it became well-known as the backdrop for Patrick MacGoohan's "The Prisoner" TV series way back in the 1960's. Today it is a holiday village (and no doubt for many other events as well); the buildings are Italian in styling and although they look huge, many are actually relatively small inside, with modest accommodation.

The location has some excellent woodland and coastal views; and in summer the skies are often filled with great banks of cloud. The picture posted here is of a view at the seafront, looking towards what is known as the White Horses Tower. The brightness of the painting is owed to the pure white surface of Ampersand gessoboard, which is great when seeking clean pure colours in an image.

I may just put a little darker glaze on the tower a few weeks from now, since it is actually in "bright" shade (contradiction in terms but it means a shaded area that still has a lot of light bouncing into it).

Another small painting in progress is another cloud-scene from Portmeirion...should be completed soon, maybe this coming week. Finally, another larger painting also in progress is yet another cloudscape, 24x20 inches....this is a real long job and it will be some time before completion (if it gets there!).

The website has now been updated with two new templates and some page-link names have been changed, so don't be surprised to encounter 404 error messages on occasions if you have old bookmarks. I am also making more of linking my images to my account at Original-Art-Under100.com......mainly because it seems people are happier to purchase there than from me directly (not sure why, but there it is). I am discontinuing Paypal buttons on my website and will invoice buyers for any item that is requested directly.

Hawthorn Tree: Oil 6x6 inches

, 14:39

Mostly back online again now and trying to catch up on missed painting days. I am selecting a group of photos and sketches from recent canal-side walks and looking to make paintings out of them. Whether they will be oils or pastels...or both...has not been fixed, so I shall just work with whatever I think appropriate. I might even do a scene more than once.

https://www.dailypaintworks.com/fineart/christine-derrick/hawthorn-tree/586245

The very long Thames and Severn canal has a focal point at Stroud, Gloucestershire; once off and away from the main roads, this walk reveals numerous hidden glades, woodland scenes and unusual viewpoints. The small painting here is a simple one; a hawthorn tree in full flower, of which there were many on the day I went out. I decided to return to oils for these small works and I have a couple more currently in progress.

Queen's Parade, Brandon Hill, Bristol: pastel 12x12 inches

, 11:39

A subject like this is quite a step away from my usual stuff but it made a change and allowed me to get a break from intense, close-up work. Having said that, it took me a while to do all the windows....

This pastel is on Sennelier card, a warm sienna colour. It tends to be quite toothy and in some ways wasn't quite so ideal for some of the detailed parts, but it worked nicely in the grass and tree areas. The terrace of buildings, in reality, has been painted in various colours (thankfully none of them too brash) and add an extra dimension to a scene which would ordinarily be just a little drab during an English winter.

I used hard pastels to start the work with and also had to make a few starter attempts on the angle and positioning of the buildings---they start to slope downhill at one point. This layout I did at home, would have been tricky outdoors. The evening glow was built up with a layer of pastel pencils to start with, then soft pastel added on top. I resorted to hard conte sticks and pencils to get the windows and doors marked out. The park grass and trees were kept a little looser in working.

Buddleia Visitor: pastel 8x8 inches

, 09:44

Posted a while back, now at DailyPaintWorks for seven-day auction:

https://www.dailypaintworks.com/buy/auction/643379

"Glass Eggcup": pastel 10x10 inches

, 19:48

Pastel on pastelmat card; although the image is 10x10 inches (25x25cm approx), it has been slightly cropped here because I had to fit it into my scanner (which is only A4 size, or 8 inches across). The bottom edge was omitted but it is actually just ochre-yellow pastel.

DailypaintWorks entry date: will update this post when image has been uploaded; this should happen around 6th or 7th January. Oops! Almost forgot; https://www.dailypaintworks.com/buy/auction/640261

This work was completed in early December but I had not got around to photographing/scanning it. At the time, the light-levels in my house were dreadfully poor during the daytime, due to thick cloud and drizzly rain. I set this still-life up on top of the fridge, where light was picked up through a small south-facing window. I completed the painting by resting my work-board's top edge on the fridge-edge, and remained standing for the two and a half hours it took to do.....no room to put an easel. I added a further twenty minutes the following day for minor details. The end result is very subdued, courtesy of a limited palette to match the limited strength of daylight. The glass eggcup is quite old and has been around the house for many years.

I have started 2017 with a landscape, still under way, to come on here when completed. (nb sorry, comments not accepted at this time due to excess spamming).

Run-Up to Christmas: and Tomatoes

, 18:10

As we head out of November into the last month of the year, I tend to slow down a bit with painting. Photographing new work becomes more awkward, due to the low light levels outdoors (I always photograph outdoors if I possibly can). Posting purchased work also becomes more frazzled during the build-up to Christmas, as the post office handles ever more parcels. Delivery abroad has lots of cut-off dates. I may have one more entry for DailyPaintWorks prior to Christmas, but if not then activity will resume in early January.

This past week I have completed a small pastel still-life (more or less), just a little tidying-up to do before attempting a scan or photo. In stark contrast to this, I returned to my acrylic box and almost finished off a 24x16 inch canvas......very rare for me, these days....that too needs some alterations but it was a refreshing change from dry media.

I will soon be starting to sort out my harder pastels....a recent purchase of 90 Rembrandt sticks now necessitates an overhaul of my "hard" box and removal of any dye-based pastels that have been lurking for some years. I use Unison as my softest, along with Daler-Rowney; Rembrandts are somewhat harder than these and are very good for "cutting back" into soft pastel when a colour change is required or a section needs reworking. There aren't that many hard pastels available in the UK....Rembrandt fills the role very well. I'm also about to test out some Koh-I-Noor Toison d'Or sticks.

Finally.....continuing with experimental hand-textured surfaces, the tomatoes picture below was worked on a piece of acid-free mountboard, first painted with a light coat of ochre acrylic, then a layer of Winsor and Newton clear gesso. No granular texture such as pumice or sand, just the gesso. The work was lightly fixed at several stages, with a final light spray at the end.

https://www.dailypaintworks.com/buy/auction/629261 starting at $38.

This will be the last for 2016, on DailyPaintWorks, but I'll be continuing with new work during December.