So these are a pair of little 6 x 6″ panels. I have a little fixation with texture, so I had a vague idea to do something with collage and see how it worked.
Where I live the rapeseed fields are coming into their own now, dotting the hills either side of the vale with their vibrance. I love their yellow and what they do to the landscape, but not so keen on the sneezing.
The yellow in my paintings are cut from a magazine. I glued and painted and scraped and scrubbed back. I don’t know what I’m doing, but it was fun. I don’t know where this will end up. I don’t even know if I like it. Actually I just looked up from my desk to look at them – no, I don’t like them. It could be the colour – I’m working with acrylics and the colour shifts quite a bit, which is why I always go back to oils. I may even put some oil on top of these.
Having spent a bit of time finding out how different mediums behave in this post, I wanted to see how claybord would suit my purpose in creating an abstract landscape.
I had a vague idea around creating some translucent loose abstract landscapes – and because of this ruled out oil paints. Really, I wanted to try watercolour or very thin acrylic.
Here’s the first:
In parts of this painting I used gum arabic to even the flow of pigment – the pooling is pretty but getting an even wash is a challenge I think. In other parts I used neat vodka to create blooms and movement, as well as tilting and turning the claybord. Not cheap stuff either, but now we’re not thirty anymore, we just don’t drink it, so it’s been sitting around for many years ( I also use it for wetting in pastel underpaintings – it works great!).
I really didn’t like this when I painted it, so wiped it…..now I wish I hadn’t as there’s quite a bit I do like about it now – the colours, the movement, the darker marks of paint bottom right.
I also tried thinned down acrylic (flow release, water and air brush medium):
I began to fiddle a bit with this, so sprayed the whole thing and gave it a swirl. I might go back to this and add either additional thin layers or see what opaque marks I can make without loosing some of this early layer.
In conclusion, Claybord is an interesting support to work on, though I suspect it comes into it’s own for very detailed, carefully controlled and not too wet techniques. The beauty of it is how much easier it is to lift out highlights. It also takes pen and ink, and graphite.
Trying to create something in between, e.g. a loose and splashy abstract landscape is perhaps asking too much me, rather than the claybord!
I’m sorry to say I’m still not able to stand at my easel and paint (see here for the riveting reason why).
I have managed a little bit of sitting at my desk though. Early last week I ordered some claybord panels. They fascinate me, and one of my favourite things is discovering new painting surfaces. These claybords are smoooooth. As a baby’s bottom. They’re silky clay. They look a little like a matt tile.
Now according to the blurb, you can put any medium on these: watercolour, ink, acrylic, and oil, though Ampersand, the makers, stress though it can be used for oil, many oil painters find the paint dries too quickly to work with. You can also scratch it, and sand it back to a bare surface again. Wowzers.
I’m not sure why I thought I would get along with these. I mean, I can’t even watercolour on regular paper. Though that fact still remains, I’m still strangely enamored with this surface.
First, I tried acrylic. I wasn’t particularly interested in using it in my usual way: instead I thinned it down quite a bit with airbrush medium and flow release, and a bit of water. When you paint it on, the pigment doesn’t behave as it does on paper. Clay has a different sort of capillary action (I’m guessing), and being smooth, the whole thing can get out of control very quickly.
I absolutely love the edges the acrylic created. I also liked how the pigment granulated in the bottom left.
I also tried a section of the painting with thicker paint. It did go on, but didn’t cover very well. The beauty of claybord is it’s surface and the luminescence it can add to a piece, so I don’t see the point of covering over it so opaquely.
Next up was watercolour:
I love this as a piece of work. I’m not sure the photograph does justice to the quality and translucency of the watercolour though. Here’s a close up:
The thing I do find a little frustrating about the claybord is though it looks white, it photographs a little on the peachy side.
I did of course have a bash with oils. My word – oils dry quicker on claybord than acrylics do on any surface. I was shocked. I tried to put them on thinly, diluted down with Zest it, then linseed, hoping to keep things luminous, but no. The thing about claybord, in what ever medium I tried was, painting over layers that were still wet or damp just meant you went back to the claybord. It was only when I left the claybord overnight that I could add more layers – but only very carefully. So oil on claybord is not for me, but I did quite like this little section here where the Zest it created this pattern:
I also, naturally, tried a bit of pastel over the top of the water colour and acrylic – no can do. Imagine rubbing pastel on glass. It just didn’t cling at all. Having said that, I didn’t try my very expensive soft pastels, this was my Amazon-under-ten-pounds-set.
Ok, I’m blogged out so I’ll try and post part two later this week, and share my attempts at landscape painting on claybord and how vodka came in handy, but not in the way you think!
p.s. this is not a sponsored post! Just if you were wondering.
Well. How ironic my last post was around my search for balance and being in the now.
On Tuesday, I tripped and fell badly, bashing up both knees but more catastrophically wrenching my shoulder – the painting shoulder!
Falling over when you’re past the age of 7 is just awful. Grown up bodies aren’t made for taking knocks like this! Well mine isn’t. The pain was so bad I almost puked on my garage floor. Too much info? Well let me tell you getting a bra on and off has been nigh on impossible since.
Thing is, when you hurt youself like this as an adult its such a big deal! It’s a bloody shock for a start. Which was why I needed cake and chocolate after. Medicinal.
Anyhoo. The whole thing certainly has stopped me in my tracks and made me focus on the now! It’s amused me a little. What else has made me laugh a bit is my poor husband who, as you already know is the Patron Saint of husbandry, now has even more to do! If that is even possible.
So, what’s to do when your laid up? Thank Gods for Tim Berners Lee, as I’ve read all the web. Now I’m about to get on Pinterest so leave your username in the comments and I will look you up!
Sometimes, very occasionally, something magical happens. From your brushes, from the sweep of your palette knife, emerges something so nice, you wonder if you’ll ever be able to top it (actually I already know this, since I painted again since, and produced utter tripe).
You can’t win ’em all, but you can bask in what it felt like when all the planets aligned and somehow you made good art.
And it’s not that these paintings are perfect. But when I painted these it was like I was merely holding the brushes. A human conduit. Perhaps I got out of my own way for a change!
Sometimes my posts are written and scheduled in advance. Otherwise I’d lose my mind. Others are as-it-happens. Real life. This is one of the real life ones.
Probably I should make this into some sort of “10 ways to invigorate your creative soul” but I don’t have it in me today – perhaps another time. Also, if I sound pretty miserable, please don’t worry – I’m not actually. I just feel sort of like being quiet. And compared to my gregarious self that is mostly on show, this quietness might come across as something else. You’d think wanting to be quiet would mean not blogging, but I find writing sorts out the clutter of my mind in ways that talking doesn’t.
Also I’m tired. Did I bore you all mention I have chronic insomnia? I know I know, everybody has terrible sleep. I don’t know how mine compares to everyone else’s, but when I say I don’t sleep, I don’t mean I only get 4 hours instead of the regulation 7. I mean I often don’t get any, at all, for many nights in a row. It got so bad a few years ago, I had to give up a job. It’s a real shame, insomnia, it’s hard to resolve.
Anyway, that’s not what this post is about! (though if anyone has any wonder tips, please feel free to sling’em my way). This post is about these two:
They look pretty good in black and white. I like to take photos of my work like this to make sure the values are working. And I can see that they are. But in colour, it’s another story.
These paintings are based on some hills near my home. Well worth the hike, when you reach the top you have panoramic views towards Exmoor, Wales and Somerset beyond.
Now, they are work in progress. But I can’t decide if I love them or hate them. Actually I just snapped my head up from the computer to look at them and I liked what I saw – this photo doesn’t really capture the colour too well either. They’re more blue than violet.
These paintings are much larger than I normally paint – 12 x 12 inches. Usually I paint small, between 5 x 5 inches up to perhaps 10 x 10 inches. I have done the odd abstract that was 16 x 20 inches, but all my landscapes are small. And I am so surprised and shocked at how hard I found it painting larger. I have no idea how all you 30 x 36 inch people do it!
And so I’m frayed and feel run ragged by them! And, I was also surprised at how much I fussed over detail. I think over time I’ve got reasonably good at not getting tight, even though I paint small: I paint on long handled brushes, I use a large brush, I stand whilst I paint, mostly. And so I can see very easily the whole painting. With these pair, I fiddled about so much it threw me. I didn’t enjoy it at all. Though I used large long handled brushes, stood at the easel, I really felt on top of the painting. I found it easier to get lost in it. Has anyone ever experienced this with larger paintings? I had it in my head that painting larger meant free-er movement and mark making….not so in my case folks!
It’s 4:30pm. Which means I’m beginning to flag and it’s time to put the kettle on. Ciao.