2015 round up

I’m not a great fan of those round robin Christmas letters so I’m writing this with some trepidation. However 2015 has been a year of some progress so I thought it would be worth reminding you of news and any earlier posts you might want to look back on by clicking the links.

It was a year of two (unequal) halves a flurry of painting followed by a cycle of exhibiting.

I began the year by doing quite a bit of plein air painting and went on a course at Newlyn School Of Art with Paul Lewin. The course as well as being enjoyable was also an encouragement to loosen up with mixed media. With hindsight I haven’t taken this as far as I anticipated but it was certainly an inspiration to be looser when painting outside.

This flurry of activity was mostly to get things to hang on the wall for North Somersets Arts Week. Once again it was great fun to have people coming through the house and I managed to raise £200 for Black Nore lighthouse by selling cards and Helen’s marvellous cakes.

The other main painting event of the year was the Andrew james portrait course which I’ve organised for a few years now and was a great success again fuelled by more of Helen’s cakes. I get a free course out of it and am still pretty pleased with my portrait of Viv.

I spent the rest of the year (well apart from life classes) punting these paintings around various juried exhibitions the highlights being the RWA in Bristol and the ING and rubbing shoulders with the Royal Institute of Oil Painters for the first time in London.

Dusk Tanker

Dusk Tanker, exhibited at the RWA

I’m especially grateful to the judges of the Clifton Arts Club Open for awarding me the prize of excellence (which also doubled as my entry for the ROI).

Clifton Arts Club Prize of Excellence

Thanks to Trevor Haddrell RWA, Ione Parkin RWA and Ros Cuthbert RWA, what. a discerning trio.

People ask about my organisation and preparation but it all boiled down to this little scrap of paper I used for shepherding my meagre resources and time, so it’s all smoke and mirrors really. If you can read my handwriting you’ll see there are some misses among the hits so still plenty to aim for in 2016.

The Masterplan! (the only plan).

The Masterplan! (the only plan).

I mentioned not freeing up as much as I wanted and I am looking forward to a return trip to Newlyn for a course focussed squarely on abstract painting in March. I’m obviously hoping that 2016 will bring as much pleasure as 2015 but to be honest if it brings as much I’ll be surprised and very happy.

Thank you very much for taking an interest and I hope 2016 is a successful year for us all.

Another successful Portrait Course

Another couple of portrait courses done with Andrew James and smiles all around. Most importantly Andrew is looking forward to it again next year. If you’re interested register on the course page and I’ll let you know the timings when the venue schedule is available in the Spring.

This is now the fifth course I’ve attended (and organised) and I think progress is being made, portraiture is still the most maddening strand of art though.

Here’s a run through of what happened on the courses…

Course 1

We started off with some charcoal sketching followed by a quick demo by Andrew. Here’s his sketch.



Here’s my longer sketch, 1 hour I think.



Day 1 was completed with a monochrome oil painting. This was probably my least satisfying painting, I underpainted using a turpsy wash that didn’t dry before trying to apply the thicker paint on top.

Day 2 started with a demo oil painting by Andrew.



We spent some time sketching and working out compositions in charcoal before blocking in. 

Here’s my work at the end of day 2.



I found the 3rd day frustrating, battling with likeness but ended up with this at the end of the course.



The following week I tweaked the portrait, very little time was spent and very little paint was applied but the tweaks brought out the likeness more by modelling the chin more simply. Oh and I tried Joanna in a fancy frame! (Excuse the carpet).



Here’s a shot of other people’s work in progress on day 3.





Course 2

I (and another attendee) were lucky enough to do two back to back courses complete with new models.

Here are my sketches from the first day.



As I’d done the monochrome painting earlier in the week, I did a limited palette exercise using the zorn palette (only red, yell ochre, black and white).



Again day 2 started with a demo. This time Andrew tried a more conventional planned approach instead of his usual magic. The results was a more prosaic portrait but as a bonus we saw the pain he went to to complete an eye, it wasn’t just bravura brush marks. He doesn’t seem this bald usually, apologies for the angle Andrew.



Here’s some of the student work in progress.



Here’s mine after the 3rd day



I’d used large brushes for the initial block in and tried to work with them for as long as possible. Andrew made a good point that the machined finish of the board isn’t as pleasing as a canvas would have been.



When I got home. I did some further tweaking to the eyes and lips which I think brought out the likeness and removed the unflattering and untrue goggle eyed effect.



I hope you found this interesting and if you feel up to the challenge next year let me know.

Recent Oil Portrait Sketches

Some recent portrait sketches, all 45 mins to 2 hours.

All oil on Arches oil paper apart from the lady in a hat which was on a cereal packet that was sized with rabbit skin glue. I quite liked mid-grey tone of the cardboard.

The sitters were either at Clifton Arts club who have a Saturday morning portrait model/still life session once a month or at the weekly life class sessions in Ashley Down.

Recent #oilportraits – everythings gone grey

Living on the Severn estuary I’m beginning to accept that perhaps greys are my strong point, probably repeated practice. I’ve always been drawn to a muted palette and love understated painters such as Gwen John and Kyffin Williams. I’ve just had six days of painting with Andrew James and had a great time but his heightened colour palette can be a stretch, but the point of it was to use it as a chance to experiment and improve.

After a bit of warming up with charcoal sketches we dived in with the first painting.
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The background was a bit messy so I blocked in the ugly kitchen area roughly then turned the painting upside down and painted the entire background using the shapes only as a loose guide and just went with what looked good.I think it was worthwhile and helped create a less literal and more attractive painting.

I thought my first portrait was a bit conservative in colour and texture. This was partly due to painting over a very turpsy underpainting which was a bit slippy. So with the second painting I sketched in pencil first which kept a drier surface and enabled me to add more definitive, chunky brush marks.

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As I know the sitter well I was pleased to get a forceful likeness quickly (but did pass through a Hitler moustache phase). When it came to blocking in the background I thought I’d get a rough idea with a thin layer but basically got carried away with the turps. I think the effect worked well with the loosely painted hair so I went with it and strengthened the areas such as the shoulder with dark turpsy pigment.

This all came together very suddenly and I didn’t want to ruin the loose effect, so after a night to sleep on it and some very minor fiddling in the morning I was ready to start another painting.
Rather than repeating the same pose I thought back to a memory of a Gwen John portrait I’d admired and began work on a full figure in muted colours. The light dropped towards the end of the day after the clocks changing so I thought the treatment wouldn’t be adversely affected by any dimness either.

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I am pleased with the outcome, I think it achieved what I’d set out to do. Once again I turned the painting upside-down to abstract the background. Also if you look closely you can see black dots where it fell over onto a charcoal covered floor when I was tidying up, hopefully it’ll just brush off when it’s dry!

Here’s the Gwen John portrait from the National Gallery that I had in mind when I set out. I wanted to rip it off the wall when I visited this year. Don’t compare too closely, it’s just a thought I had in mind! I didn’t look at it before starting the painting so it’s interesting to see them side by side after the event. Stronger textures, a bolder cut off composition and obviously talent make it a fabulous painting  but nevertheless a useful exercise to compare.

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If you’d be interested in joining the portrait course next year you can find out more and register interest here https://ianpriceart.co.uk/andrew-james-course/

 

Sadly the Andrew James #oilpainting #portrait #course is over for another year. #bristol #portishead

I’ve just had a great week painting with the great Andrew James RP.
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He came to Portishead (just outside Bristol) again to teach portraiture on a three day course that I organise. Everyone had a great time once more, I survived consecutive courses and you can see some examples of the student’s work and register your interest for an anticipated 2015 course on the course page if I’ve not got your details yet.

Thanks to Andrew and all the students and models for making it such a great success and Helen for behind the scenes support including critical cake making. 

Here are slideshows of the demos from the two courses last week. I’ll be posting my own work from it in a later post.

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