Happy Easter and welcome to my spring blog.
After a long , dark winter it's been wonderful to enjoy some warm weather and it couldn't come soon enough. We've had an unusually high bout of winter bugs in my household this year and I've been longing for summer sun to melt away the snotty noses and chesty coughs!
It hasn't been all bad, I've had a few breaks including a city weekend trip to Prague in February for my husbands birthday. It was beauitifyul with its cobbled streets, grand architecture with gothic turrets. It's as if the place was made for us- everywhere are stylish shops, intimate basement jazz clubs on every corner and 'oldy-worldy' taverns selling an array of beers - what's not to like?
Before my trip, I finally managed to finish this commission oil painting that I've been working on for a while. It took me longer than usual and I had the inevitable ups and downs with it but I'm happy with the end result.
When I went to see her for initial sketches and photos, she watched me sketching with such interest. I was touched to hear that she was inspired try out pastels after seeing me work, and gave me a lovely hug when they came to collect the finished painting.
You can read more about the process of this commission in my December blog "It's a Wonderful Life".
The thing I find most difficult when working on a commission is the age old question of when to stop.
This has always been a dilemma, my problem being I seek perfection, and in its persuit I often overwork the portrait. Feeling dissatisfied I then feel the need to start again and approach it a different way. In one way this is good as its helpful to explore different routes to an end product but it means that I have a studio full to brimming of unfinished peices.
I have had the same struggle with my exhibition portraits that I've been working on for a year now. I get frustrated with my progress and feel the need to start a new one. Infuriatingly, most of the subjects Im painting I have done 2-3 versions/attempts of each one and none of them are yet finished! See below
Version 1 of 'Portrait of Josh' (unfinished)
Version 2 of 'Portrait of Josh '(unfinished)
Version 1 of 'Ellie' (unfinished)
Version 2 of 'Ellie (unfinished)
Version 3 of 'Ellie' (unfinished)
At this rate, I shan't be having an exhibition any time soon!
I have many, many more versions of unfinished subjects stashed in my studio.
I've realised that there really is no such thing as a finished painting. It is more of a continuous timeline on which the painting fluctuates and evolves. It is never finished - it's just that you have stopped working on it. I try and stop when I realise that I'm not improving it - not so much closure but more a fear of ruining it , sometimes it's already too late :(
I found these quotes which really resonate:
“Art is never finished, only abandoned” – Leonardo da Vinci
“One always has to spoil a picture a little bit in order to finish it” – Eugene Delacroix
“To finish a work? To finish a picture? What nonsense! To finish it means to be through with it, to kill it, to rid it of its soul, to give it its final blow the coup de grace for the painter as well as for the picture” – Pablo Picasso
"A thing is complete when you can let it be" - Gita Bellin
I have recently 'finished' these charcoal commissions of 2 handsome brothers, below. They had a wind swept, surfer dude look about them which I liked.
The older of the brothers (first image) had lovely eyes and was very outgoing so I wanted to have him facing the viewer front on with direct eye contact. The younger boy (above) seemed a little more reserved, I loved the cute dimple in his chin.
Talking of handsome brothers, here are 2 pencil portrait commissions that I did a couple of months ago of these two brothers (below)
Their Mum is a photographer and sent me some photos of them. I never actually met the boys but I felt their chracters come through in the pictures.
In February I was lucky enough to catch the Klimt/Shiele exhibition of life drawings at the Royal Academy before it finished.
Some of Sheille's drawings were disturbing and brilliant in equal amounts
These are 2 of my favourite figure artists so seeing their shetches from life was facinating. The beauty and simplicity of the lines just showcases what Masters of observational drawing they were and has inpired me to do more life drawing wherever possible.
Lastly, here is another unfinished piece I've been working on. A monoprint and pastel painting of my Mum when I take her for coffee on our weekly outings. I try to make the most of these moments with her now that her dementia has advanced and I've felt more of a need to draw and sketch her recently.
I used acylic paint to create the textures for the monoprint and then enhanced it with pastels. I love the looseness of monoprint and how it captures movement and atmosphere. I'll be running a workshop in Autumn exploring different monoprint techniques.
That's it for now, time to head back to my studio- I've got some abandoned paintings to resolve :)