Thursday, 25 September 2014

Allegorical painting

After finishing the mermaid (and the old quilts I have been restoring), I have been painting.
I took a course on Craftsy  Painting an Allegory: Concept to Canvas with Martin Wittfooth.

This covered use of symbols; then design, using the golden mean, thirds and diamond grids; using Photoshop to construct a layout and transferring this to canvas;  painting using layers and glazes.
I chose elements that are meaningful to me.

My husband and I have spent seven years photographing all the UK butterflies (59 species) and finished with the Northern Brown Argus this year. I thought we would be joyous but instead we feel a bit flat! So we are considering pursuing (only with cameras) native british orchids, moths and/or dragonflies.

The image below is my Photoshopped design for the canvas - the Swallowtail is significant for the sheer elusiveness of it, also the puffins which we finally photographed properly this year at Bempton Cliffs which has provided the basic landscape and rocks etc. I always take lots of photographs so I had a lot of pictures to choose from. Though the puffins  were incredibly hard to spot. Nev and I split up and right at the far end of the path I saw these, which put on a real performance. It was like the Kit-Kat ad where the pandas dance around behind the photographer's back. Poor Nev only really saw orange feet in a crevice in the cliffs.

(However, we went on a boat trip to the Farne Islands in June and landed amongst terns conducting bombing raids on us and saw hundreds of puffins, so we were both happy then).

The next picture shows the drawing  transferred onto the canvas, using charcoal as pencil lines can show through the paint.

Underpainting one, building up the layers using lots of thin glazes

In progress - this is about finished but all on one flat plane

so the tutor, Martin Witfooth suggested picking up some background colour to glaze the puffins to add depth, so this  is the finished version

The course was really intended for oil painters, but the tutor was really helpful and suggested using retarders to slow the drying time. I also used lots of thin, almost  transparent washes using a glazing medium to build up depth.

I am now painting an allegory with guillemots and the Northern Brown Argus.

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Finished mermaid

And here she is, mortared into place - looking a bit raw at moment but she will weather

She was fired in two halves and mortared together and then mortared in place - I am disappointed with the colour of the mortar being so obtrusive but I hope it will soften in time. I made a recess in her lap and a drainage hole as I constructed her so that she could act as a planter, so I have added ivy to soften the overall effect. 

An earlier mermaid has weathered well and has a living "foam" of ivy to hide her joins!

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Here she is, ready for firing (not the rabbit!) - the tail does join on OK

though it is separate. I would have liked more of a flourish to the tail but thought it would probably get broken

I am making bits of shell and seaweed to go over the join if necessary.

After this I shall make something very very small.

Sunday, 9 March 2014

Mermaid sculpture - intended for front porch of our house.

This has been a very long project, sculpting a mermaid to sit on a brick "shelf" at the side of the arch of the porch. I had intended to make one for either side but she has taken so long I am inclined to change to making something tiny next time! Exquisite yet indeterminate  porcelain things, I think, hanging from almost invisible wires... and very very very small.

Something like this (made years ago)

Despite careful measurements this mermaid also seems too big, but I am hoping that she will shrink by at least the 10% she is supposed to. I  had a cardboard template of the right angle of the wall and "shelf" where she is to fit, and also a template of the base, but She could have outgrown them.
Her face is deliberately a bit fish eyed: I had to be stopped from adding a fish tail hanging out of her mouth but she is much more sinister than I intended.
She still needs the rest of her tail which is being constructed separately as it is too big for the kiln otherwise.

Technical info - she is made of crank, which is a strong and gritty clay suitable for outdoor use and I built her up from the thighs upwards, closing the head last of all.
I decided on hair to cover her breasts as the shells were just incredibly naff,

Hair is inclined to fall off - I know this from bitter experience, as I have various balding figures - so the hair was really wet and moulded into the figure. 

 she his holding seaweed in her hands which are designed to hold a bowl (of ivy?) so there is a drainage hole there, 

and she has been made as thin and hollow as possible so she should fire OK. 

I incised seaweed patterns and scales on the tail

For the tail, I made a template to fit on the end of the existing tail with some seaweedy bits to hide the join (that is what the bowl of ivy could also be for, to flow over the join like "foam"). There is a projecting tube to fit the tail piece into the existing sculpture, and the tail has been rolled out in clay then curved into shape.
I will add pictures of the tail piece next time I go to my pottery session. 

Monday, 24 February 2014