Being stranded out in the countryside and all the museums and galleries being shut, this blog will be in abeyance until such time as they reopen and I can go again. Strangely, I have felt no urge at all to engage with the various digital offerings the galleries are all putting out. For me, seeing the art in person is the thing and a reproduction rarely produces the same results.
I have also been without my usual art implements and so, with the weather being quite good and there literally being nothing else to do, I have had to improvise. So I hammered two pieces of balsa to a board, added in some nails, tied it to a stepladder with some wire and there you are… an easel. Fortunately, Cass Art was able to deliver some essential supplies and then it was up and running. The above was my first painting, a sort of test piece if you will.
I am a very messy painter. I get paint all over myself, the surroundings, passing animals etc. Without access to a studio only really watercolour painting can be done indoors, as at least that is washable (although less washable than you might think). Therefore painting was relegated to outside. My usual practice is to identify a scene I like, photograph and sketch it on location (often only photograph it) and the paint from that photograph over a number of days or weeks in the comfort of the studio. However if you have to paint outside you should take advantage of it.
I have also signed up for Sky Landscape Artist of the Year, which I am hoping will still go ahead and so decided to get some practice in. I decided to pick as my subjects the trees in the garden but decided I would try rendering them in a slightly different way. I produced different coloured grounds and then painted the trees and other details on top (above). I think the result is rather good.
The other limiting factor is the presecence of my 2 year old niece, painting has to be carefully guarded as she thinks it is hilarious to push her hands into my paints and then cover everything with the resulting mess. You see her tiny head surverying the yellow and black painting.
With these two I went for a slightly different approach, I applied the coloured ground and then using a mixture of wiping back and either charcoal (above left) or natural chalk I found lying around (above right) produced the actual painting. Some of the more aggressive charcoal marks were applied of the owner of the tiny head you can see. They came out rather well. I am particularly pleased with the yellow and charcoal one.
At this point I ran out of canvas. There was of course a great deal of carboard packaging lying around so I covered it in three layers of Gesso and used this as a painting surface. The folding creases in the cardboard naturally suggested some kind of triptych. I settled on a still life, collected some stones and a stick from the countryside and supplemented them with househould objects.
The approach as you can see is the whole picture in the centre and the two of the objects larger on the flanks. The first painting (above left) is just on the Gesso as a surface whereas the second (above right) I applied paint as a background. The first is more successful I think. Cardboard is a tricky surface to paint on though and fine detail was difficult. Incidentally the plants are bluebells (above left) and Alliums (above right).
My current project is a landscape triptych. Fortunately DIY shops were open so I was able to procure some Plywood boards (3mm instead of my preferred 5mm so they are a bit floppy but you use what you can), applied 6 layers of Gessp and set off. This is at the very early stages and progress is hampered by the appearance of occasionally tiny handprints, on the paintings, from my tiny studio assistant. They will hopefully be finished soon.
We are planning, in my village, an exhibition once rules allow. It will be showing what people have been doing during the lockdown. All proceeds will go to the local church. More details soon.
William John Mackenzie
I am an artist with a specialism in landscapes and still life. My contact details are here.