Good morning everyone. Yesterday I was having a look at all the paintings I’ve been doing since last March. And I noticed that quite a few of them feature light shining through the trees. For example, the image above is my latest acrylic done for the online course I’m following. To tell you the truth, I just love the way the shadow of the trees is laid down in stripes with the rays of the late afternoon sun.
In contrast, I did this intuitive abstract in mixed media back in March. You see, that was when our first lockdown started in the UK and things seemed very black. Actually, this was one of the earliest pages I completed in the journal I started. And this really did help me through. As you can see, I instinctively went for a sunlit view through the trees. Nothing was planned beforehand and afterwards I even wrote the word ” cheerful ” on the page to reinforce the optimistic message.
A Light at the End of the Tunnel, Through the Trees
And finally, I painted this acrylic canvas last April, when we were beginning to talk hopefully about vaccines . In fact, this was the third piece in a triptych telling the story of how the world has been altered by the human race – see this post here if this interests you. ( I subsequently added another two chapters to this story to give it a really happy ending! ) And, I must say, I have continued to paint around the subject of light shining through trees right up until now. But, I’ll save that for another post!
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Last week I was inspired by the combinations of colours that I saw in the summer flowers I was planting in our window boxes . Pink and red caught my eye and I worked with these to create an abstract flower painting . I had been talking to a friend online about simple printing . So I had a go at relief printing some leaves . I used the easiest , non-tech method ! After coating the back of the leaf with acrylic paint , I pressed it gently on to the painting , using a sheet of clean paper to protect everything from my painty fingers . Then I experimented with the amount of paint I used and the pressure I applied to get different effects . I also made a second print with the same painted leaf and the resulting print has quite a faint , dreamy quality that is very pleasing . The possibilities are endless ! I quite liked the result .
You might have seen this mixed media piece earlier on in the year. I just loved the colours of the Spring flowers back in April or May .For this abstract flower painting I used watercolour , pen and coloured pencil.
Another Abstract FlowerPainting
This watercolour painting is one of my own favourites , Sweetpeas from the Allotment. I liked it so much that I chose it for the poster to advertise my solo exhibition back in January at theSkelmanthorpe Gallery in West Yorkshire. You can read all about it in this posthere .
Actually , I have realized just recently that I prefer doing an abstract flower painting now , rather than in realistic style . So , watch this space for more experiments !
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I painted this picture back in April – I was just longing for some relief from the worry and grief I felt at the height of the pandemic. I’ve waited quite a long while before showing it but perhaps now is the time? The Light at the End of the Tunnel -is there some now ?
Artist’s Inspiration for ‘The Light at the End of the Tunnel ‘
The idea for the painting came to me quite instinctively . I was walking through a small park , enjoying looking at the tree blossom and the new growth on all the plants . And I suddenly thought about how vulnerable we are to illness or viruses . So I decided that the figure should be naked to symbolise the defenceless feelings a lot of us have had , during this pandemic . I also pictured him in luxuriant foliage . I was , no doubt , influenced by the scene in the garden I was walking through !
I think I was gradually working towards this idea . Just have a look at this mixed media journal page I created in March this year , to cheer myself up. I called it ‘ A Brighter Day ‘ It was very intuitive , but afterwards I realised it was a picture of hope , breaking through like a glorious sunrise .
My ‘ Progress of Mankind ‘ Series
And the other stage in the process was , of course , my ‘Paradise ‘ painting . Here I portrayed the Earth as a wonderful , unspoilt world in the trilogy that I created for a commission proposal earlier this year.
You could say that ‘ Paradise ‘ was Part 1 , then ‘ Hell on Earth ‘ Part 2 came next , followed by ‘ Free Spirit ‘Part 3 . You can see the whole story in this post here . But now I can see that ‘Light at the End of the Tunnel ‘ Part 4 comes next in the story . I’ll show you Part 5 in a little while . None of this was planned . But I realise , with hindsight , that my intuitive inspiration was steadily moving through these past events and helping me to cope . I wonder if anyone else has noticed any effects on their art practice ?
I am always inspired by the beauty of plants and flowers in my spring garden . And this acrylic painting in the naive style is an idealized view of my allotment , just as dusk is falling . As you can see , I’m having a cuppa after a hard day’s work . I’m spending a few minutes watching the last rays of the sun over the pond .
However , during Lockdown this year , I , like a lot of other people, was confined to my house . And our small back garden received a lot more attention than usual ! I painted this watercolour sketch (Crabapple) outside , sitting on my tiny patio in March this year. To tell you the truth , I enjoyed just being outside in my Spring garden on a fine afternoon .The tree was just beginning to show its bright green , frilly leaves .Do you know , this tree provides us with enough apples to make three or four jars of Apple Jelly each year . They are really delicious with pork chops . I completed this sketch in forty minutes urban sketching style !
Windowbox Flowers in our Spring Garden
I observed the Spring flowers quite closely . And these were in the window box outside my living room window . As you can see , the colours of the flowers in this watercolor sketch really glowed . Especially the contrast between the complimentary colours purple and yellow . Again , this was a very quick sketch . I did this as I stood in front of the window , looking down at the windowbox through the glass !
Straight after painting ‘Spring Flowers ‘ I felt inspired to do a mixed media abstract composition . So I concentrated on the colours and shapes of the flowers and leaves. Then I layered on collage , pencil and oil pastel to create that textured effect .
And , finally, when I was working yesterday at the allotment garden , I took five minutes in a coffee break . Just enough time to do a quick pencil drawing of the brassica plants . They were straight in front of me as I sat in the shade . There were two different kinds of cabbage and a Brussel sprout plant in our Spring garden up at the allotment ( the broccoli plants are not ready to go in yet )
So you see ,my gardens give me endless inspiration !
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This is my latest mixed media experiment an abstract composition using collage, acrylic , watercolour and oil pastel . In fact , there’s even some marker and pencil in there – although the pencil might be a mistake as it is too shiny. I wonder , do you happen to know how how to apply a few sharp , precise marks over mixed media layers without using pencil ? Because I’d love to know . Anyway, I don’t really know what I’ve painted here . It was quite instinctive really . But I think it has something to do with wanting to escape from the anxiety and threat of this virus ! And it’s painted on brown paper which I bought at David Hockney’s Gallery on a trip to Saltaire ( more of that later ) .
The toned paper in this case is a rather nice brown paper. You see , I have admired other sketching friends’ drawings on brown paper sketchpads so I bought one . However, I don’t really like the effect of acrylic paint on this paper . Perhaps it was the colours I chose . But they don’t seem to have the sparkle that I like when I use white paper.
Sketching on Brown Toned Paper – the Hockney Gallery Connection
Now for the interesting par – I bought this sketchpad at David Hockney’s gallery at Saltaire . At the time , I was taking part in an Urban Sketchers crawl back in February. Maybe you remember my post all about it . Anyway , we spent the morning in a small brewery/pub and I sketched the brewing equipment in mixed media . As you can see , I used pen , pencil and watercolour . See my blog post here
To be honest , it was great fun – perhaps one day soon Urbansketchers Yorkshire will be able to meet up again .
David Hockney’s Gallery at the Saltaire World Heritage Site, Shipley , near Bradford , UK
Salt’s Mill is actually a complex of woollen mill buildings established by Titus Salt . Also , he built the model village alongside it in the 1850’s . In effect , the village included neat, tidy terraced cottages , a church and a Sunday school . And then there were allotments , a school , a park and much more alongside the river Aire . Really , it’s quite fascinating, so go and have a look if you get the chance .
The downstairs floor of Salt’s Mill shows an exhibition of earlier Hockney artwork . Do you know, David Hockney was born and brought up in Bradford , just down the road from Saltaire .The downstairs floor is also where you can find the art shop where I bought the toned paper sketchpad . And , upstairs there’s a museum room about the history of the factory . But the star of the show is the David Hockney Gallery. In fact , it now displays some recent work from the Spring exhibition of locations in East Yorkshire . This , of course , is where the artist used to live . Enough said , just have a look at the fabulous pictures !
The Coming of Spring in Yorkshire – 2011 in David Hockney’s Gallery
Our First Visit
The first time we visited the gallery was thirty years ago . And we were lucky enough to see the large drawing that David was sending by fax across from California ! The drawing was arriving piece by piece. Then the very large drawing was re-assembled from pieces of copy paper and displayed on the wall . This was revolutionary at the time . I love the way this artist always enjoys using the latest technology to create his work .
These ‘paintings ‘ are all actually prints of iPad drawings and I think they are absolutely stunning ! I hope that you have enjoyed my little exhibition review .
I wanted to show you one of my lockdown art journal piece , a mixed media abstract, now that it is finished. I had seen a few great ideas online using masking tape to divide up paper or canvas into sections. Then you paint an abstract composition, remove the tape carefully and admire ! Well , I couldn’t find the tape , so , rather than waste time looking, I quickly drew some strips with pencil and rule .Then came the fun part . I treated each shape as an independent unit and just painted instinctively. I will admit to having used a limited palette of colours , but no other planning took place . On this mixed media abstract , I used all sorts. For example, watercolour , acrylic , collage , pen , pencil , oil pastel .
Mixed Media with Collage
I really enjoyed using all kinds of media on this piece mixed media abstract – first pen , then lots of watercolour . It might be a bit difficult to see in the image ‘ Fragments ‘, but at this stage , I glued on some cutouts of collage samples I made using leftover acrylic paints ( like the one above ) . After that , I couldn’t resist using coloured markers and oil pastels ( and a bit more acrylic in the strips ) .
Fragments of Landscape
What did I think about during the process ? Well, stained glass , glimpses of landscape through a window and colour experiments . But , to be honest, it took on a life of it’s own and I just painted intuitively . It’s quite small , about 8 inches square and I think it’s time I tried this on a much bigger scale . I wonder , do you ever experiment with mixed media work ?
Actually , I did a few mixed media pieces in my isolation art journal – you can see them on my Instagram account – @margarethallfineart or click on the button right at the very bottom of this post.