Friday, January 23, 2015

Wishful Thinking

Wishful Thinking © Niall O'Neill
We have an abundance of bluebells in our garden; they grow with enthusiasm and spread themselves about, both the blue and the white varieties. I wanted to paint some in a little brass jug, to get the colour harmony between the complementaries. After trying out some other sundry objects in my collection of bric-a-brac, I decided to put the brass jug on a little Buddhist stand, and used a cloisonné snail as a whimsical note.
This is the initial sketch, which as you can see is very cursory, and a fill-in with basic colour and values.
The colour change on the background is wholly down to lighting conditions when I took the photos, and my complete inability to match them from session to session! The basic colours are greens, brown, off-white, black, and three shades of blue for the flowers - all Carbothello pencils at this stage.

The next stage is to finish the flowers with the colours I require to make them as realistic as possible. I used Sennelier Blue-Violet 331-335; and Prussian 464 for the shadows among the flowers. I outlined the flowers with the background colour to verify my values, started and continued with the brass jug, which has Rembrandt greens,  umbers and ochres; intensified the black top to the stand, worked on the facia, and began the shadows underneath. A check at this point shows me that the stems of the bluebells do not fit within the jug and will need correction.

I pull down the background almost to the horizon line; intensify the shadows under the stand; correct the bluebells by narrowing the stems and fractionally widening the neck of the jug. The snail starts to get a fill of greys, greens blues and Indian red (Carbothello again, Caran d'Ache umber, and Rembrandt). Note the dirty fingerprints on the untouched area! Tricky to keep clean when handling such dark colours, but I also know that I will cover this area later. Finally, I fill in and adjust the background with Senneliers darkest blue mixed with green, which intensifies it; the base is green and black, also blended together. Reflections are adjusted, soft pastel highlights added to the snail, and the piece is signed - and consigned to a temporary frame until I recheck it in about a month.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Foo Fighters

Ok ok, I know it's an offshoot of Nirvana. But Foo Dogs, or even Temple Lions would also cover the subject, but not as catchily.
I bought a pair of Foo dogs off eBay, in two different attitudes, I had wanted to paint them since I saw Jane Lund's lovely rendering of the subject.
Image © Jane Lund

The set-up was simple - a pair of ceramic dogs on black glass, black velvet backdrop, and a carved Chinese plinth to vary the levels of the two. I photographed the set-up and converted the image in PaintshopPro to 16 colours - effectively posterizing the image. I used that image for the base drawing and  blocking in. The difference in ground colour is due to the change in ambient light between photo sessions.
At this stage I am using hard pastels only - pencils and a few Rembrandts.

Here we are looking at the finishing of the left hand figure, and the blocking in of the plinth. I am still using Rembrandts for the finer details, but Schminke and Sennelier are participating in the colour fields on the statues.

At this stage the figures are nearing completion, and I want to check out the contrast between the lights, the planned dark background, and the edges of the figures against the background.

The background is filled in; the plinth completed with pencils, Rembrandt, and Caran d'Ache; and the foreground filled in too. The background is a mixture of  Sennelier's darkest blue (463) and darkest green (177). The foreground has black and green in it.

Foo Fighters © Niall O'Neill
Final image has reflections added and highlights refined. It will be put aside, and maybe adjusted before being framed and displayed.