Monday, March 10, 2014

Bluebirds Continued

Always & Forever Bluebirds,
oils on canvas, Feb 2014
We have been moving right along….and I realise that I did not post the completed Blue Birds painting. Here it is, turned out fab and I really love it !  Always & Forever Bluebirds, oil on canvas, Feb 2014.  Shown here in our shop Valentines & early Feb window display

And it would become a gift, except turns out it is a bit too large to carry in a checked bag, even in large suitcase.  A few cm too big in both dimensions.  In May I have a trip to get out and about, and among other things meet a new grand-daughter.  My daughter Karen and her partner Mike expect her arrival any day now (literally !)  Karen really liked the BlueBirds painting (and earlier did ask if I would do a painting for the baby's nursery) and so I have started a second one, this one on a slightly smaller canvas that I know fits in the suitcase I will take along.  So, Bluebirds 2 !

construction on enclosing of the studio as resumed--Yeay !
I am really enjoying the painting in the studio to be.  Ian's fingers have healed and in mid-February he started back on construction work to enclose and finish the space.  Its such a nice area, great light and now all four windows are in place.  Plus a new beam for the back door, the one that leads up steps to the clothes line (a good ole Hills Hoist, an aussie icon !).  And he recently put in the new door too (it isn't painted yet, that minty green door you see is it).

I do have to share the workbench (my workbench !) with tools and all manner of bits and pieces used for work on the enclosure during the week.  I can honestly say, it takes more time to set up, and then pack up/put away as I spend on the painting session each Sunday.  I will love it when done, because I will be able to have some painting things out (neatly.  kind of.  maybe !) and will not have to put away and set up every painting session.  I am hoping this will get me into more painting.  Because, I have a big pipeline of ideas to turn into artworks !
sketching the composition
for Bluebirds 2 on the canvas

working on underpainting:
Anyhow, back to Bluebirds 2.  First, Bluebirds 1 got its typography and I couldn't be happier with it.  Though, it was not easy to do, I found a good way to get the spacing and shape for the lettering onto the canvas and then used black paint and a whisker fine paint brush to paint it in.  With some later little touch ups when the paint was dry, it looked great.   For Blue Birds 2, I made a few changes.  Actually thinking the composition looks a bit better than the first one.  I like the big heart frame on this size canvas.  5 small hearts, instead of 10, but I really like the look.  Birds and big centre heart frame same size as on BB1.  I sketched out the composition and spent a painting session doing an underpainting in thinned oils.  Again, working in water soluble oils, paints by Daniel Smith and also Lukas Berlin.  I am IN LOVE with the texture and workability of the Lukas Berlin water soluble oil paints.  Outstanding !  And I am delighted I can mix the Daniel Smith ones in too.  This allows me to extent my collection of paints & colour.
end of Bluebirds1 Session 1:
underpainting done, but
much more to do !

Bluebirds 2, Painting
Session 2
I knew that BlueBirds 2 would require 5 or 6 painting sessions and then dry time before packing and traveling.  So I planned weekly painting sessions, on Sunday afternoons, which have been glorious for painting and are a bit of free time for me.  The second painting session for Bluebirds 2 focused on everything actually, but lots of time spent on the birds.  And flower sprays, big heart frame and edging, and smaller hearts.  I decided to use some lighter/brighter colours.  Miss Baby Grand-Daughter's nursery has been painted a tropical coral colour (walls) and so I decided to use colours that would go with that and also the baby quilt I am making her, which has aqua and periwinkle blues, coral and soft tangerine, fresh spring greens and charcoal & black (it looks better than this may sound !).  So Bluebirds2 got more Quinacridone Coral (hearts), and Cerulean (birds).

Bluebirds 1 shown right, Blue Birds 2 on left, during
painting session 3 and just after I got the lettering
painted on.  Looking good !  (see how I must share the
art workbench with construction tools
like saw and level ?!)
I haven't yet decided on what to do with the background, but mulling this over.  I think  I do like the duck egg ground in BB1, and may do something similar.  But not same-same.  I brought BB1 home to help be sure I got the birds in BB2 equally cute !

BB2 session 3 was yesterday.  I added more yellow to the birds bellies.  They are now nearly done.  I added last touches to the sprays of blue and pink flowers, and the leaves are close to done.  The hearts got some shading.  And I added the Always and Forever quote (in french).  Again, some simple transfer of graphite to the ground to get my spacing and shape of the font lettering correct as I could, then filled in with paint, which was a slow and careful process.  But looking better than BB1 I think !

Bluebirds 2 at end of Painting Session 3, 0
That's it for the week.  Fine-tuning next Sunday.  And actually for days there after.  Then I need to leave well enough alone, and let it dry !

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Learning the New Paint

Happy Australia Day !  A fine day here, and lovely celebrations (with a BBQ  !)

Stopping point today.  The Bluebirds painting
with palette (foreground left) and a board
(foreground right) capturing colour
mixing record
I did not get to work on the Bluebirds painting this week until today….but I did call in at a favourite art supply shop earlier in the week and bought some Water Mixable/Soluble Linseed Oil to use with the water soluble oil paints.  The art shop had a brand from Germany by Lukas.  I also bought some of the Lukas Berlin water mixable oil paints, with a view to compare with the Daniel Smith ones, but hopefully to use the two brands together, so I could extend my colour selection.  I needed Cerulean Blue for better mixing (I already had Ultramarine Blue).  I also bought a light bright green, an Earth Brown, and a very large tube of Titanium White.

I found today's use of the paints to go better than last week.  The modified linseed oil medium was very nice and so were the Lukas paints.  Buttery rich and soft consistency, outstanding colours and texture.  I am really impressed with them.  They worked and mixed beautifully.  I was able to mix the two brands of paints well too.

I made a colour record on a piece of board.  Since I'm still learning my way with the new paints, the colour record is a very good idea.….as I am working on mixing, texture, and colour.  It will make a practical record for future reference and use with these paints.

the blue birds, closer up
Today's session focused on the blue birds, getting the flowers and leaves done in the oils, and adding some detail to the background.  Its all coming along.  I must decide on the words for the big heart.  Decisions,  decisions !

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Bluebirds Painting--on its way

bluebird detail
The Bluebirds painting was started 2 years ago….and has been asking for its turn to get more done to it.  Today I decided to tackle that, as a warm up to a new painting I will be starting soon.  I also decided to try out the new water soluble oil paints by Daniel Smith that I brought back from USA in December.

the underpainting, my starting
point today
This composition is of an antique Valentine's Day card.  When I did the initial painting 2 years ago, I created a copy of the card at massively expanded scale, so I would have the detail that is in the original card.  However, I did make a few changes in the painting, like leaving off the text that is on the card.  Somewhere I have the antique card, but can't find it at the moment, so the monochrome blow up image is my model for now.  That plus memory.

creating a record of the
colour palette using
the new paints,
along the bottom of the
monochrome copy of the card
Like some other paintings I recently finished in oils, the painting was initially done in acrylics on canvas.  And I wasn't happy with it, and wanted to finish it in oils.  Trying the new DS water soluble oils put the painting's work into experimental territory, as I wasn't sure how the new paints would perform, and how they would behave differently than each acrylics and oils.  It also meant I needed to do some work to colour mix, as I did not have a big collection of the DS paints (and for oils, I do have a good collection of colours).  I enjoy colour mixing, so having to mix colours was quite OK.  As I do for any project where colour mixing is involved, I create a simple record of the colours I create, and this time I put the paint dabs on my monochrome sheet of the card that inspires this composition.
working on the painting

I worked on the background, and warmed it up, with more duck egg blue hues.  I also worked on the borders of the centre heart, and the smaller hearts.   Then I tackled the birds, which were sketched, but only partly painted in.  I wanted the birds to look cute, with sweet faces, as they have in the antique card image.

I like the Daniel Smith water soluble oils, but they dry on the palette faster than regular oils.  They were also a bit dryer on the brush without water in the mix, hard to explain….but seemed so.  I am also not used to using water to thin them, I may need a bit of practice and experimenting with it.  I might get some water soluble linseed oil medium to try with them (I left it behind, as I wasn't sure I could bring it on commercial aircraft).  The clean up is brilliant, EASY water clean up of brushes and also the palette.  Very nice !  All in all, I am pretty impressed and liked the paints.  to learn more about the Daniel Smith water soluble oils, check out

I think the birds came out very well.  They look good and have cute expressions.  They need just some fine tuning to the shadings and highlights on them, and a bit of fine tuning detail on their little faces and also their feet.  I also need to tidy up the background, maybe put in some pattern on the stripes.  The hearts need the white border tidied.  And the flowers and leaves will be some work too.

My stopping point today.  Its on its way !

Another UFO (unfinished object, (this one a painting) is now on its way to completion.  I'll post it when done !

Friday, January 3, 2014

Happy New Year 2014

Wishing you a Happy New Year 2014, with prosperity, good health and happiness to all.

We ended our 2013 year here with a bit of the unexpected !  Ian was injured seriously and has one hand injured to the point of needing to take a complete unscheduled break (see 3 January post on to see more about this unsked break !).  Thankfully it was not more critical or life threatening, but it was scary, and  loss of good use of a hand to weeks or months of recovery time is a pretty big impact for us (Ian is always busy and uses his hands for his work).

So what to do ?  Well, New Years Eve turned out to be a bit of a quiet evening as you might imagine, with quiet rest and pain killers for Ian.  As for me, I had good fruit on hand and set about to prepare it for the next day.  Something to do while counting down last hours of the year !  January 1st saw me making what has turned out to be a stellar batch of jam !  Apricot-Rose Jam, recipe credit to Blue Chair Jam Cookbook, an awesome reference to follow either literally or use for inspiration.  I don't always (I am often more an "inspired-by" sort of cook !), but this time followed the recipe pretty much to the letter, though with a scaled down quantity of fruit, suiting what I had available in peak condition.  And it has come out well indeed.  Here is a short photo journal of its production.

Apricots macerate in sugar
with lemon juice overnight
under wrap and in fridge

Cracked the apricot pits
to get the soft almond like
kernel inside.  Chopped up
and put in tea strainer to
cook in the jam mix
My gel set test worked great--its perfect !
(used freezer method)

Jam is ready.    Take off the heat now.
jam in jar, jar edge cleaned,
lid about to go on

The end result of the jam was outstanding.   Bright beautiful flavour, perfect colour, and excellent texture and set too.  A good result and sign for a fresh start in 2014, under a New Moon, and channeling healing thoughts and reminders about what is most important.   Ian's injury is healing and now we give it time and rest.  A good time to take stock and clear the decks for the next stage of things around here.   More soon !

Kim's Barossa Apricot-Rose Jam