Small still life

I had a few hours free recently, so I painted a small still life.  It consisted of a miniature spirits bottle that I filled with rum and an old pewter goblet.

When I first started to learn how to paint, I did lots of these small still lives on 15cm x 15cm or 15cm x 20cm boards.  They only take an afternoon and it’s a good way to try things without wasting a lot of time and materials when things go wrong, as they inevitably will.  More recently I have worked a lot from photographs, so it was good to get back to painting from life.

When I started learning to paint ‘seriously’,  I took a lot of the advice given my Mark Carder from  His ‘no-nonsense’ guide to painting realism was ideal for me and he even has tutorials on how to build studio equipment, such as easels (which I followed and am very pleased with the result).

Anyway, this was my subject.

I painted on a 15x20cm canvas covered panel, that had already had a reddish-brown ground applied.  There’s no particular reason for that, it’s just what I had lying around.  I wasn’t trying to create a masterpiece, just have a bit of fun.

The panel was stuck to a plywood board held vertically in my easel.  The basic structure was sketched in with a turpsy mix of blue and brown.

Unfortunately I took these pictures with my phone and the colours are way off.

Next I mixed up most of the colours that I thought I would need.  Lots of greys for the backround and the goblet and some yellows, greens and golds for the bottle.

I used my ‘normal’ basic palette of burnt umber, ultramarine blue, cadmiums red and yellow and titanium white.  You can mix an amazing range with only these five colours.  I also used some yellow ochre, though I probably didn’t need to.

I painted the background first, then the bottle and lastly the goblet.

After about 4 hours I ended up with this.

I was tight for time as I had to go home (to make the kids’ dinner!), so the goblet was really rushed.  I knew I could always go back over it at a later date.  Perhaps I will, but the point of the exercise was really just to get my hand in again and put in a few more ‘learning hours’.

I enjoyed getting the gold colours of the rum something like right and the long elegant shape of the bottle was satisfying to paint.

I think I am ready for a larger and more adventurous painting though.  Either a portrait or a nocturnal street scene.  Details to follow …

First solo exhibition

Yes, my first ever solo exhibition is underway.  If anyone reading this lives within a reasonable distance of Bridge of Weir, Renfrewshire, Scotland then you are welcome to pop along.

For everybody else … what can I say about it?

Firstly, it is evidence that I have enough work that I consider ‘good enough’ to be worth showing.

I want the quality of my paintings to keep improving.  Consequently it’s easy to think that my work “isn’t quite there yet” and that I should wait until it is better before showing it.  Obviously, this could go on forever so at some point I have to put it out there as it is.

Secondly, the venue is a community centre and not a dedicated art gallery.  In fact the building used to be the public library where I would sometimes go to revise for my school exams thirty years ago!

So there was no grand opening, canapés, free wine, string quartets or speeches.  In fact the organisation was stress free.  Some very helpful people from the centre hung the work and all I had to do was get some posters printed and distribute a few locally.

Thirdly, I have no expectations of what the exhibition will achieve.  As the centre is used for many purposes such as classes, clubs and even film nights, it’s certain that my paintings will be seen by a good number of people over the five week period.  Whether any of them will make a purchase – who knows?  Perhaps I will be surprised, maybe I’ll get a commission, maybe I’ll be invited to exhibit elsewhere or maybe nothing will happen at all!  The final verdict will be the subject of a future blog post.

As the exhibition rumbles I am having fun painting some small sketchy portraits such as this one of a former colleague from my time in France.

His name is Paul (nickname Polo) and is quite a character and favorite around the village of Saint Just le Martel, where we both worked (and he presumably still does).