Thursday, 22 September 2016

Jeremy Corbyn

I have a friend in England who is attracted to freak shows and who wants us all to live in a Stalinist-like, Big Brother state. I haven't had the courage to ask him if he's a member of Jeremy's Momentum nutting squad yet but I'll get around to that someday. Right now my knees are vital to me getting from A to B.

Jeremy Corbyn (click to view larger)
My friend (Pete) knows I am totally opposed to comrade Corbyn but that didn't stop him from asking me to paint his beloved Messiah. He'd seen my Keira Knightley pastel and was impressed but rather red flagged by the size of my price tag. Good, as she's not for sale! I was getting the impression this Corbyn request was a gift for someone and that he had a miserly budget which in pastel terms would have had me painting below the minimum wage. He found me a picture of the current Labour leader that he liked and I could put up/work with.

After a few emails and a telephone conversation we agreed a budget of £350. But it wouldn't be pastel as it doesn't travel well in the post. I would deliver him a Cintiq painting 42cms wide that he could frame himself in England. I finished it in three days (16 hours roughly). I'm loathe to give any space and recognition to this nutcase politician but I have to say I like the finished job (using Painter 2017 on a Cintiq) and the cheque made up for all the anguish I suffered painting him.

I now know how Ashers felt when they were asked to go against their principles and bake (or rather not bake) that well publicised  'gay' cake last year. I had thought of turning down Pete's request on purely political grounds but an unexpected window appeared in early September and having nothing better to do I thought what the hell. Now I'm just waiting for someone to ask me to do a Gerry frigging Adams painting for the long overdue day he retires! Go take a jump! Just get him a watch. Or better still a timer might be more appropriate.

Kindly warning: avoid painting men with greying beards at all cost!

The good news is some of the stylised brushes in the new Painter 2017 are just awesome. The bad news is my ten year old Cintiq is nearly on its last legs, I need to replace pen (brush) nibs as they are wearing out and my eyesight is becoming more blurred the longer I stare at a screen. Maybe time to go back down the traditional route for a few months. Or buy this updated HD 24in Cintiq

From an artistic point of view I am definitely more expressive and looser digitally than with pastels as there is a Command Z key for immediate unlimited undos. I can try things out and with so many brushes I'm encouraged to experiment for different effects. Same with colour. I went slightly overboard with Corbyn's facial features making him more red (and wearisome) than he actually was – call that a pinch of 'commie' political correctness. I used oils and acrylics and a touch of watercolour to produce the more blurred areas in his shirt and hair. Things you could never do in real life but you can get off with here thanks to layers, cut and paste and blending.

This has given me the idea that I might use these more looser painting as the basis for my pastel work where I do need to become more painterly and less illustrative if only for my own sanity. I enjoy creating both digital and traditional so maybe it's time I marry them for better or worse, till death us do part.

In closing Pete was delighted with the Corbyn painting and I as a 'bloody Red Tory' (his words) was happy his cheque didn't bounce.

Friday, 9 September 2016

Digital artwork of the Argory

The EU referendum has thankfully come and gone and the UK is brexiting Europe! It seemed a bit odd to me that Sinn Fein were campaigning for BRITS IN and the DUP for BRITS OUT!  But hey that's politics here in Northern Ireland! I'm OK about leaving as the continental Europeans never really shared their summer-long sunshine with us pasty faced west Brits. Huh!  

Anyway there I was on yet another wet July day, bored enough to be playing with Photoshop and Painter digital paintbrushes on my 21in Cintiq for the first time in several years. I had just finished off a commissioned pastel piece for Rachel (the girl with the pink umbrella below) and decided to play with the photograph I had taken of it. I worked up a snowstorm with dedicated brushes, I created a Van Gogh swirly sky and just cleaned up all the bits I wasn't that happy with in the pastel painting. Four or five hours later I had something very unique on screen – a souped-up and vastly improved version of my original. Rachel saw both and rightly went with the pastel version. Because I have the digital version in around five layers I can change specific areas of the painting. More blizzardy snow falling – sure no problem - just duplicate the layer and clone or create more snowflakes! Hack off a few branches - who needs a tree surgeon when I can cut, clone and use 'Content Aware' in Photoshop.

I waved Rach and her pastel painting goodbye as she headed off to catch her plane to Manchester. I hate giving work I have done away but I am reassured that it has a great home and I have a copy of it. Some day I may do it again in pastel but for now I need to get back to my bread and butter day job!     

Click on the image to view larger.

My digital blizzard

No Monday Night Pastel class for me at the Island this term

I've been going to Monday night pastel classes at the Island Centre in Lisburn for two years now and it's been enjoyable meeting up with other pastellists. 

Because I'm not an Island member I don't have access to early priority booking for their workshops – I just wait for the public booking to open. Yesterday was that day! 

I did try to get through three times on the phone but all I got were automated responses – line was busy please call back. The same this morning. I went online to see if I could possibly register there and discovered that the pastel class was fully booked. Ah well. Means I'll get watching Cold Feet at 8pm and not whenever on the BBC iPlayer. I have no idea what's behind the sudden rise in pastel popularity among Lisburn peeps. Do people hate James Nesbitt that much? 

I'll not be joining the Island's Priority Booking List anytime soon as I dislike privilege and the idea that you can pay to jump a queue grates with me. In times past I've been fortunate to get a place a week before Dawn's pastel class started at the end of September and then in January. 

I'm a great believer in "what's meant for you won't pass you by" and "if one door closes, it's shut!" so I'll just move on and say that Monday night part of my life is over for now. I'm first on the stand-by list if any of the 16 who did get a place on the Pastel class drop out, but I'm kinda resigned to see how Adam fares on Cold Feet minus the lovely Rachel!  


Thursday, 8 September 2016

Hillsborough Art Society Programme 2016-2017

I'm really looking forward to several of these demonstrations in the coming society year.

Wednesday 5th October
Emma Spence - Oils/Mixed Media demonstration

Wednesday 2nd November
Trevor Woods - Creative Pottery demonstration

Wednesday 7th December
Dawn Mitchell - Pastels demonstration

Wednesday 4th January
Shirley Travena - Watercolour video

Wednesday 1st February
Paul Walls - Acrylics demonstration

Wednesday 1st March
An Evening with Neil Shawcross

Wednesday 5th April
Grahame Booth - Watercolours demonstration

Wednesday 3rd May
Annual General Meeting and video

Thursday 25th May – Monday 29th May
29th Annual Exhibition in Hillsborough Village School

Wednesday 7th June
Leo Casement - Acrylics demonstration

Wednesday 6th September
Jeff Monaghan - watercolours demonstration

Thursday, 1 September 2016

Lisnagarvey Art Society Programme September - December 2016

Lisnagarvey Art Society is back for another year at the Island Arts Centre on a Tuesday Night (7.45pm - 10pm). Below is a weekly rundown of the menu for the autumn/winter term. 

So whether you’re into oils, acrylics, watercolours, pastels or just drawing there’ll be someone doing what you’re interested in. First night is free but if you want to join it’s around £35 for the year - that works out at less than £1.50 a night!

20 September   Opening night and Jo’s critique
27 September   Jeff Monaghan - Demonstration
4 October  Studio Night
11 October  Grahame Booth - Demonstration
18 October  Rosemary Gifford - Demonstration
25 October  Portraiture
1 November  Studio Night
8 November  Moya Dougan - Member’s Talk
15 November  Ray Elwood - Demonstration
22 November  Studio Night
29 November   Jo Reilly
6 December  Studio Night
13 December  Christmas Party and Quiz

January to May programme will follow at the end of 2016 with news of exhibitions.