Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Portrait painting 3

I've done this painting by special request for Topher Holland of Zool Films, after he saw my previous painting in this style.

As well as making films, Topher is a musician, and he is planning to tour the UK with his band in the near future. Nothing has been announced yet, but stay tuned to their website for the latest news...

Friday, 25 September 2009

Landscape 02 - Ochils from Muckhart G.C.

Here's a 5 hour fingerpainting portraying a view of the Ochils from Muckhart Golf Club in Clackmannanshire, Scotland.

Note: The colours in this photo are really muddy, which doesn't look too good, but I couldn't get a better quality photo. (The blues and reds are actually a lot stronger, the yellows are weaker, and the green colours are darker).

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

The Discovery of Spain: From Goya to Picasso

This afternoon I went to the National Galleries of Scotland in Edinburgh, and saw some great stuff.

They're currently showing an exhibition about the influence of Spain on British art called The Discovery of Spain: From Goya to Picasso.
The exhibition consists of a large array of paintings from British art collections related to Spain; and as well as British artists who worked in Spain, the exhibition also includes several high-profile paintings by the likes of Velazquez, Picasso, and El Greco.

I was unfamiliar with most of the paintings in the exhibition, and although there are many paintings I'd like to bring to your attention, I can only remember the names for a small series of work by El Greco.
I didn't know much of his work before visiting this exhibition, but it certainly held my attention the most. There is a wonderful - almost Old Master or Romantic - sense of lighting and contrast that makes these appealing paintings really stand out.

A massive copy of Lady In A Fur Wrap [above] was used as the poster image at the top of the staircase, which looked really impressive from a distance, however the small scale of the original is much more intimate and captivating.
The contrast between her light skin and the dark background is really strong, which makes this image cry out for attention before her big brown eyes seduce your attention away from the other four El Greco paintings aligned around it.
There are few other paintings that have captivated me like this one, but as much as I really admire it, it is the El Greco painting called An Allegory (hanging right beside it) that had a stronger impact on me.

An Allegory [below] is darker and has a much cruder painting style than Lady In A Fur Wrap, but by utilising a single light source it has much stronger visual impact...

This digital image is terrible for conveying the actual lighting and colouring of the original painting, but it held me in awe.

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Landscape 01 - Doral, Florida

For a potential gallery exhibition in the New Year, I'm creating a series of colourful landscape paintings, and although I've known about it for over a month, I've only just got around to starting the series...
So here's Landscape Painting 01, based on a photograph from my 2007 summer holiday in Florida, USA:

This is another one of my acrylic fingerpaintings, and although the sky works well, I'm not too fond of the texture in the lake area along the bottom section of the image.
In my opinion, the contrasting textures almost make it seem like two seperate paintings stuck together, however I think the colouring mitigates this to some extent and kinda unifies it as a whole - and the colour is my main priority, so it doesn't bother me too much... But I'd be interested in hearing what other people think of it.

Monday, 21 September 2009

"Bonnie's Tale" - seal animation

Everyone loves seals don't they?

You know what I'm taking about: those funny animals like what appeared in the Marx Brothers film Copacabana (1947), and occassionally in Tom & Jerry cartoons like the episode titled Little Runaway (1952) below.

Well apparently not everyone: and that's the reason for a new short animated film called Bonnie's Tale [below] animated by Edinburgh College of Art graduate Selina Wagner, with narration by Richard Briers (the voice of Fiver in the 1978 animated film Watership Down)...

The film was commissioned by Advocates For Animals as part of the Look Out For Seals campaign to highlight the need for a reform of Scotland's Conservation of Seals Act 1970.

After watching Selina's lovely new animation, please clicky here and enter your details to sign their online petition urging the Scottish government to review the Conservation of Seals Act, and help protect a beautiful, but endangered, species.

Some background information:
Scotland is home to about 45% of the world's grey seal population, but shockingly, there is no law to protect seals from being hunted in Scotland, which means that they are becoming a "conservation priority species in the UK and Europe". In some parts of Scotland, the seal population has declined by 40% within the last 5 years alone!
Seals are getting shot by fishermen and fish farmers who think of seals as a competitor because they both hunt fish - however fish are not the main food source for seals, and indeed fishermen, other fish, and sea birds all kill more fish than seals!
The Conservation of Seals Act 1970 was supposed to protect seals, yet major loopholes mean that fishermen can shoot seals all year round (even during breeding season) if they come within "the vicinity" of fisheries and equipment - however there is no definition of "vicinity" within this law, and an Arbroath fisherman escaped penalty in 2006 for shooting seals half a mile from his fishing nets!
Also during 2006 close season, four pregnant grey seals were found shot dead with gunshot injuries to the head at the Point of Vastray in Orkney. The police investigated it, and although the area was found covered in blood, nobody was charged. What makes it worse, is that seals only produce one pup each year, which effectively means that up to 4 unborn seals were also killed. Within the last 40 years there has only been only been one successful prosecution under the Conservation of Seals Act 1970!

Sunday, 20 September 2009


Is a great blog (put together by Jamaal Bradley) that collects and displays a range of animation pencil tests in all their glory. It's well worth a look if you're at all interested in animation... http://www.penciltestdepot.com/

What's an animation pencil test, you ask?

An animation pencil test is basically a video clip made from the animation drawings (called "frames") that, when shown at 25 frames per second on PAL TV systems, create the illusion of movement... BUT unlike the final piece of animation (as you'd see it in the cinema or on TV), the pencil test only shows the animation as simple line drawings (without the inking, colouring, and other effects that get added later in the production process to create the finished piece of animation).
A lot of people enjoy pencil tests because they often display a vitality that goes missing after it's been inked and coloured. In some cases the pencil test will also show the animator's thinking process, changes, and other notes, which provide a further insight into how the frame-by-frame animation was created.

To demonstrate what a pencil test is, here's a 5 second video from one of my old 1st Year animations dated circa April 2006.

(But obviously PencilTestDepot.com has animations of a much better quality! So go check it out).

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Influences part 22: J.D. Fergusson

To compliment yesterday's post about my visit to The Fergusson Gallery in Perth, here's a short post showcasing a sample of the artwork by John Duncan Fergusson.
Fergusson spent a lot of time in France where he created many colourful landscape paintings alongside several French Impressionist and Fauve artists; however I have a preference for his portraiture works, which exhibit a greater sense of artistic freedom and personal experimentation - as I hope is evident from the images below.

Related links:
- Yesterday's blog post about The Fergusson Gallery, Perth.
- The Fergusson Gallery website
- Fergusson's work at the Hunterian Art Gallery online database
- J.D. Fergusson at the Portland Gallery
- J.D. Fergusson at the Art Inconnu blog

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

The Fergusson Gallery, Perth

I visited The Fergusson Gallery in Perth this afternoon, which was quite an eye-opening experience for several reasons.

Despite being an art student for the last 4 years in Edinburgh (which has many big art galleries), I've rarely visited galleries in my life - in fact I can only recall 2 previous visits to big-name galleries: the Picasso museum in Malaga, Spain (April 2005) and two of the Edinburgh galleries during my induction week at Edinburgh College of Art (September 2005).
Most of the art I experience is through books and the Internet, so to see a bunch of genuine paintings by a famous artist right in front of me felt quite surreal. These were all oil paintings from the early 1900s painted on a big scale that overwhelmed me (because I tend to work on a small scale - hardly ever bigger than A3, and usually smaller than A4), yet in this gallery there were several full-body portraits about 5 foot tall!

One of the first things I noticed in the upstairs gallery (my favourite section) was that the paint surface of several stunning paintings were cracked and aged... Perhaps this would not bother people that visit galleries more often than myself, but I found it quite disappointing - before quickly realising that the cracked surfaces make the paintings feel alive and more hand-made (something I don't sense from viewing art online). This living quality of the painting surfaces also helped me to imagine the artist standing in my place working on that very surface 100 years ago. (It was pretty cool!)

Most of the art in the gallery was by Scottish artist James Duncan Fergusson (1874-1961), whom the museum is named after, but there is also a small selection of impressive artworks by his Scottish Colourist companions like Francis Cadell and Samuel Peploe.
I have never felt much of an influence from my native Scottish art history or culture, but I really enjoyed most of this Scottish exhibition - I suppose mainly because these artists took strong influence themselves from French Impressionist and Fauvist artists (such as Cezanne, Manet, and Matisse) whom I greatly admire... However I don't think these Scottish paintings need the Impressionist name to help sell them - they are easily capable of standing alone on their own merit.

There are 3 gallery rooms within the little Fergusson Gallery (which is located in a renovated Water Works building at Marshall Place near the South Inch), and undoubtedly Gallery 3 (upstairs) is my favourite section. This is because it contains several stunning 5-foot tall paintings, a lot of wonderful portraits in various beguiling styles that I found really inspiring, some Impressionistic landscapes, and a series of paintings by Fergusson's fellow Scottish Colourists - of which there are two paintings that I am especially fond of.

I was trying to find some images online to illustrate this blog post, but I've been unable to locate any images of the paintings that particularly impressed me. (So I might go back some day to try taking photos because they really were awesome! But it's a free gallery, so if you're in the region I would highly recommend popping-in for a quick look).

I found some amazing paintings by Scottish artists this afternoon, and I also discovered a number of impressive artworks by alumni from my former college (such as William George Gillies, Anne Redpath, and Sir William MacTaggart), which has given me a greater appreciation for the reputation of Edinburgh College of Art than I have recently had! (Prior to this afternoon I was only really familiar with the work of sculptor Eduardo Paolozzi and painter John Bellany - neither of whom I am too keen on)...
Today's gallery visit definitely helped me to get a greater appreciation of Scottish art, and even inspired me to get back to my current painting (which I've not touched for several days now)! But the most awe-inspiring moment today was when I looked up from a glass display case of Fergusson's sketchbooks and other personal items to discover the only Fergusson painting that I already knew: Christmas in the South of France (1922).

This is a painting that I had quickly copied from a book onto A6 sized card for research during my final year at High School, but had never seen in reality (or on a bigger scale than my A6 version).
Before entering the museum I hadn't even thought of Fergusson's work, so to suddenly notice that painting in it's genuine physical form on about A3 scale was unbelievable.

Gallery Info:
The Fergusson Gallery
Marshall Place,
PH2 8NS,

Open from Monday - Saturday
10:00am - 5:00pm.
Free admission.

Related websites:
- The J.D. Fergusson Gallery website (hosted by Perth & Kinross Council).
- J.D. Fergusson at the Portland Gallery
- J.D. Fergusson at the Art Inconnu blog (lots of artworks)

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

Development of a Portrait: 2

Here's a portrait that I did last week, which is kind of a spin-off from my previous portrait painting.
My previous portrait painting was supposed to look similar to the illustrations of Arthur Rackham but ended up looking more like the illustrations of Rene Gruau; so with this new portrait I tried again to make it like the work of Rackham, and this time I have achieved what I originally wanted...

I'm really fond of this overall aesthetic. The colours are a bit pale in comparison to the black lines, but I think it provides a nice subtle sense of depth. There are a couple of little things I could nag about - but no, I like this painting too much to complain about those tiny issues.

And to display something a little different, here's the painting before I added the black lines and tones:
I was really enjoying the bright, carefree Colourist style of the painting at this mid-way point, and although the black paintwork really enhanced the final image, I would like to do more work in this Colourist style at some point in the future...

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

12fp(s) - summary

Now that my 12 Film-inspired paintings are done, here's a blog post to bring them all together:

Painting 4 (below) has been sold:

Painting 6 (below) has been sold:

Painting 8 (below) has been sold:

Painting 9 (below) has been sold:

Painting 10 (below) has been sold:

The films featured in each of my paintings are:

Painting 1) A Bout de Souffle / Breathless. (1960) Directed by: Jean-Luc Godard. France, Les Productions Georges de Beauregard.

Painting 2) Varjoja Paratiisissa / Shadows In Paradise. (1986) Directed by: Aki Kaurismäki. Finland, Villealfa Filmproduction Oy.

Painting 3) Gun Crazy. (1950) Directed by: Joseph H. Lewis. USA, King Brothers Productions.

Painting 4) Vivre Sa Vie. (1962) Directed by: Jean-Luc Godard. France, Les Films de la Pléiade. [SOLD].

Painting 5) Hamlet Liikemaailmassa / Hamlet Goes Business. (1987) Directed by: Aki Kaurismäki. Finland, Villealfa Filmproduction Oy.

Painting 6) North by Northwest (1959) Directed by: Alfred Hitchcock. USA, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM). [SOLD].

Painting 7) Une Femme Est Une Femme / A Woman Is a Woman. (1961) Directed by: Jean-Luc Godard. France, Euro International Film (EIA).

Painting 8) The Shawshank Redemption. (1994) Directed by: Frank Darabont. USA, Castle Rock Entertainment. [SOLD].

Painting 9) Belle de Jour / Beauty of the Day. (1967) Directed by: Luis Buñuel. France/Italy, Robert et Raymond Hakim. [SOLD].

Painting 10) Bande à Part / Band of Outsiders. (1964) Directed by: Jean-Luc Godard. France, Anouchka Films. [SOLD].

Painting 11) Edward Scissorhands. (1990) Directed by: Tim Burton. USA, Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation.

Painting 12) Tulitikkutehtaan Tyttö / The Match Factory Girl. (1990) Directed by: Aki Kaurismäki. Finland, Esselte Video.