Friday, 28 August 2015

Painting backgrounds

I had a busy and productive day in the studio on Monday again. I put the sheep painting aside for the moment in order to just play with some colours and prepare some backgrounds. I had some colours in mind that I wanted to try out and put on canvas, colours that are a bit less bright than the others I used for the intuitive paintings, and a bit more earthy. I really do like these colours together. There might be some more sheep going on this.

I also had a canvas that I had started with some time ago, and which was waiting to get some more layers on. I had intended for this to be a portrait format, but working a bit more on it, it decided that it wanted to be a landscape. I had thought of painting a coastal scene for some time, inspired by my frequent visits to the beautiful Dorset coast.

The greenish layer in the above picture was actually the leftover paint after trying out a technique that Alisa Burke shared on her blog the other day. When I saw that marbling effect, I knew I had to try it out. When your studio is a carpeted room in your rented flat, you have to be extra careful when going a bit wild with acrylics, but with the help of a big sheet of plastic and a rug, I managed to keep it all under control. Oh I'm longing for the day when I'll have a proper studio space, and don't need to worry about paint getting all over the walls and the floor. Anyway. I only did the one little canvas, but I like how it turned out. I'll definitely have to try it out again.

With so many backgrounds and other works in progress, it looks like I'll be busy for a while. I just have to find the energy to spend more days in the studio than just Mondays. It seems that at the moment, come Friday evening, I am so tired, that I end up spending Saturday and Sunday relaxing and just hanging around. By the time my energy is back and I'm in painting mood, it's back to the office on Tuesday. And it bugs me. Relaxing is good, our bodies need time to recharge. But maybe I could find a better balance. Hopefully, my new meditation and yoga practice will help me with that.

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

A month in Polarid: The August Break - Week 3

The third week of The August Break, taken with a Polaroid SX-70, a SLR 680, and an Image Pro camera. I just love black and white film at the moment, as you can probably tell. And I had some great fun with the double exposure and timer settings on my Image Pro camera.

Sunday, 23 August 2015

Venice. Memories of the darkroom

Taking pictures with my Polaroid cameras got me thinking more about film photography and about trying out some 135mm film again. I have my parents' old Minolta camera, and a few years ago, I was given a photo bag with complete equipment - a fabulous Nikon reflex camera and lenses - by a friend of my parents. 

I started looking for some old photos I had taken in Venice about 1994 or 1995. I can't even remember what camera I had back then. There was a darkroom in my school. I didn't really have permission to use it, but a friend of mine did, and he was more than happy to book the room in his name, give me the briefest of introductions on how to develop photos and hand me over the keys. I spent an afternoon in sheer bliss. I loved dipping the photo paper in the different basins and seeing the images slowly appear, trying out different times of developing time and to see how this changed the effect of the photo. It was the only time I ever spent in a darkroom, developing my own photos, but I absolutely loved it.

It's funny. If I went to Venice today, I would no doubt come home with about 500 to 1000 images on my memory sticks. From that wonderful trip 20 years ago, I only have a handful of images. But they are enough to immediately bring me back to that great city, and looking at them probably gives me more pleasure than 500 digital photos would.

And a day trip to the island of Murano. I can still remember the boat trip. Someone had bought some fresh cherries on the market early in the morning. They were the most perfect and delicious cherries you'd ever seen. We all sat in a row at the side of the boat, eating the cherries and spitting the stones over the railing.

Friday, 21 August 2015

Taking what works

Last weekend was wet and cool, and my energy was slowly returning. Monday, my day off, I spent most of the day in my studio, working on one of my intuitive canvases. I must admit that I found it very hard to just let go completely, and let the painting develop all "by itself". I ended up feeling that I was just putting layers upon layers, without really getting anywhere. Then I read through the last lessons, on how to incorporate the techniques from the course into our own work, to "take what works and leave the rest behind". And so I got out a charcoal stick and drew some sheep on my canvas.

Oh and it felt good. Finally, I felt that I was back in control, and my painting going somewhere, somewhere I felt more comfortable with, while still incorporating the former layers.

I enjoyed all the playfulness and energy of the first layers. To begin a painting with just some fun and play with colours. And I think that this is a part that I will continue to use. To start a painting with a certain vague(ish) idea of what I want to paint, start loosely with some layers, and let them help the painting develop and be part of it.

I only worked on this smaller canvas, and I still got some work to do on it. The colours are just a little bit too bright for my taste. For the second canvas, I will probably continue with the sheep theme, I think. But we will see. I also already have some ideas for more paintings. 

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

A month in Polaroid: The August Break 2015 - Week 2

Here's week two of my photos for The August Break 2015, taken with a Polaroid Automatic 100, a Polaroid SX-70, a Polaroid Image System and a Polaroid SLR 680.

Sunday, 16 August 2015

Holiday Photo Sunday: A trip to the mountains

If you are spending your summer holiday here, I think it is best spent up in the mountains as much as possible. With every meter you get higher up, the slightly cooler the air gets, and up there, you can finally breath some fresh air and move without immediately sweating like mad. We only made it up a mountain once during our holiday, and it wasn't the highest, but it was a great day out. It was a bit overcast, and for about half an hour, I even had to put on a light cardigan.

My Mum had been wanting to come up here to Sattel-Hochstuckli for ages, to walk across the "Skywalk" and she was very happy to finally make it here. We went across the suspension bridge first thing, and it wasn't too bad. The fact that we werer the only ones on the bridge probably helped. I was still glad when I reached the other end.

There are lots of different trails up there, and we followed one of them, going upwards and, with the clouds clearing a bit, being rewarded with beautiful views.

One of the things I particularly love about being in the mountains is the looking down. It gives you a different perspective to see the world, which is always a good thing. And seeing those massive mountains, their calmness, serenity and groundedness (if there is such a word), it's just balm for my soul. And the forests. I love, love, love forests. And lakes.

The trail we followed turned out to be a circular route, and so we found ourselves back again at the suspension bridge.

I would have thought that the second time would be much easier, but I actually found it rather scarier than the first time. Maybe because there were more people on the bridge, which meant you had to let go of one of the handrails to let them pass.

After a refreshing drink at the restaurant, N and I decided to go for another little walk, following a different trail (well away from the bridge).

We met some very friendly goats on the way and spent quite a while chatting to them, and taking numerous photos.

I'm glad I didn't see this view of the bridge when we first arrived. I'm sure I'd never had crossed it, let alone twice, if I had!

One last glance back before we took the cable car back down. And, as every time when leaving the moutnains, I think that I should do that much more often, spending a day in the mountains.

Friday, 14 August 2015

Some very little progress with my intuitive paintings, and some doodles

I finally made some progress with my two intuitive canvases. Only very little, it was still too hot, and the heat and humidity is robbing me of all my energy. But at least I got another layer added to both paintings. I had actually worked on them a little bit in my holiday, but never got as far as posting them. So here's the earlier layers.

And here's the latest layers. It seems I had an urge to tone them down a bit, using cool colours. And I enjoyed using my new foam roller. And lots of dripping. I just love dripping. It's probably my most favourite technique.

Detail canvas #1

Detail canvas #2

I still have no idea where they are going, but I'm trying to enjoy the process and stay open, and to suppress any urge to plan and decide too much ahead (which is not always easy). Today's finally a bit cooler, and according to the weather forecast, temperatures should go down even more at the weekend, with lots of rain. Perfect for staying at home and spending the days in the studio.

I also got my "left over paint" sketchbook and white gel pen out again, and drew a mandala and some doodles.

Tuesday, 11 August 2015

Flower Edits

Some different edits of the same photo. There are so many possibilities to edit a photo using editing software such as Lightroom (my favourite). And it's so much fun playing with different options, experimenting, trying out new things. But sometimes it's difficult to decide, which one I like best.

Friday, 7 August 2015

A month in Polaroid: The August Break 2015 - Week 1

I started painting a bit last night, but I've only got as far as putting a first layer of the background down. Not much to share yet, in other words. So I have to give Paint Party Friday another miss, and am posting some more Polaroids again instead. It's still too hot to do much, really. This must be the longest and hottest summer in decades. It's quite usual that we get a few days with temperatures up to and over 30 degrees here, but it's been like this now since June, with only a few cooler days in between. I'm really getting tired this summer, and can't wait for it to end, so in order to take my mind off the heat, I've decided to do a little project of taking a photo for every day of the month. I have joined The August Break hosted by Susannah Conway. You get a prompt for every day, which you can follow, but you don't have to, and you can share your photos in a separate Facebook group and/or on Flickr. I've decided to use my various Polaroid cameras, which is a challenge at times, but I'm also learning a lot. So this is my first week of August in Polaroid (click on the link above to see all the prompts. I'm also posting them on Instagram, Flickr and FB).

Tuesday, 4 August 2015

Going backwards: the Polaroid Landcamera Automatic 100

My Polaroid adventure continues with yet another addition to the family. I started with a boxy plasic camera from the early 1990s, then came the classic SX-70s from the 1970s and a SLR 680 from the early 1980s. My latest camera is the oldest of them, a Polaroid Automatic 100 from 1963. And what a beauty it is! It has a lot more buttons and settings than the other ones, and you need to think about and remember a lot more things before you shoot. You can set the ISO according to the film you're using, to whetehr it is bright sunny or overcast day, what film you're using (colour or black and white). It also has not just one viewfinder but two. One for focusing, and one for composing your shot.

Unlike the other models, which all use the film that we all associate with Polaroid cameras, the one where the photograph comes out automatically when you release the shutter and immediately starts to develop, this one uses a so called peel apart film. After having taken your picture, you will have to pull the photograph out of the camera, let it develop for a certain time (according to the temperature), and then peel the top off to reveal the image. You actually not only get the developed image, but also the negative.

It is certainly a lot more fiddly than with the other, later cameras, and the chemicals tend to be still wet after you have peeled the photograph apart, so you have to be careful when you handle it. But the quality of the photographs is astonishing (I certainly never got such a blue sky with any of my other Polaroids!). I guess that has to do mostly with the film itself (these cameras work with Fujifilm FP-100C and FP-3000B), but the sharpness of the lens really is beautiful.

The first photographs. Not really very exciting subjects or compositions. I just wanted to try it out. And of course, my scanner couldn't handle the colours very well. Even worse than with the Impossible films.

I am finding it almost hard to believe that these were taken with a camera that it is over 50 years old. I guess that speaks for the quality of these old cameras (as indeed of the later models as well, even though you can't really compare the photographs). I'm looking forward to trying this camera out more.

Sunday, 2 August 2015

Holiday Photo Sunday: A happy day in West Dorset

A little collage of a happy day spent on the West Dorset coast, including my favourite place for Fish & Chips, one of my favourite walks along the cliff tops, and my first time ever playing Scrabble. 

These were taken earlier this year, in March. I still have to go through all my photos from our summer holiday, and hope to share some soon, but I've just booked my flight and train tickets for my next holiday in West Dorset and I'm so looking forward to it, that I had to go back to these.

Happy Sunday!