Tintin painting

After my successful painting of Cookie and Candy, I felt newly inspired to do more painting,  more frequently.

I decided to carry on my theme of reproducing pictures of my favourite poeple, and while a project to create a portrait of James Ellroy stalled temporarily, I decided to paint a picture of one of my all-time favourites – Tintin.

I decided on Tintin because it allowed me to tick several boxes at once. The colours would remain flat blocks on the whole, but it would also provide a new challenge in that I would be working in colour rather than monochrome, and I would have to reproduce the colours of the original image as closely as possible. I will freely admit that I am not very good at colour mixing.

I did a lot of looking for the right image to copy. After a while, I settled on the one below.

After a long selection process, this is the image I chose.

Rather than go into massive detail, I’ll simply post photos of the progress with a caption.

All drawn out and ready to paint!

All drawn out and ready to paint!

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I chose the blues as my starting point. The cerulean jumper came straight out of the tube, but then I had a load of paint left over, and so I mixed the pale blue for the sky with the leftovers.

The coat and sky filled in.

The coat and sky filled in.

Some outlines added. I was concerned that the paint seemed to be covering the pencil lines slightly too well!

Some outlines added. I was concerned that the paint seemed to be covering the pencil lines slightly too well!

Snowy's tongue and the butterfly coloured in.

Snowy’s tongue and the butterfly coloured in.

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A few more colours added – trousers, shoes, hair, and skin.

I filled in the rest of the outlines and coloured some of the trees in the background.

I filled in the rest of the outlines and coloured some of the trees in the background. The picture is really beginning to take shape at this point.

The field is coloured this time.

The field is coloured this time.

The grass was a mammoth task - making sure I had enough of the colour to keep it uniform across the whole picture.

The grass was a mammoth task – making sure I had enough of the colour to keep it uniform across the whole picture.




Cookie and Candy on canvas

I’m a little slow to add this, as I completed it last weekend. I have been working on a painting of the cats for a few weeks on and off, with it taking a few different directions along the way (in my head if not necessarily on the canvas!).

Here are the progress shots of the painting:

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I had toyed with the idea of leaving it monochrome, but then it crossed my mind to play on that idea slightly and use flat blocks of colour for the background, matching the colours in the original image. Then I was concerned that doing so would result in a picture in which the background stood out ahead of the main subject, so instead in a moment of inspiration I decided to have the eyes as the only non-monochrome part of the painting. The shade is also brighter than their eyes in reality, but this clearly isn’t a realist painting.

2013-05-05 17.02.52So here is the finished article:
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I’m very proud of the finished article. I haven’t done that many paintings (I think this is only the fourth since I left school) but I think it’s the one which somehow catches the spirit of the subject the best. It’s going to take pride of place on the stairs (our Greene View Gallery) and encouraged by such a successful effort, I’m going to start almost straight away on the next one.

A Very Cultured Day

A long-awaited day out today; a trip to London to visit the Royal Academy and see the Manet exhibition with Mum and Emma.

The exhibition was interesting and contained some very nice paintings. Impressionists are generally very easy on the eye and these were no exception. There was a mixture of classic portraiture and more experimental (for the time) paintings. The thing that struck each of us was the variety of styles and media Manet employed during his career. There were a number of unfinished paintings in the exhibition, but even those which were supposedly completes demonstrated a range of finishes, from highly detailed faces to rougher backgrounds where the objects therein were suggested by a few energetic brushstrokes.  My personal favourite was the game of croquet, painted in 1873:

After the Manet exhibition, which we got around in just over an hour, we had time to kill before our pre-booked lunch and so strolled from Picadilly to Trafalgar Square, passing the St. Patrick’s Day Parade, which included a massive, multi-coloured inflatable dragon:


Once in Trafalgar Square, we skirted around the St. Patrick’s Day Festival and headed briefly in to the National Portrait Gallery. Mum had suggested this as a brief time-killing diversion to see the portrait of Thomas Cromwell by Hans Holbein the Younger, which is mentioned in ‘Wolf Hall’ which both of us had recently read and enjoyed.

After that, we headed back to New Bond Street and had a very enjoyable lunch in Carluccio’s, one of the nicest meals I’ve had out in a long time in fact. The main attraction of Carluccio’s is that they provide a very good range of gluten-free Italian food, and best of all, gluten-free desserts. A great way to round off a very enjoyable day!

More Paintings

A while ago, caught up in the enthusiasm of my art course, I posted three paintings I liked. As the course wore on and became a little boring, I lost much of that enthusiasm. However, it is returning, and so I’m going to post more paintings for you to enjoy.

As I’m thinking of visiting the Manet exhibition at the Royal Academy soon, I thought I would choose a few Impressionist paintings which have caught my eye.


Alfred Sisley – ‘ Bridge at Villeneuve-la-Garenne’ (1872)

Alfred Sisley - 'View of the Saint-Martin Canal, Paris' (1870)

Alfred Sisley – ‘View of the Saint-Martin Canal, Paris’ (1870)

Claude Monet - 'The Cliff at Étretat after the Storm' (1885)

Claude Monet – ‘The Cliff at Étretat after the Storm’ (1885)

Berthe Morisot - 'The Harbor at Lorient' (1869)

Berthe Morisot – ‘The Harbor at Lorient’ (1869)

Armand Guillaumin - Sunset at Ivry (Soleil couchant à Ivry) (1873)

Armand Guillaumin – ‘Sunset at Ivry (Soleil couchant à Ivry)’ (1873)


Gustave Caillebotte – ‘Paris Street, Rainy Day’ (1877)


Frédéric Bazille – ‘Paysage au bord du Lez’ (1870)

Alfred Sisley – ‘Allée Of Chestnut Trees’ (1878)

Camille Pissarro – ‘The Chestnut Trees At Osny’ (1873)

Art (postscript)

A few weeks ago, I had a little rant about art. Then, today, I saw something which made me laugh, and in many ways supports what I was saying about the way art is a pretentious medium in which people read meaning into a screen print of a can of soup.

Anyway, I found a website, called Artspace, which advertised ‘cheap’ art to members. Once I signed up (for free, of course) I browsed their portfolio of artists, and a photo caught my eye. It was while looking at this photo that I came across a fine example of art’s ridiculous inconsistency.

East Elevator Construction (8A), 2006

'East Elevator Construction (8A), 2006' by Edward Burtynsky

Have a look at the photo above. I quite like it. What do you notice about it? Is there anything that you think shouldn’t be there? Now read the quote below from the blurb about this particular photo.

This photograph of the ICA’s building while it was under construction shows the façade’s dramatic cantilever jutting into the clear blue sky, framing Boston’s skyline in the distance. It is a perfect example of the photographer’s fascination with “the intricate link between industry and nature.” On the left hand bottom of the frame, a shadow of the artist’s body intrudes on the composition, displaying an instance of rare self-portraiture by a primarily landscape photographer.

So, essentially, the artist has made a very basic mistake, and allowed his shadow into the picture. I’m pretty sure that had he been attending an art class or something similar, he would have been criticised for this. However, it isn’t a mistake, it’s “self-portraiture”. This is the attitude that turns a blemish into a beauty spot. I reckon he didn’t notice his mistake until after he got back to the studio, or developed the photo, and then either the moment to recapture the image had gone, or he simply couldn’t be bothered to try again and hoped nobody would notice.

I still like the photo, but knowing the shadow is there, and knowing the daft attempt that was made to hide it in plain sight rather spoils it for me. It does beg one question though: can I go and get my childhood photos from the box in the loft, and present all the ones in which the actual subject of my photograph is obscured by my thumb as subconscious self-portraiture?


Art is a funny thing. It’s a subject I frequently think about, and yet despite that I can never quite make up my mind what I think about it. For example, I really enjoy drawing and painting (even though I’m not brilliant at either), and yet I find a large number of artists intensely irritating.

There is an ‘artwork’ in the Tate Modern which is essentially a double-page spread from the Daily Star (or a similar tabloid) cut into quarters and framed. Personally, I fail to see the ‘art’ in this. Apart from a couple of neat cuts across the paper, the artist has done virtually nothing. The layout is the same, the content the same (I assume – it has just occurred to me that it could be a mock-up of a tabloid in which case most of my complaints are rendered invalid) and all the artist has done is frame the paper.

Then of course comes the nature of art itself. What distinguishes ‘art’ from an everyday picture? What makes art so valuable, or rather, what is it that is so valuable (in a financial sense) about art? Take this story for example.

Banksy's 'Gorilla in Pink Mask'

Banksy's 'Gorilla in Pink Mask', recently painted over by mistake.

This raises a number of questions in my head. Firstly, why is Banksy’s work art, while most other peoples’ is considered graffiti, and therefore vandalism rather than valuable? (Don’t get me wrong, I like Banksy’s work, and I can also see that graffiti spoils an area, but there are also some very technically impressive pieces of graffiti almost wherever you go.) Secondly, given that Banksy’s work is done with a spray can and a stencil, couldn’t he simply re-do the artwork?

That, of course, brings us to another dilemma. How much of art’s value is down to the originality of the work? Would the fact that Banksy repainting his mural wasn’t the original, spontaneous act that it had been in the past mean that it was worth less? Following on from that, there comes a debate about forgery and originality rears its head there too. If a forger can create a near-identical copy of a famous artwork, is he/she not equally as talented as the original artist? Or does that lack of originality detract from the skill required? To me, some forgers have a greater amount of skill than the original artists due to the fact that they can replicate both the paintings and the techniques of more than one artist – a little like being able to imitate signatures, or possessing more than one set of fingerprints. The great irony is that some forgers become so good that their work becomes valuable and collectable in its own right.