helenic: (Default)

Interrupted the tedium of setting up new shops on umpteen different selling sites to do a wee painting last night. Ended up getting lost in unnecessarily indulgent decorations for HOURS. Also started a nude that is reminding me a bit of Modigliani. Will post updates later.

In the meantime, untitled elephant needs a title. Any suggestions? (ETA: have decided, is called Little Elephant).


Little Elephant.
Acrylic on canvas, 12" x 12"

Ahahahaaha I have just rediscovered the Hue tool in Photoshop. Whee!



Okay, I'm going to the bank now.

helenic: (Default)

Right, so, that drunken painting session? We were in the kitchen, I was adding spirals to the mermaid's tail, [livejournal.com profile] cyrus_ii was doing something arcane with a coin and an electric file (actaully it might have been a mini angle-grinder, I couldn't quite tell) and [livejournal.com profile] romauld was smoking. I stopped working on the mermaid but wanted to keep painting, so [livejournal.com profile] romauld asked if he could suggest an image for me to paint. I said sure. He started to describe a scene, but I was slightly too tired and slightly too drunk to follow what he was saying and remember it well enough to reproduce it, so I got him to slow the description down, and I painted what he described at high speed, as he described it. I haven't done ten-minute paintings since the last time I went to a life drawing class. Here's what we came up with between us:



Brief: A rolling landscape in the foreground, green and summery. Midsummer sunrise on the horizon. On the crest of a hill on the right, an oak tree in full leaf. A lowing stag silhouetted against the dawn.
[livejournal.com profile] romauld's comment: The tree was meant to be much smaller, and also silhouetted. The stag is good though.
My comment: OH GOD NEVER LET ME DO LETTERING. EVER. Especially when [livejournal.com profile] cyrus_ii is around and could have done it instead. ESPECIALLY WHEN I AM DRUNK.

four more, each one drunker and more inept than the last! )

Mermaid

Sep. 15th, 2008 03:15 pm
helenic: (Default)

Daunted by the prospect of sitting at a stall for eight hours, I took my watercolours with me to the Angel Art Market on Sunday. The people wandering round the gallery politely ignored me, even the ones who acknowledged my presence (most people are too nervous to smile and say hello back, because they are scared that you will try to guilt them into buying some of your art, which they have no intention of doing. I'm not going to attempt a hard sell, I'm just bored and want to say hi), but the other artists kept coming over and craning round to look without even asking first. I had to resist the urge to clamp the paper to my chest and scowl at them, instead sitting there with a fake smile plastered on my face while they wordlessly scrutinised my work. Occasionally they'd make comments: "Keeping ourselves busy, are we?" "Working on the next masterpiece?" Sometimes I'd pre-empt them: "Just passing the time." "Just amusing myself!"

The bloke manning the stall opposite me was very East London and cheerful and kept the hard sell attempt up all day long. He was exhibiting his wife's London skyline photography, which was very good, actually, although they didn't sell anything either. Early on in the day I was occupying myself by mounting Leaf Spiral. I was doing this with a craft knife, a pencil, some mounting board and some pritt stick. I didn't have a ruler so I was using offcuts of mounting board. The results, unsurprisingly, were not perfect.

Bloke: (wandering over) Do you mount your paintings yourself, then?
Me: Er, this weekend, yes.
Bloke: Don't you have a professional mount cutter?
Me: ...

Things I did not say:

1. If I had a professional mount cutter, do you think I would be KNEELING ON THE FLOOR USING A CRAFT KNIFE?
2. This IS a professional mount cutter, you twonk. I am a professional. This is my cutter. Now sod off before you get on the wrong end of it.

He wandered over again while I was painting.

Bloke: Keeping ourselves busy, are we?
Me: Just amusing myself, really.
Bloke: (looks at painting, blinks) Er, good!

At this point he hurried off without saying anything else. Are mermaids that upsetting?


Not quite finished yet; I want to do a bit more detail on the tail and in the hair, and add more ferns. Possibly some fishes. I can't work on it today though as I couldn't find where I'd left my watercolour pads and paper after our drunken painting session last night. But I was too impatient to wait before I posted her. I'm particularly fond of her purple body hair. :)

Echo

Jul. 27th, 2008 04:20 pm
helenic: (100% acid free.)

This painting was started late on Saturday night (or early on Sunday morning, depending on how you look at it) a couple of weekends ago. I was at Straylight, where I've been spending an increasing amount of time lately. Sitting in the lounge downstairs, listening to [livejournal.com profile] steerpikelet and [livejournal.com profile] gin_gerkitten play the songs they'd written - or half-listening while I painted, and only realising after they'd finished that the reason the songs resonated so strongly with me is that they'd been written by my friends, about our shared reality. I was painting on autopilot, zoning out and not thinking what I was doing until a pattern started to emerge. The resulting spiral is probably a form constant, and reminiscent of fractal patterns or the spiral graph created by the Fibonacci sequence (which I hadn't noticed until Denny pointed it out). The impression of sound waves was very strong as I was painting, hence the name.

I finished it when I got back from Glade, adding gold enamel paint to the yellow highlights to make them stand out more. I really like the result, particularly the paler coloured background at the top and bottom, which I think gives a kind of cosmic impression of depth, although that might just be me. I think if I were doing another one of these I'd pay more attention to the balance of the composition, as the blue spiral at the top makes the whole image a little top-heavy. But it's a very interesting result to the automatic painting experiment, and I like the style enough that I may well do more spiral paintings like this one.


Echo
11.5" x 16.5"
Watercolour and enamel paint on cartridge paper
(For sale - £80)


I'm really hoping to sell this one, as after a month of festivalling I've completely run out of money and I have to move house next month, which is horribly expensive. I haven't sold a painting in ages, which was disappointing after I spent so long getting everything ready for exhibition in the Pembury. None of those have sold, although they're all listed in my Etsy shop as well. Please do take a look and see if there's anything there that tempts you. The prices are all listed in dollars because that's the currency Etsy operates on, but sterling would be far better if anyone in the UK was interested in anything. I'm open to offers, so if you like something but can't afford it drop me a line and I'm happy to be haggled down. I'm also taking print orders this month in an attempt to raise a bit of cash to finance the move. So please do let me know if there's anything you'd like. :)


helenic: (citylights; car window)

The delightful [livejournal.com profile] seph_hazard came round for dinner on Friday night. I've wanted to paint her for a while (ever since I saw this photo of her, in fact), and the original plan was to invite her and [livejournal.com profile] wildeabandon for dinner! wine! gossip! painting! (I figured that sitting for me would be less dull with someone to talk to.) Except [livejournal.com profile] seph_hazard had a headache, and then I didn't finish cooking until about 10pm¹, and then [livejournal.com profile] wildeabandon left and I was drunk and tired and we decided to do the painting the next day.

This was a brilliant plan. It worked out perfectly. I very rarely spend the day at home, cooking and drinking tea and fussing the cat and pottering. It was really really lovely. I had long chats with [livejournal.com profile] seph_hazard, we had a delicious breakfast of muesli with banana and strawberries, and then an even more delicious lunch of all the leftover roast vegetables from the night before chopped up with pasta and pesto and grated cheese. And I discovered that the local cornershop sells real beer! How did it take me this long to discover this? Anyway, they have Fullers ESB Champion and Honeydew in the fridge for £1.90 a bottle, and I had some with lunch, because it was a sunny Saturday at home and I could.

The sunlight was perfect: [livejournal.com profile] seph_hazard obligingly posed on my bed, bathed in light, and we chatted a bit while I painted. I kept meaning to take regular breaks but we'd suddenly realise half an hour had passed without me noticing. [livejournal.com profile] seph_hazard was brilliant at sitting and didn't complain even though her wrist and back were killing her. I painted her in about four half-hour sittings, possibly slightly longer.



Persephone
28" x 18", watercolour on Chinese watercolour paper


Again my inclination was to shade with colour rather than black/white, although until it dried I had no idea the blue was that intense. I'm pleased with this. The anatomy is somewhat lacking - I've made her spine about six inches shorter than it needs to be - but I was having difficulty fitting her on the paper anyway, and if you didn't know she was taller it wouldn't necessarily be noticable. Given that I sketched in the hands and arms at the last minute while [livejournal.com profile] seph_hazard desperately waited for me to finish so she could rest her screaming wrists, I'm quite pleased with how they turned out. I've never done proper skintones in watercolour before and it was fun.

In fact, the whole thing was fun. I had someone to talk to: I had a beautiful naked woman to admire. Having a sitting model forced me to work fast and efficiently; I didn't procrastinate (although we took leisurely tea breaks), didn't fuss, didn't dawdle and didn't get bogged down in perfectionistic detail. I could never, never have painted this in four hours from photos. At least, I don't think so; watercolour is faster than oils so maybe it's the medium that makes the difference. But this was fun. I want to do it again. I want to try to do a life-painting session like this regularly if I can, making space for it properly, with a model all to myself and enough time to do them justice. I've already agreed with [livejournal.com profile] cyrus_ii that we should aim to do art together every week, so that when one or the other of us inevitably cancels we'll end up doing it about once a fortnight, which is about right. I don't think I'm up to organising a group life painting session (and I don't have the space) but trying to do something like this twice a month or so would definitely be good.

wittering about materials/technical difficulties )



1. It was good though. Garlic bruschetta with pesto and cream cheese; heaps and heaps of roast mediterranean veg drizzled in herbs and olive oil and balsamic vinegar (OMG courgettes: I always forget how nice they are. Also sweet peppers, mushrooms, red onion); cannelloni stuffed with feta and spring greens chopped and cooked in garlic and pesto; lots of garlicy tomato sauce; salad with cherry tomatoes and fresh spinach leaves.

Making the cannelloni was less easy than it looked: first I wasted a whole bunch of lasagne sheets by cooking them stuck together and not being able to separate them without tearing them to bits; then [livejournal.com profile] wildeabandon patiently softened each one for me in boiling water and olive oil and I still had trouble making the rolls without everything falling apart. I had some of the leftover cannelloni and sauce with olives and LOTS of salad tonight though, and mmmmmm good food with fresh ingredients. I should do that more often. Next time I make the cannelloni though I will use goats cheese, and probably mushrooms or spinach instead of greens. Greens are cheap and good for you but not as tasty, and even cooked they were a bit tough and stringy to be a good pasta filling. Possibly I should have steamed them rather than stir-frying them.

helenic: (Default)

So last Tuesday I finally sat down and did some drawing with my good friends [livejournal.com profile] steerpikelet and [livejournal.com profile] cyrus_ii. They're both accomplished inkers and line-artists, and because my medium is paint and my previous collaboration experience has been limited to thick squidgy messy improvisations in paint, we didn't really feel that compatible, and I've never done art with them before. These days I'm gradually opening up - I may not have a huge amount of shared creative ground with [livejournal.com profile] steerpikelet and [livejournal.com profile] cyrus_ii, but they're very close friends, which does help. I'm still sufficiently self-conscious that I felt uncomfortable starting work while their housemate, who seems lovely but who I don't know at all, was around.

This is very much not my normal style. In future I'd be interested to split the process, with one person pencilling, one inking and another colouring, comics-style; I'm not sure that line drawing lends itself naturally to two people working on something simultaneously. They were fun, though. With [livejournal.com profile] steerpikelet I used Chinese ink and she a series of different pens, which she uses far better than I ever will; [livejournal.com profile] cyrus_ii inks a lot, so we both used that. We didn't spend particularly long on either of them - much of the evening was delightfully spent in chatting and giggling before we got round to the serious business of making pretty things. I'd really love to spend longer on something with these two, not least because their styles are both about the intricate details, and there's a limit to how intricate you can get in an hour. I'm also getting the urge to work on something big with these guys. Get some paper that covers the floor, cover it with swathes of watercolour and then work into it with layers of ink and pens, get lost in it, trace a path around the paper and spend ages immersed in different bits.

I can see far more of either of them in these two pieces than I can of me, but perhaps my own influence is invisible to me, in the same way that we can never smell the mild, distinctive smell our own house has, but guests will notice it immediately on coming through the door, and lovers will be reminded of you every time they smell it. Are all artists chameleons? When I'm collaborating I seem to adapt to my co-artist's style far more than I bring my own style to the table. But then, my own style isn't very well suited to spontaneous improvisations. Perhaps if I worked in oils with someone else it would look a lot more like one of my paintings (and, in fact, the K~nesis paintings that include oils do look a lot more like the rest of my art).

belatedly cut for b00bage, which I always fail to notice as NWS when it's drawn rather than photographed )

Untitled (figure)
(with Laurie Penny)
12" x 16", Chinese ink and various pens

Note: The pens probably have all sorts of cool professional-sounding names, but I'm not sure what they are because I don't know anything about pens. Ballpoint? Fibretip? There were colours and everything, it was very exciting. Laurie did all of the pen stuff. I used ink and brush.

This is quite silly and comic-book but I like her anyway. I particularly like her piercings, and the ambiguity as to how much of the decoration is tattoos/body art and how much is abstract decoration. I like how the figure is stylised as well, although I think the anatomy leaves something to be desired. I happily accept the blame for this as I think I did most of the initial blocking out and I'm terrible at doing figures from imagination. I tend towards the unrealistically skinny unless I check myself, and that bothers me. Sadly I'm not very good at drawing curves either, unless I've got something to copy. More life-drawing clearly required!




Repose
(with Andrew May)
16" x 12", Chinese ink


To my eye, this looks like an Andy-painting with some silly Helen doodles over the top, but Andy reckons I did more of the figure than I'd thought, so clearly his distinctive brush style is contagious. This is a very quick sketch but I love it. Andy's style is compelling and moody; to me this looks like an illustration of a scene from an unknown myth. Even though we were making it up as we went along and the lighting isn't accurate, I like how it looks like light is falling onto the figure through a rose window. To me, the figure looks like a mystic, spirit-walking on other paths while his body gathers dust. Or perhaps it's a male version of the Sleeping Beauty story. I don't draw male nudes very much. I should do. Men are purty.

helenic: (Default)

Three recently finished pieces which are now hanging in the Pembury:



Underwater Lights
(with Stefania Bounajuti)
Acrylic on canvas, 16" x 20"
For sale (£90)

details )




Sea Flowers
(with Lizzie Louise Sudbury)
Acrylic on canvas, 8" x 8"
For sale (£50)

details )




Fire Dancer
Acrylic on canvas, 8" x 8"
For sale (£50)

details )

Many, many thanks to the three artists who contributed to the above. They are as inspiring and talented as they are lovely, and making pretty things with them has been one of the best parts of the last year. More of that please :)

helenic: (what's the matter lagerboy?)

I have a whole bunch of new art to post! I've had a successful week, artwise, although it doesn't feel it, for some reason. I spent Tuesday evening having dinner at Straylight and finally getting round to play with ink with [livejournal.com profile] steerpikelet and [livejournal.com profile] cyrus_ii. Then Wednesday afternoon was spent painting with Simon, although sadly not for long enough as I was late arriving and he had to head out at 4pm to each his evening graphics class, and on Wednesday night I decided to stay up and see how many of the half-finished little paintings I have lying around my room I could finish by the morning, when I was finally going to hang some paintings in the Pembury Tavern, in honour of which I am using my Real Ale icon. This has been on the cards since the start of the year, but given my own disorganisation and [livejournal.com profile] timeplease's hectic schedule, I didn't manage to get the paintings there until a few weeks ago, and it took us until yesterday to find a morning when Steve and I could both go into the pub before opening, drill holes in the wall and hang everything.

However, this is now done, and the Pembury is pleasingly colourful :) A lot of the artwork in there is for sale, which is the first time I've had a long-term exhibition space in London. The paintings are all a bit mismatched, including several unsold works from K~nesis, and collaborations with both Stef and Kristen alongside my own paintings. It's basically everything I've had sitting around in my room unsold, apart from the two nude paintings from K~nesis which were deemed NPS (non-Pembury-safe). Not exactly a coherent body of work, so I'm not calling it an "exhibition" and there's no exciting launch party or anything. Just a space for me to hang art, which makes [livejournal.com profile] timeplease happy because his pub is bright and happy and he gets free decor. And I'm hoping that maybe the people who visit the Pembury might possibly include people with money to spend on art, and perhaps, even, more money than the clientele of the Foundry. (Etsy is, sadly, not as helpful as I'd hoped, mostly due to the exchange rate.) Lovely and generous and supportive as my friends and friends-of-friends are, I think most of them who could afford to buy one of my paintings already have, and lovely as you lot are, I should really have expanded my customer-base beyond you by now.

Not all of the art now taking up space in my favourite pub is for sale. Two of them are the property of [livejournal.com profile] hairyears, who has failed for about ten months to collect them from the Foundry or my house, and if he doesn't take them home from the Pembury by August 21st (the anniversary of the K~nesis exhibition) then I think he'll have missed his chance, after which I will feel perfectly within my rights to offer them for resale. [livejournal.com profile] hairyears - consider yourself warned :)

Two others are the property of a friend of Denny's who paid for them via him, but whose life circumstances have since changed, meaning she's not able to come to London to collect them. Denny will be keeping them for her at his place on a medium-long term basis, but until he has a car and can pick them up I thought I may as well show them off.

Staying up all night to paint on Wednesday was a huge success. I completed three new/old paintings, had a lovely time pottering around listening to music, and managed to chat to my parents for the first time since they moved to Belize by dint of being online at 5am when they'd just finished dinner. I crashed out at 6.30am and had a 90-minute powernap which was eerily refreshing; despite only having had an hour and a half's sleep, I felt pretty much normal and awake for all of yesterday. I was expecting to have to sleep lots today to catch up, but after crashing out at 11pm last night I woke up at 9am and feel absolutely fine. Win! I'm not sure if the sleep dep is going to land on my head at an inconvenient moment, like during my shoot on Sunday/Monday, but I'm going to have any late nights this weekend, so I think I might actually have got away with it. I'll post the new paintings in a separate entry, for the benefit of any unfortunates who don't drink at the Pembury. The rest of you can feel free to skip it :)

helenic: (cat cat catty cat cat!)

Stef and I started this painting on Sunday night. It was late; we were both tired after a long weekend, and we weren't trying to do anything ambitious. It's not finished yet - we want to add more fine detail - but the overall shape is probably not going to change too much. The working title is an in-joke - I don't know if it'll stick :)





Synaesthetic Culture
approx 15x15", acrylic and glass paint on board


Btw, [livejournal.com profile] promiseclean: is this the sort of thing you were thinking of for your commission? No worries if not, just pondering options :)

helenic: (polkadot!)

A couple of weeks ago I went over to the warehouse to help Stef paint her bedroom. The warehouse is a huge, bohemian space in Hackney with twelve residents. The landlord is in the music industry; bought the place as a shell and built all the rooms inside. Downstairs is the basement, bike store and recording studio; upstairs is a huge communal open-plan lounge and kitchen space, bordered with mismatched sofas and one wall lined with a long, heavy wooden banquet table. The windows stretch up to the ceiling, eclectic bits of furniture skirt the edges of the room (including leather-upholstered folding chairs of the kind one might expect to find in an early 20th century bus or cinema, a bunch of old-school lockers, odd little chests of drawers and a couple of bookcases) and there are half-finished canvasses propped up all around the walls. The roof is slanted and a high ceiling is measured by wooden beams stretching through the middle of the space.

The bedrooms are tesselated into corners, no floor or ceiling the same height as another. The walls and floors are constructed out of wood and chipboard; metal beams and staircases lend an industrial, futuristic feel. Some of the rooms are enormous, stretching from front to back of the warehouse. There is a communal bathroom downstairs, dark-tiled with a huge tropical plant with rubbery dark green leaves taking up the whole of one corner. The bath is free-standing on four ornate feet; at the first warehouse party I came to it was candlelit and strewn with rosepetals. There's a tiny cabin shower-room upstairs with a perpetually damp floor, and Stef's room is next to this. She travels so much that she needs somewhere with low enough rent that she can afford to keep the room while she's out of the country. Her room is a bed-width space tall enough to stand in, with awkward metal rungs leading up the wall beside the window to a cabin bed built into the very rafters of the building. Bed above, bed-sized space underneath. That's it. There's no furniture except a low shelf/desk space under the window, made out of chipboard resting on car tyres. The walls are covered in paint, mannequins draped with chunky African jewellry, and clothes are bundled everywhere.

She shows me some of her artwork - postcard prints of minutely detailled, decorative art. Figurative studies in the style of henna tattoos, every inch of paper covered with tiny, beautiful decorative designs that shape the contours of body and background. Some are layered with translucent paper bearing subtly different designs, the visible layers combining to create three-dimensional structure. She works in pen and ink, calligraphy ink, acrylic and glass paint. The walls downstairs in her cabin are already sprawling with paint in similar designs. Birds and tiny figures are glimpsed among the endless floriate swirls and spirals. The resulting effect is reminiscent of illustrated manuscripts. She wants to paint the tiny, angular walls above the upstairs bed.

navigating the space )

helenic: (Default)

Did this quick sketch yesterday to practise using the Chinese ink:



Kneeling
Ink on watercolour paper, 18" x 28"


I'm a bit annoyed that the figure is too far to the left of the paper, but oh well, it's only a sketch. When I was working on this I thought it was going to turn out terribly: everything was soggy and bleeding everywhere and all the shapes felt like they were getting completely out of hand, and the paper was crinkling and sticking to the drawing board and argh. Then I got back from the pub and it had dried, and the paper looked fine, and all the shading was translucent and doing pretty much what I'd wanted it to. Note to self: do not judge watercolours until after they have dried.

The paper did tear in a couple of places as I was trying to remove it from the board, though - I'm not sure what I can do to prevent that.

tea dragons

Apr. 4th, 2008 03:52 pm
helenic: (Default)

Stef came round on Wednesday to stay up all night making a big painty mess, which is something I haven't done in far too long. I finally got the chance to play with the beautiful set of Chinese watercolour brushes which [livejournal.com profile] oxfordgirl and [livejournal.com profile] mejoff gave me the winter solstice before last, and which I've carefully carried with me ever since, but been too scared to start using them without feeling like I knew what I was doing. Stef randomly gave me two similar brushes (although without the cunning changeable tips), a roll of linen-soft watercolour paper and a block of ink, which were the missing ingredients I'd been waiting for. She also gave me the confidence to just start messing around with it all, reassuring me that it wasn't sacrilegious to use them without knowing the proper brush forms.



Working with beautiful tools has a pleasure all its own. The ink block is embossed with gold and resisted all our attempts to grind it. We tried knives, a pestle and mortar, even smashing it with a hammer, but it appeared to be made of iron or something. We eventually resorted to tipping a bit of water into a saucer and scrubbing the end of the ink block into the water until we got the dilution we wanted, and then basically using it as a watercolour block. The ink has a dry, musty smell reminiscent of mouldy bread.

I made a pot of fruit tea to drink while we were painting, which had a beautiful dusky dark pink colour in the cup. "I want to paint with it," I said in confusion, "but I also want to drink it!" Eventually I realised I could get another saucer and tip some tea into it. The pink colour it left on the paper was lovely and subtle and changed as it dried, fading from a warm crimson pink to a pale rose.





Tea Dragons
Ink and tea on watercolour paper, 28" x 18"
(with Stefania Bounajuti)


They aren't sure which way up they prefer to be, so I've given each of them the limelight in turn.

helenic: (100% acid free.)

These paintings fell out of my head on the Sunday just before New Year's Eve, when I was hanging out at the House of Fun with Denny, Chris and Jay. I was in a strange, solitary, focussed mood, although I'd been grounded very effectively by a beautiful massage from J.

Earlier on in the day I'd been playing with a set of wooden building blocks which [livejournal.com profile] skorpionuk and [livejournal.com profile] dakeyras had given me for my birthday the year before last. The little blocks were of London buildings, including generic skyscrapers and icons from the London skyline - the Eye, Big Ben etc. I was setting up skylines along the stripes of J's zebra-print rug as if the white and black pattern represented the Thames and its banks. Along the top of the skylines, I lined up the tiny wooden cars that came with the set, and the buses, which looked to me as if they were elephants.

The image of elephants making their way in a long line along the London skyline hooked my imagination. I moved my game to Denny's glass desk, where the blue light of his binary LED clock cast strange, futuristic light along the little wooden streets I was creating, reflecting from the glass and back up on the pale wood as if the city was floating in a black lake. We had Mirrormask playing soundlessly on the big flatscreen monitor (with psytrance providing a weirdly appropriate soundtrack), and as the images on the screen changed so did the light bathing my little apolocalyptic landscape in beautiful, otherworldly hues. I tried to capture the effect by borrowing J's camera, but I'm not sure if any of them came out well. I'll get the photos off him this weekend and go through them. Later that evening, though, after a pleasingly zen game of Sac Noir, I had a strong urge to play with paints, so Denny set me up on the floor with the carpet protected by a old duvet. I painted for several hours straight - I'm not sure how long exactly. I've never worked in watercolours before, unless you count the foamy water-based tempura block acrylics we used at secondary school. I'd only brought some with me on a whim - I think the little carry case originated in a bag of unwanted art stuff I inherited from [livejournal.com profile] mostly_a_cat and [livejournal.com profile] mirabehn.

These are completely new, for me, in terms of style and medium. They fell out of my head without thinking about what I was doing at all. I don't know if I could recreate this style or if I'm going to try and develop it. But I love it.



I of V: March of the Elephants
Watercolour on primed paper
14" x 10"

This version of the image is sketchy and imperfect, but I'm still in love with the idea. There's a germ of children's book here, I think. In my head there's something very powerfully emotive about the image of the elephants picking their way, one by one, across the rooftops of the sinking city at the world's end. I'm not sure where they're going, but I can almost hear their trumpeting.






II of V: Indian Elephant
Watercolour on primed paper
14" x 10"

Expanding on the elephant theme. What's the name of those Indian ceremonial robes, the heavily embroidered textiles with mirrored sequins and things? Chris thought it was called jhaldi or jaldi, but Wikipedia hasn't heard of it. Is it Punjabi? Urdu? Anyway, this elephant appears to be wearing some. I don't know where this image came from, but I wish the inside of my head looked like this all the time.






III of V: Pipe Dreams
Watercolour on primed paper
14" x 10"

At this point I started making my companions pose for me. They're very long-suffering and patient, my friends are. This is [livejournal.com profile] romauld, for anyone who doesn't recognise him. I love the minimalist, stylised face, but it all went a bit wrong when I added the pipe, it came out far too heavy. I really wanted to do a hookah pipe, but I didn't know what one looked like. Never mind eh. I like the absinthe-chartreuse green, it's very bohemian.






IV of V: Two Headed Dragon
Watercolour on primed paper
14" x 10"

I think this my favourite of the lot. It's a portrait of [livejournal.com profile] mr_magicfingers and the conflict I perceive in his personality. I wanted to paint him as a Chinese dragon, and this is what came out. The two heads were an accident - I started with the one on the left, wasn't happy with it, started again on the right and ended up using both.






V of V: Ubuntu Wrangling
Watercolour on primed paper
10" x 14"

[livejournal.com profile] dennyd was installing Ubuntu on his computer (apparently he was getting bored with Debian), so I took advantage of the fact that he was sitting still for more than two minutes to paint him. This tends to happen when you leave people in the room with me for any length of time. At least I didn't paint on him.













Click on the images to view bigger versions. All of these are for sale, and I'm going to be turning at least the second one into prints/greetings cards. Not sure about the others, it depends on interest. If no-one buys them they'll probably end up on the walls of the Pembury along with everything else I'm producing at the moment :)

helenic: (moon : mirror)

This is the first in a series of Goddess paintings. It was originally intended to be an icon for my altar, but it's not quite right - and nor is the second one, which is still unfinished - so I'm going to keep trying until I hit on what I'm looking for.

The process by which I created this painting was a new one for me. It grew out of a religious ritual, at the end of which, still in a meditative, trancelike state, I called on Dana (the primary goddess I honour) and started to paint, letting the awen speak through me. I didn't evoke the goddess during the ritual - the intention was to centre myself, do some personal magic, and then open myself to the power she represents and let it manifest through the painting. I didn't expect anything magical to happen with the first painting, but it's the start of a longer soul-work. The eventual aim is that I'll be able to get myself into a headspace where she can be revealed through what I'm painting. I anticipate that quite a few paintings will be finished before this starts to happen, but in the meantime I'm painting personally significant, positive artworks which are finally starting to get close to the pagan iconography I've been talking about for a while now. Commisions and seasonal tidbits are all very well, but my art, the art in me that feels like it means something, is a revelation and exploration of a panentheist divine, but who is revealed most powerfully through the inspiration process itself. It's an exploration of the divine in myself and how it relates to the divine in the world. It's magic realism, playing with various mythologies and symbol sets. It's invocation through imagery, the divine made very real, very physically manifest in the object of the artwork. I'm not sure what else it is yet. But anyway, this is the first one.




Drawing Down the Moon
Oil on Canvas, 12" x 12"

(click for full-sized version)


So. This was started freeform, in a vaguely ecstatic meditative state, charged up with power from the ritual I'd just performed. I started it without any plan or ideas, and in fact for the first two hours or so I very deliberately kept my eyes unfocussed (I've used this unfocussed, high-energy, trance-painting technique before, most memorably with my nude portrait of Kristen). I went back to it a few days later and started fleshing out the details, keeping my mind blank, letting the forms and the colours speak to me. This is the first painting I've done by myself which was as spontaneous and improvised as the K~nesis paintings were. It's an artistic method I pretty much entirely learned from working with Kristen, and I'm indebted to her for that. I wanted to see if I could harness some of that particular creative energy and apply it to my own art; if I could manage to create unplanned art without tapping into Kristen's extraordinary creative energy.

This is also the first painting I've ever done without any reference to source imagery or photos. Even my most unique and imaginative solo work has, historically, been informed by huge collections of source imagery, whether they're photos taken by me, by others or even persuading people to model for me. This is the first time I've broken away not only from my training that had me knowing in exact detail what I was going to paint before I started, but also completing the work without referencing anything outside my head.

It's been a fascinating experiment. Encouraging in some ways - I'm glad that my abilities as a figurative painter aren't restricted to copying from photos or life, even if my anatomy knowledge does leave something to be desired. Technically, I'm pretty pleased with this painting - it's a strong composition, the details are polished, the figure looks human, the symbolism is moderately clever, if totally unsubtle. As a test of my abilities as an oil painter, it's a good start.

But. Can I just say. You know how when I first started getting fired up about pagan iconography and one of the things I was saying was that I wasn't going to do any bog-standard wishy-washy BLUE FUCKING GODDESS PAINTINGS?

YEAH. SO. ABOUT THAT.

It turns out that when you turn my intellect off and tap directly into my subconscious, what you find is that I HAVE AN INNER BLUE FUCKING FLUFFY WICCAN FUCKING DOLPHIN. Lady Frieda Harris, eat your fucking heart out. Could this be any more derivative? My god. Um, I mean, goddess.

Ahahahahaha. Oh, I love it. I love it just as much as I think it's the most hilarious, ridiculous, mockable thing ever. AWESOME.

The title of this piece is, in case you couldn't tell, ironic. In my heart it will always be my Inner Fluffy Dolphin Painting.

Oh, and it's for sale, although I don't have time to put it on etsy tonight. It's small, but it's taken me a couple of weeks on and off, so I was thinking maybe £250? I don't know though, if any of you want it, make me an offer. There'll be prints as well at some point, when I get round to sorting my vast backlog of print orders out. Until it sells I'm hoping to hang it in the Pembury along with the rest of the stuff I'm working on at the moment.

Or I might just have to keep it, as a reminder to myself to never take myself or my art too seriously. Ever.

helenic: (Default)

New painting! This one was super-easy to do. Much more impressionist than my normal style (and using altogether far less paint). It pleases me greatly.

I've also noticed that what with this, Snow Trail and the celtic knotwork paintings, I have enough for a set of four Yule greetings cards. Not particularly well-matched greetings cards, to be fair. Maybe I should wait until I've got more of each style. It's a thought, though.



Winter Hedgerows
Acrylic on primed paper
10" x 14"

For sale on etsy.com, as usual.

Floating

Nov. 8th, 2007 02:08 am
helenic: (submerged)

This is the other of the two large nude portraits which were, for us at least, the centrepieces of the exhibition. Kristen modelled for this one, although it's not how I'd have set out to do a portrait of her; rather, what started out as an oceanic blue-green abstract started to suggest a figurative form to us, and I decided to sketch in a female nude based on Kristen. As such, most of the work is mine in the same way that Dancing is hers, but she advised and contributed to various aspects of it.

The result is intended to give the impression of a girl floating in a quiet, moonlit pool, partly submerged beneath the dark water, ripples flowing out from her as she drifts. It's not meant to be a representative portrait of Kristen as I see her, but I did hope to capture some of her beauty in the painting. I don't know if I succeeded...

nude painting; possibly NSFW )

helenic: (windowsill; cafe; people-watching)

I was in Camden this morning averting a rent crisis (by depositing large amounts of borrowed cash in my current account; but it's okay, I have a big cheque that will clear before the end of the week) and I decided to get the bus home. I've used buses far more than the tube since I moved, but Seven Sisters from Camden was a mystery. So I looked at the map in the bus stop, and decided that the 29 to Wood Green was my best bet - it went from Finsbury Park to Turnpike Lane, and I figured I could get off at some point between the two and walk across. Except Green Lanes is much shorter than I thought it was, and I ended up not getting off until Turnpike Lane. At first I thought I knew where I was, and struck out confidently towards home across a beautiful triangle of green covered in crisp orange leaves. I don't know why I have this nostalgic love for Victorian terraced suburbia, for the grey and red stone of it, the doctors' surgeries and the buses, the schoolchildren, the over-enthusiastic borough councils putting up big signs encouraging local spirit, the slightly dreary play-parks rescued by ever-beautiful, vast swathes of horse chestnut trees. I love it, and I was almost skipping across the green, kicking at the leaves and loving the autumnal smell in the air, and wanting to bring Chris here soon and show him how lovely it all is round where I live. Except then I realised I didn't know where I was after all, and had to spend another ten minutes studying maps in bus stops and waiting for a 67. But in the end it turned out that I was only 5 minutes away from where I'd been trying to get to. So that was all alright.

And now I'm home, with a pot of strong Ceylon tea and an inquisitive cat sniffing my ankles. I spent a long time yesterday sorting my room out - emptying boxes, reboxing books and folders for long-term storage and carrying them one by one down the precarious steps into the cellar; tidying and rearranging. My bed's been in the middle of the room since I moved in, facing the windows. I've now pushed it up against the fireplace, which means you can't walk round it on both sides and you have to kneel on the edge of the bed and reach down to get at the bottom shelf of my clothes storage unit, but there's much more space on the other side, enough to paint in, and since that's the side the door opens onto the room immediately feels much bigger. I've hung pictures, and while the room isn't finished yet, it feels so much more spacious and liveable in and me.

Today has been productive. I've bought new canvases, I've paid my rent despite the many financial disasters of this month, and set up an ongoing standing order; I've sent emails, including a couple of really rather exciting ones; I've finally fixed the final irritating bugs in the last few websites for Online Galleries, which is a HUGE weight off my mind. I'm now going to make more tea and eat mozzarella and tomato salad, and then I am going to spend the rest of today painting. Painting! For the first time since the exhibition, really, apart from a brief attempt at gouache with Kristen the other week. I have missed it SO MUCH. Yay.

Speaking of which, these two paintings were the most popular in the exhibition - they were the first to sell, and the ones most asked after:


Bird of Paradise

     
Dragonflower (we don't have a full image of the finished painting yet; the first of these is a work-in-progress photo, the second is from the launch party, and cropped from this photo by [livejournal.com profile] arachne)

[livejournal.com profile] synthclarion very kindly took lots of high-quality photos of all the finished paintings a couple of weeks ago, and I'm waiting to get those back from him before I do things like updating the website and organising print orders. But in the meantime, I want to do more brightly-coloured tropical paintings like these two. My parents have said they'd be interested in buying one if I do a series, but not in commissioning one especially. It occurs to me that the people who would have bought Bird of Paradise or Dragonflower if they'd got there first might well be interested in something similar. If this is you, feel free to let me know; it would be useful to know in advance what sort of interest there is :)

helenic: (darkside : lightside)



Polarity (unfinished)
Acrylic on canvas, 40" x 32"

This is the other painting [livejournal.com profile] cuteevilpixie and I produced on Monday. There's still work to do on it, but this is the stage it had reached by the time Kristen went home.

We started out with the pink/blue background, and I had the sudden delightful idea of working back into the wet paint with cocktail sticks to create the spiralling swirls and tendrils. They moved effortlessly through the paint - it was so so pleasing to do - and I love the way that the lower layer of colour shows through beneath. After pausing to let the background dry (during which pause The Dryad's Dream was produced) we decided to start painting the ant nebula. It got a wee bit abstracted, however, and ended up looking more like a strange sea-spider-squid-thing.

We returned to it the next day and added some fine detail to make it slightly more nebula-like. The idea was to make it suggestive of both the ocean and outer space at the same time; I didn't find the idea of it simply being a sea creature particularly interesting, but the idea of a creature/nebula surrounded by stars and bubbles was much more appealing.

The title was suggested by [livejournal.com profile] dennyd and [livejournal.com profile] romauld, based on the fact that the creature/nebula is reminiscent of a dipole field. I like the ambiguity of this painting. Nebulae that look like insects; sea-squid-spiders that look like magnetic fields; bubbles that look like galaxies.

helenic: (neither shall I leave you)

Mike and Kristen's flat is a lovely place to hang out. It's small, cosy, full of books and little hippyish treasures. And paintings. Paintings everywhere. Kristen paints acrylic on board and canvas, and she paints for fun rather than profit; her art is spontaneous and experimental. But when she spends time on something, the results are incredible. Her art is stylised and tribal; there are paintings that have a post-apocalyptic or shamanic feel to them, bold colours and african sunsets. She is visible in most of her figures, and they are magical, sensual, visceral. I've told her she should exhibit in London; she'd love to, but didn't realise it was possible. I know a couple of places, though, so we should be able to arrange it. Personally, I'm envious of her having a collection substantial enough to exhibit by accident, as it were; she's been painting for years without ever really trying to sell them.

I have no experience with acrylics, but there was something so tempting about Kristen's style that I was itching to throw myself in and have a go. Surrounded by her artworks, and using her art materials (very different from my own methods) it was hard not to copy her style; but I suppose that exchanging methods and ideas is the point of the exercise, and the resulting synthesis will benefit us both. Acrylics are very suited both to two people working on the same painting at once, and to spending a day achieving quick, visible results. I definitely learned about spontaneity and experimentation, about abstract art, about starting putting colour on a canvas without knowing what it'll turn into, and letting it speak to you.

Helen and Kristen's adventures in collaborative painting )

helenic: (Default)

Commissioned painting for [livejournal.com profile] vardebedian as a Christmas present for his parents:



Untitled (kittens), 10"x14"
Oil on Canvas


- FWUFFY!! :)

- the shadows to the left and right edge of the image are shadows, not part of the painting. This picture was taken by Seamus because I didn't actually finish the painting in enough time for it to be dry enough to scan before he collected it. Mea culpa.

- the photo doesn't show the top/right edges of the painting; there's negative space around the tips of the tails, rather than them being cropped by the canvas.

- this is a wooden-framed box canvas about 1" deep, and the blue shading of the background continues onto the sides. I always like the 3D effect this creates.

- the kittens must be grown-up cats by now, because the photo he gave me to work from was a rather old one. It was also about 3cm square. Which wasn't the easiest photo reference I've ever worked from. I ended up scanning it in at 300dpi and blowing it up to 1000px, which made it slightly grainy but enabled me to actually see what was going on.

- The black kitten is a L33T NINJA STEALTH KITTEN. With NO FACE. Or any other distinguishing marks or features. He is a SEKRIT KITTEN ASSASSIN. Apparently he has a white bib which easily identifies him, but I can't actually see it in the photo (and trying to paint it in made it look like it had breasts, because the angle is wrong) so that doesn't actually help.

- Fur is really really hard to paint.

- For most of this painting I was swearing to myself NEVER EVER AGAIN to do pet paintings EVER. I like painting things with personality, and I don't even know these kittens' names, let alone what kind of cat-people they are. The tabby looks kind of curious, and the black one looks L33T and POUNCY and NINJA, but seriously, that doesn't help much. I was bitching to [livejournal.com profile] hythloday about this and he suggested that I invent personalities for them. I suspect he may have been assuming that I actually have imagination.

Anyway, by the time I finished it I didn't mind painting kittens so much, and to be honest money is money and people will always want pet paintings. (I was actually going to voluntarily paint a picture of our old dog for my dad for Christmas, but then I ran out of time so I'll have to buy him something instead.) Not that I'm inviting to all to inundate me with pet paintings. Please don't do that.

- I've decided to stop being secretive about the price of commissions, because although I tend to undercharge my poor friends and let my rich ones give me as much money as they like, this isn't actually that bad or evil a practice, and it's only fair you know about it in advance. So:

Seamus gave me a £50 deposit for this upfront, and we negotiated a rough ballpark of "about £150ish" in total, balance to be paid on collection, on the grounds that:

- He wanted a small painting ("something between A4 and A3)
+ Pet paintings are boring and therefore it takes more money to persuade me to do them.

In the end he gave me £180 including the deposit, which I left to his discretion. Relevant factors in the final price included:

- It was about a week late (partly due to me being ill and partly due to me being slow)
+ It was better than he'd expected it to be
+ It was harder than I'd expected due to smallness of reference, fluffiness of fur, and NINJA-LIKE INVISIBILITY of black kitten
+ He was drunk.

April 2016

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