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Final stage in the child's oil portrait tutorial. "A Child's Prayer."
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Child’s oil portrait tutorial in 7 steps

Portrait tutorial in seven steps - oil painting.

Portrait tutorial in seven steps – oil painting.

I am in the habit of taking progress photos of my work often and have a lot I could share on my blog. It is time to bring it all out to share inside of hiding away in my computer. This is portrait of a little boy I met in India late 2009. He was so adorable in his new church suit. I appropriately named this painting A Child’s Prayer.

First stage in the child's portrait - blocking in base shapes.

First stage in the child’s portrait – blocking in base shapes.

Stage 1: I began blocking in shapes. I squint to block out details and focus on the big shapes. This also helps when judging tones. Keeping my colours simple I began to create a form. At this stage I am looking for an approximate shape and not accuracy or likeness.

Stage 2 - child's oil portrait tutorial

Stage 2 – child’s oil portrait tutorial

Stage 2: I began to make more accurate strokes on the face and hands. Much time is spent pushing and pulling these features into shape. Portraits are challenging. Never stress over the likeness at the early stage. Simply look closer, at the abstract shapes, judging angles and proportions of each one. The face comes together more easily if seen as parts rather than a whole.

Stage 3 - child's oil painting portrait tutorial

Stage 3 – child’s oil painting portrait tutorial

Stage 3: I worked the face more. As the face developed I needed to work the background. This ensures I get a nice soft edge and the portrait doesn’t look cut out. In my reference there were people in the background so this one is entirely invented. I used a soft green grey to contrast against the beautiful skin of the little boy.

Stage 4 - child's oil painting portrait tutorial

Stage 4 – child’s oil painting portrait tutorial

Stage 4: Now it is time to move into the clothing, adding a little more blue and focusing on the folds – not every one of them, only enough to tell the story.

Stage 5 - child's oil painting portrait tutorial

Stage 5 – child’s oil painting portrait tutorial

Stage 5: I have avoided the hands and feet long enough. Foreshortened body parts are the biggest challenge! It is time to be brave so in I go, again breaking down the shapes so the simplicity paints the impression for me.

Stage 6 - child's oil portrait tutorial - details in the clothing

Stage 6 – child’s oil portrait tutorial – details in the clothing

Stage 6: In this stage I work the whole painting, fine-tuning all over until I am happy with the shapes and tones.

Final stage in the child's oil portrait tutorial. "A Child's Prayer."

Final stage in the child’s oil portrait tutorial. “A Child’s Prayer.”

Stage 7: More colour is added. I work the background again and the clothing until I have the look I am after. In any portrait I work all areas several times until I get the result I am after. Sometimes it comes quickly and sometimes it is pain painstakingly drawn out. This one flowed well. I had a love for the subject and I think it shows – I hope so anyway.
Sorry about the glare from the light on the painting.

Download free oil painting tutorial – A Child’s Prayer

ABC studios One Word One Day event. Work produced based on the word POUNCE
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One Word One Day at ABC Studios Melbourne

Play like a child at One Word One Day event

Mixed media illustration fun at the ABC studios, Southbank Melbourne.

Mixed media illustration fun at the ABC studios, Southbank Melbourne.

A fun day at the ABC studios , Southbank in Melbourne at the One Word One Day event. Run by the ASA and Zart Art to raise awareness for the Indigenous Literacy Foundation! Lots of beautiful work produced based on the word POUNCE

Yesterday, I joined a room full of amazing illustrators at the ABC studios , Melbourne for  the annual One Word One Day event. This year the event was run by the ASA and Zart Art, raising awareness for the Indigenous Literacy Foundation!  Zart Art is a yummy place to take your kids craft supply shopping and also where illustrator’s talks are held by the CBCA a few times a year. I spent last night drooling over the catalogue we were given to take home. I could see a list of kids craft day ideas in my head!

One Word One Day is SO MUCH FUN!!!! Lots of beautiful work produced based on the word POUNCE. The ABC filmed a couple of the key players for a kid’s educational program, ABC Splash. I sat there next to them listening to how it all works – filming that is.

It began with a table of art and craft supplies; not unlike you would find in a school art supply room. We were encouraged to experiment with as many as we can in the 3-4 hours allocated. The works are to encourage kids to have a go at mixed media. One or two may have played safe, but most of us welcomed to opportunity to plunge in feet first, not worrying about the result – with fun results. They may not all be masterpieces but the emphasis was on play, and play we did. It also opened the doors to future development. It was fun to see what other illustrators came up with.

In previous years they auctioned the art work. This year, the art will be donated and used for schools that join and therefore support the Indigenous Literacy Foundation. Schools will go into a draw for a chance to win a work of original art that will be framed and hung in the school library – awesome!

Some of the artist involved in the Melbourne gig were: Kathy Creamer, Nicky Johnston, Marjory Gardner, Bettina Guthridge, Kim Flemming, Sally Mazak, Katherine Strasser, Judith Rossell, Elise Hurst, Kevin Burgemeestre, Ann James, Craig Smith and obviously myself.

Demonstrating Children’s Book Illustration

Ringwood Art Society invited me to do a talk on Children’s Illustration and talk I did. I download a heap of information, show and tell (just about took my whole studio in) and a stack of enthusiasm in 90 minutes. The packed room were engaged – no yawning – yay!

It is always good to get positive feed back. “It was so much more interesting than watching another demonstrator paint.” many remarked . RAS was my old stomping ground so it was a real thrill to go back a visit. I felt right at home and excited to share something different with the group. Members took picture books home and a new appreciation of the wonderful world of children’s illustration. As artists, they could appreciate that a whole exhibition of paintings where wrapped up in one humble little picture book.

I used my iPad to tape my talk with the intention of self-assessment and improvement (boy am I animated!) and the possibility of any of it being useable on a YouTube channel (on my action list). I am considering uploading it with a little editing.

Talking the business of children's book illustration with Ringwood Art Society.

Talking the business of children’s book illustration with Ringwood Art Society.

52 week illustration challenge. Gift card Challenge #illo52weeks simplicity #1
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Simplify Creative Breaks and Downtime.

Is there any such thing? Yes in a strange kind of way – in my world anyway.

I have an unusual style of visual or creative downtime. Usually my downtime results in free creative time. I will be working on a book or attending to business duties and need a break, what do I do? Usually more illustrating or writing – lately illustrating.

The creative challenge I am involved in (#illo52weeks) is really satisfying me artistically. I get to scribble and experiment to my heart’s desire (time restricted) and come up with fresh work for my portfolio (once finished) or blog (work in progress).

I have been flat out working long hours over the past month and have welcomed the latest theme, simplicity. This theme gave me permission to back off the complexity of my illustrations and to my delight resulted in some pretty cute stuff.

This is what I came up with:

52 week illustration challenge. Gift card Challenge #illo52weeks simplicity #1

52 week illustration challenge. Gift card Challenge #illo52weeks simplicity #1

All these were done in Adobe Photoshop while listening to a rather helpful audio eBook by Katie Davis. Yes I will have to re-listen as I was somewhat distracted.

My bunny theme from the last 2 weeks:

52 week illustration challenge. Gift card Challenge #illo52weeks simplicity #2

52 week illustration challenge. Gift card Challenge #illo52weeks simplicity #2

This one was at the end of today using a sketch from my sketchbook doodles. I thought I would try a little more texture in the background.

52 week illustration challenge. Gift card Challenge #illo52weeks simplicity #3

52 week illustration challenge. Gift card Challenge #illo52weeks simplicity #3

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Is society killing off creativity?

Victorian artist Lauren Perkins poses the question “Can artists make a living by selling through galleries?” on her blog Lauren Perkins Art

She asked my opinion on does pursuing typical avenues for selling your work really pay off considering the costs and can you sell work at all without galleries? I think it has to be tested but I do know the galleries are suffering and many closed down. People More and more people are shopping on line and possibly money once spent on art (because people were getting off their computer chairs and going to galleries more) is going toward manufactured, mass produced and often inferior imagery.

I have likened the profession of a painter to an actor; you either hit it big time or you struggle to make a living. I know so many brilliant artists that are finding the public appreciation and support is not there. Why? Perhaps because the economy is bias in the virtual world and the days of venturing out to galleries to appreciate art have declined, perhaps the economy is such that this kind of “luxury item” is suffering.

Like in the year’s Vincent van Gough walked the earth, we need ambassadors of the arts that have the finances to support immerging talent and culture conscious buyers that will invest in something creatively original. Please consider avoiding mass produced art for your walls and ensuring many more treasures are born. If not, like many other creative gems, the world will have less originality and creative beauty to enjoy. No artist or writer wants to forfeit their gifting for money but let’s face it; we have to pay our bills somehow.

 Dirty White Trash (with Gulls), 1998 by Tim Noble & Sue Webster

Credits: Dirty White Trash (with Gulls), 1998 by Tim Noble & Sue Webster

New picture book in progress in my studio. Without Me sketches.
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Picture book in progress – drawings under way!

Picture book in progress: Without Me

With a new picture book in progress, I’ve been working my way through the illustration sketches in my studio. This is my studio desk with some of the working sketches for my new book, Without Me?

There is a great deal of drawing on this book, loads of elements and several characters involved (a family with animals), keeping me alert, although very tired now after another 9 hour day illustrating.

I love drawing but can almost taste the painting phase! As the drawing develop, I become keener to see the colour finished illustration. I am getting closer to finishing the on the drawing stage and getting very excited as I see the cute imagery unfold.

I have 19 illustrations ready for colour so far (once approved by the publisher) – yay!