Thursday, 24 February 2011

The artist's tools of the trade

An artist without the essential tools to make art is like a pianist with no piano. The last few months I have worked with the bare minimum of equipment – a few tubes of paint and some watercolour paper. In lieu of extra clothes, I packed most of my brushes and some watercolours into my suitcase but the rest came by sea – slowly.
Today I spent a few hours going through an extensive inventory of my goods that have at last been released. I was trying to exercise a little psychic power to remember from the brief note on the box what was near a particular item so I could retrieve desperately needed materials before the rest went into storage for another couple of months.

The new, improved workspace

I was able retrieve my printer – in time to print up-dated business cards, oil paints, pastels,  and my camera tripod. More importantly, I found a compatible lens in place of the one that decided to make a sound like coffee- grinder – I fear the lens is on its way to camera heaven. (The way I feel about it however, it should go to the warmer place)

View from my window

As a creative person you would think that I shouldn’t be so caught up with wanting my stuff -   I should be above material things. But really, to be honest, just having these few extra things, plus a larger table, speakers for my iPod, and other bits and pieces, I now feel as though I am really here and not just visiting. There are other things too – yesterday I passed my practical driving test (obligatory when you come from the land of the dodgy license) and this morning at 7.45am had my first ever experience at having a breathalyser test - welcome to Australia....

Monday, 21 February 2011

Moving from the real to the abstract in painting

I have always enjoyed looking for the abstract – even the most realistic image has abstract elements. In ‘an abstract’ a brief summary of a research article or thesis – complex research is succinctly communicated. In an abstract painting, the image is reduced to the essential elements.
The visual language of colour, shape, line and texture creates a new reality in the painting.
Pumula Rocks II  -oil on canvas - 914mm x 914mm
© Carol Lee Beckx
My inspiration is often an image, a photograph I have taken, that, on the face of it, is realistic. Photographing the coast at different times and under different weather conditions developed my interest in the rocks, sea and sand as subject.

 The Rock Series started with paintings that were realistic in execution and intent. As the series progressed, I became engrossed with finding sections of my reference that possessed abstract compositional elements that I could utilise.
Heavier impasto paint, layered and incised, and glazes of colours all contribute to the expression of monumentality and permanence. The textured paint builds up the surface and creates shadows that blur the boundaries between a flat canvas and three-dimensional relief.
Pumula Rocks III - oil on canvas 914mm x 760mm
© Carol Lee Beckx

There remains a semblance of reality – the paintings are not totally abstract. The use of colour becomes more arbitrary and unrelated to the reality of the rocks. The character of the rock also lends itself to the drawn line - calligraphic marks are used to express its textural qualities. The paintings become abstract constructs.

Monday, 14 February 2011

A fluffy pink heart for Valentine's Day

Chaucer's love birds
Geoffrey Chaucer wrote the first recorded association of Valentine's Day with romantic love.
In the Parlement of Foules (1382) he wrote:
For this was on seynt Volantynys day
Whan euery bryd comyth there to chese his make.
("For this was Saint Valentine's Day when every bird cometh there to choose his mate.")
To this day expressions of love are exchanged - although I fear the commercial card is far removed from the love poems of yesterday. Wanting to re-create the making of a Valentine but with a 21st Century twist I decided to use modern technology.

I had another chance to play with the Brushes app on my iPhone while drawing / painting this fluffy pink heart. My skill pales in comparison with much other digital work that is multi-dimensional and very good indeed.
In fact it was another blog  that spurred me on to practice more and get to grips with the application. Gillian Holding posts a self portrait of some kind every day and her work is so much more than the superficial manipulation of the application. Each day there she has a new way of seeing herself and her surroundings.

Another daily posting by her – (do some people never sleep?) My Life and art blog! is a very worthwhile read. I particularly enjoyed Sods-laws-of-creativity which echoes the frustrations of every artist when you realise that someone has done your ideas first – AND better!

 And so I wish you a Happy Valentine's day.

Saturday, 12 February 2011

Drawing children's portraits - capturing the moment

The past couple of days have been busy – and I realized that it’s been a while since my last post. I do admire those bloggers who have a new post every single day. I must try harder to keep to more regular posting!
Below are two more portraits – the sleeping baby is only four weeks old – I’m sure most parents will remember looking at their sleeping infant will great fondness. A sleeping baby is a treasure, all too soon they are running around and then suddenly all grown up and going to school.
Sleeping Baby - 115mm x 165mm
Pencil on paper
Carol Lee Beckx ©2011

Little girl - 115mm x 165mm Pencil on paper
Carol Lee Beckx ©2011

This week I completed a number of small paintings and on Thursday, a double portrait of two little girls was delivered. I was fortunate to have a couple of really good images of the siblings to use for the portrait.
Often it is quite hard to get a photograph of two children together where both are in good positions for a drawing. Usually one has to use a combination of two or more photographs. The important factors to remember are that the scale and the light source of both images should be the same. Mechanical cropping and joining with a photographic programme is useful to a degree, but I find that it’s best to work out a complicated composition with some sketches to join the images together.
When photographing children, the window of opportunity for achieving a good image is small. Their interest wanes rapidly, and as they get older the desire to clown for the camera increases the longer the shoot continues. It’s best to catch children unaware before they realize that they are being photographed. Professional photographers have many tools that they employ when photographing children and their aim is to produce a formal photographic portrait. I prefer to work from more casual candid photographs for my children’s portraits – I like to use a relaxed pose that captures the essence of the child’s personality.
Do have a look at my  Pencil Portraits  for more about the portraits, and here on the  Portraits page on my website for more images.