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winter-crows-phase-5All thats left is some shadows under the crows and some tonal balancing.  I’ll post the finished piece up  soon – hopefully tomorrow. 🙂


At last I’m making real progress and the phases are happening as they normally do.  This is a good sign that I’m doing the right thing, in the right place and in the right frame of mind.

So once I’d prepped the canvas with gesso and crepe paper I left it to dry, and whilst that was happening I cleared my mind of the clutter and noise of the previous painting.  Then I got sketching and trying to visualise the scene in my head.  The first layer of paint went on like a dream, and the second phase which I completed today went just as smoothly.  Here are the first few phases – they have a lovely atmosphere and I’m confident with how this is going:

With any luck i’ll get this finished over the next 2 days – although it doesn’t matter if I don’t… 🙂

Its all a state of mind.

Can you guess what I’m gonna talk about?? Yes – the bloody “Spring-Willows-lets-create-hell-and-start-again-only-this-time-lets-call-it-The-Riverbank painting!!  I think I’ve learnt my lesson ‘cos it started so good, got to an even better phase, but it still didn’t click with me, and now I’ve messed up the tree and its irretrievable for good…..(can’t show you that…)

I feel terrible – frustrated and like a failure…. and the rest.  But I guess this was such a steep learning curve that at each crossroads I made the wrong choice.  I know we are meant to learn from mistakes, but THREE times on the same painting??? I just can’t face it anymore, and so I’ve sanded it down, rubbed it with alcohol and now I have a new canvas to prep all over again.  I’ve definitely got the message that this painting just isn’t meant to be right now.

So I thought its time to step away from the painting and start something else that is waiting for attention.  Two paintings with a crow theme:


There’s something really rural about this.  I often used to see crows in the cornfields when I was growing up.  I used to cycle around the country lanes in all seasons, and these scenes remind me of that.  Perhaps that was the trouble with “The Riverbank” – it held no specific thread to my own life for me.   Whereas these, and the Autumn Birches, hold strong memories for me and an affinity with the colours used.

Just as well that I decided to move on.

Wish me luck!!

Debs x

And so it goes…

….the painting in progress has been renamed “The Riverbank”.

Happy Days 🙂

This painting is really testing me!! The colours are getting warmer – mostly because I feel more comfortable with them.  This and the last painting have set the continuum of my choice of colours.  It was initially annoying that Spring Willows was getting warmer in hue, but now I realise that it seems to be a comfortable one that sits better with me.  This was confirmed when a fellow artist said it reminded her of the autumn morning she witnessed the other day…that was food for thought.

Then today I made the assessment that I had too many prominent trees.  The one on the left was again annoying and, I realised, unecessary.  It upset the feel of this painting.  I think it will improve now, and as I can continue with the autumn feel, this painting will be finished this weekend.  Phew!

This painting has been so important to me that I have dreamt about it twice!! I can only assume this was some kind of subconscious problem solving session…

Spring Willows (to be renamed) has really been an unexpected steep learning curve!  I have learnt new things about my preferences and comfort zones.  I have also used new products that I have grown to like.  This educational phase was necessary to get through as it will help me keep a consistent style and quality to this body of work.  It has made me even more excited about this exhibition.  I think it is crucial to have something to work towards – I will no longer settle for second best.

My new sketch book arrived today too.  I will be using this to document my prep and notes for each painting. It measures 265x210mm landscape, so there’ll be ample room to doodle in it! 🙂

Well thats it for today – no pictures today of my own, only of a great photo I found on the net of lovely autumn teasels:


Oh, thank goodness I took the decision to start again with Spring Willows!!  I’m happy to report that its going far, FAR better this time.  The colours are right, and as I’m progressing, little inspirations are happening! The cool spring sun, for one, made an appearance today:

My time in the studio, and my determination with this particular painting, is feeling good.  Overcoming a disasterous painting is a boost for my creative soul!!  Each time I pass the studio I am lured in by the easel to have a look, ponder and maybe add a few daubs before the next sitting – its great!!

Working Titles have their place, and with this exhibition series I have decided to not stick to the initial titles too rigidly.  Sometimes I  paint and then name the painting, and sometimes I work to a title idea.  Yesterday I renamed, “Wheatfield View” to “Where We Walked”.  It suits this painting – its wistful, nostalgic, meditative and reminiscent of something.  As for Spring Willows, I think it may also change….we’ll see.

In my personal life, I am facing major surgery in 2 weeks time.  My painting is a good antidote to anxiety about this.  When I paint I experience wonderful creative flow where nothing else matters as my hand and eyes work over the creation in front of me.  I feel lucky to be a creative person.  How bleak my life would be without this obsession.  All my life I have been like this, and now I’m just a little over 2 years away from 40, I appreciate my creative existence more than ever.

Anyway, the next 2 weeks will hopefully see the completion of Spring Willows and the commencement of the next one.

Oh yeah, and the blogging is helping too!! 🙂

My intention when I started writing this blog was to be honest and talk about the reality of my creative life.  Well, here is one of my moments when I have to admit to a mistake with Spring Willows.  The red I used was far too warm and as the painting progressed I just couldn’t shake off its depth and tone.  This became most obvious when I completed the tree trunks and branches – they just wouldn’t stand out enough.  In the last post I described subtracting colour to go backa few stages, but this just didn’t really work.  I got as far as painting in foliage, but because I was having to use a very light green to “speak” over the noise of the red, it became too “twee”.  Thats not what I intended.


I tried more tweaking, but it just wasn’t working for me.  Not the mood I was going for at all.  So I’ve gone right back to stage 1 – white gesso layer and a new layer of tissue paper.


This time I will use Rose Madder as my red – it is a gentler red, cooler and more transparent. With any luck this painting will progress better.

Its a strange thing.  But the usual signs were there to show the wall I’d come up against – frustration, two attempts to subtract the paint, using colours that I don’t like….  Its important to listen to these signs, and instead of ploughing on, I’m glad I took the decision to start over.

Mistakes are great learning experiences 🙂

Well, you will see from my work in progress that painting Spring Willows was a bit erratic in direction.  I was starting to feel like I was trying to say something when I couldn’t speak. Frustrating!  So in looking over the progress I tried to work out where it started to go wrong, and where I liked it best.  My favourite stage was phase 2.  So when I got to phase 4, I retraced my steps.  I did a bit of subtraction with alcohol and painted a light layer of transparent white.  Now I’m back at a place where I can proceed.  Actually its better all round as there are blotches from previous stages showing through under the white, so it looks great.  Here are the phases 4 and 5:

With this creative turn in direction, I am back on track, with relief!  Lets see what happens with the next couple of sittings…

The process had begun on the painting, “Spring Willows”.  Here are the first few stages:

As you can see I’ve laid down the tissue paper, the vibrant undercoat, and the white overcoat to indicate mistiness behind the trees.  My aim is to depict a early spring morning 🙂  I’ve got the basic trunk shape and direction of the trees in place.  The blue of the river in the foreground is an underlayer – this will become less prominent eventually.  I used clingflim to create a pattern on this stripe of blue – its great stuff to work with!  I usually use it in watercolour, but I thought I’d try it on the damp acrylic paint.

I’m feeling that I have the necessary momentum now that I have the first painting done.  Getting a good start is encouraging.  I’m sure it won’t always such a smooth path, but I’m enjoying it while it lasts!

Back soon with more progress…

A new painting has been prepped today 🙂  Again it will be on the new very deep edge canvas. It will be in a much cooler palatte than Autumn Birches.  I was thinking of using yellow ochre as the yellow primary, but its much too warm for the cool end of Winter and the fact that these willow trees are by the water in Spring means that they are not shrouded in warm colours!! I will however use crimson instead of a cooler red.  I happen to really think that reds are very important in paintings and crimson is one of my favourites.

Here is the sketch prep for “Winter Willows”

sketch-painting-2As you can see the sketch has a cool mood, which is what I was after.  Tomorrow I will start the canvas prep with tissue paper and the under layers of colour.

Back soon with the first few stages. 🙂