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Monday, February 28, 2011

Olive by the Oloron for Nancy

Olive by the Oloron © Peter Gander
This is a painting for my niece Nancy’s birthday. She lives in the Bearnaise town of Navarrenx in South-west France. My brother David and sister-in-law Lindy run an art gallery named after Olive, The Galerie le petit chien.

The galerie sign featuring Olive
For a small dog (she’s a Jack Russell) Olive is as plucky as they come. She thinks nothing of leaping into the nearby river Oloron, a huge, fast-flowing river, to retrieve a log the size of a lamp-post. Note from the painting that she has an olive-shaped mark on the top of her head, which is where she got her name. A dryish brush with little pigment added drawn across the paper’s rough surface achieved a textured fur effect. Winsor & Newton watercolour on 300gsm Langton rough paper.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Two men on a train (gouache on black)

Two men on a train.
Winsor & Newton Designers Gouache
on 240gsm (WHSmith) black card.
© Peter Gander
Ever since I saw English artist & children’s TV presenter Tony Hart paint a picture of a ‘street lamp at night’, purely in chalk on black paper when I was younger, I’ve loved to experiment with similar mediums on black. I have tried Winsor & Newton ink (see previous posts) but today I tried their Designers Gouache. I’m not an experienced user of gouache and producing a tonal study in just one colour is the perfect way to accustomise oneself to a new medium. Using a reference photo I took on a work journey, I stuck the print-out on my studio wall and painted this from a distance, by eye. My advice is never trace photos, as you kill any individuality you may have lent to the drawing or painting doing that (there’s no skill in tracing!). If you at least use your reference photos at arm’s length, you will be using the same drawing and measuring-by-eye skills that you would be using in painting from a life model. It’s not as interesting perhaps, but a fair compromise. Gouache, unlike the ink, works better here as the levels of opacity are easier to control and dial up and down. You have to work back-to-front in terms of how the layers build (opposite to watercolour), laying down the darkets (most diluted and thus less opaque) tones down first, followed by heavier, (more opaque, lighter) tones to finish off.  His trousers for instance, are a more diluted blend of gouache, thus more recessive when laid on the black card. The final touch was the white highlight on the commuter’s forehead in a strong, drier solution of white. I left some areas of the substrate (black card) show through as an outline in places, such as the top of the guy’s arm. This lends a lovely graphic quality to the piece. I’m very pleased with this look, so I will be doing more gouache on black paintings later. Winsor & Newton Designers (sic) Gouache on 240gsm (WHSmith) black card.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Misty Reculver Towers

Misty Reculver Towers © Peter Gander
A short distance from home are Bishopstone Cliffs, somewhere I like to take our dog Stanley, for walks. Beyond this to the east in the painting are the ruins of Reculver Towers, once on land when built in Roman times, but now bolstered up by a rocky apron to protect it from the encroaching sea. At low tide you can walk between the two spots like these walkers were doing, but at high tide the sea comes right up to the cliff in the painting, cutting off the route. Winsor & Newton watercolour on Cotman 300gsm cold-pressed (NOT) grain paper.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Red onion and tomato

I have always admired art which employs the technique of cloisonné and this is not the first time I have used the style myself. The word, from circa 1863, means “divided into compartments” from the French cloisonné, from cloison “a partition,” and from the Latin verb clausus, “shut”. Anyway, enough art theory, that’s a very long-winded way of saying my black outlines represent partitions that hold seperate colours, like a stained-glass window. A touch of wax on the textured surface of the onion gives the papery surface some texture, whereas the tomato just needed the white paper substrate to shine through. The shadow colour was applied onto an area (water sheen still showing, not waterlogged) of clear water. This ensures a feathered bleed/soft edge. Winsor & Newton watercolour on Bockingford 200gsm paper.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

My sign collection: Bath Antiques Market hand-painted wood

The full sign © Peter Gander
I don't normally upload non-personal artwork, but I just had to share the beauty of my sign collection. Most of my signs are porcelain enamel and I will upload those later. But this one is wooden and I recently collected this gorgeous hand-painted example that a friend had collected for me in Essex. I actually bought it a couple of years ago on Ebay and my friend had since stored it in his house. Obviously it used to hang over the Bath Antiques Market (Bath, Somerset, SW England) and the lower 'bygones and curios' secton once projected from it and has now broken off. The paint is cracking now and peeling a little but such wear and tear only adds to its character. It measures 90 cm wide by 170cm high. Note the goblin-like figures stretched out over the top corners. What a gem.
Detail © Peter Gander

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Sketched in the city: Victoria Railway Station, London

Victoria Station, London © Peter Gander
There’s not a great deal of time beyond a soup or a sarnie at lunchtime to spend sketching, especially when I am trying to be conscientious now I am employed as a freelancer. No more two hour lunches! Thus today I found myself with about half an hour, long enough to do the line drawing for this painting. Believe it or not, I painted it on my return journey home after work to Kent on the train, as I have more than an hour’s trip. I had to wait until the train lost a few passengers, however, as initially it was rather cramped. I referred to a photo I had taken on my phone for colours and tone. The linework was scratched in with a fine Edding waterproof pen. I say scratched in as I don’t really enjoy the very un-smooth sensation such pens convey. I could have used a pencil, of course, but didn’t have one on me. I like subtelty sometimes and you can’t be subtle with a single weight pen. However, after a mix of good old Winsor & Newton Payne’s grey (I use haf-pans when out and about) a touch of black, Prussian blue and some warm, earthy colours, it looked a treat. I only had my travel brush with me, a big filbert, and was glad of the lack of choice it gave me, so I was bold with my brushtrokes. Abstaining from the temptation to fill in the background meant I preserved a good balance of light and dark, essential to keep the essence of what it was that struck me by the scene in the first place. Winsor & Newton watercolour on Grain Fin NOT 150 gsm paper.

Monday, February 07, 2011

Fish fish

Fish fish © Peter Gander
Still on the train and wielding my Paint Marker, I couldn’t resist a fish drawing. I’d like to develop the idea of a fish with fish-like scales at a later date. Such sketches are always useful in that sense. 0.8 Edding 780 Paint Marker on Daler-Rowney Canford black paper.

Commuter, Victoria (in white pen)

Commuter, Victoria in white pen © Peter Gander
Having drawn the previous post earlier in the day, I was still yearning for something creative to do on my train journey home, so I drew the same woman using my sketchbook reference, but using an 0.8 Edding 780 Paint marker on Daler-Rowney Canford black paper.

Sketched in the city: Commuter, Victoria Station

Commuter, Victoria Station © Peter Gander
I’ve recently been working freelance near Victoria Station and have a new environment to sketch in. Away from a howling wind in the station’s shopping centre, this was drawn using charcoal pencils on 150gsm Kraft paper.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

‘Wildlife artist of the Year’ (WOFA) submission 2 of 2: Hammerhead school

Hammerhead school (final print 1 of 5) © Peter Gander
From a cute hippo mother and calf to slightly edgier sharks. Not just any sharks, but the threatened hammerhead shark. I chose this as an Endangered Species entry to the WOFA competition in response to seeing Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s impactful Fish Fight series recently featuring the ghastly practice of removing fins (‘finning’) from living hammerhead sharks and throwing the finned animal overboard to die. Image-wise I was interested in an unusual take on the shark and was inspired by a photograph I’d seen of a school of hammerheads seen from below in layers of blue, the lighter ones a shade paler than those closer to the diver’s camera lens, below a high sun.
Sketching out the options
I reigned it back from this version ;)
Cutting the Japanese vinyl
Checking progress
Mixing up the various shades of shark
Rolling out the first shark blue

The background (cardboard) registered & ready

As you can see form the initial sketch, I changed the design as I felt it was overly fussy as I went along and also changed it from portrait to landscape format. There are three shades of shark, and the beauty of the Japanese vinyl, compared with traditional lino, is that it prints both sides, so I was able to print a few sharks, turn them over for a flipped image version and hey presto you have a two-for-the-price-of-one images! These were dotted around a master trace of the design and I outlined each one to verify that a space had been taken up, to avoid over-printing an existing shark. Like the two previous posts, King Crow and Hippo & Calf, I opted for a different substrate for the background. Cardboard in this case. Not the corrugated version, but the pulpy type found as a sketchbook backing. The sun images was simply cut out with a scalpel. Board is perfect when after a change of texture, when making simple shapes, or simply when lino or vinyl simply isn’t warranted. For this print, because I wanted a fast turnaround of reprinting and overprinting the same sheet, I opted for water-based (fast-drying) printing inks. For any UK printmaker’s interest, I used Seawhite (of Brighton) block printing inks available online or from Cowling & Wilcox (Soho) if you’re in London. Printed on A3 160gsm cartridge paper (420mm w x 297mm h), 1 of 5 only.
'Hammerhead School' has been selected for the Wildlife Artist of the Year 2011 exhibition at The Mall Galleries, London between 6th and 11th June 2011