The Art of Sandra Busby...
Painter of Playful Light in Glass and Still Life


Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Single-Malt, no ice...

All be it only one object, this is probably the most exhausting painting I have done to date!
Not because of the time it took to paint, because it didn't actually take very long, but because of the intense level of concentration it demanded...

Acrylic on canvas

If I could turn the clock back and do this again I would have used slow drying acrylics or fast drying oils rather than standard acrylics. This would have allowed for some more subtle blending in places.

This is not a painting which should be viewed as closely as you see it here, but rather with a little distance between the painting and the viewer. When viewed this way it could almost be real.

This brings me to and interesting point; 'Why bother deliberately painting something to look so close to the real thing, when you could just take a photograph?' After all, there is nothing here to provoke any sort of emotional response; it is, after all just a glass of whiskey! (Though I think it might look rather nice on the wall of a classy wine bar perhaps?)

So - this painting could be considered a little 'uninspiring', perhaps even slightly boring, but I have my reasons for challenging my self in this way.
The idea here was not to create a great painting, but rather to exercise my skills in observation. It must be good for the brain because I don't think I have ever concentrated so hard on a single object in my life! 
Regardless of this I loved every moment that the brush was in my hand :0)
It is staggering just how many shapes and colours there are to find in a crystal cut glass of whiskey! And also fascinating to observe how the colour and light refracts withing each crystal cut.

Another reason for presenting myself with such a challenging object, is that so much emphasis is put on imagination in art these days and so early on in the learning process. I feel that not nearly enough attention is paid to teaching Artists how to 'see' anymore.
Don't get me wrong - I mean, I understand that imagination is a very important part of art, but technical skill should surely come first...

On that very subject, I must introduce you to James's Art Blog - He came across an old post of mine: 

Do you remember, 'How to get your art noticed...?

© Sandra Busby

The post caught his attention enough to provoke an epic post on his blog, on what I think is a very interesting subject - 'What Makes Art Good or Bad'?
You can see his post on the subject here and please do because it is a fascinating read and my comment on it is equally epic!

I would love to hear your views on the subject as I'm sure James would.

I think the next post will be something a little less challenging because my poor brain cell needs a rest! Maybe a sketch - Who knows? 

See you soon :0)


  1. Well Sandra, as you know I have been drinking Gods very own golden nectar for at least 50 years. I have indulged from Cairo and around Africa to Morocco and almost every European country, but never have I seen a glass of malt look so inviting.
    What a fantastic picture. I think I will just pop out and treat myself to a new bottle. What a bad influence you are on your Dad. XX

  2. When I saw it first I could not believe its a painting. Then I read your post. You talked about it being uninspiring. I actually think not. I dont think so you can take a photograph and make it look like this. And yes it must have been great exercise for observation. And I must agree with you that this is foundation and it should be as strong as possible.

  3. Sandra, an excellently-painted depiction [ I am trying to be most careful how I describe your painting, only because of your ensuing post, which was absolutely wonderful] A most thoughtful and provocative post. Thank you, Sandra!

  4. Sandra, I have just joined James' blog. Having never formally studied art, I find both your comments and discussions stimulating and educational!!!

  5. This is an awesome piece. There are so many views on what constitutes art that it is difficult to generalise but Ken Howard, a painting hero of mine, says that painting is about three things: revelation, communication and celebration, revelation being the most important. You have succeeded in revealing the beauty of light in that glass to me so I think you have produced an example of good art. Beautiful work Sandra.

  6. My nightly tipple beautifully recreated. What an outstanding painting. Bright, clear, sharp and wonderfully lit. Exquisite!
    I've long believed some very skilful paintings do not make good art, and vice versa so I'm off to James's site to have a read.

  7. Stunning one, Sandra. I can see where it would take a lot of concentration and a delicate hand.
    Carol B.

  8. Beautifully painted, Sandra. You have done some spectacular things on a black background. Really effective.I can understand what you mean about having to concentrate really hard, with the distortion in the glass - well done.

    I always liked that picture in your discussions with James. Sometimes the most unexpected works! I wish I could loosen up a bit with my coursework.

    Best wishes, Lynn

  9. 1. This painting is STUNNING!!!! Truly wonderful and awe inspiring. :)

    2. I agree with what you say about teaching how to see. When I took formal art class there was very little emphasis on this and I was left so frustrated when I couldn't draw what I wanted the way I wanted because I wasn't really 'seeing' it. You know?

    3. It is absolutely NOT boring or uninspiring. It is the work of a highly skilled artist, with sensitivity in expression and high technical ability.

    In other words, I loved the painting, loved the post and now am off to visit the blog you mentioned because I must read your epic comment. :D

  10. Sandra, I had to think about your post and James's before I could comment. I agree with you, observation is basic, so are drawing skills and painting techniques. Some time ago we had an exhibition of a Dutch artist of a "peanutbutter floor". I'm sorry but that is not art to me.
    This painting is perfectly made and sensitive and beautiful! I love it!

  11. Hi Sandra. Another beautifully observed painting and very convincing! I've been getting so impatient with mine lately, grappling with colour and oils is still new to me... I always end up rushing!

    We need to trade: some of my slash and burn for some of your steady.

    Thank you for the link to my post by the way. I probably get too much into the theory of these things, I just think careful study and practice at drawing should be kept going throughout our artistic lives, whatever we decide to do for fun in between.

    I also need a break from thinking; the lights are starting to flicker.

  12. This work is simply spectacular, Sandra. I have never tried to do something like this, but I can easily understand how much difficult must be. I really admire your technique and skills. Congratulations! Ciao!

  13. Hi Sandra, this is really lovely. There are so many complexities to the painting when you view it close up, that is, shapes and colors. Great job. Did you drink the whiskey when you were done?

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  15. This is lovely Sandra. I admired your red baubles and now this one for the intensity of colours and strength of lines.

    You are right observation and skill should play a very important part in the learning process.

  16. Frank - it is about time you learnt how to give constructive criticism. I am sick of reading your inappropriate put-downs of people.

  17. i'm trying to recover so i can string a sentence together and tell you how OUTSTANDING this painting is!!! i have so much to usual...about your thoughts, i need time to explore james' thoughts, but i'm bursting so i'll e you now. SANDY THIS IS MASTERFUL!! no labels, no explanation needed, this is an incredible painting that so NOT BORING it's almost illegal!! BRAVO!! and thank you for your support during the dreads!

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  19. O M W...... This is just so fantastic. What a wonderful challenge for oneself even if (as you say)is not a very responsive painting. Which by the way is by no means unresponsive, but I understand your sentiment.
    The idea of trying to capture what you SEE is not that easy. I have always wanted to capture the cut glass facets we see in glass but always shied away from it as I found it too daunting. So, I take my hat off to you for attempting this wonderful challenge of the mind. You did so very well and my hubby went straight to the liquor cabinet after seeing this painting Sandra! On the contrary, That doesn't take much I must add! He he he! after all it is drinks time! Well done my friend!

  20. The result is worth every minute spent on this work. Fabulous.

  21. Edward Fountain6 July 2011 at 21:50

    Hi Sandra this is a great peice of art well done!! I personaly think that all the work you do is great keep it up!!

  22. Beautifully done!
    I wonder how many people when they pick up a glass of whisky actually see all the nuances you have put in this, through close observation? Very few, I bet!

    I think is does help to have the technical side well developed before you go impressionistic - its like learning to walk before you learn to fly!

  23. Your painting is absolutely stunning, and wonderful! and these are sufficient reason to justify it... ;) Brava! Ciao!

  24. Sue - thanks for pulling me up on this, on reflection, some of the wording in my comment was not good.

    Sandra - sorry if I have caused any offence as that would be far from my intention. I have removed the post.

  25. Very well painted Sandra glass is a tricky one and you managed it extremely well. It actually looks like oil, keep up the good work :)

  26. Hi Sandra

    Doesn't this prove that you can produce a really exciting peice of art without needing to be looking for it to be 'imaginative'? Ok, so it is an ordinary glass of whiskey as a subject. But, the brilliance of this peice is that with pure skill you have created a fantastic bit of work that has provoked such an excellent response from a very mundane subject! 'Sorry for calling it mundane Dad!'
    My initial reaction was to ask how on earth you can make a glass look truly like glass with a paint brush. It wouldn't be anywhere near as interesting if it was a photograph as the whole 'how did she make it look so real' aspect isn't there. I think a piece of art is as good as the reaction it gets from a variety of different people from artists to pure viewers like myself. If imagination means splattering paint up a wall and adding the occasional dot, then please bring on the boring!!! I have shown this to a couple of other non artists and they too were astounded by it. Well done!!!

  27. Hello Sandra
    It looks realistic and I really like it!

  28. Sandra, for whatever reason was behind this painting, thank you for doing it. Looking at this is a wonder .. ! BJ

  29. Dad - Thank you! Well if it has inspired you to go out and buy a bottle then that's good enough for me!! Sometimes I see other peoples paintings of cakes and such like, which have literally made my mouth water! That's when I know it's a realistic painting! :0)

    Prabal - Thank you! I am really glad you like it. I enjoyed trying to capture the light, which is what I thing brings it to life :0)

    Studio - Thank you! I am really glad to have been able to provoke some thought from my post. It's a tricky subject isn't it? :0)

    Michael - Thank you very much! I am glad that you like it. I've never heard of Ken Howard. I will look him up! :0)

    John - Thank you vey much! You are a good judge then ;0) I agree that there is good and bad in both realism and impressionism - I think it's about getting the right balance. I think you will enjoy James's blog :0)

    Carol - Thank you! It really did! I think I need to do some sketching now :0)

    Lynx - I always found loosening up incredibly hard because it is just not natural to me. But, that's not to say I don't intend to keep trying occasionally :0)

    Crystal - Thank you so much! It is very frustrating the way they teach these days. I feel that art is one thing which can not really be taught as such, only the technique. But when they try and teach style, I think that, that is a mistake. Styles should be individual and not steered by the current trend in any way. To inhibit the personal development of that is criminal. :0)

  30. Judy - Thank you so much! And I am glad you understand where I am coming from here. The peanut butter floor was perfectly re-created by me only yesterday, when I knocked a jar off the shelf at tesco's! Maybe I should have called the Royal Academy in to take a look, lol! ;0)

    James - I long for some of your slash and burn! I really enjoy realism because I just like the feeling afterwards when I see that I have managed to actually do it! But, I also love looser styles and I hope to one day be able to be more reckless and see what happens! :0)

    Tito - Thank you! It's a very absorbing way of painting. Hours can literally fly by! :0)

    Cathy - Thank you! I had to borrow both the glass and the whisky from my Dad! He had no problem in drinking it once I was done ;0)

    Sue - Thank you! When I had finished my baubles painting, I always knew I wanted to do something similar. I think a black background really helps to make the most of any light hitting the glass. :0)

    Suzanne - Thank you so much! I read your email about six times! I am so glad you like it :0)

    Jane - Thank you so much! :0)

    Debbie - Thank you so much! Well your husband is a good judge then if it is his tipple!
    I used to shy away from metal. I just thought that I couldn't possibly do it. But then I drew a saucepan in charcoal and wondered why I was so frightened of it! That taught me never to shy away from things but instead, deliberately try the things that challenge me the most, like the marbles, the glass etc. :0)

    AK - Thank you! It took me about eight hours I gues, maybe a little less, but the time flew by! :0)

    Ed the Duck - Thank you! There are some shockers on my blog, believe me! But it is nice to post something I'm proud of too :0)

    Pat - Thank you! When I set up the glass, I had no idea how complex it would actually be. Even I was amazed by the hundreds of tiny shapes and disortions and the colours too. It's something I would never have noticed before :0)

  31. Cristina - Thank you! I am glad that you think so :0)

    Frank - I read your comment on the email. You needn't have taken it off. I understand what you were trying to say :0)

    Dan - Thank you! I agree, glass is tricky and it's something I would like to explore more in the future :0)

    Amanda - Thank you! I think there has to be a balance between loose and neat and certain subjects are suited to different styles. For instance, my blog banner, (the shoes) would have been quite dull if painted 'realisticly' even though the subject is cute. So it required a looser style to make it more interesting. But - I had something specific in mind when attemting the glass and I don't think a loose style would have been suitable. That said - if you look at it very closely, it has actually been painted rather crudely! :0)

  32. William - Thank you my little bowl of strawberry mousse topped with squirty cream and a cherry on the top :0)

    Barbra - Thank you! It was purely a learning exercise that went very well :0)

  33. This is an absolutely stunning painting!!!! I agree with you on painting from life. It is a good practice for us to remind ourselves of what we see. One teacher once told me, "Paint what you see, not what you know." I am going to take a look at that other post you suggested now.

  34. wow, sandra, that is some heavy stuff. i read james' post. i read it because the painting of the bathroom was disturbing to me. i do not mean that in a bad way. it made me very curious and scared and lonely. i wanted to know more about this painting. those may not be the feelings you wanted for a viewer to have, but the feelings were very strong to me that it made me go looking for more info. i think it is exciting for me to see a painting that created such curiousity. all, i can say, is i am surprised when someone likes/loves one of my "ugly" pieces. now i am going to go read your original post on how to get your art noticed.

  35. This is a great post and a subject that I think about often. With enough time and concentration, I think anybody could copy a photograph, but it takes more creativity to produce a piece of art that evokes feelings and brings about a relationship between the viewer and the painting. I think the more experienced we become, the more we move in that direction. Your glass is stunning! And I think it does go beyond the photo-real stage and creates its own special mood. It's a wonderful painting!

  36. Liana - Thank you! My post seems to have provoked a lot of thought. It is an interesting subject to which we all have such different views! As for the bathroom piece, it's a piece that people either love or hate. There seemed to be as many of each and it's very intersting to hear peoples differing opinions! Now, anyone who reads what you just said about your 'ugly' pieces must go and visit your blog! There is not a single ugly piece on it! I am staggered by your lack of confidence and yet I am exactly the same about my own, lol! :0)

    Katherine - Thank you! I think the best art has a good balance of all of those things but with a good dollop of technique too. I find that if I have an emotional connection to the subject I am painting, the result is always better - though I must say that the glass of whisky is an exception to the rule, lol! I agree that the more experience we gain, the more confident we become and maybe then that looser stlye will develop naturally. :0)

  37. I think that imagination and technical skills can go hand in hand. Sometimes emphasize one , sometimes the other. The glass is beautiful!

  38. Sandra, I know I commented on fb, but I just wanted to tell you again, just how outstanding this painting is!! You've got it!!

  39. Sandra, this is such a wonderful testiment to your technical skillset. It is nice that you have that skill and can now decide how much of it you want to introduce into your own art. You have done an excellent job with this!

  40. Pam - Thank you so much! That's good advice and one I will definitely strive to achieve! :0)

    Carrie - Thank you very much for stopping by here too. I really appreciate it! Well, I would say I'm sort of getting it, but that makes me happy :0)

    Sandy - Thank you so much! You are right because there is a balance. I think I might try something a little more imaginative this week now I am starting to have a little more confidence :0)

  41. The glass is fantastic. Compliments. thanks for all your visit to my blog. Grazie.


  42. Wawos - Thank you very much! :0)

  43. Beautiful effects! Arianna


Thank you so much for leaving a comment! Where possible I will respond via email. I really do love to read them! They always make me smile ;0)


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