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


Wednesday, 25 April 2012

The simple life (WIP)...

I am having SO much fun with the new bear! I really wish that I hadn't wasted so much time fighting with the last when I should have just moved on. I'd almost forgotten the joy of painting!

Anyway, here is the under-painting which I have nearly completed. One more layer to get all of my tonal values should do it  and then I can start adding some colour!
And once the lightest areas are highlighted in the final stages, it should really spring to life :0)

© Sandra Busby

Note the date, which I have changed to 1938. This is because the bear himself dates back to around that period. But - Since taking this photograph I have changed it back to 1998!
This is because a friend of mine made a very good point - My style with the bears is old fashioned but with a modern twist - so why change the date at all? It made perfect sense as soon as I read her comment!
So, 1998 it is!

Anyway, going back to older times, some recent events have taken me right back to an era way before my own...

Last week, Paul returned home from a days work with a large, battered cardboard box tucked under his arm.
I was intrigued to learn what was inside the box and as he pulled off his rain soaked jacket and kicked of his big muddy boots, he explained that for one of the jobs he had done that day, instead of being paid with money for his efforts, the customer had paid him with sausages and bacon!!!
Paul seemed very happy with this exchange and - well, who was I to argue with that big, smiley carnivorous face as he proudly plonked what I am sure was an entire farmyard on the kitchen table?

Interestingly we had made a similar exchange of our own the previous weekend, when on Paul's return from a days fly-fishing, we had visited our local Pub and paid for our drinks with the trout he had caught!
Oh how simple life could be! If only we could pay our mortgages like that!

This is something that could only happen in the countryside. I'm sure it simply wouldn't happen in the cities.
Our local pub that took the fish is more than 600 years old and is the heart of where we live.
A while ago we were there with some family who were visiting from London. They were totally bewildered when a local farmer parked his tractor in the car park and wandered in with his Cockerel who then joined him at the bar for a pint of Ale! Anyone would have thought that they'd never seen a Cockerel in a pub before! The Ale wasn't for the Cockerel of course - If I remember correctly, the Cockerel was supping on the Whiskey-Chasers! (Just kidding) ;0)

If you ever visit this country and you want to see the real England, with proper red telephone boxes and friendly country folk, it has to be the countryside. London isn't really English anymore - and I don't mean because of it's multi-cultural society, but rather because the truly British red telephone boxes have been replaced with what can only be described as alien ships made out of glass and the traditional old pubs are few and far between.
And if a man walked in to a pub in London, chewing on a piece of straw and armed with a chicken, he'd probably be mistaken for an escaped lunatic and carted off to the nearest mental health institute!

Anyway, I have been waffling on for far longer than I intended and as I ponder over a Chocolate Mini-Roll and a cup of tea, on one final thing I could share with you before I go, I look up and see the beautiful watercolour card I received from Judy of De Draad Aquarellen, which is perched upon the kitchen fireplace...

Judy of De Draad Aquarellen
  ...Isn't it gorgeous?

Thursday, 19 April 2012

And so begins another bear...

I have a new feeling of excitement - one I haven't felt for a while :0)

The last bear felt wrong very soon after I began. 
All the way through to when I destroyed it I had a strong feeling that it wasn't going to sit well as part of my series. 
I learned a lot from the experience.

This time I have been very careful! I have chosen objects to suit my theme unlike the last, where it was the other way around.

I've also been very careful with my composition. Not just with the arrangement but also the whereabouts of my darkest and lightest areas. 
This is the first time I have made a full scale tonal sketch using charcoal before I begin...

 ...I decided to do it this way so as not to get distracted by colour but still get an idea of how the whole thing will look tonally. Of course the beauty of charcoal - particular the Willow variety (my preferred choice) - is that it's so quick! After the initial sketch, it took just minutes to go over with the charcoal but will probably save me a lot of time in the long run.

Anyway, I thought I would show you some photographs of how I got to that stage...

Once I was happy with my arrangement, I made a full size 18 x 22 inch sketch...

And here's a money saving tip - I have an old unused roll of wallpaper in the corner of my art room. 
For my full scale sketches I cut out a piece in the size I need and draw on the back. This saves me a fortune on drawing paper which is very expensive in comparison!

The next stage is to trace my sketch, so I can transfer it to my prepared canvas...

For this I use Waitrose Essentials greaseproof paper, because it is white and translucent like tracing paper but a fraction of the price. 
Twenty metres costs just £1.48!

Whereas on Amazon, a twenty metre roll of tracing paper is £16.29!

Next, after transferring the outlines to my canvas, I went over the initial sketch with charcoal to work out my tonal values...

So looking at this, I think aside from the hint of the wallpaper pattern behind the glow of the candle, I may also suggest a little above the bears head, but even more subtle  - just a mere hint.

The back line of the box will be softer than you see here as it fades in to the darkness and also, a tiny little bit of the bottom of the glass will be peeping out from behind the base of the decanter. 

The bears eyes will have sharp highlights and of course the glass will also be straightened out where the charcoal lost the shape a little!

I like it - It has curves and straights, a strong contrast between lights and darks, the bear remains the main focal point and there will be lots of warmth, atmosphere and different textures. 
(Note the word WILL and not I HOPE - I am thinking POSITIVE here!!!)

And here it is, pinned up next to my easel, ready for me to refer to during my under-painting!

But - before I start that, I would like your opinion on something...

The date on the Wine box is 1998. When I looked on the Internet, the wine in the box was first produced in the late 90's. That said, you can't actually see all of the words. 
So - would a wine buff notice if I changed the date to maybe 1946 or around that time? Or, should I just leave the date as it it?

What do you think? But, don't forget, bears weren't invented until 1902 and didn't become common until the 1920's.

Have a great weekend!

Friday, 13 April 2012

Bear meets foot: Hiyyyyyyyyyyah!!!!!

CAUTION - Post of EPIC proportions coming up!!! RUN! Run like the wind while you still caaaaaaaaaaan............................................

Still here? Okay, well here goes...

When I took one of my previous bear paintings to show my Uncle Danny, he told me that I had become a 'true Artist'.
As you can imagine, this meant so much to me coming from a man who has work on display (mainly sculptures) in various museums and other such places :0)

But then he warned me - "It won't always be this way you know. There will be times when a painting just won't work."

Q: So at what point should we make the decision to walk away?

I have had an ongoing battle with bear number 4 for what seems like an eternity.
Parts of it came so easily; The newspaper, although looks complicated took me very little time at all - maybe an hour or two. The bear also was no problem and came together in record time. The pipe was really easy, and so was the wooden shelf.

So, there was a point where I thought that the painting would be finished in no time at all.
But then, as I worked on, I seemed to keep taking steps backwards rather than forwards.

Firstly, I realised that I wasn't happy with the unbroken angle of the mirror. This is something that I should have spotted in the original sketch, but didn't.
That problem was minimised by adding some peeling paint on the walls coming out from beneath the frame. This broke up the sharp edge and also looked quite real close up too, even though I say so myself! ;0)

Then it was the reflection of the clock and sign in the mirror that troubled me. They were too large and suggested that the opposite wall was much closer than was meant. They also diverted the attention from the bear himself, who is after all meant to be the main focus!
Again, I really should have spotted this in the original sketch.

So, to resolve that problem I painted over it completely and instead suggested the reflection of both the tips of a chandelier and a money-spider dangling from it's thread.
A beveled edge finished that off nicely - Hmm... but still something wasn't right.

Then while I pondered on it,  I added a glaze to warm the oil-lamp slightly. This was a HUGE mistake! On reflection, it was just fine as it was and I shouldn't have touched it at all. The oil-lamp was now so vibrant that it took over the entire painting. 
I tried to remove the glaze gently with a little Liquin, but this removed far more than I had bargained for and the oil-lamp, which really had taken me a long time to do, was suddenly needing to be painted all over again!

I continued battling with the bear for some weeks, adding this, taking away that, one step forward, three steps back... You know that feeling when there are parts of a painting that you love, so you just don't want to give up? Well that's how I felt.
So, I just kept on working on it and working on it, hoping that it would come together - always finding a new problem and always working on a new solution... before the next problem came along... and then the next...

Before the point where I had glazed the oil-lamp, I still wonder if I could have made something of the whole thing, but at this point, enough was enough and those words that my Uncle Danny said to me, rang in my head once again... 'It won't always be this way you know. There will be times when a painting just won't work.'

And that's when I finally faced the fact that this painting that was just never going to work - not as a whole anyway.

So, I found a solution to that problem too - by way of foot through canvas!
A little extreme, you might think? But the relief that waved through my body said it all...

...And then I cried - just a little :0(

There was something quite therapeutic about destroying it though if I'm honest!
I think it's because I was taking away any further opportunity to waste any more of my time on it, which I might have done had I have put it to one side. 

Anyway, I will show you these few photographs of various sections of the painting that I took at different stages along the way.
I'm sorry about the poor quality of the photo's, but they were never meant to be seen and there seems to be an awful lot of glare coming from the wet paint!

...I loved the bear. He had a lot of character.

I thought he would be a challenge, but he was easier than the previous two by a long way and didn't take very long at all :0)

I was really happy with the pipe and the wooden shelf...

Here is the oil-lamp before the disastrous glaze! 

...Sigh...I am heart-broken looking at it now :0(

...The newspaper in progress.

Although you might like the individual bits, remember that it just wasn't working as a whole and that's why is was not worth continuing with.

...What a shame - all that work... I feel quite emotional now :0(
But. onwards and upwards * as I give my self an imaginary shake*!

So, what now?
Well, I have picked myself up, brushed my self off (along with fragments of bear from boot), set up a new bear and prepared a new canvas.
I have a new composition, with a different bear which I will study very carefully before I put a brush to that canvas! The new one is on the theme of wine and one of the props happens to be my Uncle Danny's antique decanter :0)

This time I am armed with a new lesson under my belt. That lesson being that the moment I feel any doubt - I must walk away, work on something else and come back to it with fresh eyes. This should limit the amount of time and effort being wasted.

I am also planning to have another go at the bear I have just put my foot through too. 
The plan is that I can work on them both at once.
But this time, the mirror will be oval. The reflection will be simple and understated, there will be an extra item or two to break it up a little and I will be much more sparing with my glazes!

I am very lucky that when I told the Gallery owner my feelings about the painting, he was more than understanding and wasn't worried at all. Phew!

So, my own answer to that question; At what point should we make the decision to walk away?

A: As soon as there is any doubt!

Walk away and come back after at least a week! This might avoid wasting an awful lot of time on something that is only ever going to fail, only to end up giving it the Karate Chop!!

Anyway - Has this ever happened to you? Have you ever put a lot of time and effort in to something only to throw it in the bin? I would love to hear your own stories, if only to make me feel better about mine ;0)

Just before I go, I will leave you with a random thought I had this week...

My random thought:

It occurred to me that before this week, the last time I cried (or wailed, if I'm honest), was when Codi passed away.
Of course I am not remotely comparing the two as anywhere near the same feeling - absolutely not - but, I am not one to cry at nothing.
With that in mind, there should be no question as to why art is expensive. We put our hearts and our souls in to it.
You simply can not put a price on that. 


Wednesday, 4 April 2012

The Beauty of Wrinkles...

I don't have as many sketches to post today because I have been busy working on my latest bear :0)
He's almost finished now and I am already playing with compositions for the next!

Between times I have been sketching more faces from the Internet, just for a good dose of healthy, artistic exercise!

Some sketches, like the woman above took just a few minutes.

But others, like this lady on the right took around fifteen.

It doesn't look like there's much in it, time wise, does there? 
But the difference is that unlike the lady above, this sketch to the right is a very good likeness indeed - even to my own surprise!
So much so that I am positive if the lady herself stumbled across my blog, she would know it was her! 
(Hmm... here's hoping that she doesn't sue me!!)

So, those extra few minutes make a lot of difference to the end result :0)

If I was out and about in a Cafe, I wouldn't be looking for a true likeness like this, but instead I'd be aiming for a vague similarity :0)

What I have found is that young faces (as much as we all want them) are very difficult and actually quite uninteresting to draw... 

...Unless of course it is a cute, pudgy baby, like this one :0)

...How is it, that even when a newborn baby is covered in cheese and resembled road-kill, we are somehow programed to see them as the most beautiful things on earth??? And we do!

Anyway, generally I find that the older and more wrinkled the face, the more of a story it has to tell and they are much more fun and easier to sketch! 

Do you find the same?

Of course it's no good sketching only faces when I'm out and about! The people I sketch will all have bodies!

And of course they will unfortunately be moving, so the results will be very different! 

So with that in mind, here I'm only aiming to capture the basic shapes of the figure in as little time as possible, just to capture their body language and without getting lost in detail 

... Like I have done with this man :0)

I hope I'm not boring you with my sketching frenzy! But for those of you who don't sketch, I can honestly say that these daily sketches are well worth doing and take next to no time out of your day. 

I can genuinely feel the improvement with each new one I do - and the best part? I no longer feel the need for a pencil at all :0)

I'll soon be starting my new sketch-book which I will probably use as an art journal. Then I'll  be injecting some colour to my sketches :0)

Meanwhile, I really hope that this bear is done and dusted prompto so you finally get to see it! 

Just before I go, I must point you in the direction of Pointy-Pix's latest post - The Art of Pretention.
There are some posts, which I just have to read twice and that really catch my attention. This is most definitely one of them! Not only does it come with a really funny sketch and hilarious narrative, but it raises some really interesting points about the art world. 
It is well worth the read!

Anyway, I wish you all a lovely Easter weekend :0)


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