Completed: Two Abstracts

Two abstract paintings completed today. Both acrylic on canvas (deep edge) 50 x 50cm. (left) Untitled at present. (right) Blue Sails in the Sunset.

With the end of the month looming, I spent today concentrating on trying to get some art work-in-progress completed.  I am the devil’s worst for starting new work and either taking ages to complete or just abandoning it to an obscure hiding place.  Out of sight really does mean out of mind in my studio.  If I can’t see it then it tends not to be worked on until I have a major clean up and rediscover these half-worked canvases etc.

At the start of the year I quietly resolved to attempt a start and a finish for each week of 2017.  Not a resolution of course.  Experience and self-knowledge tells me that resolutions, especially when made and disclosed, often fall by the wayside early within the first quarter of the year.  So my 2017 aim is not a resolution.  I had considered making it a resolution, because I knew I could make a fast advance on achieving this by adding the artwork for the FunAday Dundee (FADD) January event.  But that would be cheating.  So instead I set a personal goal of attempting at least one start and one finish every week after the FADD exhibition.  That was two weeks ago.

I am pleased to say that, so far, I am on track to reaching my goal.  Very much aware though that I’ve only worked through two weeks and I have many more to go.  Like a whole ten months of commitment.  Whilst I am working to a schedule there will be no foreseen problems in achieving my goal.  However when summer comes around there may very well be a multitude of distractions to cause delay.  Like my eldest daughter’s wedding in August.  And there is the visit to my home the week before that from the third daughter and her brood of boys, including the adult boy.  That might be August wiped out.  Then in September my good friend from Suffolk comes to visit for two weeks.  And that is two weeks of burn-out adventure time.  There is so much of Scotland to show her, especially as this will only be her second visit to Scotland.  Aside from those planned events, I also have to filter in visits and fun times with all four daughters and grandchildren.  I have a feeling the goal posts will be getting moved around a wee bit before the end of the year.

But it is not all doom and gloom.  So far it is all going well.  In the two weeks post-FADD I have managed to complete three art works, giving myself a head start.  This week I have completed the two above, both part of my ongoing abstract development project.  Both pieces were inspired by the smaller versions (15x15cm canvases) I did for FADD.  The Untitled one is more or less the same but larger than the smaller one (Under the Bridge), however the Blue Sails in the Sunset (this title may change) has managed to paint itself completely different to the smaller version.

The Untitled one is quite precise with its sharp lines and the only curves are in the bridge where the long boxes or shafts recede under.  I don’t feel the boxes are going away from the viewer so perhaps I should not use recede to describe their action.  I feel the boxes are more rushing out from under the bridge to meet with the viewer.  What do others think I wonder?  I know an artist friend thinks this piece of art is quite representative of an album cover.  My own thoughts about this painting is that it seems to have more male energies than female.  Perhaps that is why I am struggling to come up with a title for this piece.

Blue Sails in the Sunset has a completely different feel to it.  It was painted completely with palette knives and has many layers applied freely and thickly, sometimes being blended in wet-on-wet (particularly the sky) or applied randomly and thickly as pure colour one on top of another when dry.  There is a lot of movement within the stillness of the sun bedding down for the night.  I’ve deliberately tried to achieve this juxtaposition in order to create a form of communication.  Whether or not it works will be dependent on each viewer’s perception.  I feel I may have overworked this piece but I have decided to call it a day on this one and get it off the easel so that I can start something new.

In both paintings I used Daler Rowney System 3 Heavy Body acrylic paint.  I had some leftover paint and, as per my usual practice, I used some of this to make a start on a prepared canvas waiting in the wings to be started.  I’ll talk more about this next week.  The rest of the leftover paint went into a plastic container (the sort you get from take away restaurants) with lid and this will be used another day.  I try not to waste much.

And so ends a productive week.



Small Talk

FunaDay Dundee 2017 exhibition display

Yesterday was an eventful day in more ways than one but I am pleased to say that I managed, without my car, to get all 32 paintings to the Dundee Wasps studios as planned and hung ready for this weekend’s exhibition. (see photo left)

Preview: Friday 10 Feb 7pm-9pm

Saturday 11 & Sunday 12 Feb 10am-7pm

At: Wasps Studios (level 4), Meadow Mill, West Henderson Wynd, Dundee DD1 5BY.

All welcome – I’ll be there Fri & Sat.

My 2017 project is about communication through art and so I thought I would call this one-a-day-in-January project ‘Small Talk’.  Originally I had intended to set out the paintings in the order I had done them but it did not flow so well.  Probably as I managed to do an extra painting in the month of January.  I felt that the small deep edged abstract (bottom right) would look good on a larger canvas, so I managed to get a 50x50cm deep edge canvas done over the last two days.  32 paintings in one month is quite some task I can tell you.  I had some idea of what I was going to do for each day but as the days slipped by I found that other ideas and inspirations were coming to mind.  Some I am more fond of than others and there is one that I really do not like much at all but felt I had to put it in as it was part of the project.

It has been a wonderful way to start the year.  The activity itself has produced new ways of working, new ideas and a rather full project folder which will see me through most of this year.  I certainly feel more energised and enthusiastic about my art.



Daisies In The Grass

DAISIES IN THE GRASS by Annie McLean Acrylic on Canvas 12x4in

Last painting for the FunAday Dundee 2017 event completed – yes!  This has been a lovely project for January.  Kept me busy and inspired.  I’ve managed to do 31 small canvases and a larger one (50x50cm) in January – that’s 32 paintings in one month!  Don’t think I have ever been this productive – apart from 2000 when I wrote 365 poems in that year.

FunaDay Dundee 2017: Update

FunaDay Dundee 2017: work so far

I’m slowly catching up with myself – or am I actually ahead of myself?  I like structure, uniformity; routines I seem to hedge away from no matter how well I organise my to-do list or diary.  At the start of the FunaDay project I felt I had a head start because I had pre-planned all 31 small paintings.  Ideas were sketched out, some coloured to assess effect etc.  I organised each small sketch in order to be completed.  I made a progress chart.  I created a whole file for this in my project folder.  The build up to this event was exciting.  I felt like a child waiting to catch Santa make an entrance.  And I was feeling rather smug about how well organised I was.  Yes, no problem or so I thought.  I hadn’t reckoned on the Inner Being (my Muse by another name) meddling in the practical tasks.

The first of January arrived and off I went to the studio in the morning.  How quiet the quirky Wee Red Toon was – guess everyone had been celebrating Hogmany the night before.  Not a person or vehicle did I pass on the walk down the Roods.  The studio was quiet too without the noise of the traffic tearing round the one-way system I usually get.  On with the paintings.  And …. The Muse steps in!  I don’t paint the first one planned.  Instead I paint a small painting from a sketch I was going to use as a design for Thank You cards.  Not at all a painting I had even contemplated doing for this project.  The first design did get painted eventually on the third day.

As the days went on, my planning went further to pot.  This Muse, the one who resides within me, is quite mischievous and oppositional at times.  One a day, just one a day.  That’s all I need to focus on I tell myself.  The Muse, she will not listen.  She sneaks up on me when I least expect it and encourages me to work on more than one small painting at a time.  She even had me start something further down the line of my planning.  Much further down the line.  Yesterday she had me paint the one for the 30th January. By now I realise my planning has really been blown away.

There are times when one just has to give in.  After three weeks of trying to get the Muse to toe the line I have succumbed to the pressure.  My Muse has now been allowed to hijack this great plan I had.   Ownership of the project has now been conceded to the Muse.  In all honesty, she took over from the start.  We are now on the 23rd day of January and I have 18 small paintings completed, four more being work in progress, six prepared with the ground and the remaining three being ones salvaged from my reject bin with thoughts on how I can now finish them years after they were started.

So much for the one a day.  Actually, if I count the four WIP’s then I have achieved the one a day – so far.  Or is that cheating?  One thing this project has taught me is that I work best when I am working on more than one painting or project at a time.  Is that a lack of self-discipline or just me being inspired by my own creativity?

One final thing to note.  I now have more ideas than there are days in January.  Perhaps I can take the leftover inspirations onto something else.







Gun Hill

Gun Hill by Annie McLean [acrylic on canvas 6×6 inches]
Today’s painting for the FunaDay Dundee 2017 event.  This painting was inspired by my love of Southwold, where I lived for several years.  I have tried to simplify the scene, in my quest to develop an abstract way of painting.  I’ve concentrated on keeping a realistic but simplified scene, using shape and colour to convey my feelings about this place.  This is one of the ‘wee ones’ I may use as a study for a larger piece.

It has been rumoured that the Duke of Cumberland gave the cannons  to the town after the battle of Culloden – but I am not aware of how true that is.  If you are interested in reading a short article on this then click the link: Gun Hill, Southwold


Day 5 FunAday Dundee

Day 5: Progress so far

Didn’t manage to get one done yesterday and have been playing catch up late this afternoon.  Am still a little behind but hope to catch up fully tomorrow.  Day 5 is my second daughter’s number so today’s painting is all about Rebecca’s number 5, her star shape and her colour blue.  I will either have to come back down to the studio after dinner or leave it until tomorrow.  I think tomorrow might win – it’s cold up here and once I’m in my home I seldom feel like going back out again, especially in the winter evenings.

Day 2: FunAday Dundee

Work In Progress for “D3” by Annie McLean. (acrylic on canvas 6x6in)A

I thought I’d share the process of developing a painting for the FunAday Dundee event.  The photograph shows my project folder and the start of the work on the painting (D2) for the second day of January 2017.  I am pleased to say that the second small painting for this event has been completed.  This one has been inspired by my third daughter, hence the title D3.  Over the Christmas period I asked all four of my daughters to think of a number, a favourite colour and a shape.  They thought mother had either lost the plot or been at the bottle with the amber nectar in it.  Neither.  I explained that all would become clear in the New Year when I started my FunAday Dundee challenge.

Today’s painting was created using my daughter Caroline’s number 2, her favourite colour purple and her chosen shape of a circle.  The 2 has become a swan, the relevance being the number 2 looks like a swan and the fact that when she was a young girl she painted me a picture of a swan.  I still have this painting.  Purple is the main background colour and the circle is painted gold, a symbolic representation of spirituality.  The finished painting may speak of different things to others of course.  A painting is a form of communication.  A relationship is formed between the artist and the painting which ends once the painting is sold.  A new course of communication, and relationship, is then begun between the painting and the purchaser.   But that is altogether another subject.

I am about to embark on the third painting for the FunAday Dundee event.  An early start to tomorrow’s painting as I will be out and about in St Andrew’s visiting the Fraser Gallery. I have promised my self at least one gallery visit a month and this month I would like to see the Chansons d’ete; the solo exhibition of John Kingsley, RSW.  I will finish the painting tomorrow – just so that I can say it was completed on that day!

As a side note, I intend to find some interesting historical facts that happened each day during January.  I forgot to add that to yesterday’s Blog.

1st January 1651: The coronation of Charles II took place at Scone.  This was to be the last occasion a monarch was crowned in Scotland.

2nd January 1971: The Ibrox Stadium disaster happened.  66 supporters were killed on stairway 13.

And now to go make a start on tomorrow’s small painting, do some paperwork and other boring things before dinner.  Perhaps after dinner I may venture back out to my studio to work on a larger piece I started just before the end of 2016.