Starting: Forfar Loch (day 2)

FORFAR LOCH oil pastel on panel 10x20cm (reference photograph & art by Annie McLean)

Since Wednesday’s inspirational walk round Forfar Loch I have managed to draft out a project sheet with a couple of sketches, some notes and a colour chart for oil pastels and chalk pastels.  Today I decided to work on a small piece using oil pastels.

The support is a piece of mountboard primed with a layer of gesso.  I lightly mapped out the main contours in a fine pencil then applied oil pastels directly onto the board, overlaying white and the lighter colours for the reflections on the water and the clouds in the sky.  I used cotton buds dipped into white spirit then dabbed off the excess before blending the layers to create the tones.  Where I needed a bit more precise shaping and blending I used a no. 4 filbert. This was particularly useful in forming the clouds.  The cotton buds were very useful for lifting out the colour where I wanted white reflection on the water.  Once I was happy enough with the proportions and composition I then applied more highlights and shadow using the pastels.  I may well work a little more on this one but I am aware I sometimes ‘fiddle’ then overwork a piece.  Therefore this wee one will sit on show in the studio until I decide whether or not it needs more work.

I have planned out two canvases for this same scene in oils – a 20x60cm (I think the composition lends itself to a long narrow canvas) and a 30x60cm, a standard size for me.  Not sure which size to choose as yet.



Inspiring Day Out

Yesterday I had a day out and about, the second one over the last few days.  I needed to find that elusive muse and gather new inspirations to get me creating visual art once more, rather than the interior decorating and upcycling that has taken 0ver at present.  I can justify my ‘nesting’ activities as necessary after the many changes to enter my life over this last year or so.  But I digress.  This blog is about inspiration and not diversion.

Reaching 60 one has certain advantages.  The concessionary (free)  bus being one; and one that I am starting to make use of.  With bus pass in purse, and day-sack packed with drawing materials and sketchbook plus lunch including a flask of tea and bottled water, I set of on my adventure.

I took the bus from Forfar to Broughty Ferry, changing at Dundee.  My intention was to draw Broughty Castle and / or some of the exhibits.  It was too raw a day (blowing very cold across the water!) to sit outside so all that got drawn was a stuffed heron from one of the glass cases.  I used Bic ballpoint (fine, black) and my Derwent panoramic sketchbook turned length ways.  I made notes of how to develop the drawing in various mediums but I couldn’t do much more as I had spent a lot of time earlier in an art gallery.

The art gallery though proved to be both exciting and inspiring.  As I headed towards Broughty Castle, I passed the Eduardo Alessandro Studios .  An amazing gallery with an amazing solo exhibition upstairs showing the work of Fiona Haldane .  Fiona is extremely talented in her use of pastels.  Her command of artistic representation of rugged and emotive landscape is second to none in my opinion.  Her pastel paintings, and some are large scale, from a distance resemble luxurious oils.   One has to get closer to discover her choice of medium.  Even then, it can be quite difficult to determine the materials used.  It is only on very close inspection that one can see the pastel application.

There is a richness and a fullness of visual image to Haldane’s art.  Her art can really only be appreciated fully by seeing it in real-time rather than an online gallery.  I would encourage anyone interested in dramatic landscapes or pastel paintings to go and see this exhibition.  You will not be disappointed!  It is also an exhibition worth travelling to see, perhaps to take in a few days away from home or an early holiday.  Haldane’s work has certainly encouraged me to get out my pastels and revisit landscapes.  I may even have to revisit the exhibition for more inspiration and learning.  One learns a lot by spending time looking at other artists work and trying to understand the how, why and what etc of the creative process they have applied.

Do take time to visit the links I have provided and enjoy.