Monday, September 26, 2011

Updating blog

I'm in the process of giving the blog a bit of a freshening up. So forgive me if things look a bit weird occasionally as the only way to properly test changes is to apply them.

New painting studio

One of the reasons I haven't painted much for the last few months is that I've been trying to set up a new studio. The space I'm adapting is from an enclosed verandah that was here when we bought the house. Part of that room was demolished to make way for an extension to the main house and the half that was left is to be my art studio.

I installed a new Gyprock (plasterboard) wall a few weeks ago then painted all the walls in a slightly warmed, very pale grey. The existing walls used to be turquoise - almost the same colour as the door you see in the photo. I always painted in this space and I'm certain that the blue-green surroundings had an impact on the finished results.

The room also had an exposed sheet metal roof which made it very cold in winter and very hot in summer. I installed a suspended ceiling yesterday. Hopefully this will moderate the temperature a little.

It has two decent-sized, south-facing windows. We need south-facing windows in art rooms in the southern hemisphere so this was a bonus.

There's still quite a bit to do, including painting that hideous door a neutral colour, but at least it's starting to feel like a studio space now.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Walk in Porongurup Range

I went into Porongurup National Park yesterday, my first visit for quite a while. I was with my daughter and her friend, on holidays from Wisconsin, and we soon set about following a trail past the "Tree in the Rock" to Nancy Peak. I'd walked part of this trail alone about six years ago but never made it to the top - mainly because I hadn't told anyone I was going there and I had no idea what to expect.

Yesterday, however, was perfect weather-wise and it turns out I'm fitter than I thought I was. After walking through the leg-aches on the lower slopes, we made it to Nancy Peak without too much effort. Once there, we checked the time and made the decision to keep walking and complete the circuit that would bring us back to the car park.

The next stage was quite rugged compared to the walk up to the peak. But it least it was all downhill from here, so it wasn't too bad.

Once at the top, there are aluminium trail markers bolted to the granite, so it's difficult to get lost. And seriously, it's a long, skinny, steep-sided range so there's really only two ways to go - east or west.

It was a sunny day with broken cloud cover. The views were spectacular. I did have a sketchbook with me but we were too short on time to stop and draw so I had to make do with photos. I'd like to go back with a pochade box or some other lightweight way to paint.

Anyway, here's a few pics.  The first three are the view from Nancy Peak and the last one is of the karri trees on the return journey through Wansbrough Pass.

The complete circuit is about 5-6km long. Nancy Peak is 490m high (650m above sea level).

If you're ever in the Great Southern (Western Australia), then you might want to give it a go (mid-Spring is perfect - the wildflowers are blooming). It turns out moderate fitness and a decent pair of shoes is okay for this trail. It took us about three hours, including pauses, to take in the views.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Canola oil painting

I did this studio oil painting yesterday based on a plein air sketch I did in Porongurup last weekend.

Knight's Canola 
37x50cm oil on board. 
© Andy Dolphin

 Here's a close-up of the brushwork on the flowers.

And here's the on-site sketch from last week.

Knight's Canola - plein air
20x22cm oil on board
© Andy Dolphin

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Latest oil paintings

Here's a painting I did last weekend. It's a bit looser than my normal style and I was interested in pushing the dark/light contrast whereas I'm normally playing warm reds and oranges against cool neutrals, with a focus on aerial perspective.

(Angus Evening. 30x70cm oil on board. © Andy  Dolphin)

And here's yesterday's plein air piece. I think this one will be repainted much bigger soon.

(Knight's Canola - plein air. 20x22cm oil on board. © Andy  Dolphin)

Once again, the photography is less than perfect. That's a problem I hope to solve soon.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Spring Plein Air

Spring has finally arrived in the Great Southern and the canola is in full bloom all around us, so I took the opportunity to get out and paint. I was joined by Ted who's on holidays in the region. You can see Ted below, completing his first-ever plein air painting, with spectacular results.

Here's my effort completed using a limited palette of French ultramarine, cerulean blue, permanent crimson, cadmium yellow light and white...

We were painting well before sunset and the sky was clear, with no threat of clouding over, so I took a bit more time than usual. There's about an hour of work in this piece.

Long-time followers of the blog might recognise this tree from paintings I did at the same location last December. It's a great spot with a ready-made composition. I think I'll be painting here again.

I'll post a better photo of the finished painting soon, along with a studio painting from last weekend.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Self Caricature Sketch

I decided it was time to do a caricature of myself. This is somewhat worse than doing self portraits (and it's been many years since I did one of those) because a caricature requires the exaggeration of features, even the less-flattering ones.

Most of us are used to seeing ourselves in the mirror but mirrors don't give an accurate image. Not only are we in reverse, we are also, in my experience, slimmer, taller and less wrinkly.

This was an impromptu decision and there was no combing of hair, no shaving and no makeup - just a few reference photos snapped in the spring sun. So here I am in my natural, wrinkled, uncombed state - and exaggerated.

digital caricature of andy dolphin

This is just a quick digital sketch. I might work on it some more in the future.