Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Tom Richmond Book!

The Tom Richmond caricature book I pre-ordered a couple of months ago arrived today, earlier than expected. Despite travelling half-way around the world, it arrived in perfect condition.

Tom's delivered 170 pages of in-depth instruction on the art of caricature. I've got a bit of reading to do now.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Plein air mountain sketches in oil

Spring made a welcome return for a few days this week and I managed to get up early on Saturday morning and headed back out to the Stirling Range.

It was pretty hot for 6:30am, and there was very light cirrostratus cloud cover all morning. The light kept changing as I was painting, sometimes revealing subtle detail in shadows and sometimes obliterating it, but I was pretty happy with this one for a quick sketch.

(Sketch for Bluff Knoll Framed by Eucalypts. 35x25cm oil on board. © Andy  Dolphin)

I hope to develop this into a larger painting and to spend a bit of time resolving the tangled mass of bushland in the middle and foregrounds. The clouds look a bit contrived here but that's what they actually looked like at the time. It was quite surreal.

On the way home, I stopped on the side of the road and did a quickie of Mount Trio. I used a very limited palette of French ultramarine, cadmium scarlet and Australian red gold, plus white. The Aussie red gold makes the most amazing colour mixes and I'm still to work out how to predict them.

(Sketch for Mount Trio. 20x22cm oil on board. © Andy  Dolphin)

I hope to get back here at different times of the day and see what happens with those shadows on the peak.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Bluff Knoll - Finally!

Bluff Knoll is the tallest peak in Southern West Australia. It lies in the Stirling Range and is about a one hour drive from my home.

Come this Monday, my family and I will have been in Mount Barker for eight years but in that time, I've been to Bluff Knoll only three times, and never for painting. I finally fixed that this morning.

I was up at 4:30am and, after cereal and coffee, I was out of the house shortly after 5am. I arrived at the Bluff Knoll car park around 6am.

We'd been promised a sunny day in the Great Southern but the Stirling Range creates its own weather and there was no shortage of cloud and a heavy veil of "atmosphere". Still, it was a pleasant, if slightly cool, morning so after scouting around for an interesting vantage point, I set up my easel and got to work.

When I began there wasn't much sunlight and I thought I was going to have to focus on the clouds drifting across the top of the bluff for interest. But as I was laying down my first washes, the clouds, mist and distant peaks took on a wonderful warm glow. There was my subject!

The light played hide and seek as I pushed on but I managed to get enough information down early on to capture the feeling. Here's the result after about one hour...

oil painting mountain plein air
(Sketch for Morning at the Bluff. 28x34cm oil on board. © Andy  Dolphin)

I used a limited palette of just three colours, French ultramarine, permanent crimson and cadmium yellow light, plus white. This helped to move things along a little faster although I did have a few moments of trying to mix the right shade of reddish, yellowish, bluish green-purple.

The light began changing dramatically with more foreground being lit with each passing minute - and each passing cloud. Finally I had to tell myself to "stop". I told myself two more times before putting the brushes away.

Here she is on location...

You can see how dramatically the light was shifting with absolutely no sunlight on the mountain in this shot. Luckily these "very grey" moments were few and far between, though they at least gave my eyes a rest when they came as I was looking almost directly into the sun.

Hopefully I can get a better photo of the painting when it's dry.