Thursday, March 27, 2014

Chinese vase still life - new video

 Miniature Chinese vase still life in oil by Andy Dolphin
Miniature Chinese vase
21x25cm oil on board. 
 © Andy Dolphin

I uploaded a new video last night giving a glimpse of the process I followed when painting my Miniature Chinese Vase still life.

As always, it's best if you go to Youtube to see the video in higher resolution.

Let me know what you think. If I get enough feedback, I'll look at uploading videos more often, so if you like it, share it widely via your favourite social media.


I've been doing quite a bit of op-shopping since shifting my focus to still life paintings. I now have a small but interesting collection of ornaments including cups, vases and candlesticks. Patience and persistence are key when looking for gems at thrift shops. Many visits result in no purchases at all but every once in a while there will be something that just begs to be purchased.

I popped into a local op-shop a couple of days ago and spotted a brass jug standing among the wood and metal bric-a-brac. I loved the shape and since I'm particularly interested in including brass objects in still life paintings, I had to have it.

Apparently these wide-mouthed pitchers are called ewers. This one, I believe, was made in India. It's solid brass, stands around 20cm tall and weighs over half a kilogram. Online values for seemingly identical ewers range from around $15 to over $90. I think the lower price is more reflective of the true value.

Brass is often lacquered to prevent tarnishing but the lacquer coating eventually breaks down in some areas, leaving a combination of shiny and tarnished metal. In this case, all vertical and upward-facing surfaces were completely tarnished while all downward-facing surfaces were still quite bright. Although this is fairly typical, I didn't really want to use it like this in paintings, so I decided to clean it up a bit.

Here's the before and after pics...

tarnished unpolished brass Indian ewer pitcher jug
polished brass Indian ewer pitcher jug

I removed the lacquer with lacquer thinners (this is definitely an outdoor job), then used car polish and elbow grease to bring the brass to an overall level of brightness. If this were a display piece, I would polish it further to remove remaining spots of heavy tarnish, then apply a coat of wax to deliver a mirror-like shine and a level of protection. But I don't want it to be too reflective so I'll actually leave it to tarnish a bit then hit it with a light coat of either lacquer or wax.

Keep an eye out for it in future paintings.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Woolorama wins!

I enjoyed great success at Wagin Woolorama this year, winning three prizes.

My studio painting Bantam Rooster took out first prize in the oil and acrylic category while my plein air painting Narpyn Cottage, winter morning was awarded second prize in the same category.

Bantam Rooster
30x40cm oil on board. 
 © Andy Dolphin

Narpyn Cottage, winter morning.
Plein air. 38x35cm oil on board.
© Andy Dolphin

Bantam Rooster also won the Agricultural Award. This means it will now have to travel to the Perth Royal Show in September to be exhibited and judged with all other Agricultural Award winners from around the state.

Here I am with Woolorama Art Award coordinator Natala King...

Andy Dolphin, Natala King, Wagin Woolorama

The major award went to Perth artist Casss Gartner for her watercolour painting An Early Morning Walk.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Miniature Chinese vase still life

I painted this little still life a couple of days ago.

 Miniature Chinese vase still life in oil by Andy Dolphin
Miniature Chinese vase
21x25cm oil on board. 
 © Andy Dolphin

The miniature Chinese-style vase was purchased two weeks ago at a local op-shop (thrift shop) and stands around 8cm tall. The flowers are synthetic and were picked up at a garage sale for two dollars.

I used a new full-spectrum, 6400K compact fluorescent bulb to light the set-up on this one. Full spectrum lamps give a much cooler, true-white light compared to other globes. It took a bit of searching to find a bulb but the local lighting shop tracked one down for me for $9, which is much cheaper than I'd seen quoted elsewhere for similar bulbs.

I used the same lamp to add extra light in the studio while photographing the painting and am very pleased with the result. I did hardly any adjusting in Photoshop at all this time. I'm going to look for a couple of lamp stands and get some more bulbs to make that process even better.

I did shoot some video of progress on this one. Hopefully it will be good enough to edit together and put on Youtube.


I completely forgot to mention that this weekend (Friday 7th & Saturday 8th March) is Wagin Woolorama weekend. I took out first prize last year and have entered three paintings again this year.

Fingers crossed.

If you are in the region on Saturday, or feel like a day out (it's about two and a half hours from Perth), I might see you there. Just follow the map to Wagin then follow everyone else when you get there.