Here’s my latest painting entitled Island now complete. It’s full of all the things I love about Greece.
In my last post I was talking about my earliest encounters with real artists who knew the value of earth tones. The other night when I should have been sleeping I was instead loitering about on Twitter. I’m in a process of amazed discovery as to what an astonishing resource that app is for artists. I came upon an artist called Murat Kaboulov and opened his site (run by a relative as he sadly died in 2010). I was immediately not only entranced by his pictures but catapulted back in a kind of eureka moment to the unswept floor of a studio in Beaufort Street Chelsea where flakes of oil paint and toast crumbs stuck to my four year old knees as I played at my mother’s feet while she posed for a portrait.
The beautifully presented website www.muratkaboulov.com even uses a version of the divine sludge colour as its background. But the paintings …what a joy to behold….take a look at these … I can’t show you a picture because they rightly have the images protected from download but here’s a screenshot you can click through on which I hope will entice you to visit and enjoy this inspirational work:
So in my dream painting Murat Kaboulov shall now be one of my guides. Each of those paintings is worth hours of study and each demonstrates masterfully how vivid colours need earth tones to work. In 60s psychedelic and pop art bright colours were allowed to stand alone but even then it was rare. A quick search of Google images for Peter Blake, that quintessential artist of the Kings Road era, revealed the use of the Divine Sludge time and time again. For just one example you might remember this piece for its bright colours but look carefully – it depends wholly on its earth colours for its impact:
I have painted pictures in the past, I’m proud of a few and not shy to sell them but I’ve hardly begun. I learn as I go, I try and look deeper, I know what I want to do. I’m going to have to live long I think.
“The existence of the rainbow depends on the conical photoreceptors in your eyes; to animals without cones the rainbow does not exist. So you don’t just look at a rainbow, you create it.”
Now this idea really struck me. When I was a little girl I was fascinated by the idea that we have no real way of knowing if we see the same world around us as other people do, especially in the case of colours. As long as our personal colour scheme is consistent we are fine. You say it’s ‘Pink’ and as long as I am seeing the same thing as all the other instances of hearing something named as ‘pink’ you could be seeing one thing and I could be seeing another altogether.
This line of thinking arose because there was an old lady who used to help take care of me. She loved Red and hated Blue. I loved Blue and hated Red. I believed deep down that the only explanation must be that the thing she saw as Red must really be Blue if you catch my drift.
I no longer have a favourite colour. I love them all. I may be slightly synaesthetic because the experience of colours is more than visual for me, there are all sorts of other sensations, often to do with the taste of drinks in particular but also to do with quite specific sensations. My most special and valued experiences are very very multicoloured but not just any mix – it has to work. It sure isn’t any old color-mess that gets me going. This painting by acclaimed Ugandan artist Eria Sane Nsubuga really got me there today:
|Gloss Print ACEO Art Cards drying after being pasted
onto the passepartout on my studio table
My ACEO project has been a hugely steep learning curve. It’s not that long since I first heard about these little 2.5 x 3.5 inch paintings and caught the bug. I’ve produced heaps of them. There is a lovely set of painted ones that I have posted here http://paintboxcafe.blogspot.gr/p/my-first-aceos.html
Those ones were created using a digital print taken from one of my original works which you can see on my websites:
and painting over them. The print is effectively the underpainting and each one is a new painting in its own right not just a print with a few brush strokes added for enhancement.These artworks are all individual pieces with a fresh interpretation and development of the original painting or digital artwork on which they were based. I’ll be blogging on each one with a little background and story to it as I go.
I’ve also made a great batch of gloss print reproductions of my work in ACEO format – that means they are each only 2.5 x 3.5 inches. I’ve aimed to make a really gorgeous and luxurious little product. I chose this fabulous black Passepartout Mat Board, the sort that is usually used as a surround mount for framing, fantastic quality. We have a couple of good framers in our town and one of them offered to cut the pieces for me. Can’t wait to go back to show her the results.
I edged each piece with permanent black ink and I edged the prints themselves too. All this edging of both the card and the print or painted canvas piece as well is time consuming in a sense but it really improves the look. I didn’t count the time doing this on the whole as I just sat in a lovely cafe in the port in Ermoupoli for a peachy hour or so with my pen and a pile of mat cards and prints. Soothing work. I absolutely love this card, love handling it – sounds mad I know but I know I am not the only person in the world who walks into a good stationery store and sighs with joy!
The gloss prints are really vivid and sharp printed on excellent quality photo paper. These are just stuck to cards, a little certificate I have designed is pasted to the back and signed and dated. Each one clearly indicates what sort of ACEO Miniature it is. These will sell at £5 each. I’m very proud of them, they look so juicy and wantable!
The Paint over Print Originals – I have coined that name, to be shortened to PoP Originals as a convenient way to describe these pieces which I think have a valid claim to be a style of their own – have me seriously excited. When you hold them in your hand you will see them as paintings. They vary a bit, some are complete repaints with the underlying print gone from view. Others take advantage of the print more and I’ve gone a different route, using the mellow surface of the printed silk canvas and working into only parts of it in paint to achieve a really 3D affect and stunning jewel-like colours.
|Northern Lights Fox, a PoP (Paint over Print) Original
based on a detail of my painting Northern Lights.
If you go and look at the original painting you will
get an idea of the relationship between the original
and the PoP ACEO.
The opportunities this process presents are myriad and I am raring to produce more and develop the possibilities. For customers they will provide and affordable way to own a real painting. I’m pitching these first ones at £40 each.
Best of all is that I am painting again. There are a small set of originals in the making. With all that has happened in the last year or so it was feeling like I never would get back to it. I’m inspired, feeling confident with my brushes and FULL of ideas to take this further.
Such a useful article here on how to choose the right white pigment. My advice? Buy the best quality Whites that you can regardless of whether you are looking for lightening or high pigmentation. Even the best are seldom that expensive. You won’t regret it if you do but very likely will if you don’t. It can make such a huge difference to your painting experience.
Mixing with white can be deceptive. It is always good to remember that a colour mixed with white will look lighter when wet, and definitely on the palette than it dries. It’s a tricky job getting exactly the right mix but it’s also precisely the point where you need to sit down, breathe and remember you are an artist not a factory hand. Slow down, think, look very carefully at what you are doing (that’s what this process is about after all!) and be prepared to experiment and discard quite a bit until your colour for a particular purpose is just right.
|Agios Antonios HandpaintedACEO Print Copyright Luigina Ware 2012|
|Fishing Boat at Syros Handpainted ACEO PrintCopyright Luigina Ware 2012|
|Lalakia Garden Handpainted ACEO PrintCopyright Luigina Ware 2012|
|Wave: Handpainted ACEO PrintCopyright Luigina Ware 2012|
I spent last weekend on an experiment, albeit one that I thought would succeed. Here are the results. These are my very first efforts at ACEOs* (see below for an explanation of what an ACEO is). ACEOs can be made in any media but they must be right size – these are quite tiny – only 2.5 by 3.5 inches. I had a particular aim with these ones which was to see what I could do with an image by painting onto a canvas print. I chose these four as they each offered a particular challenge – some like Agios Antonios and Lalakia Garden were originally paintings and Fishing Boat and Wave were both digital art. I originally got into making these digital pictures when exploring photographs I had taken in Photoshop with a view to painting them. They then became digital artworks in their own right. Now I am painting over those prints so I suppose you could say these images have come full circle.
I have tried to photograph them so that the very nice zingy sharpness and vivid colour come out well and also so that you can see the scale – there’s a 1 euro coin in some of the pictures. They are still sitting on my chair in the kitchen in the afternoon sun and I just went to have a look to see how accurate the colour reproduction is. Hard to tell what you are seeing – always be aware when viewing art online that different monitors and computer equipment display colour somewhat differently. But I really don’t think anyone buying these would be disappointed in the contrast between these photos and the actual objects. I am really pleased with them and they were great to work on. I’ll photograph some of the print ones later, they also look pretty far out.
The little canvases are mounted on good quality mat board, the edges are all blacked and they are gloss varnished.
I’ve made up my mind to put them to auction on Ebay and see if I can catch the eye of some collectors. Might work, might not…let’s see what happens!!!
Click on the images to visit the relevant pages on my websites where you can buy the full size prints and read something about the original artworks.
*ACEO is an abbreviation for Art Cards & Editions, sometimes also known as ATCs – Artist Trading Cards – other people might just call them Miniatures. The rule with them is that they are made on card and must measure 2.5 x 3.5 inches – no more no less. They are loved by artists for the scope they give to experiment without the commitment of a major piece and because there is a certain amount of craft in them. It also means you can offer customers a genuinely affordable artwork.
I’m not, it is probably obvious, a trained painter. I’m pretty much self-taught and although I always enjoyed and was praised for my art when a kid the obsession to really get at it only fully struck me quite late in the day, at the most inconvenient time for such a messy obsession to install itself. Paint was in short my pregnant craving. No, I didn’t have any really strong desire to eat it but all of a sudden, back in 1983, when I was living (believe it or not) in a little Greek pigeon house under a mulberry tree on Mykonos (Vienoula’s Garden for those who know ) and just going into my second trimester for my adored son – suddenly PAINT. Oh I had to have it. Along with paint there was also Welsh Mints (not easy to obtain in the Greek Islands even now) and Opera, a form of music I had hitherto had absolutely zero interest in seeing as dancing to New York House DJ’s in Pierro’s was more my style at the time. I remember I got hold of some paint, tape of Carmen, some Caran D’Ache crayons and on one of those ersatz canvas pads made some sloppy efforts at abstracts. I hadn’t a clue what I was about.
I had known artists growing up as a tiny child in the late 50s. If you remember the Stella Artois advert where the bar owner is grumbling about taking all these payments of paintings in return for his fabulous beer (little realising that he is collecting a future king’s ransom in masterpieces) it was a bit like that with my folks who had a club on the King’s Road Chelsea in London. We didn’t acquire any Van Gogh’s or Gauguin’s unfortunately but I did get to visit various studios of artists of the day and The Gateways was quite renowned for the paintings that adorned the walls (not many photos of them remain, I do have a few and will get them out and publish them here when it gets cooler).
So the smell of oils was an early memory (though I find linseed almost intolerable as it happens and when I was pregnant it was out of the question). The Chelsea artists of the days loved earthy colours. As one whose childhood and teens were in the 60s I developed a strong attraction to the clear and vivid colours of The Beatles’ Yellow Submarine. I also unusually enough grew up with American comics provided by someone close who was at the time a servicewoman stationed the AAF base in Ruislip and could therefore shop at the PX there. So Superman, Casper the Ghost, Green Lantern and Flash were my heros. In those days of course they were simply printed on comicbook paper but the colours were rich and the covers of each edition were a weekly treat. I loved them.
So it has taken me a good many years to light upon a memory of the particularly resonant sludgy blue-green-grey-gold-brown that underpinned those art pieces I remember from my earliest years. Over the past few years I have only painted in my mind. Some would say that’s not enough and I would agree with them. However it has had to do. You’d be amazed how much time I have spent dreaming up versions of that strangely vivid sludge. I have some big plans in that direction. More soon…
|Handpainted print of Lemons & Garlic|
To tell the truth, like a lot of artists the very idea of selling my work makes me want to go to bed for a month. It’s downright scary. ‘I have spread my dreams under your feet…’ just about sums it up. It’s also massively time-consuming getting it altogether so one can give people enough assurance that they feel able to order a piece from someone they have never met.
I didn’t realise how much it all meant to me, the months I have spent putting my online shop together until I got an email from a happy customer in Texas on the other side of the world the other day and I burst into tears!! I did something a little bit extra for her, I hand-painted one of her prints – something struck me as I was putting the pieces together. She wrote this to me:
“Thank you so much!!! I cannot believe you did that! The painting is beautiful and I feel so honored. I cannot wait to get them framed and hung in my house. You are a very sweet person for doing that….I cannot imagine anyone else doing the same. Thank you again! I am so excited!”
Isn’t that lovely? I’m so happy to be really selling through all this. We are all a bit terrified here in Greece with one thing and another, it’s a bit alarming to be trying to kickstart a new business in this economic climate. But on the other hand I just feel that somehow this venture has a glow about it, maybe I just want it that much.
So finally after much deliberation I am now offering hand-painted prints on the websites, not of all the images, some are not suitable for the technique. It’s sort of a halfway house between a giclee artist print and a fully original painting and a very affordable way of hanging a real painting on your wall. The print is made on very good quality premium silk canvas (it’s lovely). But there is no doubt that the canvas tends to absorb some of the colour. Some of the images, especially my more classic paintings like Kyperoussa, Island and Agios Antonios, come out fine but I do think that people looking at my site and purchasing one are probably a bit taken with the vivid colour. I can get it on the top of the range Ilford Galerie gloss paper but the canvas is a bit subdued. However – wow! What a solution painting over turns out to be. I had been a sceptic having seen some pretty awful travesties – cheap canvas, plonked on cheap paint…no no NO! But over a weekend painting into my Lemons & Garlic I became converted and the end product was fantastic. It was a nice job to do too.
Above is a picture of the finished handpainted print before it was packed away for sending – I photographed it hanging on a kitchen cupboard and it has come out slightly wonky but it was actually rectangular!!
If you would like one too you can order from here. I’ll soon be offering handpainted ACEOs of this piece as well.