As I had mentioned in a previous post, I love to do portrait commissions.
I am currently working on this little painting of a Dachshund, done in a whimsical Folk art style, for an upcoming exhibition at my local art gallery. It is based on a wonderful dog my family owned called Simon, who loved to run outside and chase all sorts of creatures in his path. He was a very special pet, and this is my tribute to him.
I have done a few animal portraits in the past, and am always inspired to capture its spirit in a style that reflects its uniqueness. Here are some of them – and I do have a penchant for owls and cats! I do custom commissions for any kind of portrait, painting, tattoo design etc – please contact me if you are interested.
My portrait of Maggie is finished ! As described in my previous two posts, after sketching the initial outlines in pencil, I free-formed the rest of the composition, continuing to layer the watercolours, working around the dired pressed flowers, adding more detail to the peony fairy and the hair, more flowers, and brushstrokes reminiscent of those of Vincent Van Gogh, whose artwork Maggie loves.
Below is a detailed excerpt of the painting – please click on it for a larger view – it is a blend of watercolor, dried flowers and s mall touch of Caran d’Ache colored pigment pencil for highlights. The paper is Stonehenge smooth textured paper. I mostly use Rembrandt or Van Gogh watercolors, with touches of Chinese white for highlights. I am looking forward to my next painting – please keep an eye on my blog for my next project. You can purchase a beautiful print of this painting from my shop here.
Thanks for visiting!
This is the painting of Maggie so far – in my previous post I described the beginnings of this work.
Here, I have layered the watercolour on Stonehenge ivory paper, and filled in more details, like the fairy by the peony top right, and the cats. I have begun to blend the dried flowers in with painted flowers, too. I will be doing more of this, as well as filling out her hair, adding more small details and subtle highlights. What I love to do is basically free-form the painting; I have an idea of colours and composition, but mostly it’s a process of playing with the paint, with the flow and feel of the painting….you can click on it to view it closer up.
I am always honoured to be able to paint someone’s portrait. To me, capturing the essence of a person within a painting is not only a wonderful creative expression, but also an intimate journey into their soul…
This is the beginnings of a portrait of Maggie, a wonderful customer who was inspired by my Flora Fairy painting and loves flowers and her two cats, so asked if I could blend all of these together and create a portrait of her. As with the Flora painting, I am using dried pressed flowers I have gathered on my journeys around the world, and overlaying them with watercolours. The overall feel is ethereal, whimsical and delicate. You can click on it for a closer view.
Here are a few examples of portrait styles I have done over the years :
I love doing almost any kind of commissioned artwork, especially portraits. I prefer not to be too attached to defining the realism of the person ~ rather, I draw from my style which uses a quality of magical realism to enhance the uniqueness I see in my subject matter.
If you are interested in having your portrait painted, please contact me for further information on the process, prices etc. I would be very happy to hear from you!
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I am nearing the end of completing this little painting, which I have really enjoyed doing. As mentioned in a previous post, the concept is based on an ancient Greek myth of Zeus disguised as a swan who seduces the innocent Leda.
I wanted a kind of African nuance, but ethereal too, with allusions to flight and feathers; the dreaminess of Leda’s imagination as she ponders Zeus’s love…
Recently I received a very touching email from a young painter who wanted to know more about me and my artwork. She was especially interested and inspired by my painting technique and use of colour to express the elements portrayed in my work. Many people ask me where I learned how to paint the way I do – and the the basic answer is that I taught myself.
This will be the first of a few blog posts where I will endeavour to share my knowledge and experience painting with watercolours, acrylics, pen and ink, and maybe a few other things as well!
To start at the beginning of my artistic career – I was an obsessive drawer from the age of two, and by about 4 years old I felt a very strong urge to create images from my very active child’s imagination in any way that I could; luckily my parents, being artistic themselves, encouraged and nurtured me all through my creative journey. Drawing came most naturally to me, but soon I intuitively began to experiment with colour, design and composition.
An elderly lady with whom I attended some after school art guided me to growing confidence in expressing my inner artistic vision, with the use of pattern, complimentary colours, symbolism and playfulness in art. I will always be indebted to Mrs. Smith in Johannesburg for the joy she instilled in me for the creative process that all humans inherently posses.
In grade 2 I traded a drawing I made of 2 giraffes kissing, for a chocolate bar, and from that time on I knew my art was worth something. I sold my first painting of a fairy holding a peacock when I was 15 years old, then when I was 19 I embarked on starting my own arts business, beginning with screen printed t-shirts of my fantasy drawings with unicorns, mermaids and cats. Here are the first commissions of that time:
My style was still very linear and graphic, but later that I year I completed work for a more painterly, dreamier commission, combining the subject matter of a cat with a passion for the colour green:
Green Cat 1995
This Green Cat was done on canvas board, using a technique which I had developed in my final year at school for my art exam – a self portrait painted on stretched canvas using pen & ink, watercolor and acrylic. I found that the best way to learn to blend watercolours was the hard way: use a very difficult surface like canvas (primed) , to develop a respect and understanding of the more watery aspects of paints and how to make them work for you. The trick is to begin with a light wash of whichever colour will be dominant in your painting, and then work over that in gentle layers as your vision unfolds.
Self Portrait 1992
Mostly, however, I was doing very intricate black and white drawings using a technical Rotring drawing pen with archival pigment ink, which are great for steady line drawing because they steadily dispense the ink through a precision point with a continual flow, making the lines even and smooth and easy to fill in. Below are examples of this type of drawing, which were for a series of 3 commissions. I started with the faces and a rough idea in pencil of what the composition and organic shape of the composition would be, then just drew straight in ink using the process as a form of meditation. I still use this technique today, and never fully sketch my paintings or drawing out. I find it is much more authentic and spontaneous to rely on what comes naturally from one’s imagination through hand and instrument, than to relay on sketching everything out first.
Here is a later example of this process at work in Fairy Cat:
Later, well into my 30’s and living in Australia running a business Redwhisper Studio co-owned with John Robson, many customers there asked if I had been to a “Steiner” or “Waldorf” School because my artwork was so much like what the educationalist and philosopher Rudolf Steiner taught. This was completely fascinating to me: that I had never hear of him until then, but upon further investigation I realised that my intuitive painting was very much like his artistic educational vision – very dream-like, with bold and emotional use of colour and delicate blending of thoughts, impressions and the very colours themselves to convey the essence of the artist’s inner world.
Ceiling, First Goetheanum, by Rudolf Steiner
What this said to me is that everyone has innate creative ability, and those of us who choose to express it through painting need look no further than our own intuition and imagination. Of course, this does take discipline, hard work and inspiration, but the tools are there inside us, just waiting to be unlocked and used.
More on how I explored this in the next part…..Thank you so much for visiting my creative blog, and please feel free to share your own creative thoughts, I would love to learn and share with you!
This is a close up of painting commission currently underway, the beginnings of which you can see below or here. I have been painting mostly with watercolours, adding touches with acrylic paint and pigment coloured pencil. There are two faeries, and a hedgehog so far….click on the image to enlarge and see if you can spot them! More little creatures to come later…