Now that my Peru series of portraits are over, the next series of paintings in my collection will capture some of my memories from Europe. I did an exchange semester in the Netherlands so I took the opportunity to travel through as much of Europe as possible. Europe for me was more about architecture as it was my first time that and I really wanted to see as many historic landmarks as possible.
The first stop is Germany. I went to Berlin and Potsdam as I didn’t stay very long, about 3 days so I took the opportunity to see the Sanssouci Palace in Potsdam. Sanssouci is the summer palace of Frederick the Great, King of Prussia, in Potsdam, near Berlin. It was absolutely gorgeous and it would have been even more so if the garden terraces were fully grown.
After touring the outside of the palace, I explored the gardens and came across this windmill – which I didn’t think I’d see anywhere but the Netherlands (naive I know) and decided to paint it. Doing the wet on wet wash for the sky was tricky but even more challenging was the wood detail. My favourite part was how the light was captured on the fan blades of the windmill.
This next piece challenged me in many ways. The first was getting his facial expression right. He wasn’t exactly smiling, and had a small, slightly upturned mouth. I also really wanted to capture the sun-burnt cheeks that most Peruvians have with my paint application. Lastly, the biggest challenge was executing such an intricately designed poncho!
Getting the under-painting down came easier with all those min-portraits I did in the last few months. What took the most time was that poncho! I questioned my decision to do it many times – could I do it? Can I capture the shadow and light within all those patterns? the masking fluid application in itself was a huge task! My last big decision was whether or not to paint the background behind him or do a wash; mostly because I was already overwhelmed by the details of everything else, but I wanted to test my limits and went with the background of the photo. I wanted the multi-coloured clothing to be the thing that drew in the viewer the most so I made the background not appear too prominent with more muted tones utilising more water.
A couple of months ago, I posted about some pieces I was preparing that were outside of my portrait painting norm for an art exhibition in my country with one of our local art galleries for new and emerging artists.
The 16th of August was our opening night and I was not as nervous as I thought I’d be. I was more excited about the how the format of the night would be rather than the prospect of having to talk to others which is usually very intimidating for me. Would there be some opening remarks from the gallery? A specially invited guest? Alas, none of the above took place which was a bit underwhelming , but anyway I took some of my family members, mother – of course and my aunt and cousins. Some colleagues from work also showed up which was awesome since a couple of them heard my desire of wanting to become an artist for so long!
It’s was great seeing the range of talent on display…. in the lead up to the show, the gallery took care of mounting and labeling our work. All we had to do a month or so before was to get our stuff framed or matted and then show up on the night! It was my first experience dealing with a gallery so I was glad I didn’t have to be concerned with the logistics and set up. As a new artist, showing with a gallery is less stressful, they also market the show which places less pressure on you the artist if you’re new in the art world as long as you don’t mind the commission factor.
The opening ran for about an hour and a half….and I was able to talk to a potential buyer of my work who, eventually bought it (happy dance!) and meet other artists. It was a pretty awesome feeling being surrounded by those who came out to support even though they scolded me for not starting my art sooner and also just absorbing the atmosphere.
On that note, I definitely look forward to entering more shows and working towards having the guts to do a solo exhibiton!
On another note…I need to upgrade my camera…I don’t know why my S7 is betraying me like this with such poor quality pics!
In my first post, I mentioned I have wanted to be an artist since my teens. It was during that time while at high school I was exposed to artists in Trinidad and Tobago who subconsciously had a profound impact on this desire. I’ve been drawn to portraits and capturing realism in my work because of them and their ability to capture the beauty and gracefulness of their subjects so effortlessly. Their use of colour and the sheer sizes of each piece amazed me and it was only after a visit to an art gallery last week and seeing one of their works, that feeling of being awestruck came rushing back.
It was amazing seeing the work of the persons who first influenced me again. Like a sort of déjà vu and quiet recognition that I was on the path I was always meant to be on. It also made me remember that now I could add some of their prints to my art collection! So without any further rambling, here are some of the major artists from Trinidad and Tobago whose work inspired amd co tinues to inspire me the most – Karen Sylvester;Michel-Jean Cazabon;Boscoe Holder and Harry Bryden
What do you think of my sources of inspiration and who inspires you?
Last Sunday I took a trip to the southern most part of my country with some local Art Society members for a plein air painting trip. We were weary of the weather since the rainy season started and it had been raining all week….but the weather began to look promising Friday and Saturday so we said why not! Then our tour guide cancels and we decided to wing it…like how bad could it be right?
Well we got off to a late start and the added pit stops didn’t help, but it was a good experience. The rain fell on and off throughout our journey but we did have some time to get at.least some sketches in before we had to run for cover.
These are some shots taken of the trip…the map of our journey on the red line and the sketches I managed to do which I finished paint at home.
How do you create when sometimes you think you aren’t good enough? How do you ignore the voice and like the iconic phrase “Just Do It” I am a self-diagnosed over-analyzer. You name it, I over-analyze it. It’s something I am currently in mental rehab for and sometimes I conquer the beast, other times I relapse. In the book Art and Fear; the authors explain this common feeling when it comes to exercising your creative muscles all too well. There’s the fear of Acceptance, where they explain
“If the need for acceptance is the need to have your work accepted as art, then the accompanying fear is finding it dismissed as craft, hobby, decoration – or simply nothing at all”.
Funny enough this is why I wrote this post…I posted this piece, my 2nd landscape painting and got a lot of favourable reactions on social media. I personally found a lot of flaws in it (the sky & the buildings in the foreground) but decided to post it anyway just to set it free so to speak. Then, one friend private messaged me about seeking the opinions of professionals to gauge the caliber of my work rather than relying on the praises of non-artists. On top of that, they didn’t stop there, they let me know they didn’t like the piece I posted. It caught me off-guard, and I found myself explaining that not everyone will like what I do and also that most times I see flaws in my work before others do. But I post anyways to escape the fear that has kept me dormant for so long.
Additionally, it occurred to me, does one person (at least one who vocalised their dislike) really matter if there are people who love it? Is the production of art a competition among all artists within a particular medium where everyone has to love it? Do I keep my work hidden and only show others when professionals have deemed it of acceptable quality? Of course not! And in the art world…what is acceptable anyway!
Now this as you can tell by now is a venting post, and I created this blog also as a means of serving a dual purpose – to be my art diary and also to showcase my work and progress as times goes on. But enough of the venting, and onto some positive inspiration from that book again which goes like this:
“…the seed for your next artwork lies embedded in the imperfections of your current piece. Such imperfections are your guides – valuable, reliable, objective, non-judgmental guides – to matters you need to reconsider of develop further”
I decided to take a little break and refocus my energy on other subjects since this is all in an effort to find my style and my preferences of subjects and anyway, what could it hurt?
So this was a quick study of a church in Berlin that was just across the street from me in 2017 on my travels through Europe. I decided to do this piece without sketching first and merely try to decipher shapes, light and shadows as best as I could and I was pretty happy with the outcome. Architecture is quite a nemesis since I have challenges drawing straight lines even with rulers…go figure.
I started with a general light wet on wet wash which is still visible on the outskirts of the main building, trying to block out the main shapes and gradually go darker with the shadows. it was a pretty overcast day when I took the photo…and so I didn’t really put much detail into the sky. I also did a rough impression of some shrubbery on trees that loomed around to frame the piece a bit.
What do you think is your biggest challenge with watercolor?