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 month or two ago, I did a couple of posts on my decision to submit some pieces for an upcoming exhibition in Trinidad for new and emerging artists. As the heading states, I was successful in obtaining a space along with 14 other local artists!
I happened to come across the call for submissions quite by accident on my social media and of course saw it as a sign. Funny enough, after deciding to submit, I came across a YouTube video from Stefan Bauman about improving your painting by selling your work. two things happened for me at that point; I saw this exhibition as giving me the ability to experiment with non-portrait work and focus on more local scenes and also to produce pieces for a specific purpose. Yes, I know we produce art for the love of it, but as a new artist it can feel pretty daunting just painting for painting’s sake – this was a great goal to work towards!
Receiving the news that I was successful was pretty overwhelming – it confirmed for me I was on the right path finally taking up art. I felt a bit validated in my decision and it gave me the boost I needed to continue. I am already working on more submissions for more shows!
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?
Trying to figure out my last piece for submission to my local gallery, got me thinking about what’s on my painting bucket list. For those of you who know what I’m referring to, you know there is something/someone you always wanted to paint, but didn’t have the time or courage. For me, it was getting back to one of my challenges I had as a younger budding artist at high school executing this subject as one of our assignments.
There is this tree we call Bois Cano (pronounced bwah can-no) aka Trumpet Tree or Snakewood Tree which starts off with these huge green leaves and when they wilt and dry, they make these unique forms.
When we practiced shading back in high school, this was usually the subject chosen. Back then my lack of patience got the better of me and I am not sure if i ever completed those assignments. Nevertheless, I decided to use this leaf as one of my subjects and conquer my fear because I am older and wiser so I saw no harm in it.
It took me about a day or less to complete and I really enjoyed the shadowy/darker parts of the piece and how it came to life. there are tiny veins that become more prominent when the leaf dries and I must admit I have a problem when it comes to deciding between capturing as much detail as possible or being looser in my watercolour application….needless to say detail oriented me won the battle and this is the result!
Check out my Facebook page for a video which captured some of the process!
In the Caribbean, banana trees are everywhere! The banana flower is a beauty in its own right. The deep purples, the colour variation in each petal and the velvet-like texture it gives off in appearance makes my heart sing! Not to mention the contrast of all the greens and yellows of the leaves with the purple flower hanging above them – with the right amount of sunlight hitting it it’s a beauty to let your paints explore! It’s been on my painting bucket list and I finally sat down to do it!
So enough of the gushing; this was one of my first paintings done in March. Why am I now talking about it you may ask – because I have decided to also submit it to the art gallery for consideration, along with the scarlet macaw and my shipwreck in San Fernando.
Painting the flower itself was my favourite part. The lifted petals which revealed the red undebelly was definitely a highlight watching the colours bleed into each other and creating shadow. Adjusting the purples in order to depict how the light hit the flower was also a welcomed challenge. To make the background more interesting, I bled a mix of colours into one another and used salt to give some texture.
After my scarlet macaw painting, I mentioned that I was working on another piece for consideration at my local art gallery for new artists.
Living on an island, one of the perks entails the ability to have pretty close access to the water and increases our modes of transportation options. In that light, we have a ferry I use to get to work and one of the sights is this shipwrecked boat that’s been rusted out and has become a perch for both seagulls and fishermen.
One of the challenges of this piece was painting rust for the first time, and not just a small section, an entire boat full! Challenge accepted! With the help of YouTube I discovered some helpful videos to improve the realism of the decaying boat with a palette consisting mostly of burnt and raw umber, sepia and some indigo. Painting the textures involved some tricks of the trade such as salt and the paint splatter technique for the whites and aged nature of the boat’s hull to show the accumulation of years of decay.
The sea and the reflection on such a large canvas (18″x 24″) was another exercise in patience and speed. Patience in knowing the process had to be done in layers and not being unhappy mid-process and speed to ensure the paint didn’t dry before I needed it to to apply another swipe with my brush…especially since my largest brush at the moment is a flat 16! Crazy, I know!
So here’s the final result of all the experimentation. Have you ever done a seascape?
Taking a break from my regularly scheduled program to work on a project which I happened to discover browsing social media. There’s an open call for new and emerging artists in my country; so after hesitating on it for what felt like hours, I decided, the most they could say was no right?
With that said and done, I had a long week off work coming up (this week) and saw all of this as serendipitous. Of course everything falls into place when you’re trying to pursue your passion right? Right?
So anyways, the call allowed 3 – 5 pieces from local artists with the deadline of June 11th. My initial schedule proved to be rather ambitious as I spent my first weekend feeling uninspired and pressured to do something I wasn’t in the mood to undertake. So Netflix won that weekend and then my idea for my first piece hit me on Monday; fauna native to my country!
My Facebook page has some video of the work in progress on this Scarlet Macaw I decided to paint and let me tell you filming deserves another blog post of its own! Altogether, I painted it over the course of 2 days and while animals and birds aren’t my focus, this was actually a nice break!
So one piece down, 2 – 4 more to go! I already started on my second, so stay tuned for more on my progress with my next one. Hope you like!