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Monday, 10 November 2008

"How long does it take you to paint a picture?"

When people talk to me about my work they tend to ask similar questions, so I thought perhaps it was about time a wrote a post about it. I have to admit it doesn't seem like a very interesting topic to me but that's because it's just what i do every day, but I guess to other people it may be of interest.So here goes...
How long does it take you to paint a picture like that?
That's a popular question, infact someone asked me it on the falconry forum just yesterday.There's not a definite answer though. It depends on the subject and background, whether it's something I'm confident about painting, the size, and whether it's a piece I'm enjoying painting. Some pieces take days others weeks. Generally once I start a piece I work on it until it's completed but sometimes I get stuck or fed up with a piece so will leave it for a while to work on something else then come back to it with a fresh eye.
What sort of paints do you use?
I use acrylic paint, which is water based, it dries fairly quickly and once it dries is water resistant. This means it's convenient as brushes and palettes can be cleaned with water, and it allows me to easily build up layers of paint on a picture . It also means I can add washes of colour over an entire piece or an area of painting without disturbing what's already there. On occasion I have used oil paints but this requires a different way of working and the oils take a long time to dry which is not always convenient when you've got a deadline to work to! Though I will be doing more oil painting in the next little while.
What do you paint on?
I use 6mm MDF, which I prime with at least 2 layers of gesso, but often up to 4 layers, and between applying each layer with a roller I sand the board smooth to ensure a good base for my work. This preparatory work is time consuming but necessary to ensure a good finish. Occasionally I have on canvas and plan to again in the future especially for really large pieces.
Where do you get your ideas?
I do a lot of sketching, and take a huge number of photographs- thank goodness for digital photography- it used to cost a fortune getting numerous rolls of film developed!Then once I have gathered all my material I play around with ideas for compositions taking elements from different sketches and photos and combining them. The ideas are worked in pencil on a small scale in my sketchbook and sometimes i will try adding colour at this stage to give me a better idea of how the finished piece might look. I make use of technology too using adobe photoshop to change parts of the composition and alter the scale etc. I get a lot of ideas when I'm out in the countryside flying my falcon, and also when I'm involved in the small scale gamekeeping and management of partridges that I do. Sometimes I arrange fieldtrips like the recent one to Skomer, but from time to time I just go out to favourite spots with a scope and sketchbook, and see whats there.
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