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Monoprint with collage via a dolls house, farm, and several bedding sets.

Well, I have finished the farm board, and also painted a dolls house that G and I found in a local charity shop. It was a little grubby and unpainted and just needed some tlc, and we thought it would make a great thing for our granddaughters to play with if we spent some time renovating. Since the photo, it's been wallpapered,  carpeted and furnished. I'd live in it.

My smallest granddaughter loves to put things to bed, so in addition to a small collection of wooden dolls for a Christmas stocking gift, I've been sewing mattresses, sheets and pillows. Crikey, I had to give up when I hit 9 sets - couldn't face one more bright pink wadded lump.

I was going on to paint the portrait of my daughter in my "special" A3 sketchbook, but decided to have another go at monoprint with collage (see the last penultimate posting of a tree) and have had a lovely afternoon with glue and caligo printing inks. It's not dry enough to do the white painting yet, as caligo takes a few days to dry, but I'll be back soon with the results.

Inspired by Matisse? No, not really.

I've just started to work on a new large painting and Whatsap'ed the image below to show my family, along with the line "Can you guess what it is yet?" To me it was obvious of course, but I loved the replies including " Dancing Lady Sneezing Out A Blue Kidney". Perfect.

It is, of course, the base board that I'm painting for a farm layout for the grandchildren when they stay over Christmas. I found my old farm set at the back of a wardrobe and figure they're old enough to get some use out of it. This board folds in half and fits my coffee table so should be easy to tidy away. The blue thing will be a pond, the grey will be roads, brown will be farm tracks and pathways, and the rest green fields with trees and fencing.

Sketchbook tree with thanks to DMTV

Laura Kemshall has inspired this sketchbook page with her latest DMTV tutorial. Can’t share how it was done as it wouldn’t be fair, but here’s a link. https://www.designmatterstv.com/

It's still a bit wet and I've caught the wrinkles where the paper has been glued, but it looks a lot flatter irl. Next stage is to add a bit of colour.

BP Portrait Awards 2018 - Wolverhampton (part 1)

(Left - I thought this would make a good one to try and paint!)

I love painting portraits, I think! - it's a real battle to get anywhere with them and I always want to give up when I'm in the middle of one, but force myself to persist to the end! It involves much groaning and many cups of distractive and strong tea - occasionally a biscuit. (When I'm anxious I like to attack the biscuits and have been known to go through half a packet without realizing - the only evidence is the crumbs pebble-dashed down my front).

So how wonderful that the BP Portrait Awards are visiting Wolverhampton Art Gallery (until the end of November) and I can go and see, and admire, and be inspired.

So what is it??

The BP Portrait Award is an annual competition of contemporary painted portraiture, and attracts entries from all over the world. This year, 2,667 entries were received from artists in 88 countries. Initial assessment is digital in order to whittle entries down to a longlist of a few hundred, and then those are viewed physically and reduced to the selection of 48 finalists. These finalists are judged anonymously with each judge justifying their choices - 1st prize is a wonderful £35,000.

Here's a quick canter through what I saw and particularly liked.

The whole portrait was this eye.
Derek (I am) by John McCarthy, Acrylic on panel.

Dad's Last Day
Nathan Ford, Oil and pencil on canvas.

(Look closely)

Sunday, 10th September was Nathan Ford's father's last day. Suffering from bowel cancer, hernias, Hodgkin's lymphoma and prostate cancer, he continued to work rather than retiring. On the Sunday morning, the artist sat with his father and drew and painted. The mantelpiece has a mixture of anniversay and "get Well" cards, above hangs a portrait of his parents on their wedding day 47 years before. Stan Ford died at home at 10.30pm.

An Existential Crisis by Megan Roodenrys, Oil on linen

The portrait is of Maeve, the artists daughter, who suffered depression, and creating the portrait helped the artist understand how this affected her. Surrounded by symbols of beauty and joy, the artist is hoping her daughter will have positive not negative days.

I've got to be honest, beautiful portrait though it is, I couldn't help feeling the eyes were looking in slightly different directions? Maybe they were irl - we'll never know!

Girl with Long Hair by Annalisa Avancini - oil on canvas (detail - I thought the painting of the eyes and fall of light was beautiful)

This portrait is of the artists sister in law. "The clash of the pattern on the old sofa on which she sits, her embroidered t-shirt and her long hair was an interesting compositional challenge".

 Mrs Anna Wojcik by Monika Polak

Those who love textiles and have perhaps been painting on them for years (!!) will appreciate this one. It's the bare outlines of a body painted onto a cloth (no stitching) and then the face and hands beautifully rendered in oil paint.

I have always understood that you didn't use oils on fabric because the paint will eventually rot the fabric without a layer of gesso - perhaps there's some acrylic gel in there somewhere!

The fabric shows through the paint but doesn't interfere with the tones and shading, which is interesting, and I love the way that it looks like it's 2 fabrics and not one.

Here's the winner of the £35,000 prize.

An Angel at my Table by Miriam Escofet - oil on linen over panel. 
The portrait is of the artists mother "who has a wonderful inner stillness and calm that I really wanted to convey in this work" The perspective of the crockery is to a vanishing point within the body.

(below, detail)

Fair Isle David by Shona Chew, oil on linen

Finally, Mr and Mrs Cooper, Separated by Mark H Laurence, oil on canvas

This portrait is of Mr and Mrs Cooper. The work is part of an ongoing series looking at adults with learning disabilities.

These are a few of those portraits I loved, but are just a section of those exhibited. There were many different styles of painting and media, but I felt drawn to these.

Round and round the painting

Starting a new portrait of Laura. Laura has very fine pale skin with hardly a wrinkle in sight, so is quite difficult to paint.

There are many ways to paint something, and the way I was taught was to block in the whole canvas roughly with colour blocks, and then to go round and round gradually refining shapes and adding more accurate colours.

On the left is the first round, and below is the second.  It becomes a gradual process of correction and detail, and seeing it like this,  I'm anxious to start the third round.