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Ardent Shadows

Gothic Fantasy paintings by Jemima Mantle

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acrylic painting

2 Days left…

These stripey vines definitely make an impact after adding the little highlights. Add some shadows onto the figure and you’ve got a design feature which I just can’t get enough of! Still more work to do but it’s getting teasingly close!

 

2days

Halloween is here!

I’m really pleased and excited to share my new video. This is the painting I did for Halloween last year and it’s taken me until now to process the raw footage but I think it’s more than worth the wait! I’ve actually found it really useful to revisit this painting and look at all the techniques I was experimenting with for the first time. It was the first time I’d done many of the things you can see in this video from doing a kind of under-painting, right through to applying paint without brushes. Sadly many of these techniques that actually proved very effective had actually dropped out of my thoughts so completely that I had forgotten some of the things I’d done in this piece. So personally I’ve got a lot out of creating this video and I think this is pretty exciting! What do you think?

Link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jEsRluCmpb4

The Final Reveal

catmousetest

This painting has been a long journey. I started with just a vague idea that centered around a gas-mask with mouse ears and started painting with just a drawing of the figure. The colour scheme also grew from experimentation. Looking back I think it would have been much quicker if I had started with a finished design however I know that the finished product would have been very different. As it is, I think I’ve created a strong painting which is packed full of lovely little details.

Over the last months of hard work I’ve discussed a lot of issues around this painting and I’ve learned a lot through the process. If you love this piece and want to know more about it’s creation and concept I invite you to look back over the last previous Sundays. I think there might be a few little tweaks left to make, but overall I think I can finally call this piece finished. I’d love to hear what you think about it.I feel that there is an untold story here which makes the piece as intriguing as it is unique.

​Imagining Flowers

After some brainstorming I felt that I can imagine my figure lying in a bed of flowers but the question remained, how does this relate to the painting, to the story? I realised that this piece is more about forging your own path and following your dreams and desires. It is so different than the underlying themes of my previous gasmask paintings than I wonder if that’s why the design process has been long and continually developing. Taking the time to explore where an idea has come from and what it may mean, before starting to paint, may actually be a lot more important to the process than perhaps I had ever realised.

So with the meaning loosely bouncing around I came to the decision that if I painted the bed of flowers as handmade entities in their own right, it would cement the themes a lot better than any other background/foreground I could add. The question of how to make flowers look man-made was a slightly different challenge but after searching around art and crafts methods I eventually decided that fabric flowers adorned with beads and buttons could be the quickest and most effective way of achieving this effect. It also gave me the chance to extend my colour theme and add more of the contrast colour which is playing around the canvas. A shot of blue against the soft red gives the sharp edge to this otherwise calm colour scheme.

The Art of Feet – Painting Progress

I always aim to give myself a challenge when planning a new painting. I believe it’s an artist’s job to constantly develop and grow; but it’s a very humbling experience to find challenges where they were unseen and unexpected. So perhaps I should have felt slightly less irritated by how long I had to continue working on the feet in this painting. Now, I realise something important in reflection of this adventure, I have never painted feet before. They are difficult!

People talk about the difficulties of painting hands, something I’ve always enjoyed; I now feel I can relate all those conversations to feet. Even with reference it’s been a challenge to unpick where and how these little sausage toes fit to the foot and how the sole becomes not a flat shape but a curving fluid part of the foot which blossoms into the ankle and beyond. Even as I’m writing this I’m looking at my unfinished painting and anticipating further changes before I’m done.

Here’s a little insight into how I’ve gone back and constantly made little adjustments in order to replicate a visually accurate foot. Whilst I have named this post in a rather optimistic frame of mind, make no mistake, this post would have been more appropriately named ‘F***ing Feet’!

As Beethoven said “Nothing is more intolerable than to have to admit to yourself your own errors” but this is how we grow, how we learn and ultimately become better at what we do.

week6

Colour Progression

I’ve chosen this photo to share this week because it brilliantly illustrates the trouble you can get in when you don’t properly prepare your palette. I usually spend a good time at the start of a painting mixing my main colours and create accurate mixes for the colours I’ve imagined in my head. I would usually then do some tests to make sure it’s exactly right. This time I raced into starting the canvas and as you can see I’m having trouble balancing the palette. You can see that all the skin tones to the right of the hand are more yellow in tone, whilst the skin tones on the left are considerably pinker. This is because I refined the colours as I went along and the left side, that I painted later, is actually the colour palette I was aiming for in the beginning. In the area above the gas mask I have laid down some contributing colours to the palette as this helped me to identify what I am physically creating to what I originally wanted.

This mistake cost me time as I had to go back and correct the skin tones so that they all share the same pink hue. This is a good example of where planning a painting thoroughly, before starting out, can actually be a huge advantage!

week2

The Bees Made Honey – New Painting Video

I’m very excited to have just finished my third YouTube Ardent Shadows for my new painting ‘The Bees Made Honey’. Please head over and give it a thumbs-up. I’d love to get some feedback on these videos!

This piece has been a bit of adventure. It’s a little smaller than my usual pieces being approx 12 x 16 inches and  started as a way of painting with a different colour palette and a different approaching limited colour schemes. I really wanted to do something a little less planned and a bit more instinctive. Accepting that the bees and honey would always look best when painted golden yellow, I felt that the skin could be any tone or colour way. The only other decision I’d made ahead of setting up that first palette was the decision to have a solid black background which the face and hands would dissappear back into. I wanted to ensure this piece felt a little uncomfortable, and empty darkness lends itself well to unnerving the audience.

I decided that I wanted to hinge the scheme around the use of Buff Titanium and Pale Violet and chose not to plan the rest of the scheme but instead, to mix as I painted, allowing the colours to essentially choose themselves. I really loved the interaction between these two paints. I left open sections of each colour unblended and allowed them to describe areas of highlight and shade. Each owning it’s individual values. This was a really pleasing approach and something I would like to use in future paintings. The main stumbling point I found in not have a planned palette was in the shadows. Particularly when I was adding the finishing touches such as the shadows underneath the bees. At first it felt like they should be warm toned perhaps matching that found on the skin of the hands, but after inspection is appeared that a cooler brown looked much more realistic.

It’s also been interesting to push fantasy toward abstract with the honeycomb. I would usually paint this sort of detail to appear as a tattoo or a pattern on the skin itself. But it’s been fun to leave it open to interpretation this time. I intend to continue pushing forward with this as I find it very difficult not to tackle every idea in terms of ‘how would that work’. Although in my usual fashion I did research some bees and used the UK buff-tailed bumblebee for my reference.

So without further ado please use the following or click on the picture to view this short video and watch me paint these lovely bees. I’m also going to be posting on the blog later this week regarding the inspiration for this piece. The song used in the video is Earth’s ‘The Bees Made Honey in the Lion’s Skull’, which had a lot more to do with this painting than you might think!

The Bees Made Honey by Ardent Shadows
The Bees Made Honey by Ardent Shadows

Exploring Video

I recently began filming myself painting with the intention of producing ‘painting in progress’ videos. It has been a steep learning curve and if I’m being honest, setting up and maintaining recording equipment can be rather obstructive to the painting process. To date I have produced two different videos which explore its use in different ways.

The first video I released was actually the second painting where I used a camera and is in time lapse style. I therefore had some experience of which technique to use and how to set up my equipment. Comparatively it was much easier to produce this style of video. Step 1: Mount the camera in a set location and in an unobtrusive place, and Step 2: Paint. If it wasn’t for the short battery life of the camera, which necessitated several breaks in recording, it would have been a fairly low effort task. It took me a good few hours to prepare a work space suitable for recording but this is something I hope to overcome with the completion of my studio. Also upon reflection I should have mounted the camera in the same direction of the light to reduce ‘bounce’. It was however immensely enjoyable to view the results and compile the video. I’ve also received very positive feedback from people who enjoyed viewing it.

But I am most excited about the second video which I am posting here for the first time today! In many ways this was more problematic and it took long hard hours of video editing to put it together. As it was a completely new adventure I decided to experiment with several different camera mounts and camera positions. This meant I had to carefully edit footage from each individual angle and occasionally I found that after hours of editing, some footage was just not suitable for inclusion. What I have created through this experimentation however is a video which I feel is most interesting. Different views and speeds intermixed with stills and sweeping panning shots keep you interested as the painting develops.

I was surprised to find that one of the most successful pieces of video is towards the end where I’m repainting details of the skirt. I put this down to the experience I had already gained at this point both in real time filming, but also as it was the last section to be edited. I cut out sections of whole piece, then sped up individual clips in order to create an ever moving, constantly evolving piece of video which has both a good pace, and level of detail.

I consider the creation of these videos a project in its own right and something which is very much in its infancy. I have a lot to learn but I am excited to meet the challenge and look forward to creating videos of my future paintings. After all, what better way to capture the creative process?

So without further ado, I present the video for ‘Sense of Self: Faith’

Faith on Youtube
Faith on Youtube

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C4Cg2hkRekY

And in case you missed it, you can see my ‘time-lapse’ painting here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_yXEtGVrWZE

Sense of Self: Faith

So here it is! Started nearly three months ago after my Granddad passed away, ‘Sense of Self: Faith’ is dedicated to him. A long awaited piece that showcases everything I love, and a follow up piece to my original birdcage corset painting ‘Sense of Self’. It will have it’s first outting at the Alternative & Burlesque Fair on 5th June, Birmingham so be sure to come and check it out in person. It’s soooo good up close!! Even if I do say so myself!

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