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Ardent Shadows

Gothic Fantasy paintings by Jemima Mantle

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acrylicpainting

A Grain of Sand – New painting

I have just finished what was the last painting of 2014 but I thought it fitting to save it for the first post of 2015. It has been an important piece for me and the start of a new approach to my work. It was an experimentation of media, a challenge to myself and the first purely still life painting I’ve done in a very long time.

Whilst this was a chance for me to set up a real life composition to paint, I also wanted to create a perfect setting in which to display something which to me is beautiful and pure but something that many people will feel is a controversial. Please stay tuned for later posts where I will discuss the subject matter of this piece in more detail. First and foremost – I wanted to create a piece which showcased the beauty of life, all life, the beginning, the end, the oldest and most pure. Pure and raw nature.

For now, what I want to discuss is the preparation I went through for this piece. I have not put pencil to canvas for many, many years. Mainly because it muddies the pale colours but also because I found that painting outlines directly onto the canvas was a more pleasurable way of working and allowed for greater freedom and expression. For this painting I have also used canvas board – another change for me. I carefully drew the composition accurately and precisely onto the board with a standard pencil and then sealed it with a clear gesso.This seals the graphite and maintains an adhesive surface for the acrylic paints. Whilst this attributes mainly to my reflective learning and so this is not something I think I will do – I can certainly recommend the technique for anyone wanting a precisely drawn design to paint over.

A Grain of Sand
A Grain of Sand – Preparation

I will be sharing progress pictures here and on my social media pages so make sure you follow me for the full piece and related posts. Instagram: http://instagram.com/ardentshadows and Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ArdentShadows.Art

To see a world in a grain of sand and heaven in a wild flower, hold infinity in the palms of your hand and eternity in an hour. William Blake.

Musings of an Acrylic Painter

It’s a question I’ve been asked a thousand times. Why don’t I paint in oils?

Whilst officially I say it’s because I like the speed of oils, or I prefer not to bring chemicals into a household with three very nosey kitties, the truth is this… My reluctance to venture into oils is a stubborn and slightly childish refusal to buy into the snobbery that still clings to oils.

It saddens me that many people still think that oil is better -that you can only be a professional artist if you buy into the oil elite. Many people adhere to the misconception that oil painting is more challenging and therefore you are a more talented artist if you use oil. Yes, there is a lot of technique and ‘book knowledge’ required to begin with and this does make it less accessible for beginners. But just because acrylics are a friendly medium for novice painters it doesn’t mean that the capabilities and possibilities of acrylics stop there.

It’s a wonder that with all the advances in technology and the developing modern world, some old attitudes linger on. If we look at how the attitude towards tattoos has changed just since the turn of the new century, why is it that a world so close to tattooing has not developed at all. In fact tattoo artists who turn to oil painting are somehow elevated above the talented artists choosing not to buy into oil fever… I want to halt my assault here just to add that I think it’s brilliant that so many tattoo artists are discovering their worth as traditional artists outside of tattooing and vice-verser that so many traditional artists are turning their talents to tattooing. It enriches both and movements such as lowbrow / pop surrealistic movements would be poorer without it.

Contrary to longstanding opinion – I don’t believe you have to be a better artist to use oils and I would like to see this view disintegrate as we have seen happen to the old edict that ‘tattoos are for convicts’ for example. In many ways I think tools and techniques exist in oil painting that can actually allow mediocre artists to cheat their way to creating pieces beyond their actual talent. If we take the process of colour glazing for example – it is possible in oil painters to create a piece with a fairly safe and limited use of colour and then, in the final hour of the painting, to use a colour glaze on top of the existing painting to create greater depth and variety in tone and colour. In acrylic painting however it is necessary for the artist to consciously seek out their desired colours. They must be skilled in colour mixing and matching, and know exactly how to create the depth and subtleties without the use of glazes and other techniques which to me feel like last minute shortcuts. The acrylic artist must be precise, skilled and have an exceptional feel for what they’re creating.

It’s time oil painting was taken down off the pedestal! Realism in painting is difficult to achieve. It is incredibly demanding and I would argue even more challenging for the acrylic artist. Lets stick two fingers up at the oil elite and start praising the acrylic artists out there – sticking to their love of acrylics and fighting against the old fashioned view that ‘real artists’ use oil.

Black Bryony - final HQ detailed image

I’ve finally got round to getting out my proper camera and flash unit. This is the final thing with accurate colours and no blurring unlike some of the progress photos. I’m going to set up my SLR on a tripod for my next progress photo set!

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