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Ardent Shadows

Gothic Fantasy paintings by Jemima Mantle

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creative process

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

Mindfulness Monday #6

This week’s pages were started in a different way. The binding shows on these pages and I thought that instead of trying to hide them or work round them, that it would be interesting to highlight them using negative space. I then used these shapes as the starting point for the whole design. It was fun to work on something that grew from the central point of the double page. I always try to start in a different place so that I vary the experience I get from the exercise. I’m very keen to avoid these drawings becoming in anyway planned or predictable. I want to ensure that they continue to demand my full attention. I feel that if my approach becomes systematic, I will lose a lot of the freedom and mindfulness which I’m currently enjoying.

The choice to draw more hearts is something that I think has come out of allowing myself to add my husband’s name last week. It’s always something I’ve doodled absent minded in notebooks but it was lovely to incorporate it into a mindfulness drawing and reconnect with what it really symbolises. If mindfulness is about calm and focus, shouldn’t we also find a way of celebrating love and happiness. I don’t know why it’s only just occurred to me. Of course these things go hand in hand. Is there anything in this world which makes us feel more calm, and more ‘in the moment’ than love. Whether that’s love for a partner, your family, your pets or just looking at a stunning view and connecting with how that makes you feel. I certainly feel that love is something I will be connecting with a lot more in my mindfulness drawings from now on.

mm6.jpg

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

Further Musings – Acrylic Artist, Greg ‘Craola’ Simkins.

So, having been very opinionated in my last post about the differences between oil and acrylic painting, I find myself considering the art of Greg ‘Craola’ Simkins and wondering where his technique fits in. He uses acrylic paints but with, what I consider to be, an oil painting technique.

What I didn’t discuss in my last post is the use of retarders and mediums as there is a huge variety to discuss and I must admit I have fairly limited knowledge as I’ve only experimented with a few. Craola has been quoted as saying that he doesn’t like to mix too much stuff into his paints – but quite frankly you simply could not use acrylics his way without either the use of the mediums OR alternatively you can get acrylic paints which become workable again when sprayed with either water or a relaxer. Safe to say this is not an acrylic artist using standard acrylic paints alone.

Whilst his work is incredible – so beautiful and complex – I think what has really pulled me towards his work is his YouTube videos. It’s a real pleasure to watch an artist working in this much detail. Despite the questions it raises for me and the personal discomfort of watching an acrylic artist harnessing oil painting technique, I can’t help but be thrilled by his work and his videos. It is through artists like this that the whole of art society grows and develops. He’s a real king of lowbrow, or pop-surrealism depending on your take.

finding_home
‘Finding Home’ by Greg ‘Craola’ Simkins

This is the first time I’ve shared another artists work on my blog but I am very happy to have discovered this artist and feel that it’s made me question my technique. I’m sharing this in the hopes that it will encourage other artists to go through the same self-reflection. This is how we learn and grow as artists. I just can’t shake the niggling question…. As an out and proud acrylic painter, can we really stick up two fingers at the oil elite when we are developing techniques more akin to oil painting?

So without any further comment – here’s an example of Craola’s videos. Whether it’s right for acrylic artists to mimic oil technique is a question I’ll leave with you…

Enjoy x

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