Sky’s painting competition is back on telly, only this time they’re looking for landscape artists, which has set me off on the amateur painting lark again. I’ve been thinking though that maybe you, me or any old Tom, Dick and Harry has a shot at entering Sky’s exercise in arty shenanigans, judging by the lovely young girl who, one week, chose to focus on a couple of blades of grass on the lawn, in front of the massive stately home’d landscape; instead of the actual stately home, or any of the other lovely things surrounding it.
I don’t think I can emphasise this enough but the lovely girl (who in less tasking and saner moments is probably a fine artist) chose to draw some grass in the time allotted by Frank and Joan. Blades of grass so tiny that you had to go right up to the telly screen to see them, hidden as they were in the middle of her piece of white paper.
The judges were very, very nice about it all (except the stunning blonde one, who comes over as the evil snow queen of the art world.) They chucked out words like ‘minimalist’ and murmured ‘perhaps she was overwhelmed by the task’, in kindly tones – instead of the ‘what on earth was she thinking‘ kind of thing, that I was shouting at the telly. What yours truly was thinking was that perhaps she’d gone into a kind of art-based state of shock (which is understandable when you’ve got Joan Bakewell cackling over your shoulder every few seconds, like one of those witches from Macbeth.) Maybe she’d thought I can’t possibly get that MASSIVE stately home down on this tiddly bit of paper, or any of those MASSIVE trees so I’ll go for something teeny tiny….and, more importantly, who am I again? and just where am I?
My theory is that in her panic she completely forgot how to paint, or how to hold a paintbrush even, so doodling a bit of grass with her pencil was much the safer bet – but then again I’ve seen worse under the label ‘conceptual’ or ‘abstract’.
My second attempt at portrait painting started two weeks ago, before I got the world’s worst sore throat, well the worst sore throat since the last worst one. The pain is switching from side to side and even my tongue hurts, at the back where it joins onto your tonsils (if you’ve still got tonsils.) This could also be tongue strain of course, owing to the fact that I nightly waylay my husband as he enters the back door and regale him with about an hour’s worth of boring gossip and tales of the terrible sore throat – or it could be some horrid tongue disease, but I’m too scared to Google it. So to take my mind off the ill health I carried on with the painting.
The painting began with a sketch as always. Like the blades of grass girl I panicked and sat motionless for a while before making a few half hearted lines on the card. Drawing a couple of blades of grass was beginning to look like a pretty good idea.
Sketch two appeared (a bit of my knitting bag is sticking up in the corner of this photo)
Previous sketching experience was beginning to teach me that I had to get down to basic lines for the painting stage and rub out most of the areas I’d filled in on this one.
Sketch three appeared.
This was the one I went with. Typing into Google ‘how to mix skin tone’ gave me the combination of red, blue yellow and white. I mixed these colours and slapped it on with this result.
This was perfect, if you happen to be an oompa-loompa, but on any other level it was WRONG. I left it overnight, so I could look at it with ‘fresh eyes’ (as my YouTube artist friends advise) in the morning, But if anything it looked worse so I slapped a load of white paint all over it.
Why didn’t I just paint some grass?
The next phase in awfulness appeared.
I’d thought that by painting in the eyes it would seem human, but it was turning into the Ghost of Christmas Past.
Then I painted hair and eyebrows and some different colour skin tones and shadowing. It took one and a half hours just to paint this. If there’s one thing I’m learning, it’s that painting takes an awful long time and it still looks rubbish.
I yet again bunged white paint over everything and added my felt tip pen thing, which was a complete disaster concerning the eyes. I added some black eyelashes to the eye on the right, which looked like some dreaded eye disease so painted over almost all the felt tip pen in the next one and also painted in the scarf and coat.
Feeling this was more human, I stuck with this version and just kept painting over it for a few days.
And this I thought was finished until my husband suggested painting the background blue instead of leaving it white.
Should have left it white methinks. I also blue’d up the scarf a bit more.
Here’s an artistic process that’s really worth looking at. David Gray works in oils and uses ‘old masters’ techniques and is my favouritest artist on the planet at the moment. His skill with a brush is a kind of super power. (Warning: the process has been speeded up for this video – if your eyes go wonky with that kind of thing.)