occasional thoughts when I feel I have something worthwhile to say!
occasional thoughts when I feel I have something worthwhile to say!
A painting I now regret selling – the magnificent Rees Valley where another angle,
or a change of light would get the painting juices flowing.
Who was it who said that the only thing constant in life is change? I'm discovering that it's true – the best laid plans don't always work out as we would expect. This blog is going to be a bit different for a start.
I've wanted to include some painting thoughts or teaching of some sort in my previous efforts but this time, I thought I would just share where my wife Kay and I are at in our lives.
Unfortunately, Kay has contracted a very rare disorder that has caused us to leave Glenorchy as she has to avoid getting cold – a difficult feat during the winter months in Glenorchy! It became obvious over the summer months that we were going to need to make a move to a warmer spot and so, after much discussion and soul searching, we sold our house and moved north to
Mangonui, a tiny township very near the top of New Zealand – almost sub tropical and famous for its fish and chip shop!
As you can imagine, giving the house a spruce up for sale, finding a property that suited us in the North, packing up, moving, and settling in, has been incredibly disruptive. I can see why they say that on the stress ladder, shifting house is the second most stressful thing we can go through in life.
There is no question that it is far warmer where we are now – I'm even wearing shorts most days and it's the middle of winter! We are in a beautiful area only a short distance from a series of magnificent beaches, so there is much to be appreciated here – but I'm still missing Glenorchy and our friends there..... and of course, the fantastic painting subjects that it offered. However, I'm sure those feelings will fade and that I will find new subjects with time and an open mind......and they tell me the fishing is fantastic!
I was quite convinced that after a month or so of organising ourselves, I would be ready to get back to painting, filming DVDs, perhaps a gallery, even getting into writing a book about painting. I think I was delusional!
I am still organising the house, finding places to store things, etc. and so I have not touched a paint brush since about February. I've seen the odd subject but haven't really felt a great urge to paint.
No worries though. I don't want to sound negative as I believe that there will always be positives, silver linings, family times, painting and teaching sessions to enjoy, just around the corner.
If you read this and would like to get in touch, it is always great to get some comment or you may be interested in painting lessons. My mobile number is unchanged – 027 4538 636 and my email is still firstname.lastname@example.org
At least some things have stayed the same.......and I still want to write a book!
"Serenity- reflections on a beautiful day" oils on canvas 730 x 540mm
For some years, this painting of mine has been a favourite. It was painted on the side of a steep hill above the small township of Paekakariki on the Kapiti coast around 18 or so years ago. It was a beautiful calm morning and the patterns of the reflections and skiffs of breeze under that cloud hugging the top of Kapiti Island absolutely grabbed me. I have always loved the sea and the rhythm of those patterns on the water..... and the warm lights on the clouds just had to be painted.
I don't often consider keeping a painting but I did briefly with this one. I enjoyed the sense of serenity it gave me. However, a client came along and we had a mortgage to pay, so inevitably, off it went.
Very recently, I received an email from the client who bought it asking for advice. What was the best way to sell a painting?
It's a difficult question because for any artist or painting owner to sell through a dealer gallery, there is a substantial commission cost. Sometimes as high as 50%! To sell on the open market is not always a great idea – that's where most people go if they want to buy something that is lower than the usual market price.
So.... what was the best thing to do as the painting owner needs as much as possible from the sale.
After some thought, I decided perhaps I should offer to put the painting on my website and see if we can sell it for him with minimal loss.
I would normally have put this painting in my own gallery at around $8000 (and I don't like to reduce prices below my established market rate), but he is very keen to sell so has asked me to price it at around 4 - $5000 in the hope that it will achieve a quicker sale.
If you are interested, please send a brief email or phone me on 027 4538 636.
Many times over my years of teaching painting, I’ve said to people, “Don’t fuss about trying to improve a dodgy painting, do a new one and do it better.” But......that is not always the best advice – sometimes a painting only needs a little tuning to turn it from a failure to a winner!
So.... my latest DVD “Enjoying painting 4” is about just that – learning how to critique your own work and then knowing what to do to improve a disappointing painting.
I know I have been through the frustration of a failed painting many times over the years so I know what I’m talking about! But I have also enjoyed the sweet taste of success when I have re-thought and rectified the problem.
It’s now available on the DVD page on my website and can be purchased as a disc or a download.
I trust you will enjoy it and it will be a real help in your painting.
I’ve just realised – we’re about to enter 2018. I’m looking forward to it and I’m hoping it will be a year of great progress and fulfilment for all of us.
Just briefly, I should mention one of the highlights of this year for me. In November, ten painters gathered in Glenorchy. They came from England, California, Australia, and New Zealand.
We had a fantastic two weeks together enjoying painting the beautiful landscape around us. I felt honoured to be among such a group and I certainly hope it can happen again – perhaps even on a yearly basis. Thanks guys!
"Late light on Cosmos Peaks, Dart Valley, Glenorchy." 1260mm x 430mm
( Repainted when I was not happy with the first version)
It’s a question I've been asked many times. “How can I paint in a confident style?” What people are really asking is how to be “painterly.” It's is a difficult one to answer.
I discovered early in my painting career that when looking around a gallery, it was the bold, confident work that really caught and held my interest. I think this was because it spoke about the joy of painting in an expansive, expressive way, rather than the more careful, studied styles, that to me, can tend to convey considerable patience, caution, and control.
I’m generalising of course. There are many painters who use a controlled approach and produce outstanding work, just as there are others who are painterly - even flamboyant and yet their paintings are not necessarily good. A good painting depends on so many things – the choice of subject, drawing, design, tones, colour, mood, lighting, originality, etc, as well as confidence. But.....confidence on its own is not enough.
So……. to get back to the question of how to establish a painterly style.
Firstly, you need good equipment.. Good quality LARGE brushes, artists quality paints with a good medium (I use Winsor and Newton Liquin Original medium), and a really nice surface to work on – Fredrix superfine synthetic canvas is good. A panel of MDF coated with one generous coat of gesso primer is also very good and much cheaper.
Then you need to gather every ounce of determination to not fiddle with the painting – apply the paint with large simple strokes and after each brushstroke is applied, don’t touch it again! I think it was the famous American painter, Emile Gruppe who said that every brushstroke in a painting should have a reason for being there. Obviously, you can’t go with that statement and continue to fiddle!
By nature I am very careful, perfectionist, almost the opposite of painterly - but also determined! Because of this, in my early years, I often decided to scrape off reasonably successful passages in a painting and do them a second or third time if I felt that they were not as free as I wished to be.
Now 45 years later, I still feel caution creeping up on me at times. I'm not sure I will ever be completely satisfied that I’ve achieved this carefree and yet controlled style that I’m chasing - but as they say, "Don’t worry about the destination – enjoy the journey."
By the way, two other things come to mind. The 45 years I mentioned is probably the biggest key. It’s all about
“ brush miles.” The more you paint, the more confident you will become. Also, when I decided to paint outdoors,
I discovered that there was simply not enough time in the day to fiddle. Time, lighting, the weather, and even just becoming tired called for a style that was appropriate to the situation.
So …this is your moment to pluck up courage, buy some no.12 long bristle brushes and get started.
Well.....the DVD I thought I would never finish! I had a great deal of trouble with the editing of this one but I think (or perhaps hope) that this is my best video yet.
There's a trailer on this website's DVD page and if you like it,you can download from that page or order a disc.
It's always good to get your comments, ideas for improvement, or thoughts about other subjects you might like me to cover, so please feel free to drop me an email.
I should have started with Merry Christmas and a happy New Year but... better late than never!
Why is it that the best painting light is in the very early morning when I am either up too late or busy letting other things get in the way of painting. Or it's late in the day when the sun is low and we know there is really insufficient time to complete a whole painting - especially a big canvas like this? ( I love painting big!)
With this one, it was about 2:30 p.m. when I finally got started. I had spent too long setting up video cameras, making sure the sound system was working properly, etc.... and I knew it would be getting very dim at about 5:00 p.m. Talk about pressure!
I decided that I was best to just get on with it, enjoy myself,
forget the time, and race on regardless. I'm very pleased I did. I like it despite the fact that it is very grey, almost subdued.
Possibly because of the rush though, I got the audio settings on the camera wrong and so the soundtrack is rubbish! The river in foreground is babbling loud and clear, but my voice, only inches from the microphone, can barely be heard in the background.
It looks as if the time saved on the painting will now be used doing what is called a voice-over - recording the soundtrack back in the studio.........hmmmm!
Mid - year resolution: get on site sooner!
This was one of those rare times. A scene I have looked at many times in the past, but this was different.
I had always seen Turret Head as a huge, cold, grey, lump of rock ...but in this evening light it was glowing with colour. It even had beautiful purple/blue shadows to complement the orange/ochre highlights! A real “wow” moment!
I very rarely use photographs to paint from as I think they can stifle your style… and I so much prefer to work outside anyway.
However, seeing something like this was just too good to miss so my wife's camera was called into action. I was eager to get to my studio easel while the excitement of that view lasted.
I'm not absolutely sure that I have finished with the painting yet but that doesn't matter too much – I like it as it is anyway.
I believe that is the real essence of painting. It doesn't matter whether you're working on a landscape, a still life, or some flowers, you need to be excited!
I'm also excited to tell you that I have finally finished my next DVD - “Enjoying painting 2”. Perhaps relieved would be more accurate!
Due to a number of problems, it has taken what feels like forever to complete this one. However, If you go to my DVD page, you'll see it there ready for downloading or for buying a disc.
It's aimed at anyone who thinks they can learn more about painting. I certainly hope that I have learned heaps from making it!
We were told That computers were going to make life much easier for the world, but I've found them to be work demanding and frustration building! However, I'm getting over it (I hope) as I learn more.
The trouble is that many of us who use computers today were brought up in a non - computer age and our brains don't seem to work quite adequately when it comes to computer thinking. I'm very fortunate – I have a 15 year old grandson, Samuel, who is usually able to straighten me out.
You may be wondering why I am talking about this? Well, over the last week or two (attempting to speed up my computer and make Final Cut Pro X, a film editing program work properly), a friend and I decided to rebuild my computer and in the process I lost my emails, addresses, etc.
Many people have been receiving my blogs and have written to me asking questions about DVDs, painting classes, materials, etc, so this is really just an attempt to tell you that if you have written, and have not received a reply, I do apologise and ask if you would just write again please but on a different email address: email@example.com Thanks!
I've found this to have been a very busy year. With filming and editing, taking classes (even in Australia this year!) and of course my own painting and framing, time seems to have flown.
Despite all that, I've been aiming at doing a blog every month but, as in the past, I've only managed three this year, and that's counting this one!! However, the New Year is coming. I'm certainly not going to be making New Year resolutions – but I will aim to do better.
In the meantime my best wishes for a good holiday period over Christmas and the New Year and hopefully, a prosperous and fulfilling painting time next year.
"A quiet day after recent snow, Manapouri."
I know, I know... I haven't written to you folk out there since last February and I was so determined to be more diligent about getting blogs out – hopefully, at least once a month. However, I now feel that I have something to write about.
Like so many others – I find it hard to get started, especially when it's a major task (or at least it feels like that) and so other things get put aside. I've been working on teaching DVDs, (the major task), and so other jobs around the house, and even painting, have been neglected.
However, the painting above is quite recent and was done in desperation really as I had a weekend painting school and had not painted for several weeks.
I've talked with friends about the times when you don't paint and feel inadequate when you get started again. Consequently, I was worried that I would struggle to do a decent demonstration painting to get the school started. We often discuss these things when we're out painting and I think most of us feel the same.
So... Sam, my grandson and I went out searching so that I could feel more confident and this painting was the outcome.
I think this is probably the first I have done that is centred around just a bunch of trees, but they struck a chord with me at the time, and with the rough surroundings–lanky grass, weeds, and snow on the low hills in the background, I thought they made a good subject.
I'm pleased with the outcome and so made it the subject of my latest teaching disc that has just been released on vimeo - you'll find it on my DVD page. It will also be coming out on a disc in the next week or two... but I'm already busy planning the next one.
I think my editing skills are improving slowly so there should be more time available for this blog page. Hopefully!
"Skippers Canyon, Queenstown" ( My painting of the month! ) Oils on canvas 550 x 1200mm
I've said it before and I guess at some stage, I'll say it again."Sorry, it's been so long!"
You'll know what I'm talking about of course – the huge gaps between my blogs. I'm fortunate that you people out there seem to be very forgiving and eventually, somebody will give me a gentle nudge.
The trouble is, apart from being distracted with other things, I don't feel that I've had a great deal to say just lately. I've not even been doing enough painting and we all know how easy it is to slip backwards, to lose our reckless abandon with the brushes, to stop seeing subjects as easily as we would like, if we are not painting enough.
However, I can say that I've not been entirely slacking!
I've been working quite hard on a new series of DVDs. For a long time, I have been wanting to do a series, perhaps as many as 10 or more discs that cover different aspects of painting.
Starting with the very basics – what tools/materials I've chosen to use after 48 years of experience, then moving on to the many questions that people so often ask – what colours do you use, how do you see something that will make a good painting, where should one start in a painting, how do you beat the changing light etc.
From that point, I will move on to different subjects, mainly plein air but also some work in the studio, that hopefully will cover painting mountains, coastal, buildings, even studies of things like birds and flowers and so on.
So... with a new much better quality movie camera and a more advanced editing program in my computer, I'm hoping I can get better at climbing the steep learning curve that I've taken on!
I'll let you know when the first one is available on my DVD page. Meantime.... onward and upward!
What People Are Saying
Informative instruction and demonstration from a highly skilled artist. When you see John's paintings you know that he has spent many years honing his art. His mastery of colour, tone, brushwork and composition instills confidence that he knows what he talking about as a teacher. Highly recommended."