Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Koi fish in Hong Kong Park

Last week, I went to Hong Kong for the first time. I managed to sketch a Koi fish in Hong Kong Park. I used a sepia Pentel Colour Brush and then added a few colours with my Sennelier watercolour travel box.

Koi fishes in Hong Kong Park

The fishes were moving all the time or only stopping for a brief moment. My sketch is in fact a composite representation of several Koi fishes.

Hong Kong Park

Hong Kong Park is a bit of nature surrounded by the numerous towers of Central Hong Kong. While there, I visited the Flagstaff House Museum of Tea Ware. As the name says, this museum is devoted to teaware, with pieces dating from Western Zhou (11th century B.C. - 771 B.C.) up to contemporary creations. Some of the ceramic pieces are really amazing.

The Flagstaff House Museum of Tea Ware

Monday, 27 February 2012

Fishing time

Last Saturday, the sun was shining, the air pure and the sky blue. An ideal weather for fishing... and sketching.

Three fishermen were having a good time on the bank of the small lake in front of our house. I don’t think they caught many fishes, but I could hear them laughing and having a good time. 

Thursday, 23 February 2012

Cézanne’s paintings in the Cardiff art gallery

Three oil paintings by Cezanne are in the permanent collection of the Cardiff art gallery and museum.

Provencal landscape - Oil on canvas by Paul Cezanne (about 1887)

The composition is quite simple, yet very effective. The painting is divided in thirds. The warm colours of the bare ground in the foreground contrast with the cool blue sky. The palette is typical of Cezanne and of the real colours of nature in the South of France. The brushwork is vigourous.

The Francois Zola Dam - Oil on canvas by Paul Cezanne (about 1879)

Paul Gaugin was the first owner of this painting. The S shaped composition leads the eye towards the horizon. The Mount Sainte-Victoire, visible in the background, is a stapple feature in Cezanne’s work.

The Francois Zola Dam - Oil on canvas by Paul Cezanne (Detail)

The brushwork turns this painting in the direction of abstract. Cezanne hatched the patches of colour onto the canvas to bring the landscape to life with a mosaic of strong colours.

Still Life with Teapot – Oil on canvas by Paul Cezanne

This still life was painted around 1902. The palette of colours used in this still life painting is similar to the one the artist uses for its landscape paintings. The grey background is in fact created by a pattern of brushstrokes of different colours: muted blues, Sienna and greens are visible at close range but merge into a rich grey from afar.

There is an emphasis on composition with the roundness of the teapot echoing the roundness of the apples. There are many still life paintings by Cezanne featuring this wooden table, some folded fabric and apples. He was painting very slowly and must have liked the control that setting your own still life gives you.

Monday, 13 February 2012

How to open a stuck oil paint tube

If I have not used some oil colours for some time, chances are that one of the tubes will be hard to open: the cap is stuck.

What not to do: you grab the tube, try to twist the cap hard, again and again, and twist the body of the tube instead. You repeat this a few times and the tube bursts. I know it happens... I have done it.

There are better ways to get to your precious locked away paint.

1. The smarter way with your hands

Use a rag or a paper towel to get a better grip and hold the tube by its upper part, just below the cap. This handling reduces the risk of twisting the body of the tube.

If it does not work that way, you still have two other methods to try.

2. With a plier

Same method as before, but this time you grip the cap with a plier.

This method works well on larger tubes because of their bigger cap.

3. The hot bath method

My father tought me this method and it works every time.

  1. Put the kettle on and then pour the hot water in a jar (not any that you plan to use for food – paint contains harmful chemicals)
  2. Dip the blocked tube upside down in the hot water and let it soak for a few minutes.
  3. Remove the tube from the hot water and unscrew the cap. Use a rag to get a better grip. The cap should come off easily. If not, let the tube soak for longer.
  4. Clean the inside of the cap and the screw on the tube with a rag and a palette knife. This way it will close properly.
I am not sure if it works because it softens the dry paint or because the hot water has an effect on the metal. All I know is that it works.

Monday, 6 February 2012

Danny the Border Colly

Danny the Border Colly - Oil on canvas panel (6" x 8") by Benoit Philippe

As announced last week, this is Danny the Border Colly. You can see his friend Barney in my previous post.

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

David Hockney’s interview in The Saturday Times

As David Hockney’s exhibition is on show at the Royal Academy in London (England), Rachel Campbell-Johnston went to spend a day with the artist and interviewed him for the Saturday Times (January 7, 2012 – page 4).

I pencilled a few quotes that are worth sharing.

On inspiration

“Inspiration: she does not visit the lazy.”

On drawing

Drawing is fundamental. Teaching drawing is teaching how to see.”

On depiction and photographs

“I am interested in the problem of depiction. Not every artist is... partly because we’ve got the photograph now. People think that the photograph is everything. But I think if we’re stuck with the photograph it’s going to be very boring. I’m painting landscapes in Yorkshire because you can’t photograph them. The camera can’t get the beauty. It just can’t get the space, the thrilling space that I am in – no, it can’t replace painting at all. If you thought that your camera pictures were good enough, I’m saying, ‘well, it wasn’t good enough, we can make better ones’.”

On cameras

“The camera sees geometrically, but we see psychologically. It sees everything equally, but we don’t; there’s a hierarchy in the things that you see depending on who you are. If you were an alcoholic, you would see the booze first. If you were me, you might notice the ashtray.”

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