Found a new passion to occupy my time recently. Not that I have lots of spare time as it is! I have been playing around with paper, pencils and even silhouette paper and scissors, creating 3D images. They are only effective if you view them from a certain angle, but it has been great fun.
Made a couple of videos too.
I thought I would add a reference photo along with one of my loose watercolours. In this way you can see that I choose a focal point in most of my loose portraits. Once that is established, there is no need for too much detail to be added, even to the point of dispensing with facial features, like the mouth in this case.
This is titled 'Wonder' and hopefully you can see that there is enough in the little girl's expression to justify such a title. Makes me 'Wonder' how minimal and loose an artist can be in his / her attempt to get the message across.
The ref photo is from Barbra Tester, a member of paint my photo. A site that has supplied me with most of my ref photos. www.paintmyphoto.ning.com
With the weather outside changing dramatically now that we are heading into winter, I thought I would add a nice warm sunny watercolour. This is called 'Cuddles' and is both warm in colours and in subject. The reference photograph came once again from the Paint my photo.ning website.
This was quite a bold attempt to put warm hues directly next to cool ones. Lots of reflected lights here. The red on the elderly lady's cardigan has been bounced up towards both of their faces. You can see on her sleeve, the colour has been bleached out. This is the way it appeared on the ref photo. I like to think that the colour has moved directly from there up to their faces. It is just a little thought I keep in my mind when I am doing this type of painting. It helps to keep everything in harmony.
So now we move into the winter months, and to mark this, here is a much colder painting. Just two colours used here, ultramarine blue and rose madder. Once again the subject photo is the flute player. This is actually version three of this subject.
In this painting the focal point is the area around the hands, although her foot is fighting for a bit of attention too. Creating more than one focal point can be worth considering. It encourages the eye to move over the painting. Her face is only hinted at. This was quite deliberate on my part. I feel that those hands and feet deserve centre stage.
Finally, here is a flier for a lecture / demo / workshop that I will be doing at the Robert Burns Birthplace Museum next month. If you are in the area drop in.
This watercolour of a flute player is taken from a photograph by Steve Lyddon on the Paint my Photo site. I just knew when I saw it that I would do a watercolour version of it.
I intend to redo this as some of the proportions are not just quite right, but the general idea is there.
My intention was to give the painting that 'fresco' look. Steve has taken quite a few photographs of
statues and most of them look very appealing to an artist.
There were just three colours used in this project. Turquoise, Indian red and Yellow Ochre. For the marble-like tones on the face I used the turquoise with just a touch of Indian red to tone it down. For the darker colours I did the opposite. My Indian red had a touch of turquoise. The yellow ochre was added near the end to warm up certain areas.
I didn't pre-draw any of this, which is a pity as the arms and hands didn't turn out the way I wanted.
Here is a picture of the painting taken about half way through.
I would have preferred to stop just after this stage, but this has been a worthwhile exercise. Watch out for the new version on here soon.
Around about the same time, I cut a silhouette profile of my granddaughter, Jessica, from a leaf.
This was quite difficult as the cut tends to want to go along the grain of the leaf surface. It probably
isn't too good for my scissors either. Here is the result below.
Kind of addicted to these crumpled banknote silhouettes. This one, created recently, is a silhouette profile of Elvis created from a crumpled 50€ banknote.
I have always been a big fan of Elvis from as far back as I can remember. I have lost count of the number of drawings and paintings I have done of the King of Rock n Roll.
This depiction is unique. I could never have foreseen me doing this years ago. Silhouette images have been a passion of mine for some time now. I enjoy the silhouette cutting jobs that come my way, but this new angle is also exciting.
I am sure that other ideas for recording silhouette profiles will come along soon. Handshadowgraphy is another interesting representation of projecting silhouettes using hands and a single light source. It is an amazing form of art which brings movement into the art form too.
I can thoroughly recommend New York artist, Kumi Yamashita. She does amazing work with light and shadow, as well as other art forms. You can see her work by clicking HERE
Following on from my crumpled paper silhouette, I have been searching around the house for paper that lends itself to folds and creases that stay permanent.
I found that paper money suits best, so I thought I would have a little fun with a £5 note.
This fiver has been long since spent, so don't go looking for it in any art galleries. :-)
This was a my first challenge to try and achieve an actual likeness from crumpled paper. So the challenge was too inviting to resist. I just HAD to do a silhouette of the Queen tying to escape through the back door of a bank note. I hope I have succeeded in this little project.
No offence Lizzie! If this ever reaches you . . . enjoy.
Just tried this technique out for a bit of fun. Just some scrap paper, some creases and a suitably placed light source. It works best with sunlight, but as today's weather is a little overcast, I have had to make do with a table lamp.
Already my mind is conjuring up all sorts of possibilities!
Watch this space for more pictures . . . when the sun comes back. Could be a while! :-)
This is a publicity shot that I took some time ago to demonstrate how a Silhouette Artist creates a silhouette profile.
The whole process takes around 90 seconds to 2 minutes to complete. The photograph is a little misleading because, at events, I turn the paper over and cut from the white side. The photo above was 'staged' to show the effect of the black silhouette appearing. The golden rule with Silhouette artists is that there is no pre-drawing whatsoever. All the work is done via hand-eye coordination.
As I am right handed, the profile is always a 'facing to the right' view. The cutting process starts at the bottom right and goes upwards, over the head and down the other side.
Because the paper is folded over, I am left with two silhouettes; one right facing, one left facing. The client can choose which one they prefer, although they are mirror images of each other.
When I am working at weddings or corporate events my pockets are loaded with many things. Jacket left inside pocket is where I keep the silhouette paper; the opposite inside pocket is where I store my wallet cards. These are the little folding cards that the silhouette is presented in. Any other pocket on my person quickly fills up with paper cuttings.
The pocket loading means that I can be as mobile as possible. I mix and mingle and place myself at the best angle to get the cut. In many ways, I use the same procedure as I do with drawing caricatures. When I first talk to someone I immediately begin to draw the caricature in my head or cut the silhouette in my head. It only takes a second. No one realises that when I make the initial introduction that I am already working out how the finished product is going to look.
People get nervous when being stared at, so I work a lot from short term memory. It works for me I am glad to say.
Well that is all my secrets out. Maybe I should do a step by step with illustrations. That may be useful. Watch this space.
As promised, here is another painting dedicated to my hero, Pierre-August Renoir. This time it is an oil painting dating back to the eighties.
My hope is that you will recognise this as a cropped version of Renoir's 'Luncheon of the boating party'. My version has been hanging on my bedroom wall for many years now - and although I may consider exhibiting it - I don't see me ever parting with it. The painting is roughly the same size as the original, (As far as the figure goes) There were around ten figures in Renoir's original. My version covers a small portion on the lower left of the work. The girl holding the dog is Aline Charigot. She eventually married the painter in 1889, and they had three children; Pierre, Jean and Claude. Jean Renoir, the second eldest son, became famous in the film world as a director, with 'Grand illusion' and 'The rules of the game' among his credits. In 1962 Jean wrote a fascinating book about his father. The book, 'Renoir my father' is still available on Amazon. It is a wonderful story about life in the late 19th century. Lots of facts - Lots of intimate details are shared about Renoir and his family. It is a wonderful book to own if you follow the work of the French Impressionist group.
I submitted two paintings to my local art club's exhibition last week. The two watercolours that I selected were, Eastern glance and Claire.
I am pleased to say that Claire was sold. Nice feeling to know that she is now hanging up somewhere. I also started a blog page for the club.
Now the other artists will be able to keep up to date with what is happening at their art club.
Had a pleasant trip down to Morpeth this weekend too. Longhirst Hall was the venue for the wedding that I was working at. Been there before. Lovely location.
Just back from a wonderful holiday in Canada. Myself and my two grandaughters, Jessica and Niamh attended a family wedding in Ajax Ontario. If you are reading this, Grace, Herve, Louise, John, Nicole, Steve and all the other people we met - thanks so much. We had a ball. I did some silhouette cutting and caricatures whilst I was there.
Today's painting is called Rasta Man. Another loose watercolour portrait. Hope you like it.
This is a loose watercolour portrait I did of my friend Robert McGowan. AKA Dunno the Clown.
Dunno is a very popular children's entertainer and magician in my part of the world, Robert along with his wife also runs his shop Duo in Largs, where you can hire balloons for your wedding reception decoration. This is also the place where you can meet and talk with Dunno the Clown in person.
For this painting, I began by concentrating on the negative space between Dunno and his little friend. From there, everything became looser as it reached the edges.
This is my tribute painting to Henrik Larsson. One of the finest football players ever to have pulled on a Celtic football strip.
I had the pleasure of meeting Henrik a few times, He is a terrific guy and very humble.
This watercolour of the great number 7 shows him in a typical pose. He will always be remembered at Celtic Park. Hail King Henrik!
If you have been following this blog, you will have noticed those lovely big eyes staring out at you behind the 'Life of Brian' title.
Hopefully any art lover, especially a follower of the French Impressionist movement will have recognised this little girl.
She is of course the little girl in the foreground of Renoir's painting, 'Les Parapluies' - (the umbrellas). 1881 - 1886
Here is the LINK to the original painting.
And here is my full version of the girl . . .
This was started with watercolour pencils - and finished off with watercolour paints and a brush.
Today's blog title. 'FIVE YEARS OF RENOIR IN ONE PAINTING' is all about the 'Umbrellas' painting. You can see the change in style across the canvas. The lower right part of the picture, where this little girl stands is handled in a loose impressionistic way. Other parts of the painting were finished in a more defined way. It is a fascinating painting to study. I have seen this painting close up at the National Gallery in London, and it takes your breath away - as do all Renoir's works.
I have taken parts of Renoir's works and created copies of them before. I will no doubt add my small version of Renoirs 'Luncheon of the boating party' at some later date. That one was done in oils many years ago. Look out for it here.
As way of a contrast - here is another painting I completed a few months ago. I always enjoy painting musicians and this was no exception. This is a watercolour study of a Saxophonist. I gave this to a good friend of mine, who is also a music lover.
Hoping to catch them myself in Glasgow on 23rd or 24th November this year.
Some notes on the cuts themselves. I trawled through some internet pics of Ruby & Rico. Found a couple that I liked but they were three-quarter views. I had to use a little imagination and artistic licence to give them that complete side- on classic profile. Hope you like them.
It's always nice to be asked to do a wedding caricature commission, but on this occasion the bride is a friend of mine who helped me immensely when I was writing my novel. Michelle's creative writing and poetry is first class. You can learn about and purchase Michelle's poetry works here.
There reception was at the Brig O Doon hotel. Just a few yards from the Robert Burns Birthplace museum in Alloway. Funny how all these blog updates seem to tie in with each other.
The way I tackle caricature commissions is always the same. I do a light pencil sketch to begin with - add the colour using watercolour washes - then complete the picture with a fine nib pen.
This is a demonstration of how to draw a caricature. It is, however, a very relaxed and laid back version of what I do normally. If I am working at events the process is much speedier.
For this demo caricature I chose a celebrity as a subject. This is my version of comedian and actor Robbie Coltraine.
Doing celebrity caricatures in this way allows the viewing public to recognise the subject gradually as the drawing progresses. When you watch this video, please ignore the web address at the end. It is no longer active. I can always be contacted on this blog.
I have drawn caricatures of real life celebrities over the years. These include, Sir Jimmy Savile, Martin O'Neil, Neil Lennon & John Leslie.
One of the advantages of living in North Ayrshire is that I am only a half hour drive from the Robert Burns Birthplace Museum in Alloway. http://www.burnsmuseum.org.uk/
I was invited down there by Hannah Teesdale, the learning officer at the museum. Between us, we are hoping to host a presentation on Silhouette Art during the lifetime of Robert Burns, sometime in November this year.Hannah will be taking care of all the organising, including - generating an interest from the general public.Me? Well, I am hoping to do a background presentation on the exquisite art of Silhouette cutting, past and present.This will be followed by a live demonstration of the cutting process and a light-hearted hands-on workshop.I will take along the raw materials, (paper & scissors) I just hope there aren't too many injuries!!! :-)Silhouette scissors are very sharp.
Hannah was kind enough to be my guide as we toured the museum. It has been a number of years since I have visited the national bard's birthplace. I was very impressed with the set up. a very modern museum is now in place, close to the beautiful 'Land O' Burns' gardens and the ever enchanting 'Brig O' Doon'. Well worth a visit if you are ever in Ayrshire.
If you have never heard of Robert Burns - shame on you!
When friends the world over link arms on the stroke of New Year and sing 'Auld Lang Syne', they should remember that the lyrics of that song were penned by Rabbie Burns.
Had some free time today, so I cut a silhouette of my favourite pianist, the brilliant Jools Holland. I have been to see Jools, his orchestra and his guests a few times over the years. Memorable nights indeed! One particular night in an Edinburgh Jazz club we had a ultra close up view of their show. No stage to speak of - we were in touching distance of his piano. He had the full orchestra there and special guests, the brilliant Ruby Turner and Marc Almond.
Anyway - a little technical info on this silhouette cut. As always it was done completely freehand. I am right handed, so everything was cut from right to left. The big challenge here was getting his hand in correct proportion to the piano and his head. the hand comes first, so I just had to trust my judgement. The jacket sleeve is indicated with slash cuts. When these are completed the piece of paper begins to become rather flimsy, something akin to lace.
If you know about Jools and his orchestra please check out his drummer, Gilson Lavis. He is an excellent artist and has drawn fantastic portraits of the band in ink.
I thought, as I was in the mood, I would also do a silhouette cut of Phil Veacock, the lead saxophonist in the band. Same rules apply here, everything is cut from right to left.
Can't wait to see them again. If you enjoy great music, a Jools Holland concert is the only place to be.
I know that it is early to send Christmas greetings, but I promise to post this painting again in December. In my home there are no watercolours of mine hanging on the wall. A couple of oil paintings, but no watercolours. Last year when the Christmas decorations were going up I painted this happy picture of a little girl hugging Santa. The finished work was stuck to the glass on my internal door. When the decorations came down - the painting came down too, and is keeping my other watercolours company in my storage box.
I am thinking of taking this one along to the printers to be transformed into a proper Christmas card.
Hope the sun is shining where you are today, but let me be the first to wish you a Happy Christmas for 2012.
I have tried painting with coffee twice. This was my first effort. Unlike my 'Mr Forbes' this painting was built up in layers, using thin washes of diluted filter coffee. You can probably tell from the strange looks on the faces that this was taken from an old sepia photograph.
When I chose a name for my blog I went for 'Life of Brian'. Now I know that this title is well known for other reasons, and being a big Monty Python fan, I hope I don't get into hot water for using it. But my name is Brian - and this blog is about my life, so I suppose I have a moral right to retain the name.
The web address however may cause confusion. www.glenapp.blogspot.com brings you here. I chose the name 'Glenapp' after a location that I have worked at often as a caricaturist and silhouette artist.
Glenapp castle is a five star Relais and Châteaux hotel just outside Ballantrae on the beautiful South Ayrshire coastline.
I have enjoyed working at a few New Year's day dinner parties there. It certainly is the place to be if you want to spoil yourself with beautiful surroundings and enjoy Michelin Star cuisine.
And finally - a quote from the film that shares the title of this blog - visit Glenapp if you want to 'Look on the bright side of life.'
Thought I should add a quickly drawn caricature. This is more like the kind of drawing that I would produce at events like weddings. I don't meet many cowboys though . . . Then again . . . lol
I drew this to give clients an idea of what the rapid caricatures look like. At other times I accept commissions and work on them at home. These are finished in ink and watercolour.
Weddings are perfect for caricatures. There is always a lull between the ceremony and the wedding breakfast. This is usually when I am hired to entertain the guests. Each caricature has the wedding date and the bride & groom's names preprinted on the paper.
I have worked at a couple of high profile events throughout the years. The biggest, I suppose, was the Champions League final at Hampden park, Glasgow.
I also did some work for the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire's garden party at Chatsworth House, and worked at an event in Edinburgh Castle that Alex Salmond, Scotland's first minister was hosting, although on those particular occasions I was working as a silhouette artist.
Received a lovely letter of thanks from a customer whose wedding I worked at recently. It is always nice to receive feedback like this.
Hope you are well. I just wanted to thank you so much for
attending our wedding at Broomhall Castle on 28th April, we were absolutely
delighted with your work, the caricatures were absolutely brilliant, you capture
the details so well, and it kept our guests thoroughly entertained whilst we
had our photographs taken! Many friends and family have already framed their
pictures, a fantastic keepsake from our day! You are very talented and it was
lovely to meet you and have you there as part of our special day.
Going way back now. I did this woodburning portrait for a friend around the late eighties. The children in this picture are grown up now. In those days woodburning was my passion. I worked on commissions, doing portraits of dogs, cats, other family pets and people.
As you can see from this old newspaper clipping I was much younger then. My tools for the woodburning portraits were an electric soldering iron and any old scraps of birch plywood.
I stopped doing these pictures when I came to realise that over the years two things happened that were affecting the finished works. Over time, the scorch marks made by the soldering iron gradually bleached out, especially the lighter tones. I found that even natural daylight was doing this. The other thing that became a problem was that the birch plywood became darker as the years went on. Some of my earliest works had disappeared to a shadow. Couldn't find a solution for this problem, other than locking them away in a dark cupboard.
Pity about that, as they were so unique.
It has been a busy weekend so far. I must thank Nicole and Ross - and also Kirsty and Paul. Not forgetting their wonderful friends and families who have kept me busy over the last two days. It is the best feeling in the world for a caricaturist to hear laughter as you walk away from a group of guests.
I am so lucky to have shared your special day with you.
Off to Newcastle tomorrow for more of the same, hopefully.
I have always been a great admirer of Rolf Harris. Used to love watching his shows on TV. The things he could do with a 4" decorator's brush and some household paint!!!
I had the pleasure of seeing some of his artwork at close range on the last cruise that we were on. What a talent!
I was watching him on the TV again yesterday presenting a programme of art depicting a celebration of the Queens diamond jubilee. Again, he didn't fail to impress. I managed to catch a freeze frame from the programme. (The wonders of modern technology!) I cut a silhouette of the great man. Would love to meet him one day.
A mixture of two of my art journeys here. This is obviously a profile, but this time I have created a loose watercolour instead of my usual silhouette cut. The green cast of light on the lady's face was very tempting when I saw the reference photograph.
Lots of washing away to create lost edges, but her facial profile was kept sharp to create a focal point.
Looks like I will be adding lots more to this blog in the way of caricatures. My website is now no longer active, which is great news for all followers of www.glenapp.blogspot.co.uk
Watch this space . . .
This simple little watercolour of a sleeping child is another example of a minimalist style I have been using. The profile of the lower part of her face can be seen only by the shape it creates on her hand as she supports her head. I thinks its cute.
Kept the colour range to a minimum too.
This one is called Basin Street.
It is a mixture of Indian Ink work done with the fork as usual, and some watercolour. I was much heavier with my use of watercolour this time as I wanted to create a smoky atmosphere. I used earthy tones for the most part, but if you look behind the pianist's head you may see a colourful image of him drifting into the room. This is a mixture of the colourful music and his aura. That's what I tried to depict anyway.
We have been to New Orleans a couple of times now and have visited Basin Street itself. Not much there to see now except the Lafayette graveyard and the Basin Street Railroad station which is now a museum.
We did, however, visit the French Quarter and enjoyed some fantastic live music in the Bourbon Street Jazz clubs.
Another musically inspired piece. I am a big fan of Carl Orff's 'Carmina Burana. This little pen and wash sketch is my vision of the energy in that first measure of 'O Fortuna'.
This again was created with a broken plastic fork and a few light sweeps of watercolour.
Rhapsody in blue.
That was the title - the rest was easy. This little ink sketch was inspired by Gershwin's fantastic piano piece. Two sweeps of a flat brush were enough to indicate a grand piano. For the ink work, I used a plastic fork that I picked up at KFC's. After breaking off three of the four prongs I used the remaining prong as a nib. I deliberately set out to have an uncontrolled flow of ink on the paper. I wouldn't recommend this for calligraphy, that's for sure!
I did a series of these last year - all musicians. This one was my personal favourite.
I have posted this image recently in various locations but it is a favourite of mine at the moment, so here it is again! I began this watercolour by laying on various washes to establish the veil around her head. I ignored the skin tones initially, but began to gradually add one or two colours from the veil onto the woman's features - including the cadium orange on the right side of her face. Complimentary colours were to the fore again, much the same as my 'Claire' portrait from a little while back.
Plenty of juxta-positioning of warm against cool too. It all adds up to another bold watercolour portrait. Who said that watercolour paintings are 'wishy washy'?
This was an exercise in minimalism once again. Trying to play with the light and achieve the image of a couple of dancers with as few strokes as possible. Details were kept to a minimum. My intention was to do a whole series of this type of painting, but other projects took over.
Like the title??? Nothing to do with the gentleman in this painting. When I posted this on PMP (Paint my Photo), someone commented that they could see a rat sitting on the table below the map that the guy is holding. This is not the case of course. The dark shape is in fact his thigh and a small part of his shorts on view. Can't help but see the rat all the time now!
I have added a detail of his face so that this distraction is removed. This is another study in light. We all know that when painting with watercolour the white parts are nothing more than dry untouched paper, but there is a trick - a subtle one - but it works nicely.
Whites appear whiter when there is a bold darker colour placed next to it. In the same way, the bold colour appears even bolder when placed next to the white. 'Sparkle' is a term I have heard often in watercolour critique - and that is what I tried to achieve here.
A little boy playing with his toy trucks. This was painted with watercolour on UK A4 white card stock. I enjoy working on this surface. It is not as porous as watercolour paper. Unsure if the image will suffer some fading, but I have done a few of these paintings so I will monitor them over the coming months.
What is on display here is the basic tools of a silhouette artist. Note that there is no pencil or pen included. What you are looking at is a wallet sized folding card where the silhouette is mounted - a pair of surgeons scissors and a folded sheet of silhouette paper. (there are two in the the photograph).
The silhouette paper is black on one side and white on the other. I fold it black side in and cut the silhouette of my subject's profile on the white side. What I am really doing is 'drawing with scissors.' I am right handed, so much of the work is done with my left hand which is holding the folded paper. A silhouette artist spins the paper round in his/her fingers while the right hand operates the scissors.
The whole process takes around 90 seconds on average to perform. There are only a handful of working silhouette artists in the UK.
If you would like to learn more you can contact me at my website.
For all my followers, (and I really appreciate your support) I thought I would add something on the blog today that has not been seen anywhere else to date.
This is a commission I was given by a friend of mine. It is my loose watercolour version of a black & white photograph of his daughter proudly holding her infant brother. So this is the first view of one of my paintings. Up until now I have been displaying old work.
I am self taught as a watercolour artist and my approach was probably all wrong. I decided to work with the darkest tones first - quite the opposite of textbook approaches to portrait painting. The girl's hair blended into a dark background in the original photograph, so I kept that effect. It creates a strong diagonal composition which is echoed in the position of their features. The bottom left portion of the painting is kept pretty simple and doesn't draw the eye down.
Hope you all enjoy this, and I hope Marc does too!
Dogs are fantastic subjects to draw and paint. This painting of a beagle is titled 'Sad Eyes'. Easy to see why I chose that particular name. There is no doubt where the focal point lies. I have never owned a Beagle as a pet, but I did have a Boxer once. Their eyes are also very expressive.
Again, this has been influenced by Jean Haines' style.