Posts Tagged ‘Art’

A ‘Cow-bus’ in Gex, France: a Digital Painting

Tuesday, July 13th, 2010

Jasmine (our African Grey parrot) and I used to go for long walks in the Gex countryside.  We saw all sorts of things and took loads of photos, which have since become a source of reference shots for paintings for the Gex book.  Well, I took the photos and did the walking, and Jazzy sat and climbed around in her backpack cage on my back, eating and looking around.

During one of our jaunts we came across some cows being transported to the fields for grazing.  During the winter the cows around Gex are kept in or near the barn, and during the late spring and summer they’re brought out to the pastures. ‘Cow-Bus’, (13″ x 10″) seems a good name for this painting.

Cow Bus Digital Painting by Nat Wildish

It was fun painting this.  Jazzy and I had a great time out that day.  It was so pretty everywhere, spring was vibrant with bright new flowers, butterflies, bees, insects buzzing everywhere, fresh air, and sunshine.

Jazzy was chatting away as usual, making impressive hawk sounds and generally commenting on things.  She liked to chat, sometimes she chatted in a continuous flow of non-stop, almost unintelligible words.  One time we were sitting at a bench and she was doing this. Someone got out of a parked car and crossed the street to ask if I had a radio on, and then discovered Jasmine.  Of course, Jazzy was delighted because then she was admired and soon someone else came and she had a crowd talking to her.  From then on, whenever she chatted like that (which was much of the time) we called her chatter: ‘radio Jasmine’.

Here you can see a more close-up view of the tractor window.  There’s quite a bit of detail in this painting.Cow Bus Digital Painting crop to tractor window by Nat Wildish

I’ve decided that I like detail, and perhaps more of a graphic-type look, rather than an overt so-called ‘painterly’ look, which often seems to translate to a more sophisticated look. I’ve had quite some difficulty trying to understand what style paintings I want to create, because I admire many different styles.  But I think I do best with a simpler expression, and it has been such a good feeling, almost a relief, to discover this.

This painting was painted using Corel Painter 11.


“Sunken Boat” Egg Tempera Painting

Thursday, June 10th, 2010

Here’s the egg tempera painting I finished recently:

Sunken Boat Egg Tempera Painting by Nat Wildish

Sunken Boat (18" x 7")

This is a boat in Greece that came upon hard times.  As is true for all the egg tempera paintings on my site, the colors are richer and the textures are more subtle on the originals, changing more gradually and fluidly than they appear here in jpeg form.

This was probably the most challenging painting for me of all that I’ve done so far.  I’ve been looking forward to tackling this one for a few years now.  It’s very nice to see a painting take shape that has been formulating in my head for so long and to see finally how it actually turned out.

I love the faded, yet still vibrant, colors on the boat and the glossy surface of the water.  Hopefully someone came to rescue this cute little boat so it could go places again.


‘Daisy Rock’ Egg Tempera Painting: Le Brevant, Chamonix France

Monday, April 19th, 2010

Le Brevant is a place on the peaks across the valley from the l’Aiguille du Midi and Mont Blanc.  Le Brevant is accessible by hiking up the mountain and doesn’t require any special equipment to manage it, but we prefer to hop on the cable cars to get up there!

Lake Le Brevant Chamonix France

The weather on the peaks can change quickly with clouds appearing rapidly, seemingly out of nowhere.  This is a view from Le Brevant looking across the valley in the direction of Mont Blanc, but the clouds have moved in.

Rocky terrain Le Brevant Chamonix France

It’s among these craggy landscapes that I discovered some daisies growing. And that’s what inspired this 12″ x 15″ egg tempera painting ‘Daisy Rock’:

Daisy Rock Egg Tempera Painting by Nat Wildish

It’s amazing how plants and even trees can grow amongst the rocks in what seems like a fairly inhospitable environment.

It turns out that this area has lots of wildlife and plants and is part of a nature reserve ‘Aiguilles Rouges’.  In the billboard below, the white area shows the nature reserve starting at Le Brevant which is down at the lowest point of the white area.  To see this closer up click on the image to see the text more clearly.Le Brevant Nature Reserve for Red Eagles

(As usual, click on any of the images to see a larger version.)

The lake contrasts with the rocky arid area up at Le Brevant and shines like a jewel.Closeup Lake Le Brevant Chamonix France

There are some very nice hiking paths along there too.

Looking round a little to the right of the lake you can see the rock shift gradually into greener slopes where it’s just that bit warmer lower down.Landscape View from Le Brevant Chamonix France

Looking even further, to the far right, there are spectacular jagged peaks, and this time the fog is rolling in and out giving the place an eerie feeling.Le Brevant rocky landscape Chamonix France

Closer inspection of the rocks shows them to be very interesting and the colors are beautiful.

Rocks Le Brevant Chamonix France

All sorts of things live among them.  I took a photo of a medium-sized black spider hiding in between the rocks, but I thought these daisies peaking out were a lot less creepy.

The fog started to dissipate and the mountains on the Mont Blanc side of the valley popped into view.Rocky View from Le Brevant Chamonix France

When it’s clear the view is fantastic.  You can see more of these views in the previous DweezelJazz Art blog post Egg Tempera Painting of l’Aiguille du Midi, Chamonix Mountains.View across Chamonix Valley from Le Brevant France

There’s a pleasant, though somewhat steep, walk down the mountain from Le Brevant – the ski route in winter.  Trees and grass replace bare rocks and the scenes are more gentle than those in the rugged beauty of Le Brevant peak, but even here flowers nestle among the rocks.  Beauty and life thrive even in the most awkward of places, perhaps making it all the more precious.Rock flowers Chamonix France


“Gex Door” Egg Tempera Painting

Monday, March 29th, 2010

There are beautiful little alcoves and doorways all round Gex, a hillside town in the Pays de Gex, Ain, France.  Walking around the streets higher up in Gex I caught sight of this doorway.  It struck me as a simple entrance, without pretense, and yet it has a nobility about it that makes you wonder if it’s the way in to some great hall or building of historical importance.  I don’t know whose home it is, or if the building has specific history to it, although being part of the old town of Gex is significant enough.

Gex Doorway Egg Tempera Painting by Nat Wildish

The painting is 12″ x 16″  (30 x 41 cm) and is done with egg tempera.  This painting will also be a part of the ‘Gex Book’.  I love the town of Gex and creating this book is my way of paying a small homage to that special place.  I think the best thing in life is to share beauty, and so I hope you enjoy it too.


Digital Painting of Gex Town Fountain, France, Using Corel Painter 11

Thursday, February 4th, 2010

Yesterday I finished another painting for the Gex book. Walking uphill on one of the main streets in Gex, there are wall-to-wall two to three story buildings hugging the sidewalk on either side of the street.  So it’s quite unexpected when, on the left, a small square opens up, and it’s possible to see the Jura mountains in the distance and in the square there’s a fountain with running water.Gex Town Fountain digital painting by Nat Wildish

I finally succumbed and tried Corel Painter 11, and this scene is painted with Corel Painter watercolor brushes.  It is really a very nice way to paint digitally.  I don’t find it easier than painting with normal paint brushes and pots of paint.  In fact for the style I’ve used in painting the Gex fountain, I find it’s much more time-consuming to paint digitally than with watercolor on paper.

This is the photo used as reference:

Gex Town Fountain

Gex Town Fountain

The ability to experiment without worrying about the cost of materials or if the painting will be ruined, allows much more room to let it flow and try different things. I tend to spend more time going after colors and light that I want to see in the painting.

It’s very nice not to have washing or clearing up afterward. This makes it much easier to start painting even if there is only a short interval of time available for painting.  I’m much more inclined to turn on the computer during those times than I am to dig out all the paints and brushes for a painting session.

When painting digitally, I paint pretty much how I would on paper, building up from washes to more detail.  I saved backups when I finished an area, so it doesn’t demonstrate much gradual buildup within any given area, but below is a sequence showing the progression in terms of which sections I tackled in what order (click on image to enlarge).Gex Town Fountain digital painting by Nat Wildish Progress Sheet

I highly recommend Corel Painter 11 for anyone wanting to paint digitally.  It’s potential seems limitless, and it’s very interesting to experiment to see what can be done with it.

Do you like digital artwork, or do you prefer traditionally created artwork? Which do you prefer to see? Which do you prefer to create? Why?  I’d love to know your thoughts.


Durability of Egg Tempera Paintings

Tuesday, January 12th, 2010

Egg tempera was a primary method of painting until it was superseded, in the 1500s, by oil painting.  Egg tempera paintings are extremely durable, and don’t darken with age as oil paintings do.  Evidence of egg tempera’s long-term durability can be seen in ancient paintings we still have today.  It was used by ancient Egyptians on sarcophagi and portraits; it was used by the ancient Greeks; all the surviving panel paintings by Michelangelo were painted with egg tempera.

DweezelJazz Art Egg Tempera Gallery Page 1

DweezelJazz Art Egg Tempera Gallery Page 1

A few days before Christmas I experimented with my egg tempera paintings to see how durable the method is when painted on paper, a process I’ve described in detail in How To Paint With Egg Tempera. I tested around 7-10 paintings, ranging in creation from several years to 6 months ago.

I found that for any painting over a year old it was possible, without damaging the painting, to:

  • rub a dry cloth across the painting
  • wipe the painting with a very heavily, dripping wet cloth

I wouldn’t recommend rubbing hard or wiping the painting with a very wet cloth in general, but it was a great way to find out if the paintings were durable, even if it was a somewhat risky test!

I also pushed my nail on the surface of the paintings and dragged it a centimeter or so, and to my amazement, no paint came off.  There was a small indentation on the painting where the nail had pressed hard into the surface, but it was otherwise untouched and the image was unblemished.

I discovered that it isn’t possible to do any of these things, without damaging it, to a painting that is less than six months old. Within six months of completion, it’s very easy to scratch or remove paint from the surface by rubbing it hard.

Luckily, it’s easy enough to fix scratches or blemishes if an accident occurs, by applying more paint, so that no damage or touch up is visible.

This turned out to be a very good thing one time when Jazzy, our african grey, decided she wanted to take a visit to the Maldives beach and finally (after many foiled attempts) managed to land on the painting when I wasn’t looking.

Jasmine took her job seriously as DweezelJazz Art mascot and she evaluated each painting.  She clearly had her favorites, because she would sometimes become obsessed with getting close to some of the paintings in particular, the Maldives beach being one of them! She skidded across the surface and created quite a bit of damage only a week after I had finished the painting. Fortunately, I was easily able to fix it and there are no traces of birdie tracks in the sand.Mirihi Egg Tempera Painting by Nat Wildish

The length of time it takes for an egg tempera painting to become durable will vary depending on environmental conditions. The best approach is to allow a year for the painting to ‘cure’ and set into the durable, long-lived, bright images that egg tempera paintings are renowned for.


How To Frame Egg Tempera Paintings On Paper Adhered To Glass

Friday, December 18th, 2009

I received an email from Juliet, an egg tempera painter, asking a really good question about framing and I thought I’d answer it here.  Here’s the question:

“I’ve been using egg tempera for a little while now (for religious icons) and I’m really hooked on the medium.  I’ve been casting around for a suitable support for more secular pieces which is less laborious than preparing gesso boards, and your way of adhering paper to glass is really interesting.  Do you find you have to frame your glass-mounted pieces afterwards or can they be hung as they are?”

The great thing about egg tempera paintings on paper adhered to glass, is that it allows for many options when it comes to framing. If you’d like to find out how the paper is adhered to glass, and why, the process is described in “How To Paint With Egg Tempera“.  I’ve framed egg tempera paintings successfully in the following ways:

  1. Hanging the glass just as it is with the painting on it (the glass used in this case is tempered glass, 4 mm thick).
  2. Framing the painting in a standard frame, in the same manner as an oil painting is framed.

If the glass is tempered the painting can be hung directly on the wall just as it is. The “Maldives Palm” egg tempera painting is hanging on our living room wall. The painting is hung with a fixture attached directly to the glass just like mirrors are often hung.  There’s card backing on the back of the glass.  You can see the result in the photo below.Maldives Palm Egg Tempera Painting Framed by Nat Wildish

A traditional frame could be added around the glass in whatever sizing appeals.  The flexibility of how these paintings can be framed leaves options open for a person to find whatever appeals to them. As you can see with the “Aguille du Midi” painting, it’s now possible to add a backing and/or a conventional frame around the painting.  Aguille du Midi Egg Tempera Painting by Nat Wildish

I originally used the same glass that is used conventionally in picture frames; this glass isn’t tempered and is thinner than the tempered glass. I used wheat paste to glue the 300 g/m2 watercolor paper to both sides of the glass in order to strengthen it. As the paintings become larger in size, care does need to be taken because the glass does flex when it’s in larger sizes. However, they are robust and don’t bend if they’re not set down on uneven surfaces.Portrait of a Horse Egg Tempera Painting by Nat Wildish
Portrait of a Horse” is one of the paintings done on normal glass and it has paper glued on both sides of the glass.  It has been propped against the wall on top of a cupboard with no ill effect. It could be framed in a traditional frame right over the edges of the painting with a solid backing to give it support, like the “Purple Flowers” painting shown here:Purple Flowers Egg Tempera Painting by Nat Wildish Framed

Another demonstration of the robustness of the paper on normal glass with paper adhered to both sides of the glass is the painting of the “Fisherman’s Bastion“, Budapest, which you can see in the photo is sitting on an easel without a solid support behind it.  This painting is 14″ x 18″ (36 x 46 cm), which is fairly large. It has been on display long-term like this and it works just fine.Fishermans Bastion Budapest Egg Tempera Painting by Nat Wildish

If you want to hang the glass just as it is, then it’s most definitely best to use tempered glass because this doesn’t flex even at larger sizes. I’ve put a lot of thought and experimentation into determining the best ways to frame the glass to ensure that the painting remains in perfect condition on a rigid surface.  If you have any questions or suggestions for other ways to frame the artwork, I’d love to hear from you.


What Does An Artist Need To Know In Today’s Technological World?

Tuesday, December 15th, 2009

This seems to be the time when ebook readers and very small portable computers are starting to really catch on, not to mention all the ways it’s possible to read content on smart phones.

I recently read an article, The End of Book Publishing As We Know It, on Michael Hyatt’s blog.  In  the article there’s a video showing a slim, portable, color-format reading device Time Inc has developed for magazine content.  It allows for audio, video and normal text print content to be accessed very easily all in one place at the touch of a finger.

Time (no pun intended) will tell just how much these new devices and combinations of media will affect the conventional publishing industry, but it is already true that the publishing industry is experiencing tremendous changes.

There are many new opportunities available for the individual in this evolving technical environment.  Software applications at relatively low prices have made it possible for individuals to learn how to accomplish things that used to only be possible for experts with very costly equipment.  One such area is the ability to print a book using, for example, Adobe InDesign or even one of the applications made freely available by online book printers such as Blurb.

The tricky part that comes with having direct access to performing these highly specialised tasks is that in order to create quality products there’s a great deal for an individual to learn.  It’s crucial to assess which facets will be important to forwarding one’s own work.  There are a variety of reasons for limiting just how much you intend trying to learn to do:

  1. learning a little of everything results in doing most things in a mediocre manner because there just isn’t enough time to truly develop more than two or three things fully and deeply
  2. time spent on one thing means less time spent on another which could be more important in achieving your goal
  3. you might end up spending much more time than you intended doing something you really don’t enjoy very much

So it’s really important to pick and choose what to learn, finding the balance that allows you to move forward with your goals, but doesn’t drain too much from your primary ambition and passion.

My primary passion is stories.  I think I could do without many things, but not stories, and stories with pictures, well, I just think that’s the ultimate.  I love movies, but have no interest in being directly involved in the film industry.  So I’ve been concentrating on understanding what it is about the visual elements that go into art that make it successfully communicative, and what elements are important to a story to make it really interesting and exciting.

I’m still experimenting with just how my passion will express itself in my art.  To try to get closer to this, I’ve been delving more deeply into color theory, composition, technique, and all types of art from fine art to illustration, cartoons, animation — everything I can set eyes on.  I’ve experimented with digital painting, and more watercolor and egg tempera painting techniques.

I have also been studying writing, visual storytelling and story-boarding, and am writing a couple of fiction stories to see where they go. For the more practical side of how to communicate the art, and possibly stories, during the last year I have completed courses in all of the Adobe Creative Suite applications.  My year’s subscription with Total Training will end on January 1st and so this spurred me to complete the InDesign and Illustrator courses during these last few weeks.  I have also studied web design, print design, composition, layout, and a little about typography.

So that’s it for the heavy-duty studying for me, thank goodness!  Now I need to develop my artwork so that it expresses my passion – and I’m not quite sure what that is yet in terms of style or subject.  I think it might be bound up in expectation, and if I can let that loose, my style should just be there. When I write I have no expectation and my writing style seems to be there just simple and unsophisticated, for better or worse.  I haven’t yet reached that with the art.

So here’s to the New Year, bringing new discoveries and challenges.  If you have any comments on what you think it’s important to learn in today’s environment, and/or if you have any advice on reaching your own style, I’d love to hear them.


Pen and Ink Sketches

Friday, November 13th, 2009

I’m trying my hand at pen and ink sketches. I have tended to avoid drawing people, so that’s mainly what I’m concentrating on just now. It’s turning out to be a great deal of fun, not to mention challenging.Ink Sketch of Fellow by Nat Wildish

I choose scenes from dvds for movies we’ve watched recently, so that I don’t spoil a movie for the next viewing of one that we haven’t seen in a while.  (I love movies).  Ink Sketches by Nat Wildish

Sketching from dvds also provides a perfect opportunity to study the composition and layout of scenes and shots. How does the camera focus on the person in the scene? What is shown in addition? Where are the people placed and where are they relative to one another? There are so many tips to learn from directly just by doing this, which is great for honing skills to create works of art that excel in visual storytelling.

Here’s a closer look at the top sketches… (As usual, you can click on the images for larger view.)Ink Sketches by Nat Wildish

In the past, I have often thought I should sketch, and on a couple of occasions I made feeble starts at it and gave up. This time I’m going all out – and the experience is so much fun that I can surely recommend doing it.  Even my previous short forays into sketching just for the sake of sketching have contributed to helping me get going this time. Every little bit helps….

Ink Sketches by Nat Wildish

If you were hesitating about whether ‘to sketch or not to sketch’, give it a try!

Just let go, don’t worry about bumbling it (you can always hide those – I do) and go for it. I’d love to hear from you if you sketch, or if you have any thoughts or suggestions on sketching.


Gex Town Hall Watercolor Painting and More for the ‘Gex Book’

Friday, October 30th, 2009

Here are a couple more watercolor paintings for the Gex book.  The first one shows the side of a house with roses growing along the wall beside a window.Roses Gex Farmstead Watercolor Painting by Nat Wildish

I really liked the wild, free, rugged beauty the place has.  It’s part of an old farmstead in the countryside on the outskirts of Gex.  In a previous post, Walking In The Pays de Gex, France, you can see photos taken in the same area, and there’s also a photo taken on this same farm of a tractor with ducks and geese all round it.

The painting below is of the Marie, or Town Hall, of Gex. Front View of Gex Mairie Watercolor Painting by Nat Wildish

I love the variety of colors used to paint buildings in this part of France.  The buildings are often painted in pale pastels, and occasionally, as in the case of the Town Hall, they’re a bit more vibrantly attired.