Commission: Shadbolt Park


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27 June: First phase of  acrylic painting

I set myself up in the garden today for a spot of painting in the sun. I can see why a lot of people can be easily put off painting outside as you have to make do without things that are normally easy to grab hold of. There’s no table or shelves to put equipment on. The ground is not as flat as a room floor so balancing skills are tested.  Took me the best part of an hour just to get settled!

Adjusting my easel was very similar to putting up a deckchair – very fiddly. I Started drawing and wanted to rub a few lines out………couldn’t find the rubber. I’m sure I lost it last time as well. Back inside the house for that.

Went back in the house for water and then  after I had sat back down realised that I hadn’t cleaned my mixing palette from last time so back inside for that.Then found my water had fallen over but I had pre-empted this and brought a lemonade bottle full of water to refill. Sounds like too much hard work but if you’re like me you learn to persevere and once you get painting…….you need to go back inside for something else. No wonder things take so long.

Phase 2 – Used a table to put stuff on. A lot less hassle.

Today everything ran like clockwork. Set up quickly, managed to mix some good colours. I feel extremely happy with progress.

Phase 3 – Resorted to a plate and saucepan lid to mix colours on.

Got rid of the white areas and added lots of background details.

Phase 4 – Nearly complete?


I was having trouble with the tree shadow yesterday. Acrylics are not very forgiving, I miss working with watercolours.

I started again though and re-worked the shadow using a darker base colour.I’ve changed the grass colour too. It’s closer to what itshould be. I’m happy with the texture for the tree although it needs to be much much darker in places.

Not much to do now – I’ve blanked out the figure and selected another photo to work from. Then only the tree leaves and touching up here and there.

Phase 5 – One of those days. Sorted the shadow though!

Today everything was going fine and then I hit a brick wall. Nothing to do with progress of the picture. It was just a mixture of odd weather – wind and cloud, bit of rain bit of sun. When you work in a garden it’s hard not to block out various neighbourhood noises – Bin men emptying bottles, daytime radio, something that sounded like a punch bag being hit from the other, pigeons fighting and flapping wings ferociously, frogs and toads in next doors pond, someone’s gate banging in the wind , Some guy a few houses away humming a weird repetitive ditty and the local school had fire/police visiting which meant the siren was constantly sounding off like some kind of toy. Playing music to drown it all out wasn’t an option.

Who says the life of a painter is easy? It can be mentally draining. Spending large amounts of time by yourself with no idea how the painting will turn out or whether it will turn out good at all. Do professional artists get periods of Self doubt? Or does it disappear with experience?

I was also feeling tired from a bad nights sleep. I had a massive urge to have a break from painting. Iv’e been at it for 3 days solid and It seems that most of my energy has been zapped by trying to get the shadow and grass the right colour. The icing on the cake, the straw that broke the camels back was the figure. I’m worried that the figure will look really add on or child like. Or am I fussing over nothing. At this point I’ve contacted the person that commissioned – Let’s see if  I’m on track with what they want out of the painting.

Phase 6

It’s been a week since I last painted.  My creative time was non existent for various reasons so I decided to dedicate myself to finishing the Shadbolt painting. The last two days saw me still focusing on the grass and shadow, moving onto refining the leaves.

Bad light stopped play this afternoon just as I was getting into the grass texture. I’m not sure if I like what’s happened to the shadow.

Looks like I’ve gone back a step.  I can now see how the brighter grass colour towards the foreground works better.

I’m also still playing with the figure. The picture has taken another direction. Things that I see myself needing are: another layer of darker grass colour inside the shadow,   Nearest leaves bit too bright.

So close to resolving this……….

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