Posted on 30 Comments

Back in the studio!

Finally, I managed to scale the steep steps to my attic studio! One step at a time. Holding on the handrails.

Ah, what pleasure it was to be back in the attic. It has a view out the back of the house. It is a great pleasure to look at the wooded parks and hills of West Swansea instead of the unrelenting concrete streets and terrace houses out the front of the house. I have a number of commissions to fulfill but I wanted to “warm up” with some small paintings first as I have been working with watercolours for the past two months. Here’s a selection:-

My first reaction to oil paint was how slow it all is in comparison with watercolours. With watercolours, most of the effort goes into planning and preparation and then the execution of the painting itself is quick. Putting oil paint on the canvas was more laborious that watercolours. I also had to rummage around for looking for the right sort of paintbrushes, a few times. I could not quite lay my hands on what I needed. But,  ah! The paint did what I thought it was going to do. What joy! If I changed my mind about a composition or decided that something did not work I could wipe it off the canvas. It did not reproach me for making a mistake by showing it to the world for ever! Nice!

Anyway, I sat down and started a series of new Donegal paintings. Here they are.

Painting of Donegal Cottage
Wee House on Gola, Donegal (SOLD)
Painting of Storm Clouds Over Inshbofin, Ireland
Storm Over Inshbofin, Ireland (SOLD)

Painting of The Two Tin-Roofed Sheds, Ireland

The Two Tin-Roofed Sheds, Arranmore, Ireland

Painting of house on Gola, Donegal, Ireland
Blue Door, Gola (SOLD)

Landscape Arranmore Ireland

The Old Stone Shed Arranmore Ireland

These paintings are from the past few weeks. I have also worked on two commissions. It has been slow work at times as I often need a lunchtime nap to keep my energy levels up. I do my rehab exercises several times a day which can be very tiring. On a positive note, I finally got to speak to a physiotherapist, Josh, who has been very helpful. He has posted exercises to me and giving me guidance on how much to do.  I can walk upstairs reasonably well, but downstairs one step at a time. When I get tired my ankle gets sore and I limp. I try and avoid that if I can.

What did I learn from watercolours? That I can and should edit and play around with compositions more. I simplified my images as much as I could. I changed the skies or left out an inconvenient house. I found this freeing and I brought an element of this to my oil paintings. For some reason, I have felt to need to be truthful to the real-life locations I painted. I realise now that I don’t have to. I can happily leave out a telegraph pole or a lamp post if it confuses the composition.

What do I miss about watercolours? The tidiness. Clean clothes and hands. The lack of chaos. The speed. The brushes that don’t wear out by the time you have finished a large painting. The lightness. They convey the lightness of birds better than oil colours. Also the convenience, I could pack away all my paper, paints, and brushes in one big bag. I am looking forward to using them outside when I can walk much longer distances!

Emma Cownie Artist
Painting in the studio with my leg up!


30 thoughts on “Back in the studio!

  1. Emma, congratulations for again being able to climb to your studio and for all you have achieved in aquarel-painting. I esp love the paintings of the birds. And good of you that you don’t need to paint what you see but that you can leave out composition-disturbing objects.
    I have also been thinking about the achillestendon. My muscle did krimp after the breaking of the ankle and that did give my many cramps a day after trying to stretch that muscle. I do have orthopedic shoes for I think 15-20 years now. So I asked the shoemaker if he could do something with my shoe to lessen the cramps. He could. He sort of sliced the innersole at the heel in two. To stretch my muscle I wear the normal innersole, if cramps are too much I add a little slice of the innersole, so my heel comes up about half a centimetre, so there is less tugging at the tendon. Maybe this can help you too. I do know they are sold online as little bags filled with gel.

    1. Thank you for the advice Cécile. I will keep working at the exercises for now. There is slow improvement, I just have tokeep working and be patient (Something that does not come natutally to me). I just read your post on CV-19. You are very good at summarising knowledge, I think you have been doing a lot of reading. You explained the point about humidity really well. Thank you

  2. Well done, Emma! At last! However, do not expect your ankle to revert to ‘normal’ for a while yet. Patience, and keep icing it if it hurts. Re watercolor, that’s why I mostly work on paper. If you don’t have a studio, oils are impossible. My kitchen is untidy enough without them!

    1. No, there’s no danger of my ankle feeling normal for a long time yet.Thank you for the warning. There’s nothing better than advice from someone who has experienced something similar!

  3. that’s such great news, Emma

  4. Glad you’re back and doing well, Emma!

    1. Thank you so much, Debbie

  5. So good to hear that you are gaining mobility and finally have some professional support. Wonderful that you are getting back into your painting again.

    1. Thank you, Leonie. Having professional support (even if its by phone) is great. It’s still all very tiring!

  6. Congratulations. – You made it. I can well imagine how good it must feel to be back in the studio.
    Love the work and the view of Table Mountain in Crickhowell which was the same view I had from my studio when I lived there. Enjoy 🙂

    1. What a wonderful view you had! Thank you Janet.

  7. Good to know you are back! I love the two tin roofed sheds! And I also love the little birds especially the robin!

    1. Thank you, Leueen. Yes, my husband really liked the robin too!

  8. It is so good to see you back in action! Your watercolor birds are delightful. I’m intrigued at the ways you’ve used this experience to grow. Judiciously leaving things out is something I try to do but find surprisingly hard.

    1. I think I realised that my watercolours just didnt work with too much detail, so I edited the compositions. They were very small too, so that limits what you can put in. I am trying to maintain that mindset with the oils.

      1. It’s funny you say that because I found I couldn’t do details in my foray into oils. I’ve abandoned them as of yesterday and have happily returned to my acrylics. It was a fun experiment but I wonder if I’ll ever get my studio clean again! Or my hands, for that matter…

      2. That is funny! I’d say – smaller brushes but acrylics are much less messy. I just find their ability to dry very quickly both really useful on the canvas/paper but also really annoying (if it on the palatte). How do you stop your palatte drying up?

      3. By using a covered palette I can usually keep using paint for a few days, and if needed I can mist it with water. It is a problem, though, I do admit. I understand there are products to extend its open-time, (don’t I sound like someone who’s been reading catalogs?) but I haven’t wanted to venture into them.

      4. Thank you – I have just looked up covered palettes. I will give them ago somet time.

      5. I hope they work for you. 🙂

  9. Great news, Emma, though that looks far from comfortable. 🙂 🙂 I really like that first watercolour of Three Cliffs. Advantages to both mediums, I guess. Take care!

  10. What an accomplishment! Glad to hear you are back in your happy place.

  11. Congratulations on getting back to your attic studio. Great to hear that you’re on the mend!

    1. Thank you,Annette. It’s a long slow affair!

  12. good to have you back Emma! You need one of those Acorn stair lifts!

    1. No, I don’t Wayne. I can go slowly one step at a time. I will get better at it!! lol!

  13. So glad you’ve made it back to the studio. I especially love landscapes with stormy skies.

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