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Still life paintings

Still Life Painting
Private Conversation

This will be a short post as I am nursing a painful left elbow on an ice pack. I developed bursitis on Friday, I am not sure why as I didn’t hit my elbow on anything but too many sun salutations in yoga is my number one suspect.

We have had a lot of really bad weather lately. We seem to be cantering our way through the alphabet of storms: Atiyah, Brendan, Ciara, Dennis, Ellen, Francis etc. This means I have rarely left the house, except to buy food, walk the dogs in our local park or to go to a yoga class, although yoga will be out of bounds until my elbow recovers now.

So, whilst Storm Ciara was blasting her way overhead, a couple of weeks ago, I decided to set up a number of still life compositions to work from. I had painted a number of largish canvases (80x60cm) and felt in wanted to paint something smaller for variety’s sake, and also something that I could complete in a short (gloomy) day.

My past forays into Still Life painting explored paleness/whiteness, and they were largely inspired by the work of Morandi. These were medium-sized paintings. I liked the calmness of the plain backgrounds.

In this short series of paintings, I was more interested in colour. I was particularly inspired by a patterned cloth that my husband, Seamas, had found in a charity shop many years ago. I liked the warmth of the colours.

This was my first painting. I liked the way the colours of the flowers chimed with the fruit on the plate.

Still life with Patterned Cloth
Still life with Patterned Cloth

I think my second painting was better probably helped by better light on the day that I painted it.

Still life with patterned cloth #2
Still life with patterned cloth #2

Then I decided to focus on the fruit. A tiny slice of it!

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A Slice of Lemon (SOLD)

Then finally a more traditional composition with a cup and red cloth. I have noticed before how I am drawn to painting reds in winter.

Blue cup with Lemons
Blue cup with Lemons

The bright colours in these paintings cheered me up. Having completed this short series I felt ready to return to large canvases and more muted tones.

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Anatomy of a commission

Hudson Cropped
Hudson the Poodle

Here’s Hudson the black poodle. He’s a handsome chap. I was asked to paint a picture of him. Pretty straight forward, eh?

Well, the challenge was that the commission required that Hudson was to be portrayed not in this rural idyll but in New York City, waiting outside Malecon coffee shop where his owner popped by every morning for her coffee. Hudson is one of those super cool dogs that will just wait. He does not need to be tied up.

 

I was provided with a couple of photographs of the said restaurant but there were a couple of issues that needed dealing with. Take a look.

Firstly, there were signs and bicycles in the way of the front of the shop. There was no clear view. So I googled the restaurant in the hope that I might find some more useful photographs online.

Several photos of Malecon restaurants in different locations in NYC. The second problem is that Hudson in the original photos was sitting in grass and I could not see what sort of tail he has and what happens to it when he sits down, whether he tucks it under or not. So I searched for some poodles images. Did he have a long or short tail?

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Hudson sitting on the lawn

So I spent a morning using a photo editing program called Gimp (an open source version of Photoshop) and adding poodle tails, taking out bicycles and playing around with compositions.

I finally decided that I lived the photo with the lit interior best. I thought the lights would make a more interesting image. I had a problem deciding where to place the dog as he was black and would not stand out against the dark background. Initially I placed him to one side in front of the plant container but finally settled on in the foreground so that he was the main focus of the picture.

So I send this final image to the customer to check that she’s happy with the composition and I have the right sort of tail for Hudson before I make a start painting. I also got her to agree to a rectangular canvas, rather than a square one, that way I could fit the dog and all of the shop front in easily.

My final problem is that I added a shadow to the dog to give the picture a more dynamism but there were few, if any shadows in the photos I had. I so searched the internet again for reference images.

 

So I did a lot of thinking about the likely direction of shadow that the awning would likely cast and the length of the shadow, drawing lines on the image I’d sent to the customer. So once, I decided on these things and also kept in mind the information I had in the original photos I got started. I began with the letters of the restaurant name as I this was the element that I was most concerned to get right. Once I had painted these in, I relaxed and enjoyed the work. As I was using a small canvas (41 x 33 cm) it was easy to turn and paint upside-down, side to side as well as right side up. Overall, allowing for dying times, the work was done over three days.

This is what I painted.

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Hudson, New York

If you are interested in finding out more about a commission, click here

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Fish and Chips in the Uplands

Painting of Nightime Urban scene.
Night Jacks (SOLD)

 

Delighted to have Sold this classic “urban folk” painting “Night Jacks” to a collector in Utah in the US via Artfinder !

“The title of this expressionist “urban folk” painting takes it’s title from Hopper’s “Night Hawks” – I have “Britishized” Hopper’s painting which was set in an American diner by using a British alternative or even equivalent the ever present Fish and Chip shop instead as it seemed appropriate. The second part of the title, Jacks, refers to a name we have here in Swansea for people who come from Swansea.”

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The Cloud Vanishes

 

Delighted to say I have just SOLD the painting “The Cloud Remains” via Artfinder !
Now off to live in Leicestershire, England!

https://www.artfinder.com/…/emma-cownie/product/the-cloud-…/

“This painting is of the straggling wisps of cloud left on the hills in the Black Mountains after a passing storm. It was an amazing scene, this steam-like vapour rising out of the backs and humps of the hills. It looked as if the hills had just had a shower and the appearing sun was drying them off. I loved how the low lying clouds combed the trees and hedges as they floated past. The sun, shining through to illuminate this effect, seemed also to grow patchworks of colours from the fields around the surrounding landscape, as if the light was a nurturing spectral beam. The colours in the Black Mountains after the weather breaks on the hills are heavenly and this is what I hoped to convey. ”

the cloud remains005

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Night Jacks

new oil painting – 80 x 60 cm, £479 – “Night Jacks”

“The title of this expressionist “urban folk” painting takes it’s title from Hopper’s “Night Hawks” – I have “Britished” Hopper’s painting which was set in an American diner by using a British alternative or even equivalent the ever present Fish and Chip shop instead as it seemed appropriate. The second part of the title, Jacks, refers to a name we have here in Swansea for people who come form Swansea.”

night jacks IMG_7494
Night Jacks (SOLD)
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Enchanted Wood – a Gower painting

Delighted to say I have just SOLD “Enchanted Wood” direct via my website http://emmacownie.artweb.com – now off to live in Derby, UK!

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Enchanted Wood

“This is a painting of a most enchanted wood, halfway between Ilston and the Gower Inn in the Parkmill area of Gower peninsula in Wales. These woody areas, as many artlovers will have realised by now, are a constant source of inspiration for much of my refractionist and post-refractionist work. This pine wood lies on one side of a bridge with ancient woodland on the other, the contrast between the knarled, mossy twisted ancient branches of the ancient wood across the bridge in clear contrast to the straight, textured, orderly pine trees this side of the bridge. In fact, crossing this bridge gives one a heightened sense of having moved from one region or realm to another, adds to the feeling of having been transported somewhere different.

This is the inspiration for this painting, this feeling as we view the clear late October light falling across this woodland path. I tried to catch the fact that the path is covered in layers of pine needles, mulched to make the most soft and slightly bouncy carpet of needles. It is these needles, layers heaped and heaped on each other that softens the light and gives it texture, catches the light in its soft grasp, making it almost fluffy. The carpet of pine needles fall to create a complete deadening of noise in this wood which is quite a beautiful affect, this complete silence. This adds to the wood’s sense of enchantment. The silence makes this almost a world apart, a secret quiet place to escape to and roam and explore and enjoy as a child. It is a great escape to somewhere unusual and oddly mystical. Enchanted even…”

The painting has sold but you can buy a large limited edition mounted print here

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Autumn Beckoned – a Brecon Beacons painting

Delighted to say I have just SOLD “Autumn Beacons” via Artfinder – now off to live in Worcestershire!

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“Oil painting of mountains in the Brecon Beacons, autumn-coloured purple by the weather-coarsed heather”.

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Farm under the Velvet Mountain – a Brecon Beacons Painting

Farm under Velvet Mountain501
Farm under Velvet Mountain (SOLD)

This is an oil painting of the Table Mountain in Mid Wales. I painted this because I loved the colours of blues, turquoise and purple which blend pleasingly with the blue-greens and terracottas of the trees and land.

Nature unearths such lovely rich colours and casts them wide in lovely complementary chromatic patchworks.
I would say this painting is inspired like so many of my mid-Wales landscapes by one of my favourite painters, Robert Bevan, whose landscapes have influenced how I paint this type of hilly upland landscape as opposed to the landscape I paint of Gower Peninsula which is usually in my own unique refractionist style which in itself influenced by expressionism.

I love the idea that colour expresses emotion, transports and alleviates the self and a creates an emotional response to a place depicted in a painting. Ideally I like to transport the viewer to the place so that the viewer somehow feels they are there or have been there in some sense. That is somehow familiar to them. In this painting I hoped to transport one to soft lazy warmnesss of summer in the fields of Mid Wales. The velvety feel of the Table Mountain helps heighten this feeling of softness. The warm summer breeze can often give this sense of snoozy softness and I hope some of this is conveyed in this painting with the manicure trees like hairdryed Bouffants and the dusty dryness of the terracotta.

 

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Grey Clouds over Black Mountain – a Brecon Beacons painting

Brecon Becons Painting
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Grey Clouds Over Black Mountain (Oil on Linen Canvas 100×80 cm) 

This oil painting is of an area that inspires many of my landscapes, the Brecon Beacons in Mid Wales.
Unlike most of my other landscape paintings of the Beacons which paint areas of the Black Mountains, this painting is on the opposite side of the central Brecon Beacons from the Black Mountains, in an area called, somewhat confusingly, the Black Mountain.

The Black Mountains are more rural and more farmland dotted whereas parts of the Black Mountain are quite desolate and coarse in their moorland bleakness. One area seems generally more cultivated compared to the wildness of the other. This is why I love both in different ways. I love the Carmarthen Fan as this is more wild and unkempt although this soon gives way to the farm lands and patchworked fields like the other side of the central Beacons, as the earthy colours of agricultural Carmarthenshire also slide down the sides of these great glaciated monuments and into the the dim distance as they do on the other side too.

I love to convey some of this “giving way” to this naturally quilted farm land from these hard glaciated rocks of the Black Mountain in this painting. From the sandy fair illusion of softness in the far heights to the lush fruity colours in the near distance. I have also attempted to show the wondrous movement of clouds one experiences throughout the Brecon Beacons too, rolling their awesome way like herds of fluffy sky giants, tickling the tips of hills and caressing scarred ridges as they go. The movement of these ever-changing clouds over hills and mountains produces this amazing silverly grey light that when illuminated by the peeping, fleeting sun makes everything more more clear and the depth of perception much deeper.

It appears to hold everything in is wrapped clear focus. Almost magnifies the clarity of our onlooking vision. This makes the foreground colours deepen and seem more rich. It is a particular feature of upland Welsh areas, this brilliant luminescent light. Always changing and bestowing it’s chromatic good fortune on whatever it traverses.

Buy here 

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Fresh October Morning

 

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Fresh October Morning (SOLD)

This oil painting returns to Gower for inspiration. The area painted is further upstream from the earlier “Ilston” series”. I wanted to paint more of an expanse behind the trees and brook to give a heightened expression of that fresh, crisp, nose tingling feeling of early morning in late October.

 

The background morphed into burnished orangy-purple hills, perhaps unconsciously inspired by the rustic settings and autumnal colouring of the “Group of Seven” paintings and Tom Thomson in particular. I want the viewer to gasp, full lunged, the fresh air when viewing this painting.

Buy large limited edition woodland prints here