Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Latest Commission - Kane

I've just completed my most recent commission, a pet portrait, something I haven't done in a while mainly because my confidence was low after a couple of failures. My main failings have been using a different style every time and working from photos I should really refuse. Luckily this was a short-haired boxer dog which has strong features and no tricky long fur.

I only had a single image to work from which wasn't a bad photo but was of low resolution so not particularly sharp and difficult to extract much detail from when zooming in. When scaling up  as in this case it helps to have as much detail as possible otherwise too much guesswork makes it difficult to make a representation of the character of the particular animal; the client requires a likeness of a much-loved pet rather than a generic image.

But I thought this still good enough to do a decent job, and set about the task by first of all drawing in as much detail as I could in pencil, then a light watercolour wash to set a gauge for the tone of the light and dark areas.
At this stage I wasn't particularly happy with the way it was working out and was quite prepared to start again, but persisted by inking in over the pencil marks and graded the shading using dots of varying sizes and intensities.
Stronger watercolour washes then followed which masked a lot of the inkwork and I'd somehow managed to pull it around, so finished off with Coloursoft pencils for highlights, a bit of texture and blending.
After sending the client an image for approval I had to make a few slight adjustments to make him just right, (eye colour is especially difficult to judge in photos) and here he is :

watercolour, ink and coloursoft pencils.
The client was more than happy with the finished portrait and to be honest so was I, so with confidence restored and technique perfected I might opt to do a few more in the same style.             

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

A Grand Day Out . . .

The FoRK (Friends of Red Kites) Anniversary event at The Sage on Saturday was a grand success from beginning to end, with a wide variety of art and music celebrating not only the success of the re-introduction programme so close to urban communities, but the feeling of pride those communities have in 'our' red kites.

On arrival, the first kites I noticed were these mobiles dangling all along the overhangs, made by pupils of Rowlands Gill Primary School, where my own kids go. They looked great.

Setting up my own display of (mostly) red kite related artwork I was flanked by a floral portrait image of a red kite made by Rowlands Gill florists Flowers by Design, and on the other side was a display by Derwent Valley glass artist Rena Holford of Hagghill Farm. Beautiful glasswork kites have become her speciality, and I recommend a visit to the Studio and café at Hagghill farm for a relaxing cuppa overlooking the local landscape and a look at her animal inspired glass sculptures (open Fri-Sun).

The Friends of Red Kites had a few of their own displays, the photographic record of the giant 'tiled' kite taken at  landmarks around the region in the 'Flight of the Kite' exhibition (and incidentally the kite was assembled once again and on display outside the eastern entrance of The Sage). Also a display of prize-winning photographs, poetry and writings by local people inspired by the kites and probably the most enjoyable display of all was a collection of paintings and drawings of red kites by local primary school children, covering four massive display boards. A visual treat, the naivety of the images coupled with the effort and obvious pride in the kites was a joy to behold. Lovely stuff.

There were plenty of FoRK volunteers on hand with information, chat, a membership table and a sale of specially made greetings cards of the Flight of the Kite, which regretfully I forgot to purchase.

The RSPB too were on hand with a display partly dedicated to the plight of the Hen Harrier. I had an enlightening conversation with one of the enthusiastic young volunteers and signed enough petitions to become a Hen Harrier Hero myself. It's great when youngsters show such passion about conserving wildlife and are actively trying to do something about it.

Music in the display area was provided by primary pupils of Amble First School, and a superb Folk set by the Stocksfield Stompers, themselves aged only between 6 and 16.

The main event in Hall 2, two fantastic performances of 'On Red Kite Wings' were presented by ex-Tyne Tees weather girl Trai Anfield, who now presents BBC radio 4's The Living World, heads a production company and is patron of FoRK. As you would expect she did a fantastic job of fronting the concerts, and had also produced an excellent film about the red kites which played during part of the performance.
The concert itself consisted of a performance of Haydn's First movement of String Quartet in C major (The Birds) and then three competition winning compositions based on the Red Kites, all superbly played by the Royal Northern Sinfonia, and finally another rousing performance by the Stompers.
Both performances of the concert, which were dedicated to the late Leonard Atkinson, husband of FoRK stalwart June who was heavily involved in making the day a success, played to a packed hall.

On a personal note I renewed some old acquaintances and made some new ones, spoke about kites, art and wildlife all day, and was even filmed for the anniversary documentary, (though my performance might be better suited to You've Been Framed.)

Yours Truly with a table full of red kites (and more)

My yacht parked outside and ready to take me home
(yeah right, in your dreams dude)

Congratulations to all involved, great to see such enthusiasm. Pride was the theme of the day and it's great to see the future of our kites is in such good hands.     

Thursday, 3 July 2014

On Red Kite Wings - Sage, Gateshead.

This Saturday (July 5th) sees the 10th Anniversary Celebration of our Red Kite re-introduction at The Sage in Gateshead.

Two concerts of specially composed music will be performed by the Royal Northern Synfonia Orchestra, and I, (among others) will be displaying a table of wares showing what the Red Kites have meant to me over the past decade ie I'm showing some framed prints of work old and new, plus a few character birds, including my new Red Kite.

 Looking forward to it, should be quite an occasion.

  It's Open from 11am - 6pm so anyone in the area pop in, plenty of displays to see and you can even have your face painted. All takes place in the concourse opposite the café.