June 26, 2010
I have a lot more poppies in the pipeline, as usual I am working on multiple images and am currently on a spree with these red beauties. Which got me thinking about what to do next. I am kinda done with flowers, or maybe not. Want to do something else, maybe some still lifes. I might just pick up my old pear references and just try them differently with the knife. After all, there are endless ways to look at the same subject and I might render the fruits a little differently. Or I might try a completely new subject altogether. Nothing is concrete as of yet. I have somehow lost the interest to do landscapes and do not see myself doing one for the near future. I have a couple of landscapes that I started lying around incomplete. I don't feel like going back to them, no drive. Maybe I am not yet comfortable doing a landscape with the knife. I need more practice, that's for sure. I'll probably complete them with the brush.
Without worrying about what next, I am thoroughly enjoying the poppies for now. Hope you do too :) Let me know what you think.
June 25, 2010
June 23, 2010
I'd like to believe that the coneflower isn't as varied as an Iris, or a rose in offering myriad painting possibilities. There is some scope however, and I am just looking to explore it a bit. My perspective would probably change if I got to see them in person, but then with only photos as sources for references, the images that I have are quite limited and I am just getting to them one by one. There are a couple of more to come, not many though. Let me know what you think of this one.
In the meadow
Palette Knife on board, 5 by 7 inches
© 2010 Nithya Swaminathan
June 22, 2010
Been a long time since I did a still life, isn't it?! I've been so full of flowers of late that I haven't done anything else in quite some time. I was feeling like starting a still life, so finally! The set up was done and photographed over size months back. We moved houses last November and I picked up this vase from Ikea. I loved the color and wanted to use it in a still life, apart from using it for home decor. I also picked up a couple of stalks of hydrangeas. So these aren't real flowers after all! :-)
Since most of my still lifes so far have been only with fruit and/or fabric, I wanted to bring in some change in this one and so decided on the vase as the point of focus. Also had some plums with me at that time and I just strew them around casually just like that. And introduced a piece of lace cloth too. I love painting lace, and haven't painted it after my Apples and Lace. So far as I have mentioned quite a few times already, I have photographed all my set ups only in broad daylight. This one is a departure from that too. I shot this reference with a very dim light, almost creating the effect of a candle light.
I had actually started this piece soon after I photographed it, but it was lying untouched all these months. I had just done an outline and had barely started blocking in some color when I got distracted with doing other subjects. It occurred to me couple of days ago that this one was unfinished and I could try it now with textures. When I had kept it aside it was progressing with a brush only, but then I just picked it up this morning and gessoed it completely. I am weird that way, I could've took off from where I left, but the progress thus far did not really appeal to me now. So decided to start afresh and started completely with the knife. I think it has a couple of more hours of work left, I hope to complete it tomorrow.
This is also my biggest still life after Apples and Lace, which was also the same size. Let me know what you think of this one, how you like it so far. And, there is something more interesting coming up along with this piece, which I do not want to reveal now. Stay tuned.
June 18, 2010
I love coneflowers, something about their unique color that really attracts me. The magenta-purple petals with the orange center make it a riot of color, and extremely pleasing visually. But I don't think they grow in this part of the world. I could be wrong, but I haven't seen them here at all. The whole of spring I spent a great deal of time observing plants and their buds. It gave me a big kick in identifying what flower the bud corresponded to. I could identify only peonies, roses and the irises of course. With the other blooms I'd be guessing what flower it could be, and will be taken by surprise. :) It was great fun, and next year I am sure I can identify most of them before they blossom.
This painting is from a reference in the WetCanvas image library. It seemed to me like someone lost in her own world and thoughts and that explains the title. These days, what appeals to me most about the coneflower is that it is a pleasure to do with the knife. Let me know what you think, and yes, there are a few more to come. :)
This is a painting of a little poppy in a nearby meadow. Backside of a little poppy to be precise. I loved painting this one. I have titled it thus as it reminds me of my child, when she turns away from us when she is angry. These days, my little one speaks pretty good German and fights with us in German too. If we say or do something that she doesn't like, she goes away saying "Ich bin niemehr deine Freundin", which means "I am no more your friend!" That is exactly what was in my mind as I painted this. As though the little flower was asking me to give a break to clicking and just get away :-) However, whether the flowers like it or not, I ain't giving up clicking so soon, do not worry.
Only the flower has been rendered with the knife, and the background is done with the brush. Though I aim to have a semi abstract look with all my textured florals, I like it to border realism. That's why I have kept the background as realistic as I could, by using the brush. This also makes sure that the foliage does not compete for attention with the flower, but is strong enough to get the attention it warrants.
This is the first of a series of poppies, there are many more to come :-) Let me know what you think.
June 17, 2010
After having painted a zillion irises, how could I not do one from my favorite angle, the top view? This one was a total blast, I like the abstract effect it gives, compared to all the others that mostly seem realistic. I just randomly played around with the colors and stopped just like that. This was done from a reference in the Wetcanvas image library. I had never closely observed an Iris prior to the spring this year, so forget looking at it from the top. So this was done at a stage when I had no knowledge of how this lovely flower would look seen from above. If I do it now, I might do it a bit differently. But then, that approach as abstract shapes would be lost and I would be trying hard to make it look like an iris. I like it this way for now :-) Let me know what you think.
I recently redesigned my blog template, completely customizing it to my liking. And it is now at a stage where I am pretty pleased with it. I manage my email subscriptions via Mailchimp, and since it allows template customization, I thought I would design it similar to my blog. Just to maintain a uniform look and feel. Of course, I wonder how many readers actually read the blog by landing on this page, but that's another story. I wanted to have a consistent look and feel and went with it. But when I opened the blog posts in my mail I realized that it wasn't a great idea. What appealed to me on a web page looked pathetic in my mail. I did not like it at all. So I will be reverting the email newsletter to a white background soon. Changes are in order :-)
On another note, I am very very pleased with Mailchimp and would strongly recommend it to anyone looking for a email marketing option. I was the only who was under a rock actually. After I signed up with Mailchimp, I just noticed that a lot of my website subscriptions use them already. I am the one who is a late adopter. It is great nevertheless. I love the feature of being able to schedule exactly when your mail will go out, makes it consistent. And there are a lot many features.
The painting above is yet another iris, boy do I ever get tired of them! Let me know what you think :-)
June 15, 2010
After doing all those flowers in the small 5 by 7 format, I finally had the courage to plunge into a larger one. Till a week ago, there were huge poppies all over my neighborhood, and the red color just called out to me. I love anything red and this is no exception. More so when it is bathed in the morning sunlight. I generally photograph all my floral references in the morning light.
Everyday after I drop my daughter in the kindergarten, I take a little walk around with my camera. Until recently, I used to drop her in my bike and get back quickly. But of late, my little one has started cycling to the kindergarten. Oh yeah, my tiny girl is big enough to cycle by herself now! So on our way, we go chit chatting about the flowers all around and one my way back I pause to click them one by one. Many a time I take a detour and get more references out of my way too. I have to really give it to the Germans, the way they maintain their gardens just blows me away. Each garden is so impeccably crafted and so colorful. This was from one such garden near where I live.
While I have seen poppy fields in paintings and poppies grow in a big group, I had never seen huge poppies like this one. This is not from a group of flowers, just one or two of them that are as big as my face perhaps :-) I thought they were perfect to tackle on a large canvas and went ahead. Though I had quite a few references, the lighting in this one was what I was most pleased with and hence started with it. Might do more of the big poppies from my other references. Let's see.
This painting is heavily textured, as I have first done the flowers with heavy acrylic gel. The canvas has been primed with black gesso and then the initial textures sculpted with gel. I have then painted the whole image largely with the palette knife. I did not use the gel on the foliage, as I wanted the flowers a little more three dimensional than the foliage. The leaves are just done with the knife and are sufficiently textured.
I have also given some detailed views, to get a better idea of the textures and color. Do take a look and let me know what you think.
June 9, 2010
There are so many motivational articles, marketing related blog posts etc shared on twitter that some of them trigger blog posts in themselves. I just read Lori's blog on Fineartviews, about finding your own style and left a lengthy comment there. Then I felt I might as well have blogged it, as my individual style is something I am still in the process of discovering, in this life long journey.
The first ever time that I even thought of something called a "style" was upon reading some blog posts in author Maggie Stiefvater's old art blog. She used to write a lot about style and that was when I gave some serious thought to the idea that my work should be identifiable as mine. If this was about 4 years back, my work has evolved considerably since then. There was a time when I used to aim to do only realistic painting. Most of the art that I was used to seeing was realism, and that's what fascinated me the most. But, my work was not mature enough as most of the outstanding realists, and I was always demotivated. I don't need a reason at all to get demotivated, but that's a different issue altogether.
The first ever forum that I used to hang out in WetCanvas was the colored pencils forum. It was due to sheer curiosity of using colored pencils as a medium for serious artwork. I had not seen it before and was stunned by the work there. I even tried my hand at colored pencils and loved it. Most of the artists were working in a realistic style with colored pencils, as the medium is awesome for rendering details. I thought that's what I wanted to do too! Due to unavailability of a lot of brands of colored pencils in India, and suitable supports, it took a backseat and I began to focus just on Acrylics. Acrylics over oils because of the versatility and the fast drying properties.
The Acrylics forum in WetCanvas then became my second home of sorts. It has some of the most talented artists, most of whom have been painting for longer than I have lived :D And, they're all awesome to interact with and ever helping. With a medium as supremely versatile as Acrylics, I was seeing all kinds of art everyday - extremely detailed photo realism, realism, textured abstract pieces, fauvism, painterly pieces done en plein air, and so on. The list is endless. I was exposed to a much wider variety of styles and that's when something very important struck me - that Art to me fell into a few broad categories.
The first category was work that fascinated me but I do NOT see myself doing it personally. Both extremely detailed realism, and abstracts fall into this category for me. Neither do I harp about minute details endlessly, nor can I paint something entirely from my imagination. But, I admire both. I love seeing abstracts and would hang one in an instant. The second category of art is one that fascinates me, and also makes me want to paint like that. The third one is art that does not appeal to my senses at all, so let's leave it at that. The second type of art is thus the most important, and that's where I see myself in future.
Even wanting to pursue a particular style, only comes by looking at more art. And also understanding that you may NOT be great at pursuing all the types of art that you admire. I wonder how many of you will agree with me, but to me, there is a clear line between artists whom I admire and artists who inspire me. And my focus is mostly on those who inspire me. I have a big list of painters in WetCanvas who're my favorites, and I open their threads with an extra bit of enthusiasm. The way they look at subjects fascinates me. And so my style continues to evolve.
I have also discovered that I do not want to restrict myself by subject matter. I don't think I ever will, as I enjoy painting a huge range of subjects. Animals are something I'll probably never do, but I love painting anything else. Color is what excites me, and I will continue to paint a lot of subjects that have strong color usage, contrasts, shadows and the likes. I have overcome my huge mental block that I do not have a delicate enough hand to do florals, by doing so many florals that are far from delicate but definitely identifiable as mine. I think that's the key, to just follow your heart and discover what you love painting. It is very important that you first love what you do, the question of a collector loving it is secondary. If you don't love what you do, a collector may not either. If on the other hand you continue to do what you love, I believe your style will by itself find you :)
This painting above is a work in progress, I hope to complete it by the weekend. It is pretty big, 20 by 28 inches. After all those little florals with so much texture, I finally plunged into a bigger one. With the irises gone and poppies in bloom everywhere, I took a lot of photos of these gorgeous flowers and I just had to do one. I hope to follow it up with more poppies in the smaller format too. Let me know what you think.
June 8, 2010
© 2010 Nithya Swaminathan, Germany
June 7, 2010
© 2010 Nithya Swaminathan, Germany
June 6, 2010
Though I have google analytics installed and all that, I hardly check it. I don't bother much about page visits and stuff coz I believe my blog is mostly read on Facebook, viz the notes and Networked blogs. So harping about blog visits or SEO doesn't really excite me. I logged into analytics after some ages to find that people have landed in the blog/website via a lot of search queries that I do not use in my tags/titles. So I decided I must use more relevant tags and not just one word tags. That should probably explain the recent use of my name itself as a tag along with more detailed tags.
These tulips are the same as the previous ones, just more in number. Let me know what you think!