Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Busy Busy Busy!

 After months of not really having much time to paint I seem to have thrown myself right back into it all now we have settled in our new home. I'm busy working on originals that I hope to exhibit later in the year, commissioned paintings, and regularly painting horses from life when I can.

The above painting is one I did last weekend, I'm pleased enough with it to offer it for sale, it is up for grabs on eBay starting at 1p- http://r.ebay.com/sZqD1h. Had a lovely two days at a workshop, nice to see my skills slowly beginning to improve. Still find painting horses in front of me incredibly difficult, the painting below was another not so successful one, the other two I did were too rubbish to share haha!

I currently have a muddy tangled Dales Pony on my easel, a zebra, and some polo ponies! Nice to be back into the swing of it. My eldest starts school in September and my youngest will be attending a playgroup a couple of mornings a week so I'm looking forward to have a little extra painting time in a couple of weeks.

Sunday, 10 June 2012

Zebras from life!

Had a great day today visiting Yorkshire Wildlife Park with the Association of Animal Artists.

Painting from life is something that I am becoming increasingly interested in and dedicated to (had a wonderful time at a 2 day workshop with Malcolm Coward just last weekend, and of course there is my Beswick project!) so I decided that I would definitely have a bash at painting some kind of animal at Yorkshire Wildlife Park. I am not very good at it (yet!) but I get a real buzz out of it, and my studio work really benefits from the skills I develop via my life work, regardless of how bad the life paintings are!

Arrived this morning, met up with fellow artists, and then left our children with my husband Brian while I carted my easel about looking for a subject. Now, what I really fancied painting was a zebra (no surprises there!) but given how hard it is to paint horses from life even when you have someone to hold them and shift them back into place, I decided painting zebra loose in a giant paddock would be impossible. I decided maybe some kind of sleeping lion or such thing might be do-able?

Have to admit I felt a bit nervous wandering round choosing my subject- lots of people visiting the park who might potentially walk by and see me paint waaaayyyy out of my comfort zone- eek! Plenty of sleeping lions to be found, none close enough to paint though. There were some sleeping goats that probably would have sat long enough to be painted but it felt a bit of a cop out to come all that way to paint a goat... so I decided I might as well give the zebra a bash. Why not!

Chose a spot next to one zebra and couldn't believe my luck when a couple more came over. Of course, they didn't stay still for a minute and moved all the time but having sketched the initial position of the first I was able to kind of use all three to pick out useful bits to add to the painting. They wandered off after about 15-20 mins after which I just had a VERY distant view to try and finish it off.

Obviously there is a lot wrong with it BUT I expected to come home with a few suggested lines of a loose wild animal, not a recognisable painting of one, so I am very proud of it!

Looking forward to visiting Yorkshire Wildlife Park again soon, a beautiful place full of beautiful and happy looking animals. Great family day out.

Lots of photos taken too so brace yourselves for some zebra studio paintings coming soon!!

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Time Lapse Painting Videos, an amateurish how-to!

I produce a time lapse video of me painting a large piece of work maybe once a year ish... the hassle of rigging up the camera everytime I want to paint and then putting it together then puts me off doing another for a bit, until I then try and get the bloomin thing on YouTube, spend hours uploading files that don't work, and then vow that I am never doing another time lapse video as long as I live!! Once it's finally on YouTube though, and over time I forget how much of a nightmare they are to make, I decide actually I fancy making another... but by that point SO much time has passed that I have completely forgotten how to do it, much less how to avoid all the mistakes I seem to have to go through with YouTube everytime, and the cycle begins again. Until now, because I am going to blog with instructions on how to make a time lapse video so that I can read how to do it next time (if there is a next time!).

I will try and make my instructions reasonably full so that they could possibly of use to people other than myself too! I am sure there are loads of different (probably better!) ways of producing time lapse videos but this is how I generally make mine.

1. First of all you need your camera to take photos automatically at set intervals. There are lots of cameras that have this as a function these days, sadly my Nikon dSLR isn't one of them! I stick my camera on a tripod, link it to my laptop with a usb, and use Nikon camera control software to take my time lapse photos.

2. To make a nice smooth time lapse video I understand you need about 20-30 frames/photos per second of video, so before you start you'll need to work out how long you think the painting will take you and how long you want the video to be, so that you can work out how often you need your camera to shoot. I usually have mine taking a photo about every 10 seconds, although I wish I had reduced that for my current video as it didn't take as long as I expected and the video ended up a bit short!

3. Even to make an HD video you don't need the photo file sizes to be massive- I select the lowest size/quality option on my camera and still have to batch re-size them smaller at the end (very quick job using Photoshop Elements). You are best off re-sizing them to a 'standard' HD video pixel size e.g. 1280 x 720 or 1920 x 1080, it saves a lot hassle when it comes to uploading to somewhere like YouTube.

4. Set your camera up on a tripod, each time you sit down to paint make sure all is in focus and the photos looking good then paint! Be sure to try and stay out of the way as far as you can- something I find tricky but resolve by sorting through photos after each session and deleting any with my head blocking the camera.

5. Once you have finished the painting it's time to sort through all the 1000s of photos and delete any blurry ones or ones where the view of the painting is blocked, or ones where you have wandered off to answer the phone and the camera has carried on snapping.

6. Get yourself something like Apple Quicktime Pro. I am sure there are plenty of different types of software but Quicktime was the one I heard recommended for time lapse videos and it only costs about £20.

7. In Quicktime Pro select 'File', then 'Time Lapse Photography' and then choose one (any) of your time lapse photos. It will ask for you to choose the frames per minute. It can take a while (several minutes sometimes on my poor laptop) but eventually, viola, your video appears on screen!

8. I tend to start/finish my videos with a still image/s detailing my website, a photo of the finished painting, yadda yadda. I am SURE there is a quicker way but I end up saving the same image I want to use for the number of frames per second I want it to appear for... takes ages. My attempts at putting together different bits of video fail! If anyone with more sense than me knows how to do this an easier way let me know and I'll update this bit!

9. Export your finished file to a YouTube friendly format. In Quicktime I click 'Export' and then select the option to convert from Movie to MPEG4, and select an HD option in the size bit of the 'Options' button- I leave the rest of the settings. Be prepared for your video to take a long time to save, sometimes a very long time.

10. Upload to YouTube. This takes ages if you are uploading an HD video, sometimes hours if like me your gutless laptop protests! Seems to always take me several attempts, mainly due to getting something wrong along the way! Hopefully this post will help me get it right next time... if there is a next time.

Here's my latest video anyway...

Beswick Horse No.8 (of 30)

Beswick Horse No.8

Been a real struggle to get much painting done over the last few weeks. My husband is working away and both my young children have been ill, the sleepness nights and relentlessness of it all have taken their toll a bit!

Finally we all seem to be back on form! Got Beswick Horse No.8 done today and despite thinking that it was going to end up being rubbish most of the way through, I'm rather pleased with it compared to my previous attempts. I am definitely finding that the 'drawing' side of the still life painting is coming more easily to me now, but find getting colours and tones right very tricky. Onwards and upwards! 

Looking forward to a full weekend workshop painting real live horses in a few weeks, hoping I see the difference having worked on this project; how I would LOVE to develop my skills to the point where I might be able to paint a real horse from life and be proud of the end result! One day! 

Thursday, 26 April 2012

Beswick Horse No.7

Wasn't in the right mood for the big Friesian painting today so got back to my Beswick ornament instead! 7 down, 23 to go...

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Painting in Progress, Day 7

Still plugging away on this, another few hours on it this today... think I might get it finished tomorrow as I have another child-free morning! Some more light to add to his shoulder and then mainly blending and tidying up to do.

Going to try and fit in Beswick Horse No. 7 this evening, after hours on a big slow painting I am in the mood for some life painting...

Saturday, 14 April 2012

Beswick Horse No.6 (of 30)

Haven't exactly been knocking these Beswick horse paintings out as dedicatedly as I hoped I would, but the Easter holidays have been quite busy so not much time for painting!

Number 6. I am pleased with the body, think this is the closest I have got to the actual colour and gloss of the ornament- not the best drawing wise though... head wrong, legs wrong, plenty wrong really! Still an improvement on No. 5 though so heading in the right direction.

Sunday, 8 April 2012

'Chestnut Arab' Finished

'Chestnut Arab' 12" x 12" oil on box canvas. 

Did some more glaze work since my last posting and today sat and had a nice long painting session getting it finished! Really pleased with it, be very happy to keep it myself but it is available if anyone wants it! Details on my website www.laurabarber-riley.com.

Thursday, 5 April 2012

Chestnut Arab In Progress

The Easter holidays make getting much painting done difficult, with both children home all day! I have managed to commandeer the kitchen table though and get a surprising amount of work done on this new 12" x 12" painting. I have been glazing in very very thin layers of paint which has meant I can grab a few minutes on it here and there- it is drying so quickly because of the thin layers so I'm managing to build it up in little sittings a few times a day. Handy! This is the smoothest canvas I think I have ever used, I sanded it completely smooth ages ago for a rose painting that I never got on with- it's absolutely perfect for this technique. I have only used a couple of colours in it so far, hoping this evening it will be dry enough to start glazing with some more interesting pigments once the children are in bed!

Pleased with it so far, such a pretty horse! It's based on a photograph I took at an arab show back in 2009, not disimilar to the pose in another painting I did, 'Arabian Filly'... I think I prefer this one though. Funny how over time you see something in a photograph that you skipped by perviously.

I think it has about 5 layers of paint on so far, haven't photographed them all but you can see a few below...

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Beswick Horse No.5 (of 30)

I am feeling quite excited about this project this morning, obviously there is still an enormous amount of room for improvement but I am thrilled with how much I have improved in just 5 paintings of this ornament.

Rainy day here today, hoping I can get the children busy with a creative project of their own and then get on with No.6... only 25 to go!

Monday, 2 April 2012

Beswick Horse No.3 & No.4 (of 30)

I completed Beswick horses No.3 and No.4 last week but only just got round to photographing them! Such a tricky project but I am learning loads, can see my life drawing skills improve with every painting.

I completed No.5 this evening but it was too dark to take a photo, it was a definite improvement although still pretty rubbish!!!! I don't mind how bad they are though as long as they get better with each one, which I think generally they are in one way or another. No.3 is below, No.4 above. I think although the paint handling and description of light/colour in No.4 was a bit of a step back the drawing was a lot better than the first three.

Saturday, 31 March 2012

Painting in Progress, Day 5

2.5 hours on this today, 9.5 in total. Gradually coming together, still a lot of work to do though! .

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Painting in Progress, Day 4

Another 2 hours on this today, 7 hours in total so far. Have to admit, I didn't really enjoy working on it today... perhaps the slow enormousness of the painting having been focusing on quick life studies this last week? Updated the time lapse video, it is below!

Today I worked on strengthening the darks, and then the highlights. Went over the lot with a big soft brush afterwards to remove any brush marks, soften it all up, and leave a nice smooth surface. Should be a good basis for the next layer I hope. Still a very long way to go, a small image on a computer screen always makes large paintings look much neater and more finished than they really are!

This photo of it was taken from one of the time lapse shots as my camera run out of battery just as I stopped painting, hence the brush creeping in the shot!

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Beswick Horse No.2 (of 30)

Another hour spent painting my Beswick project muse! Number 2 complete. Plenty wrong with it BUT I am actually quite pleased with it compared with the first attempt yesterday, big improvement I think. Really enjoyed it, wonder if I'll still be saying that by day 30?! Haha!

Same palette used today as yesterday, mainly because I am lazy and just used yesterday's palette!

Onwards to number 3 tomorrow...

Monday, 19 March 2012

Beswick Horse No.1 (of 30)

Painting number one- done! Finally off and away with this project! I spent an hour on it this morning. It's suitably dreadful as my first one, I am really excited about hopefully seeing myself improve with each one I do though! I just know that this project will really help develop my life painting skills. I plan to get all 30 paintings done before the next equestrian life painting workshop and have my fingers crossed that I will reap the rewards of my hard work in the quality of the paintings I produce there.

Lots and lots wrong with this first painting... neck too long, serious feet issues, front legs too chunky, colour way off, I could go on and on! BUT it's a starting point to move forwards from!


Still Life

Back from a fantastic weekend away painting at a workshop alongside several other equestrian artists! No horses this time- just vases, pots, and oranges! Very tricky but I had great fun and learnt loads, as I always do at these things- feel very lucky to have such an incredible tutor in Malcolm Coward, very lucky indeed! Super-excited about the next few workshops coming up... lots and lots of painting horses from life planned, *can't wait*!

I have been spurred into cracking on with my little Beswick project, will blog separately about that though!

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Painting in Progress, Day 3

Another 2.5 hours spent on this today, so 5 hours in total. A dark transparent layer of paint over the lot, and then some concentrated work on the muzzle, and then the eye. I have decided to make the current layer as detailed as I can, because the painting is so big I have had to find a way to break it down in to manageable chunks timewise.

Pretty happy with it so far, think I will have a good basis for the next layer of detail and will perhaps have saved some time too. Below is a photo of the muzzle close up; still plenty of work left in it- determined to try and make it as realistic a painting as I possibly can!

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Painting in Progress, Day 2

Managed to make a proper start on this 36" x 28" painting today, have just roughly marked out the main areas of light and dark over the background colour so far, I suspect it's going to be a very long project with many layers of paint!

It's the first big painting I have attempted in a while, and probably the biggest head portrait I have ever done, so all that space is looking quite daunting! Determined to make it my most convincing painting to date, fingers crossed!

Been refreshing my memory on the time lapse video front too, here's a quick snippet- about 2.5hrs in 16s!!

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Beswick Horse Project

Meet Bessie the Beswick mare. This is the ornament that I was planning to paint, daily, for 30 days, as a bit of a project to try and sharpen up various observational and life painting skills! I'm still planning to paint her 30 times, but I have decided that I am going to struggle to give it my full attention for 30 consecutive days, so am removing the time limit!

Sat and did a little sketch today, pretty dreadful, paint is so much easier to correct with. Hoping to sit down and produce painting number one this evening! Really hoping to see a massive difference between painting number 1 and painting number 30!!

Dutch Auction of 'Carriage Pair'

My family and I are relocating from County Durham to Leicestershire with my husband's job, so a mass clear out has ensued! Have decided to dutch auction a couple of paintings, starting with this framed 12" x 10! The original price was £280, it drops by £20 each Monday until sold- currently at £180! To purchase simply contact me at info@laurabarber-riley.com or on 07779613649.

Looking forward to a weekend of still life painting and tuition this weekend with a group of equestrian artist friends!

Friday, 2 March 2012

New 36" x 28" Painting Started...

Background base colour on! This is the painting that the little 6" x 6" study 'Portrait of a Black Horse' (below) was in preparation for, can't wait to get going with it, the first large painting I have done in a long time!

Monday, 6 February 2012

'The River Eden'

A new little 7" x 7", 'The River Eden', available for sale, details on my website: laurabarber-riley.com

My main project at the moment is a wonderful commission of one of my favourite Dales stallions, but he is taking an awfully long time to dry between layers of paint, so this has kept me busy whilst waiting!

It is based on photographs that I took at Appleby Fair back in 2009, these four stood ever so patiently in the sunshine waiting for their turn to be bathed in the river. I really enjoy painting water, a seriously tiny brush was needed to paint some of the ripples on this little painting!

Monday, 23 January 2012

'In the Shadows' FINISHED!

Got there in the end, phew! I may well tweak it a bit more on looking at it with fresh eyes in a few weeks but for now it is signed and declared finished!

Glad I persevered with it, have learnt lots!

Sunday, 22 January 2012

'In the Shadows' in progress, Day 7

Battling on with the most difficult painting in the world haha!

More done all over really... more defining the mane, the blaze, the muzzle, and some glazes of warmer colour in the coat in places. Now need the mane to try again to put the brightest layers over the top, think it might take me a few attempts to get the mane as I would like!

Turns out the painting is as tricky to photograph as it is to paint! I suspect that because the detail on the parts of the horse in shadow is quite subtle compared with the bright light where the light hits, the camera is doing funny things to try and level things out. Have tweaked this image in photoshop to make it closer to the original, still not right but you get the idea! If it does end up turning out well it will definitely need to be scanned in order to get a good digital copy!

The little 6" x 6" Friesian painting eBay auction finishes tomorrow evening, you can bid here- http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/180798251524

Onwards and upwards...

Friday, 20 January 2012

'In the Shadows' in progress, Day 6

Hardest. Painting. Ever!

Wasn't expecting this painting to be dry enough to work on today, but it was, so I spent a few more hours on it. It's not getting any easier! SUCH a tricky painting! Still not sure if it will turn out ok, finding it a serious challenge!!

Hoping to get back to it this evening as although the horse's body needs to dry now, I haven't yet done any more on the mane and background so that will be my next step.

Monday, 16 January 2012

'Portrait of a Black Horse' (Study) - currently available on eBay

My first mini painting in several months, a study for a possible larger painting. This one is 6" x 6" and an image I have wanted to paint for ages! Had stopped myself previously as I have been trying to avoid painting 'boring' headshots but something kept me coming back to this one... I think perhaps the simplicity is what I love about it!

My original plan was a blurry background of countryside in the distance, which I duly painted, but when it was finished it just didn't really have the impact I wanted. Lots of pinks, purples, and blues went into the horses coat so I simply mixed the area of my palette I had been using for those and used that as the background! I think it works so so much better than the original plan, I'm pleased with how it turned out.

The painting is being auctioned on eBay, finishing on the evening of Monday 23rd January. As usual the bidding starts at 1p with no reserve, you can bid here.


Friday, 13 January 2012

'In the Shadows' in progress, Day 5

All I can say is I am so glad this is an original rather than a commission- sleep would be lost otherwise! Some paintings seem to just paint themselves while others take a lot of muddling through with plenty of challenges along the way- this painting is definitely in the latter category!!! All those colours in the coat, none of them resembling anything like the palomino colour my mind thinks it should be... almost makes my head hurt! Never let it be said I don't like to push myself out of my comfort zone now and again haha!

It's been a week since I last worked on this painting yet still some of the paint wasn't dry! Just the very brightest parts of the mane were still wet so I managed to get a good sitting in, think I really am going to have to leave it a good fortnight now before the next layer to make sure I'm not going to lift off any of this layer. The slow drying is making a tricky painting even trickier as by the time I come to sit back down to it I have sort of lost my train of thought re where I'm going next! At least I will have the benefit of fresh eyes I guess!

That said, I am pleased with the progress today... think I might have a sound enough basis to get the tiny brushes out next time to make a start on the details, always my favourite part! It's still quite sketchy at the moment, a lot of work left to do! The darkest darks are down now so I can start to think about the more golden and red coat colours over the top.

Onwards and upwards... (with fingers crossed)!


Monday, 9 January 2012

Still Life

The palomino painting was as wet as I left it on Friday this morning so I decided to use my child-free morning to do some still life. This is a funny little white horse figurine that I have had since I was a child, I have painted it (badly) several times now, it is interesting comparing the images as I slowly improve my skills. This definitely looks more like the figurine than any of my other attempts so far! Painting from life all prima is not something I find easy, but it teaches me a great deal!

Wondering about getting a realistic horse model and using that to practice painting the form of a horse from life, think it might be useful!


Friday, 6 January 2012

'In the Shadows' in progress, Day 4

Yikes this painting is tricky!!!! It looks an utter mess but I think I am just going to have to accept that it will look awful while I try and lay down all the different colours in his coat! I'm not able to work with too many colours in each layer as they just muddy one another so patience it is!

I spent about 2 hours on it today (forgot to blog about the 3rd layer which I did ages ago and was mainly background, pictured below) and found it very challenging! There is going to be a LOT of work in this painting! Think it will either turn out really well, or in the bin! I seem to recall the mini painting I did as preparation was looking dreadful until the last minute so holding onto that though! Either way, think I will learn a lot from it.

Some very slow drying pigments used today so not expecting it to be dry enough to work on for another week or so now sadly!

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Hello 2012!

I can hardly believe it is 2012 already! The painting above was my last of 2011, a commission based on a beautiful photo by talented up and coming equestrian photographer Dan Foster.

2011 was a brilliant year for me; I was lucky to have some incredible commissions, wonderful clients, a few great exhibition opportunities and fantastic experiences at various workshops too. The highlight of 2011 though was probably winning The Eggesford Studio Prize for the best piece of work by an artist under 35 at the Society of Equestrian Artists Annual Exhibition, I still smile when I remember that!

I learnt absolutely loads in 2011 and looking back to where I was this time last year it is interesting just how much the way I paint has evolved- things like the way I use colour and handle paint with my brushes have changed quite a bit! I think a lot of my development has been down to producing more work from life, from my experiences at workshops under artists I admire (such as Malcolm Coward, and Susie Whitcombe) and also down to changing some of the materials I use too- the Michael Harding medium I now use for example (recommended to me by another artist I greatly admire, Michael Miller).

So, onwards into 2012!

I have been trying to figure out my goals for the year... apart from the general 'improve' ones I think I have two main ones:

1. First and foremost to produce even more work from life, especially more live horse work.
2. Get a painting juried into a competitive open exhibition which does not have horses (or animals) as a theme. Bit of a tall order but a goal that will push me a bit more I think- horses are generally not fashionable subjects in general exhibitions so I will be forced to not only paint something technically superb, but also to really produce something highly original and interesting too. How does the saying go.. "Shoot for the moon and even if you miss you'll land in the stars"? Something like that! ;-)

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas, I wish you all a great 2012- Happy New Year!