28.10.08

Satsuma

Scary, isn't it? A painting waiting to be filled with colour.





I am trying to remember how to paint - for paint I must. I need to produce four toy paintings for
The Green Gallery Christmas show. I haven't painted like this for nearly two years. Although I spent most of the summer painting for the Book, it was a totally different kettle of fish - in fact, many of the techniques I use to get the old-fashioned, melancholic feel in my toy paintings have to be actively ditched when I am working for a publisher. It's a bit like being pulled two ways.



It takes a few days of umming and urring to finish a small
piece such as this. I don't do preliminary work, just the basic sketch and then straight in. I do all the colour planning in my head, so I will put some light washes down and leave it for half a day or overnight, going through the options. Most of the time is spent thinking and mentally visualising it. And the rest is spent with hours of pencil work, smudging and layering. When I started 'Satsuma' I felt so rusty I honestly thought I was going to bodge it up. But it all came back, gradually. One down, three to go.





Thank you everyone for your comments and observations about our little 'to-do' last week. I've written to the fire station enclosing this blog address, so with any luck they will see your appreciation.


30 comments:

Cat in the Foxgloves said...

What a cute painting!

in with the misfits said...

Great to see you painting like this again! Love elephants - think they should all be orange! :)

I'm fascinated by the techniques you use to get the vintagey feel to your pieces - do you apply a darker tone over everything and then erase it back, or do you just work it gradually over the colour?

Gail said...

He's beautiful Gretel - well done - can't wait to see the others as they emerge ;-)

-GailX

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

Ah, he's so lovely! Is there nothing you can't do?? Very impressed are Edward and I!

Elizabeth said...

So glad all was well regarding the fire.
This can be terrifying. We had two chimney fires when we lived on Long Island and we burned everything we could lay our hands on....... And we had chimney sweeps every year.
Your firemen sound so wonderful and helpful and clean.
Ours were great but smashed stuff around.
Please be very aware of piles of stuff, and smoke alarms.
So glad your paper was saved.
love from New York.

Mlle Miracle said...

Oh, Gretel, it's obvious that you're not rusty! Do you have already in mind the other three?

PG said...

Thank you Mlle:) - I am really, I'm glad it didn't show too much - I was getting better towards the end - and no, I am still working out what to paint next, but I'd better hurry up!

Misfits - lots of light washes, (think chamomile tea) then bang on the colour and work in with pencil, and a bit of taking out with a wodge of blu tack.

Catherine said...

Looks wonderful - lovely composition and colours as always.
Blu tack? I would never have thought of that. I've never truly mastered watercolours myself.

tlawwife said...

I love this painting. Are they going to be cards? I hope so!

green phoenix said...

Glad you are ok after your close shave, so scary.
I have JUST sent off three lots of Christmas gallery stuff today, so feel for you. I have thought of you often, over the last month or so as I haven't enjoyed being creative on demand, and imagined that perhaps that is how paid creative work feels. Or not as the case may be.I shall ruminate more on my blog, no doubt.
I love your elephant.

acornmoon said...

This is lovely, I do however like your moodier pieces.

I have been thinking about you today as it has been so cold, hope your stove is back in action.We had a near disaster one summer when I left candles on top of our unlit stove. Our son felt chilly and lit the stove and the melted candles dripped into the stove and filled the house with smoke. It could have been a disaster!

Stephanie Roth Sisson said...

Gretel, this one is so beautiful! It feels like a piece from long ago- some timeless illustration from some treasured book.....

PS No worries on the monkey- take your time. The same stuff still applies- above all have fun! I look forward to seeing him/her whenever he/she may be ready.

Celeste said...

i'm shocked that you don't use white paper!!!

Frances said...

Hello from NY,

I so like your elephant painting. Of course, you remember how to do it ... even taking those steps towards remembering are valuable.

A little elephant coincidence ... tomorrow a fellow artist friend of mine and I will visit the Morgan Library to see its current exhibit of drawings and studies for the memorable Babar books. I was introduced to those books many, many decades ago and loved the stories and pictures ... had no idea of the political backstory. Guess that I will find out more about that at the Morgan tomorrow.

xo

PG said...

Oh Babar, I love the drawings but I am utterly ignorant of the background - I will go and Google.
Celeste - the first picture has a wash on it already, it starts off white!

PG said...

Hi Nicky, yes, paid creative work is, I find, less inspiring than just getting on with one's own thing (especially if it is art directed). Unfortunately the reality of living the dream is not as romantic as many people think or hope it is, especially if it your sole income.

Catherine- Blue tack is brilliant as you can mould it to tiny points to take out miniscule bits. It is gentler than a rubber, and lasts longer than a putty rubber. And is a lot cheaper. My little blob has lasted years. :)

Carol, yes I am making all four paintings up into cards, especially the elephant.

And yes, our stove is back in action, in a very quiet way - enough to keep us warm at night! I won't have candles in this house, lovely though they are - it's too risky with four cats and all the books...

Kim said...

Ooooh, Gretel, that is fabulous. I do so love your paintings. I didn't think for one minute that you'd lost the knack. I could just eat him all up :)

Kim x

Merisi said...

You found the most beautiful colours to paint a fabulous picture! (Not that I would have ever any doubt about you accomplishing anything but a great work of art, no matter the material)

I red your previous post, about the fire scare. Wonderful, that you have a working fire alarm in the house now, but pleeease install a carbon monoxide dedector too! Carbon monoxide from a wood stove is a dangerous, odorless killer, and especially so while you sleep.

Good luck!

Sarah Laurence said...

It was really interesting following your process. I have a writer/illustrator friend; she doesn’t mind rewrites, but she says redraws are painful. It must be wonderful to be back to painting for a show and to having control over the process. I can imagine your sweet elephant will be a big hit. I always find the first painting after a long break hard, then it comes back.

Amanda said...

Oh I just adore your paintings *sigh* I can't get enough of looking at them! Thanks for sharing this one - good luck with the other three!

Nan and =^..^= said...

Hi Gretel,
Your elephant toy painting is just wonderful...I love the colors and it looks to me as though Satsuma is very loved.

I've been a bit distracted by beginning my blogs but seeing you complete your painting, I'm inspired to try to finish one today, also!

Thanks and good luck with the next three!

Rosehaven Cottage said...

You've done a stupendous job on Satsuma!

I can relate so well to feeling overwhelmed about diving into a technique that you haven't used in a while. I don't like preliminary work either so the spectre of perfection looms even larger for me.

Cindy

Kala said...

I haven't painted since July and I am itching to get started again, it is always daunting but you have done an awesome job with satusma, he is adorable!!

Sue said...

He's lovely! I've missed your lovely toy paintings.

Caroline B said...

Lovely to see one of your paintings again - I just love the 'scuffed' effect you get, makes it look so real. I'm with you on the planning in your head more than on paper - I rarely have preliminary sketches cos in my brain it's already done!

Rima said...

Gosh he's just wonderful Gretel :)
I liked peering at your pencil and paint work in the enlargement :)
I love the 3 dimensionalness of this... I really can imagine the feel of him :) Is he made of a sort of threadbare brushed cotton and stuffed with beans?

Pleased to hear you plan most of it in your head.. me too... I am not a great planner.

And wonderful you've got work in a hexibition!

kate smudges said...

Just saw Satsuma on Flickr... lovely little elephant.

Jess said...

This is beautiful! I don't think you should find it scary, those colours are gorgeous. Do you use coloured pencil? :)x

natural attrill said...

Lovely rich orangey colours.
P.x

Gordon Fraser said...

Beautiful painting Gretel!!