Monday, 27 January 2014

making lots of noise and dust...

I've been pouring resin for the past few weeks. I had some commission work to do but also making little squares with pink seaweeds, feathers, dragonfly wings, bits of gold and text in. Lots of little squares to play with later.

When I'm pouring resin that's all I can do as I have to leave everything where it is for days whilst it sets. Definitely no dust allowed.

But yesterday I happily packed all the resin stuff away, plugged in my table saw and made lots of noise and dust.

This piece of black bog oak has been travelling around with me for years. So many years I've totally forgotten who gave it to me and where it is from. I've at last got round to cutting it up into usable slices. Not sure what I will do with it. Dense black and very old it is beautiful as it is and I will probably set the best bits in plaster or resin and polish it flat. But I have a box full of bits and will try and make some small frames or will patchwork it with other woods.

I'm also making frames for the wax paintings I've started working on. As I am cutting the wood myself it is all odd and warped and not totally the same dimensions throughout. Which is how I like it but it is harder to make everything fit together.

Ran out of clamps, ran out of space and my feet are cold so that's it for the day but I will be out again tomorrow and for a week or so until I have made enough. Then the next bit.
Gesso, plaster and wax.

Thursday, 23 January 2014

fish illustration for Cornwall Good Fish Guide update

First fish painted for the Cornwall Good Fish Guide.
One down 67 to go and an interesting year learning about fish ahead of me.

Sea bass Dicentrarcus labrax 

© Cornwall Wildlife Trust

Go to Cornwall Wildlife Trust's website  to find out more about the project.

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

bird skull update...

I kept the skulls of the song thrush and the jay. Just finished cleaning them and have made a few quick drawings before I put them with the rest.

Instead of burying them and hoping that things in the earth would clean them up I tried maceration. The last lot of skulls I tried cleaning by burying ended up with bits missing and the beak sheaths disintegrating. It also takes a long time. Maceration is fairly quick. It involves leaving them in warm water for a week or so. I won't go into too much detail but it has been a bit more hands on and smelly. Worth the effort though as my skulls have just about survived intact. One thing I have learnt is don't keep them in red fishnet stockings. The idea was to keep them separate and not loose anything. Never occurred to me they would soak up the die. Even after a bit of bleach they are still very pink!

So here is my complete collection of bird skulls. Clockwise from top left: barn owl, buzzard, wood pigeon, kingfisher, house sparrow, linnet, song thrush, blackbird, shag bits x 3, shag x 2, oystercatcher, herring gull x 2, kittiwake, fulmar, razorbill, guillimot, jay x 2 carrion crow, rook and tawny owl. 
And now I need a new box.

Oh almost forgot my favourite. The gannet. It's too big for the little box. In with the wings and things.

Friday, 10 January 2014

fish and more fish ...

I don't normally talk about my paid work in here but I'm quite looking forward to the job I've just been asked to do by Cornwall Wildlife Trust. It looks like I am going to be painting a lot of fish. Sixty eight species I think between now and next Easter. I am the illustrator at the Trust but I haven't had much illustration lately. Apart for Pawprint its been all design and web stuff. So this is very welcome. A bit daunting but I like a challenge.
Today I've been gathering references, doing a few sketches and working out how I'm going to do them.
Been practising painting scales.

Monday, 6 January 2014

waiting for resin to set and new wax to arrive ...

tray of resins for sale at Fannie & Fox

Was in the garage today. I've finished the big tidy so it is a pleasure to be out there again.

I have started making a load of small square resins. The idea earlier last year was that I would make loads and loads of them. I did but people have been buying them, which is great, but it means I haven't made the big pieces I planned to make with them. I like having loads and loads of them around me. It is my own jigsaw of life and I spend hours moving them around each other. Some will be very simple with seaweeds and shells, others more complicated with text. Hopefully I will carry on selling them but I can also get on with the bigger pieces using lots of them together.

I like the resin before it is polished. The objects are unclear and seem to float in mist.

I am looking forward to experimenting with roughing up the surfaces and using more white resin and lights. 

At the same time I am working with wood. Benches are covered in strips of oak as I prepare to make frames and boards for wax painting. I haven't the right wax yet. I have ordered refined white beeswax to make encaustic medium. I have made medium with unrefined beeswax which is a gorgeous golden colour but I need to have white too.

So whilst I wait for the resin to set and the wax to arrive I paint with ink and primer. 
Back to drawing seaweeds. More on my Facebook page

Thursday, 2 January 2014

... time to lay the birds to rest

I wrote a post in August about drawing and painting dead birds.
I found this Jay on a road near Bissoe and brought it home to paint and photograph as it was so beautiful. I've kept it in the freezer since and brought it out whenever I wanted to draw it.

Very soon after I found the jay I was given a song thrush that had flown into a friends window. I put them together in a box. My beautiful birds, frozen. I drew and I painted for a while then stopped. Not enough. I meant to paint them more but now months have passed and I feel it's time I brought them out and laid them to rest. 

I shall spend the evening painting them a bit more then tomorrow I will bury them in the garden. Maybe I will keep a few feathers. Maybe I will try and keep their skulls.

And tomorrow I get my garage back. Its been out of use for a few weeks so the big tidy up has been delayed. Then there was Christmas and the wild weather!
But from tomorrow nothing is stopping me.
Might get out and pour some resin soon.
Lights and fibre optics to experiment with in the coming months.