Pale Blue Dot

Pale Blue Dot

This isn’t a photo I took at the Queen concert, Wembley Stadium, 1986, although it looks a lot like it. This is actually the most amazing photo ever taken.

If you’re not convinced, wipe the bogies off your screen, give it a little dust and take a look down the right hand side. Can you see it? In the light band, just below half way. That dot. Yep, that’s you. And me. And every single person who has ever existed.

What a cheek! (or My Portrait Painting Palette)

What a cheek!  (or My Portrait Painting Palette)

Skin colours are tricky.

I’m a Caucasian Cumbrian and I have skin so I can safely use myself as an example. First thing, don’t be fooled into thinking that even my insipid skin is a light shade of pink because it isn’t, unless you’ve seen my ears after a couple of glasses of wine.

Here’s a photo of my cheek to prove it.

Ignore the wrinkles, that’s a fault on my HTC selfie camera, just look at the subtle differences of colour.

I need a new light bulb

I need a new light bulb

This is the first post that I really feel like an artist, and the reason for that is I’m about to start whinging about the quality of light in my artist’s studio (spare bedroom).

I live in Cumbria and have little experience with sunlight but I’m told north facing light is the thing all artists need. You need a decent sized window looking north and then you’ll get lovely diffused light filtering through onto your canvas (if you live in the southern hemisphere it’s a south facing window).

Acrylics Essentials – The Stay Wet Palette

Acrylics Essentials – The Stay Wet Palette

When I first squeezed out a tube of acrylic paint onto my palette I hated its guts. One brushful hardly went anywhere and my brush almost dried solid on the canvas as I was painting.

‘This can’t be right,’ I repeated to myself until every blob of stupid acrylic dried like concrete onto my palette. I knew the drying time of acrylics was quick but crikey me to use this properly I would need eight brushes and move like Keanu Reeves once he’d mastered the Matrix.

White Water Rafting

White Water Rafting

It wasn’t until I found myself gripping a hotdog in the middle of a river that I realised a few simple facts: rocks are hard; hotdogs are soft; my friend couldn’t steer a Tesco’s trolley up the beans and ravioli isle and French people don’t like us much.

How was it that I came upon these revelations?

The Golden Ratio

The Golden Ratio

WARNING: There’s maths on this page.

The Golden Ratio is this number 1.6180339887…. (also known as phi) this value is an approximation since the decimals keep going on and on forever. If you keep dividing a rectangle into the ratio 1: 1.618 (I’ve truncated the number because I find typing numbers to infinity tiresome) then you get this pattern:

Portrait Painting System

Portrait Painting System

I’m no expert but I think if you’re painting someone’s picture it should at least bare a slight resemblance to what they look like, otherwise what’s the point, it could be anyone. So I have a system and I’ve given it a fancy name:

The Nine Dot System

The nine dot system is just an easy way of getting started. It uses the fact that, in most cases, when a person is looking right at you their eyes are the same width, and the distance between their eyes is also this width.