After a few weeks in England I now find myself back in Andalucía where the exhibition starts to get a bit real. No more 'fannying about' - I am at the half way point. It is now time to finish the unfinished paintings and squeeze out another 15.
I haven't worked this hard or been this focused for a long time. I wake at 7.30am, read my emails and update my social media, then I go down to the studio at 9am. I then lunch at 3pm, then it's back in the studio at 4pm until 8pm when the need to have a beer is just too strong for me to ignore any longer. I drink my beer during the evening's admin. Tonight it is writing this, but it can be anything, from booking a van to take the big paintings from Granada to Surrey where they will be framed, to sorting out my scans and getting them re-sized and forwarded on to the gallery and my designer for invites, webpages and posters. Now is also the time sort out my mailing list, my social media and book a photographer and a photo shoot and maybe even a film director with a drone. Now is the time to contemplate publishing a book, start writing letters and consider all my outfit options for the private view (this bit is super tricky).
|Scanned in leaves - makes such a difference.|
The working days are certainly long at the moment, but what makes really exhausting is the heat. I really could do without the temperatures being around the mean average of 40 degrees (in the shade). It's a bit cooler inside, but we don't have fans or air conditioning and rather frustratingly my studio feels like a steam room with all the plants chucking out their humid air. I put them in there on purpose to stop the watercolours drying out so quickly. It works, but it does make the room slightly uncomfortable.
Caroline the Coffee plant appears to be enjoying the heat however. Two of her beans have germinated underneath her ridiculously lush canopy and are busy reaching out for the sun. It's pretty dark in the studio you see - all shutters are down with only a slit at the bottom for the light to come in. I am also trying not to use the spotlights to light up my paper as it is too hot, which means I am pretty much painting in the dark. I actually started to do this in the UK - I find it is easier on the eyes, which I know many will dispute. I always get told off for reading in the dark, but I honestly find a dim hue easier on the retina. Anyway, in the dark I have finished Osric the Oak (Quercus robur). I originally called him Orlick, but he's now Osric. The names just felt more English:
|Oak Leaf (Quercus robur), 76 x 56cm, Daler Rowney watercolour on Saunders Waterford hotpress paper|
I had some issues with paper for this piece, it kept cockling and wouldn't take the watercolour in the same way. The lint fibres seemed shorter for Saunders so blending became difficult. I had thought that this was some of the older hot press when I bought it, but after all these issues and with the paper being much smoother than the old paper I managed to persuade myself that it was the new smoother hot press. However, to cut a long story short it wasn't - it was actually the old type. Since this I have been too-ing and fro-ing from the Mill and paper suppliers (something I really could do without as I do have rather a lot on my plate right now) and have learnt a lot in the process. Check out these samples below. They are all the old type of Saunders Waterford hot press. The texture is different on each one, as is the weight. Apparently, as long as the paper falls within 10% of the 638gsm weight, it can be sold legally. I didn't know this. I had no idea that the paper can vary this much.
|Different textures and weights of the 638gsm Saunders Waterford paper|
Despite my initial struggles with Osric, I managed to pull though and completed the painting this weekend (I will probably return to it for brushing up later on in the year) and have moved onto my massive sheets of cold press paper. I like to challenge myself and my painting technique! As you might have guessed, I am back working on the Poplar beasts trying to get them finished by the end of August. One of them is portrait, so I am using the lampshade in the middle of the room to help with keeping it upright. Furthermore, you''ll be glad you know, the shutters are back up as I need a brighter light source for this one.
|Who would have thought I light would be this handy?!|
Alas, here she is so far... This one is a girl. Bizarrely the Poplar leaves don't have names, they are just known in my time keeping diary as 'Pop1, Pop2 and Pop3' and will make a triptych, but they will also be available for sale as individual items.
|Pop2 (Populus nigra) - a work in progress, 1m x 1.30m.|
Daler Rowney watercolour or Saunders Waterford Cold Press paper
The other news is that the 'black forest' I blogged about in my last chapter of Giants in Thimbles is being cut down for harvest this week. A pity, as I really loved that wood. The plantation itself is not so dark now and you can see the silhouette of a JCB on the far edge. It looks pretty menacing in the distance. Maybe I will paint it one day. So this, along with the new motorway which has carved up my walk into two and the heat, has put me off walking. Luckily I have my collection of dried leaves to keep me going!
|Year old leaves which have been mummified in the Spanish sun, keeping their green colour|