Diane Young Artist

Printmaker ~ Painter ~ Every Picture tells a story ~ Artwork ©Diane Young

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Am I Seeing Things?

Blue Fairies by the Canal

I walked this morning along the unused canal near my home.  Hovering alongside the water were many many tiny damselflies. These little creatures are only around 3cm long – tiny, delicate, like little blue flecked fairies.  As I studied them with their framework-like wings and iridescent cerulean blue markings I wondered at such things that people and children might never notice or even know of. There is something heartening about discovering the beauty in nature that gives a sense of lightness to any moment.

Blue Tailed Damselfly

Blue Tailed Damselfly


What About The Garden Snail?

The damselflies are surely things of beauty and colour but nature does not have to be so showy to bring an uplifting moment.  Even in our inner cities there is reward for paying attention to nature while in the park or a tiny garden where shiny beetles, spiders weaving, and hopping Robins will reveal themselves, although you have to focus somewhat to feel that awe.  And keep the phone off.

So how about the common snail?  I think that the difficult bit for a lot of us  is the actual act of being still and allowing these moments to unfold, this includes me of course. Also we have to overcome some assumptions. Take the common garden snail. We know what they look like and they are kind of annoying when they are chomping on the hostas and other prize garden plants, so why on earth bother to pay any attention to one?

Snail shell pattern

Here is a snail on my garden pot.  This is surely an amazing feat for a design’ the snail shell and not the pot of course 🙂

The Golden Section

The shell coils clockwise from the centre like most snail shells do.  This is a logarithmic spiral meaning the distances between turns in the spiral increases in geometric progress. The formula for this is the Golden Section.   It is used to approximate good composition in creating images.  Using this ratio helps to construct pictures which are pleasing to the eye.  Nature uses this ratio or rule in all sorts of examples – the approach of a hawk to its prey, the construction of the eye’s cornea, the centre of a sunflower, galaxies and so on.  There are some good examples and explanation of the golden ratio in nature  by GEORGE DVORSKY on this blog.

Slow Down

This may have all got a bit technical, rather the point I was trying to make was about looking at the pattern of the snail shell and seeing how it is both beautiful and remarkable it really is.

If you slow down and stop for a while, and take a good close look around you, even if in the most unlikely of places you will surely be amazed.


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Artists Creativity on Holiday – Where is that sketchbook?

You often hear of artists heading off to the coast to get away from it all and give their creativity space and time and to further render their craft.  Each year we drive to the Welsh coast, and I pop my transportable art equipment into my bag ready to grab all that inspiration that is about to descend upon me.  A day or two would go by and with all the organising that went on before the holiday there is not much more to do than make sure kids were  occupied and that the ready prepared meal was defrosting.  By this time I am wondering why I am not using my sketchbook or getting out the watercolours.  Holiday sketchOver the years I have made a few nice informal drawings and paintings but the truth be known  my creativity evaporates on holiday. Perhaps it is because I am not a landscape painter or  just because the heart of my creativity is figurative and so the quiet coastal locations we choose just don’t rock my creative boat. But then surely I would still be brimming with ideas?

Writers Block?

More likely then I am suffering from a form of writers block with all that leisure time. Perhaps it is because an example of the theory that when you do nothing in order to focus on being creative it then  hides away in an inaccessible corner of your mind, waiting until you start to hoover or cut the hedge whereupon ideas will pop up effortlessly knowing you have not got a notebook to hand!  This post relates to content in a post that I made in June called Accessing Your Creativity Whilst Watching TV? which describes how the brain prefers to be occupied with undemanding tasks in order to be able to explore different avenues.  So instead of chasing my creativity into a corner by relaxing, I will be encouraging it out with a mundane task or two when I am back at home.  And as for my holiday I have found I can quite happily write for my blog ready to post when I get back.  As for the  rest of the time it is  fresh air,  sea walks and sunshine.

My breakfast last week!


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Dog Portrait Photographs for a Painting

Dynamic Lines for Composition

I was asked by a friend to paint her endearing little terrier cross called Gus.    Not every photo will make a good painting.  The dog can always look cute, but  the overall shape of the pose can be uninspiring, and less interesting to behold as a final painting.  The outline should be what I would describe as dynamic, that is is must have a variety angles as you would in any interesting composition no matter what the subject.

Gus Commission Dog Portrait

Finding The Photograph for the Dog Portrait

 Getting photos off your client can sometimes be difficult.  They cannot locate them, the ones on their phone are not good enough quality, or the photos they have found do not have that certain “something”.  At this juncture, if you know your client it might be good time to offer to take your camera to them, get out on the common or the park and mooch about taking pics as you go.  You could go for a photo shoot which is a more pressurised environment and may be your only solution, but make sure you snap away and take loads of shots at the dog’s eye level.  It can be difficult for owner to take the best pics of their pooch because their pooch only has eyes for them, the moment they bend to take a good shot Mutley is bounding toward the lens itself!

Gus terrier dog

Cute but…..

The photo here is sooo cute, but look at the outline it is basically an oval.  By accentuating detail in the head  I could have got away with this but it would really be more of a head shot.

This was not what the client had in mind, she wanted Gus on the go which would have been an impossible round indistinguishable shape with all four paws off the ground!

Gus terrier dog

The photo here is not detailed at all and again is a sort of oval shape.


So we settled for an “out in the field” shot, Gus looking very pleased with himself.  I placed Gus centre stage, and enjoyed the detail of showing his happy character.

So if your client is slow to get a photo to you, arrange to get a good number of photos yourself if you can and then offer up the best of what you have which is inspirational for you too.

Gus dog portrait                   Gus Commission Dog Portrait