Diane Young

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


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Playfulness in #Art – #Eagle Print

At times we get so focused on getting really good at an activity that time seems to run out for experimentation and playfulness.

I swim regularly and know that playing in the pool doing roly-polys or attempting handstands increases confidence and can stretch me out of my comfort zone.  Yet on a day to day basis I only allow enough time to use the water to keep fit.

As an artist I like to create pictures that have a fair chance of being successful and that must mean following a well practiced strategy for getting a decent drawing transformed into a painting.Eagle Painting Print by animal artist Diane Young

Playing with materials and ideas helps to break these predictable patterns and although there is a much greater chance of the exercise ending in an image that is far from perfect it is a route to discovering new techniques and allowing pursuit of different  ideas.

The most difficult thing of course is allowing ourselves to have this time to be playful rather than pursuing a direct course to being predictably productive.  The process of discovery through playfulness allows us to develop our practice further rather than stagnating and ultimately becoming bored with what we do.

Yesterday I allowed myself time to play; above is a print of my son’s drawing of an eagle which I transferred onto mdf board alongside is a print of my photo a well known local tree.  I tried putting gold leaf on some buttons as a addition and sprayed around the board with gold laquer.  Who knows where I will go with this, but my nominated play-day is over and now I must get back to work!

 


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Sedna in Animal #Mythology

Stories and Mythology in my artwork

Sedna is mythological figure, a Goddess of the sea for the people of the arctic.

The Myth of Sedna

The young girl Sedna was tricked into marrying Raven, and later when her father tried to rescue her by kayak a raging storm brew and her father threw Sedna in to the sea in order to save himself. Her hands clung to the side of the boat and he beat them until her cold and frozen fingers fell into the sea and became sea mammals. Sedna sank under the sea and was transformed into a sea goddess, able to conjure up storms with her rage whereupon shaman must swim down to calm her by combing her hair.

The Innuits survival is dependant upon the success of their hunting animals.  From this is derived a great respect for the animal kingdom.  Part of the myth is that Sedna holds onto the animals if she is displeased with the people ( so that they will not be successful in hunting them)  and untangling her hair is part of the process of calming her.

From this story I created my image of Sedna with fishes swimming amongst her tresses of red hair, she is looking up to the light of the sky on the surface of the water.   The image at the bottom is a painting done some time later showing Sedna sleeping with three seals.

These three paintings on the left seen below featuring Sedna  are for sale in Studio 71 in Totnes.

Studio no 71 Totnes display of mythological Sedna Artwork by artist Diane Young


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Commission

This weekend my focus is on painting a commission.  I am concentrating on this whilst dealing with an ear worm, an expression which does make me squirm somewhat.  I have been listening to the line about not messing with Major Tom from Bowie’s Ashes to Ashes track for several days now.  The painting is going well despite the interference! To my glee there is in fact a true story to this commission about a dog arriving at a castle one night at Christmas.

Below is cropped section of a painting which I did some years ago when I was putting together a children’s picture book idea.  I dug it out of my folder as like my current commission it is a night time scene.  This image was for a story about a jealous kingfisher who steals a peacock’s tail feathers whilst the peacock is sleeping.

I love storytelling whilst painting, whether it be a fully formed story or presenting narrative for possibilities that the imagination can cast from before or after the moment in the painting itself.  Here is a visual excerpt from the Tiny Tale Of Kingfisher.

Childrens books painting by artist Diane Young


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Dog portrait slightly undercooked

You might be asking yourself what has cooking got to do with art?

Paintings can so easily have a little too much time on them becoming overworked and a little laboured. I thought a good analogy might be the outcome of cooking a Victoria Sponge cake .

If you slightly over cook  one of these cakes it smells slightly over-cooked when it comes out of the  oven, it is slightly over-coloured with a bit of a crisp edge on the outside  edges and it loses some of its subtle cakey fragrance to a more caramelised finish (to be polite). But if you slightly undercook it,  it will be moist and tasty, has a full buttery flavour,  and on the downside it might lack a little colour.  Which is best?  Definitely the latter for the tastiest cake.

Catching the cake at it’s optimum moment is possible with practice but there is little variation from one cake to the next so eventually a plan for timing and temperature will make it perfect.  Obviously this is very different to the variations that are possible from one painting to the next.  But the idea of relating over-cooking and under-cooking a sponge cake to painting is purely for the reason that stopping a  bit before the optimum moment will allow a painting to look more vibrant, spontaneous, and more intuitive rather than laboured and probably a bit muddied.   It might not be perfect but it is likely to be a better finish.  Just like the cake.

Trying to under-worA  painting of a dog portrait by artist Diane Youngk  a painting is soooooo hard by comparison to overworking. Over-cooking or overworking it is easy.  It is easy for me to see bits of my paintings that might be improved and therefore I could keep picking at it. So today I am trying very hard to  not do any more to this painting of a Springer Spaniel.

What could be done to try to prevent getting to the over-painting stage? I wonder if in the back of my mind I think people who look at this picture might find fault for me not “tidying ” everything up,  and somehow I have to let go of this idea at an opportune moment.  Perhaps the questions I should be asking myself are:  How happy am I about the painting?  Can I get away with finishing it at this moment?

I am tempted to keep going on this painting, but I think I might get away with stopping right now. So hands off,  let’s clean the brushes and here is Fred smiling.

 


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Painting Stories: Freddie and Digger

So, what is going on in the picture?

Digger the dog and Freddie the Goldfish a painting by artist Diane YoungIf an image captures your imagination you may find your own internal dialogue emerging as to what is taking place in the picture. I make ACEOs with my own narrative  in  mind and often show them to my family and find that they in turn arrive at their own (sometimes surprising ) conclusion as to what they think is going on with the characters in my ACEOs.  

I love to start the story and hope there may be a variety of possibilities for a story to be told.  

Decide yourself what is happening here between Digger and Freddie, and then see below for what I had in mind. My description for this aceo goes something like this : “Digger could not be sure but he thought that Freddie was trying to tell him something…..”

My narrative could have been…. “Looking at Freddie Digger was not sure if Freddie  actually liked him.” but I decided that it would be “Freddie kept glancing at the Fish Food and looking at Digger hoping Digger might take the hint and gives him a little snack!”

Go on surprise me with your story line…..


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Painting Stories – Harvey the Aardvark

Harvey Loves Rainbows

There was something special that Harvey was looking for.  Mouse was hoping that Harvey would find it very soon.

“We need the rain to find one of my favourite things” said Harvey  “There is no other weather that makes something so beautiful.”

At last there it was….

Harvey and the Rainbow ACEO Painting by artist Diane Young

Harvey has been out and about on his antics with Mouse, Digger and other animal characters .  He still has so many things to see and do.

Until next time…..


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Art, Painting and Unfinished Business

Painting, when to stop….

It happens so often, that artists actually stop working on a painting sometime after the vital moment when they should have stopped.   Spotting the optimum time to stop working on a piece is just so difficult as unless you could see into the future the you cannot anticipate whether your next few painting decisions will better or possibly worsen the painting’s outcome.  For this reason a good many paintings are over-worked and without a lot of experience this optimum moment can pass you by before you know it.

Painting of a wolf by Artist Diane YoungThis is a painting I have been working on today. It takes some concentration to be disciplined in the craft and it is best to work when feeling energised.  Once an artist tires and concentration waivers then sloppy decisions and actions are made leading to frustration and disappointment in the outcome.

I liken this process to swimming.  Whilst striving to get one’s swimming stroke right you need concentration, some discipline and energy.  Once the energy is depleted you fall back on old sloppy habits, inefficiency and then more tiredness is the outcome.   My painting and my swimming can go the same way.   This painting of a wolf is unfinished in my opinion.  It is just a matter of how far past the optimum point I persist…..


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Inspiration – Daily Paintings in Watercolour.

I cannot remember how I stumbled upon this blog but this artist’s sketchbook paintings are wonderful, spontaneous, light and full of character.  Often you come across such paintings but less often you come across such consistency of skill.

watercolour painting by Shari Blaukopf

Shari Blaukopf watercolour painting

The artist is Shari Blaukopf who is based in  Canada and is  a “ graphic designer and teacher who spends too much time working on the computer and not enough time drawing and painting”.

A fantastic source of inspiration for getting art and sketching into your daily lives.

Follow her Blog here :  Shari Blaukopf Blog.


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Creativity for New ACEO paintings in the New Year

My creativity shut up shop for the Christmas period.  I could sense my focus slipping as extra festive activities took hold.   Rather than wrestling Christmas photo of Toy Santabetween the two I gave myself a break.  I let myself off the hook.

Creativity is often seen as an easy kind of self indulgent luxury.  Those that feel they have not been bestowed any creative talent imagine the enjoyment and loveliness of making pictures.   Perhaps it does come easily to some, but I would imagine that like me plenty of artists procrastinate, heading off down the  path of least resistance, that is any other activity except creativity.

Even washing the car has an easily perceived outcome…you wash it, it looks clean.  With shopping, you shop and hey presto you have food you can cook with.  What about a bit of decorating? Assuming you buy the right paint, paint it on in a sensible fashion, the room looks completely renewed.  Having done all these things before there is no real danger of me straying into unknown territory and making a complete hash of this lot.

As for creating art, well only hundreds of decisions have to be made as you progress, tiny but important ones, the outcome of which make or break the painting.  One of the hardest decisions is eliminating your options, what should one do next?   And when things are not going right do you keep on with it or bin it?

Sketches for ACEO paintings by artist Diane Young

So enter creativity as a discipline.  I gave myself a Chrismas break,  now I have to reintroduce my creativity.  Like a daily supplement.  It needs to be rated as essential, like fruit, or vitamins to let it grow, grow, grow.

Today being the first day on my renewed creative path I have gathered some ideas and started on something new.   There are polar bears, hares, wolves and owls, cats and mice.  Harvey the Aardvark is still hibernating, but only for a short while, he will be back soon.

Wishing anyone taking the time to read this a very Happy New Year for 2014.  And for anyone wanting to be creative and not quite getting around to it,  do a little bit each day and make it essential,  just like your daily fruit and veg.


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Painting In Progress

Lazy Painter’s guide recording Work in Progress

It really depends what medium you work in but even drawings can take on quite a transformation from the outset of the original idea.  Artists may use different tools to progress from the first sketch to the finished drawing or painting.

Drawing tools such as tracing or layout paper, light boxes and/or photo shop manipulation enables the good bits of a drawing to be retained easily whilst the areas in need of change more easily manipulated. With these tools there is a trail of changes which could be recorded digitally or glued in a sketch book to inform the artist at a later date how the work evolved. This sort of recording comes easily.

Painting images showing work in progress

For painting work-in-progress the best tool for recording is a camera. How often I have been too lazy to put down my brush and halt for a few minutes to get the camera and quickly take a picture.

It is impossible to remember the phases of a painting’s evolution and in addition artists repeatedly overshoot the optimum moment for the painting to be finished.

Recording the painting at different stages enables an artist to sit back at a later time and review how each stage of the painting has progressed and make objective decisions for making further paintings.

Don’t overshoot the optimum moment to put the brush down, you know that old adage Less Is More.  It just takes a moment to take a snap, and on review will reap benefits for your next masterpiece!


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Diane Young – Painting Edges

Manic Illustrations – Lazy Painter’s guide.

Anything from not changing the brush to not changing the water,  not being lazy means making less mistakes and mess and is more time effective in the long run.  I could have done with a list being given to me many years and many mistakes ago.

The Lazy Painter from Manic Illustrations says:  don’t be lazy – turn the paper around for best results when painting up to an edge!

Pictures showing how to use a paintbrush up to the edge of a drawing.

When you are painting up to an edge place your paper so that your brush is inside the edge and your brush point is against the edge as in Bunny 1 and Bunny 3 .  So many times I have been too lazy to turn the paper round and would reach over the edge as in Bunny 2.   Bunny 3 is happy to be upside down as it is easy to paint accurately this way.  This is for a right handed person,  for a left hander just flip the images horizontally.