Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Blue Waves in a Shell

You know that people say you can hear the sea if you press your ear to a shell? Well, I've just created a shell in which you can see the sea! It's not pretty, I'l grant you that, but I had great fun in the process of making it. Brendan gave me a book about acrylics for Christmas, in an effort to encourage me to try a medium different from watercolours, which have been my paint of choice so far. I've dabbled in acrylics, but I haven't really explored what you can do with them. This book is called "The New Acrylics" by Rheni Tauchid, and it explores what you can do with new acrylic paints and media. Well, I had to try it, of course, and I went to the Art and Hobby Shop and got myself a big jar of Structure Gel which will help you "create impasto structure with good peak retention" (their words on the jar, not mine!).

I mixed a few dollops of blue and yellow acrylic paint with plenty of the gel and I applied to a piece of paper. The result was a shiny three-dimensional painting. Not great, but interesting to see how shiny it is compared with plain acrylics.

But then, I had to take it a step further, I grabbed an old shell that was sitting on the window sill, I mixed tons of gel with a tiny amount of process cyan, and I filled the shell, using a plastic knife, shaping it into rolling waves. It's really tacky. To make it even worse, I'm thinking of adding a tiny 2-dimensional picture of a surfer on top when it's dry. That could be weeks from today, mind you. The book says that a very thick gel application can take months to cure fully. Right now, the gel is still white in most places, indicating that it's not dry yet. It becomes transparent when it's dry. Of course, Brendan didn't know this when he poked at it earlier today and found himself with blue gel on his hands!

Sunset over Colour Blobs

I can't say categorically that "I hate waste". That wouldn't be true. But there is a compulsion in me to use every last bit of paint on my palette, even if it ruins the painting. So, I have found a way to satisfy that urge without causing damage: I take the disposable acrylic palette sheet and I turn it over a white page, and I press the colours down onto paper, forming big blobs of colour, that often look nicer than the original painting itself, and that you could use to carry out psychology tests. This one is particularly successful, with gorgeous bright colours.

And the fact that the sun was shining and my Christmas roses were casting a long shadow on the wall is just a happy coincidence


Not much time for painting and drawing lately. But I haven't been completely idle.

I completed my cheap imitation, saving ourselves a cool thousand Euro, and it's now hanging over the laundry basket on our landing. It's very bright and it works nicely on the pale cream wall. Technically, it was very easy - mix the acrylics, apply to canvas, then apply black acrylic lines between the various blocks of colour. But I have to grant the artist his or her due - the composition and the colours work really well.

The painting looked like nothing until the dash of process cyan (that's turquoise to you and me) was added at the top. Somehow, that one colour brought all the others together and calmed the somewhat garish greens and yellows. I don't think I would have figured that out for myself. That's the difference between a real artist and an amateur like myself. Maybe I'll stick to imitations in future!

Farewell, Paul

Brendan's Dad died peacefully on Christmas Day, at 14:20 in Monaghan Hospital. We'll remember him fondly. He was a kind man who was loved by all.

Thursday, December 11, 2008


Brendan and other people kept referring to our kitchen colour as maroon, and I kept saying it was burgundy, thinking they were suffering from some strange form of colour blindness. I was wrong (very hard words for me to utter, these!). I always thought that maroon meant chestnut. After all, that's what marron means in French. Not so in English, apparently! Maroon is actually a burgundy-like colour. Put in the word "maroon" in a Google search for images - the little sample above is the first thing you'll see (followed closely by the pop band Maroon 5, scary or what?) Exactly the colour of our kitchen!

Monday, December 01, 2008

The Road Home

It had been a while since I last got tearful at a movie. Well, Burn After Reading or Fearless are hardly the kinds of films you're going to cry at... But The Road Home is, and I responded accordingly. It's a sweet love story, set in Maoist China, a simple story, nothing much to it, but it worked its magic, and got me sniffling by the end.

If you want a good cry, The Road Home is definitely one I recommend!