Towards the Lighthouse

It’s been an exciting start to the painting class this year, and I couldn’t resist the urge to embark on a personal artistic journey during our first session. While our teacher is always a valuable resource for guidance and does suggest themes to paint, I felt compelled to follow my own muse this time around.

My inspiration? A picturesque scene featuring a solitary lighthouse perched at the edge of a series of interconnected islets, linked by a quaint road and bridge. With a photo providing the needed inspiration, I dove into the world of acrylics, eager to bring this vision to life on canvas.

The initial stages of the painting involved blocking in the main colours, defining the vast expanse of the sky, the tranquil waters of the sea, and the main shapes of the islets and bridges. And the lighthouse, of course. However, as any artist knows, the creative process is never without its challenges. Sometimes a little break is needed to see the work in process from a little distance, both physically and time-wise.

Towards the lighthouse

Upon revisiting the painting after a brief hiatus, I realized the importance of refining the composition. The horizon demanded a straighter, more horizontal alignment, while the hues of the sea and the light in the sky needed to be subtly muted to evoke a sense of serene tranquillity. The rough outlines of the islets needed to be better defined, and I got some details in to make it easier to see the real shapes and figure out the placement of the lighthouse and bridge.

Ah, but the true heart of the painting emerged with the depiction of the lighthouse itself. Time was spent meticulously crafting its structure, ensuring that every colour and detail resonated authentically with the scene I envisioned. Or at least, making it look good. While not an exact replica of my reference, I aimed to capture the essence and spirit of this wonderful beacon.

With the lighthouse taking the main stage, attention turned to enhancing the surrounding landscape. Additional details were painstakingly added to the islets, bridges, and roads, imbuing them with a sense of rustic charm and character.

In the end, the road led the eyes from the bridge towards the lighthouse, where it rose towards the sky.

Flowers on splashing background

Today I want to share with you a painting experiment I did recently. I had an idea, and wanted to see if I could manage it: Splashing wet paint on the canvas and letting it run down, before adding a motive on top. OK, it didn’t turn out quite as I imagined, but I did try something new.

You tell me if I should be happy about it.

Flowers
A bouquet of various flowers

The Inspiration

I’ve seen several paintings where some paint is running down the canvas, and at times this makes a wonderful effect. The seed was sown in me, the idea to make a painting myself, using that effect. But I didn’t really have any idea of a motive I would try this with myself, until a digital painting simulating the effects got my mind working. It was a simple painting, with just a few random, loosely painted flowers on a background with some paint splatter, and some watery paint drops running down the digital canvas.

I fell instantly for the image, and wanted to see if I could recreate something similar with real paint.

The Process

To create this painting, I used acrylic paint and a canvas. I started by making a gradient sky as a background. I mixed some water with various colours of paint to make it more fluid, splashed it on the canvas with a brush and let the watery paint drops run their way towards the bottom.

Then I painted the flowers themselves, loose and impulsive, in the mood right there and then.

Above you see the painting how it turned out. Not quite how I imagined it when I started, I admit, but still …

The Conclusion

Even though the painting didn’t turn out exactly as I expected, I’m glad I tried something new and experimented with different techniques. I learned a lot from this experience, and I think it’s important to challenge yourself and step out of your comfort zone sometimes. You never know what you might discover or create.

In hindsight, I should’ve tested and planned a bit more beforehand, and also been prepared for making a bit more mess than I dared to be in the environment where I started painting. And use a brush that could hold more wet paint for the splattering. But it’s all a learning process, and I’m not discouraged. With the right motive, I’ll be trying this again. Maybe even do a “second run” at this one.

What do you think of my painting experiment? Do you like the splashing effect and the flower motive? Have you ever tried something similar with paint? Let me know in the comments below.

Blue Moon: A Painting of Reflections

Have you ever wondered how to paint reflections in water? I have always been fascinated by this topic, and I decided to challenge myself with a project that would capture the beauty and complexity of light and water. In this blog post, I will share with you my process and inspiration for creating “Blue Moon”, a painting of a city skyline at night, with a stunning glow-in-the-dark effect.

The Inspiration

The idea for this painting came to me when I was thinking about what kind of scene would be interesting and challenging to paint with reflections. My thoughts went immediately to a city skyline, with its tall buildings, bright lights, and busy streets. I wanted to create a contrast between the dark and the light, the natural and the artificial, the calm and the chaotic.

I didn’t use any reference photos for this painting, but I looked at various photos for inspiration, and I had a rough idea of what I wanted to paint in my head. I also added elements from my imagination, such as a bridge and a Ferris wheel. I thought these elements would add some interest and variety to the scene, as well as some reflections of their own.

The Process

To start the painting, I jumped in painting right away, without sketching with a pencil first. I painted the background with acrylic paints, using a dark blue for the sky and a lighter blue for the water. I also painted the moon with white paint, leaving some space around it for some light at the rim of otherwise invisible clouds.

Next, I painted the buildings with black paint, using a wide brush to create the shapes. The buildings were too far away to see any details, they were just dark, almost black shapes with lights from windows breaking the monotony. I also painted some red lights on top of two skyscrapers that are connected by a roof, forming a bridge. I thought this would create a focal point and a contrast in the painting.

Then, I painted the Ferris wheel with yellow and red paint, using a small brush to create the lights and spokes. I also painted some yellow streetlights along the water, illuminating the green trees. I wanted to create some warmth and cosiness in the scene, as well as some reflections in the water.

The skyline in daylight

Finally, I added some glow-in-the-dark paint to the painting, using a fine brush. I applied this paint on top of the white moon, creating a halo effect. The glow-in-the-dark paint used on the moon is blue, hence the title of the painting. I also applied it on some of the windows of the buildings, especially those near the water. I also added some dots of glow-in-the-dark paint on the water, creating some sparkles and ripples. I wanted to create some magic and mystery in the scene, as well as some contrast between day and night.

The Result

The painting was finished after several hours of work, and I was very happy with how it turned out. It looked like a painterly and beautiful city skyline at night, with reflections in the water that captured my attention and imagination.

The skyline at night

But the best part was when I turned off the lights and saw how the painting transformed in darkness. The moon glowed brightly in blue, creating a stunning reflection in the water. The windows of the buildings also glowed in different colours, creating some patterns and shapes in the dark. The Ferris wheel also glowed in red, creating a circle of light in the water as well as on land. The painting looked like a different world, full of wonder and mystery.

Free Willy!

Free Willy! That was the comment when I said I wanted to paint an orca. I pondered the iconic movie poster as an inspiration but settled for focusing on the orca. Or an orca, as it’s not exactly “Willy” himself.

This was a continuation of the watery challenge mentioned in an earlier post. Still, instead of staying underwater, I went with a creature that stays primarily submerged in water, breaking the surface to breathe, or to have fun. And as I revealed already in the first paragraph, the creature is an orca.

It’s my largest finished painting so far, 65×90 cm

And I really wanted to challenge myself, by using the largest canvas I have. Well, an orca may not be the most difficult subject to paint being black and white, but then again shadows and highlights are essential not to make it look flat.

Blocking in the colours was quick, but then there were the details. While this isn’t a realistic style painting, adding details to the painting still takes time, at least for me. I’m sure it’ll get easier and faster with experience.

When I look at it now, I see all the things I could do differently or better, but I still got nice responses from people who like it. This just goes to show yet again: There’s no one more critical of my work than myself. Maybe this was what Leonardo da Vinci had in mind when he said “A painting is never finished, only abandoned.”

Dionaea

My Instagram account is Dionaea Design. My domain name is dionaea.com, and I use the name in a few other places, too. Why Dionaea? What’s that about that logo I use? It all started when my imagination wanted me to draw a character. It turned out to be a flower; a carnivorous, mobile flower. When? That I can’t say for sure – the earliest documented memory of it, is from the last century, back in 1985.?

The name Dionaea I got from a botanical book, and inspired by the carnivorous Venus Flytrap. Dionaea muscipula in Latin. I liked that first part.?

A sketch of Dionaea, by blue colour pencil
My Dionaea sketch from ’89

I never got so far as to develop a story around Dionaea and make a book out of it (as I was encouraged to do by a famous fantasy artist …). I just have made some drawings here and there. This sketch from ’89 turned up together with my dog drawings, on a flimsy piece of paper.?

It’s been a while since I’ve done anything with my Dionaea character, even though I’ve had ideas of what to do. I probably should try to do a bit more again. Maybe just something as simple as trying to paint it with acrylic paint?

Time will show what I’ll do.

Into Abstract Territory

The time had come for some abstract adventure, a field where I’d failed spectacularly before. Admittedly that was nonfigurative abstractness, but still … when it comes to abstract painting, I’m way out of my comfort zone.

So I had to try, right?

In my mind, I imagined a wonderful, colourful image of a promenade lighted up by street lamps. So colour it was, and bright ones at that.

An abstract evening walk

It certainly didn’t end up looking like I imagined it before I started, but it was a fun experience. And those who have seen it seem to like it, so I might’ve done something right after all. What do you think?

It’s still out of my comfort zone, tho …

Rediscovering Childhood Art: The Hidden Drawings of a Dog Enthusiast

Have you ever stumbled upon a long-forgotten treasure from your childhood? Something that instantly transports you back in time, evoking memories and emotions long tucked away? That’s exactly what happened to me recently when I stumbled upon a collection of my childhood pencil drawings. Among them were numerous sketches of dogs, showcasing a passion I have been reminded of now and then by the innocent phrase “You used to be so good at drawing dogs.” Join me on this nostalgic journey as we uncover the lost art and relive the memories of a young aspiring artist.

The Recovery

It had been years since anyone mentioned my childhood talent for drawing dogs. Memories of my artistic endeavours had faded over time, buried under the weight of daily life1. But fate had a different plan. One day, as I rummaged through old boxes, I stumbled upon a plastic folder, which showed small notepad-sized papers filled with sketches. Could it be? Had I finally found my long-lost dog drawings?

Collie

A Blast from the Past

Opening the folder, I was transported back to my younger days. The first sketch that caught my eye was a Collie, captured in simple pencil strokes. As memories flooded back, I marveled at the innocence and passion that once fueled my creative endeavors. Each drawing had its unique charm, telling a story of my early fascination with our four-legged companions.

I knew several of the drawings were lost, as I had glued them to a storage box for papers that I had made from carton – and that one has been thrown away. Unless it surprises me by suddenly turning up from somewhere I would never suspect. Many of those were my favourites, I think. Hard to remember now, many decades later.

Field Spaniel

Breeds Galore

Leafing through the sheets from the notepad, I discovered my exploration of various dog breeds. From the Collie, known in the Lassie films to the dainty Chihuahua, I had done my best to capture the likeness of each breed. Looking at these drawings now, I couldn’t help but admire the determination I had as a young artist to understand the nuances that made each dog breed distinct. Or well, how faithfully I had recreated the dogs from a book, “Hundene i farger” (The dogs in colour).

Short haired Chihuahua

Unexpected Talent

It’s easy for me not to recognize the talent – or lack thereof – that I showed in these drawings as a ten-eleven-year-old kid. But when I showed them to a friend of mine, a dad of four small girls, his response made me think: OK, maybe these drawings, while not as advanced as I remembered them, really do show the talent I had as a kid. And my parents really meant it when they said “You used to be so good at drawing dogs as a kid.”

It was a reminder that passion and talent can manifest in unexpected ways, even in the hands of a young artist.

Long haired Chihuahua

A Reflection

Rediscovering these long-lost drawings allowed me to reflect on the journey that began with a pencil and a notepad. While time and life may have shifted my focus to different endeavours, the joy and fulfilment that art brought me as a child remain deeply etched in my soul. It’s a reminder to nurture our passions, embrace the creativity that lies within us, and cherish the memories and dreams we once held dear.

Chow Chow

Conclusion

The unexpected rediscovery of my childhood dog drawings opened a portal to the past, unearthing a forgotten chapter of my artistic journey. These humble sketches, created with a standard school pencil and bound in a small notepad, reminded me of the passion and talent that once burned brightly within me. As I look at those drawings now, I am filled with gratitude for the joy they brought me as a child and the lasting impression they left on those who saw them. It’s a testament to the power of art and the magic of childhood dreams.

Of course, as you can see from earlier posts in this blog, my passion for creativity never left me. It just has come to expression in other forms when time and energy permits. Lately, it’s mostly through acrylic painting. I have to concentrate on mainly one thing to be able to do anything at all. Unfortunately, as it’s so many different ways I’d like to be creative, but who knows, one day I’ll be able to include more creative outlets in my daily life!

1 Sounds dramatic, doesn’t it? Somewhat exaggerated, but it does make for a good read.

Pearly things

During my time as a happy amateur painter, I’ve painted motives from over the water, most of them not including water at all. So, wasn’t it time for a little change, and to get a completely different perspective? Like, painting a motive from under the water’s surface? I thought so.

I had long wanted to paint something like a castle ruin underwater as if the land had sunken or the sea had risen. That would be a detailed painting. Maybe too complex for the time I had for this challenge, at least the digital versions I had been somewhat creative with.

While pondering about this, I also figured I wanted to try painting on a circular canvas. I mean, I had bought a couple, so I had to use them, right? Which also would put some limitations on the motive.

I had an idea. But would it work?

I made a quick sketch in a circle.

I opened my trusty ol… brand-new sketchbook and tested my idea. Yup, it seemed to work for me. A giant pearl in a mussel looked just right. So the next step was to paint it. And paint it I did!

A bit different from the sketch, but I think it works.

I removed some of the objects; some I didn’t paint at all, and some I painted over afterwards because they didn’t really fit in – they removed the focus from the pearl. We can’t have that! But there’s enough variation for the whole image to work.

Feeling Blue?

Feeling blue?

Briefly inspired by a colourful image that I don’t remember what it looked like, combined with a comment (before I started painting this) that people don’t have blue skin, I decided I wanted to have some fun when taking on this challenge.

It can certainly be better, but I had fun with it! And I still might change it a bit later.

Any comments?

Life is hard

The alternative title for this post could be “The Unfortunate Crow”, for obvious reasons. It’s quite a while since now, that I saw this crow in the snow one winter, trying to eat some snow. Probably the easiest way for it to get something to drink.

My photo of the unfortunate crow

A crow isn’t, I must admit, a bird I pay too much attention to normally. This time, tho, I soon discovered the problem it had to cope with: The broken beak. I quickly turned on the camera on the phone and snapped a few pictures, where it stood just a couple of meters away from me. Maybe three.

Also, instead of being a bird I don’t care much about, this one I felt sorry for. How long had she lived without the beak? How did she break it? How long would she live now? I found myself wanting to give her a beak prosthetic, but two things stopped me: First, I would have to catch her (she ignored me when I asked her to come to me) and second, I would have to make her that prosthetic.

I gave up that thought.

Instead, I toyed with the thought of painting her. Now I’ve finally done it.

My painting of the crow.

I’ve never tried to paint anything photorealistic, and all the details in the feathers scared me away from painting this for some years. But while I may enjoy doing some fiddly details, it’s first now that I’ve painted a few years and learned a bit I found this picture again with the intent to paint it. Faking the details.

In the process, I noticed for the first time that the crow isn’t just pure black and grey – there’s also some brown in there. I do notice more details when I study something to paint than I used to. Cool!

So, how should I paint it? Photorealistic is out of the question. The details is way too finicky for my abilities. Maybe one day, if I want to spend ages on one painting, but for now I had to simplify, a lot. Some lines to indicate the direction of the feathers are what I went with.

Currently, I’m very happy with what I’ve managed.