Commission: Castle Series, no. 6 – Beaumaris

Here’s the last of my six castle paintings – the half-finished Beaumaris Castle. That’s the castle, not the painting that’s half finished… And, of course, the last was the trickiest! There is something to be said for having a good artist’s sketchbook, having the time and patience to use it and then apply what has been learnt onto the canvas. I don’t ‘do art’ quite like that…

Previous paintings in the series:
CaernarfonRaglanCriccieth – Dolwyddelan – Conwy

Beaumaris Castle painting

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Commission: Castle Series, no. 5 – Conwy

With the same immenseness as Caernarfon Castle, Conwy is going to be a good balance in the room. With the suspension bridge, modern meets historical – and was most tricky to paint! 

Previous paintings in the series:
Caernarfon CastleRaglan CastleCriccieth Castle – Dolwyddelan

Conwy Castle painting

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Commission: Castle Series, no. 4 – Dolwyddelan

When I used to holiday near Porthmadog, I joined Cadw – the Welsh Heritage organisation. I then proceeded to overdose on visiting castles – I think the record was 9 in three days. I don’t really know where the fascination started, but it was certainly early in childhood. The bigger, the better in my book… But, as a subject for a painting, Dolwyddelan Castle is pretty much up there, despite being the smallest castle in the series.

Previous paintings in the series: Caernarfon CastleRaglan CastleCriccieth Castle 
Dolwyddelan Castle painting

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Commission: Castle Series, no. 3, Criccieth

I love Criccieth Castle – less as a ruin, but more because of it’s place on the hilly promontory above the village. It gives such a stark silhouette, reflected in the bay.

Previous paintings in the series: Caernarfon CastleRaglan Castle

Criccieth Castle painting

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Commission: Castle Series, no. 2, Raglan

I’ve been painting again today – after I’d potted on my leeks… This time, I’ve gone for Raglan Castle, in Monmouthshire. You might note, in comparison to my painting of Caernarfon Castle yesterday, that the light is coming from the opposite direction. There is method in this madness – the paintings are to hang opposite each other on either side of the room. Thus, the light, and the shadows, will look as if they are from the same direction.

Ok, ok, it was a happy accident that I noticed the above before I started hanging the paintings. Now I will go back to my reference materials and check that the remaining four of the series are split 50/50 in light direction. It was one of those ‘oh no’ moments that turned into ‘well, of course, I meant to do that’ when no one was looking…

Raglan Castle painting

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Commission: Castle Series, no. 1, Caernarfon

I’m having fun in the Studio, actually playing with paints and canvases for a change. It’s also been a little while since I have had any commissions. This is the first in a series of six canvases, each requested to feature a Welsh castle. The main colour of the room is grey, and the accent colour is purple.

I’ve loved the ‘purple twilight’ type photo treatment, and there’s nothing more striking (I think) than a castle’s silhouette. It gives a much more solid appearance, and given most castle’s prominence on the horizon, a real immenseness.

Caernarfon CastleMy first is that of Caernarfon Castle. It took me a couple of tries to get the tonal shades right – my first go didn’t have enough contrast between the grey and black.

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Art Journals: using acrylic covers

I was on Hochanda this week demonstrating techniques for using the acrylic covers effectively, for the A4 and A6 journals from That’s Crafty!. As always, there is too little time on air to fit in all my ideas, and only just enough time to fit in all I had planned! What follows below are photos and quick explanations of how to do your own. I really need to remember to take step-by-step photos as I make so that I can do a proper tutorial post! First is an unbroadcast cover, then the mirrored cover that didn’t go so right when rushed, and last for this post is the bubbling water effect shown in my first hour.

  • Peel off the protective film from the reverse of the cover
  • Work on the reverse side for all the following steps
  • Place the snowdrop stencil in position and fill in using Posca pens
  • Dry, then place the TIME stencil upside down and sponge through ivory paint
  • Dry, spritz with gold mister, dry
  • Meanwhile, print texture stamps onto large Rizla papers using Chartreuse archival ink
  • Heat set the ink, then using decoupage glue/multi medium glue overlapping layers of the printed papers
  • Once dry, any paper over the edges of the cover can be sanded off

  • Peel off the protective film from the reverse of the cover
  • Working on the reverse, add alcohol inks until you are happy with the coloured layer
  • Place the JOURNAL stencil upside down and sponge a layer of Jet Black archival ink through onto the alcohol ink
  • Remove the stencil and then rub away the black in with a clean cloth/kitchen towel
  • Repeat inking steps if you want to remove any more of the alcohol ink
  • Now spritz with a water-based varnish (e.g. Pentart spray varnish) to seal the ink
  • IMPORTANT: allow to fully air dry, do not heat. Repeat varnish layer
  • Spritz with Pentart Mirror Mist and heat dry immediately to stop the mirror mist weakening the varnish beneath
  • Seal the mirror mist with the same varnish and finally apply a layer of black acrylic paint
  • Peel off front film to reveal your results

  • Peel off the protective film from the reverse of the cover
  • Working on the reverse, and using the word stencils the wrong way up, sponge your main colour onto the acrylic; heat dry and repeat directly over the top.
  • Next, sponge your shadow colour through the same stencil, slightly offsetting from the first colour
  • For the water effect, first dilute some white gesso/primer
  • Working quickly, cover the whole sheet with a layer of watery paint and then dab isopropyl alcohol into the wet paint – it will push the paint away and start the effect
  • When you are happy with the effect, heat dry in a well ventilated room
  • Repeat with a light shade of blue, and then another darker shade of blue
  • This technique will work over any sealed surface, but does rely on the paint being thinned and still wet
  • Try adding text to the front of the cover as well, this time starting with the shadow colour and working over the top with the main colour

Bonus post

Later this week I will do a separate post explaining my ‘now-you-see-me-now-you-don’t’ technique that was a wee bit rushed at the end of the second show:

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