Struggling With Cocoa. Whoever Said Dogs Are Easy?

A couple of days ago I started painting a picture from a photo of a friend’s miniature dachshund named Cocoa. Here’s a progress report.

First I copied the picture onto canvas in charcoal, highlighting the light and dark areas. With so many shapes and circles it’s beginning to remind me of painting by numbers!

Pete Davies painting Cocoa
Pete Davies painting Cocoa

Second day and I can’t decide where to start. At first Cocoa’s coat seems to be a variety of different browns, so I think it might be a good idea to paint it tonally using burnt umber and turpentine. So that’s what I do.

The under-painting isn’t working and I start to forget where I am. I realise that Cocoa’s coat is more blue than brown so I apply a mix of ultramarine and zinc white to see what effect this has.

I put down my brush stating that I can’t paint dogs!  The voice of reason (wife) says, ‘You say that every time you start a painting.’ I think that she might just be right, but only just, and press on.

It’s getting late and I fancy a drink so with part of the coat complete I decide to have another go tomorrow.

Third day. Something odd happened during the night, the painting seems to have improved. I’ve noticed this effect before so, encouraged, I press on – despite the hangover.

I continue blocking in then move on to the background to see how different colours work with Cocoa.

The photo was taken on the beach. Cocoa is sitting on the sand and the background is a jetty wall. Painting in the stone mortar creates an impressionist feel which boosts my confidence, I think I can complete this!

It’s getting dark so I’m off to bed. I take the painting upstairs and show Helen. She likes it a lot, particularly the background trees. Still, even voices of reason get it wrong sometimes!

  • To be continued ….
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Flintstones, Meet the Flintstones!

I paint using oils, buying the highest quality pigment blends available. Brushes are important, different textures and density to create different effects. Art has evolved, no longer constrained, as we all know, by trying to recreate what we see.
We now work to partially complete paintings, leaving space for interpretation and free thinking. We look behind the art, trying to interpret what the artist is trying to portray and we all come up with a different reality.
How things have changed, or have they? Take a closer look at cave art, the primitive thinking of primitive man.

Lascaux horse
Lascaux horse

But hardly primitive, conceptually complex, life and death depicted with such simplicity of line gives clarity. Something for all of us to think about.

Mindfulness, Schmindfulness

The weekend’s here and I have just discovered that I am completely on trend – in fact probably a trend-setter! My wife is teaching mindfulness at school, to help the over timetabled and stressed children to relax. Apparently mindfulness benefits those who suffer from depression and an over full mind. untitled
Mindfulness is being in the present, now. All you have to do is think about what you are doing at this very moment.  In this way you leave behind all the stresses and strains of the week and focus on the moment.
Your body relaxes, your pulse slows, endorphins flow. Quiet music, restful thoughts and detailed colouring books are all mindful materials readily available on the internet to purchase.
I have my own mindfulness paraphernalia; canvas, painting palette smudged with rich colours and an idea. How calm is that!

Get On With It, Do It Now!

The Romans called it a memento mori, some object that reminds you life is short and one day we all die. It is a concept that is often explored by artists, it can be seen in the painting and sculpting of bones and skulls found in medieval and Victorian England and on Puritan tomb stones in the United States.

Andrea Previtali - Portrait of a Man - Memento Mori
Andrea Previtali – Portrait of a Man – Memento Mori

It can be expressed in the words, Tempus fugit, meaning, ‘time flies’ which even today are still written alongside clocks.

In Mexico, the Day of the Dead celebrates and reminds us of those who have already died.

Signs that life is short are everywhere in art, the often quoted Latin phrase, ‘ars long vita brevis,’ dates back to the Greek physician, Hippocrates; tells us that life is short, but art endures.

In an interview George Harrison once spoke about all those books he probably would never read.

‘Life is very short and there’s no time for fussing and fighting my friend,’ is a well known Beatles quote, the unintentional irony of which was later revealed through the many legal wrangles that hounded the Beatles right up until the present day. What a waste.

So perhaps today is the best time to start completing all those things we keep putting off.

Time is short, and as Shakespeare said: ‘our little life, is rounded with a sleep.’ A sleep at the beginning and a sleep at the end. The time to do things is now. And if you haven’t had enough already, here’s another quote:

The happy days are here and now.
Now is the time to laugh and live, drink all the wine,
Sing all the songs that live can give.
Our yesterdays are dead and gone,
Tomorrow lives so far away,
So be alive and think of now as the happy days.

(The Happy Days – Charles Aznavour)

And finally, one more:

Gérôme - An Arab Caravan outside a Fortified Town, Egypt
Gérôme – An Arab Caravan outside a Fortified Town, Egypt

The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ,
Moves on: nor all thy Piety nor Wit
Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,
Nor all thy Tears wash out a Word of it.

– Omar Khyyam.

Get on with it! Do it now!

Goldfinger is Back – It’s Klimt’s Birthday!

Gustav Klimt - The Kiss
Gustav Klimt – The Kiss

Klimt’s birthday today. Had he lived he would be 150 years old. Although some of his earlier work was considered pornographic, his later Golden Phase brought him much acclaim and financial success. Most of all he enjoyed painting women – a kind of Goldfinger of his day!

Always Paint a Direct Sketch from Nature Every Day

Jean-Léon Gérôme
Jean-Léon Gérôme

When you draw, form is the important thing. But in painting the first thing is to look for the general impression of colour.  Always paint a direct sketch from nature every day – Jean-Léon Gérôme

Do People Fail at Dieting?

We’ve all been sitting here talking about diets but I don’t think much weight has been lost. So I thought I’d better read this

Diet that Really Works Fast for Women

A lot of times people come to me and tell me that they always fail at their diets and that?s really the wrong way of looking at it. The way I look at it is they always succeed at their diets because the goal of their diet was to lose weight.

What they say they?re failing at is keeping it off and of course they really haven?t failed at keeping it off because that was not ever what they?re trying to do. If you want to maintain the body that you want the right body for you over lifetime, without having to think about what you?re eating all the time, not to be tempted, have your hunger in balance, then what you need to do is stop accumulating.

Most of us have not been a failure at our diets and in fact, being a success, successfully having lost weight once…

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