Love the Net! (Mary Herbert)

2012Article posted by Gilly

I know that February was a short month but, heavens, where did it go!? We even had an extra day and I still wasn’t able to catch up with this ‘blog’ (and I still think that is the ugliest of words!)

It was a busy month, too, with art groups recommencing for the year, AGMs happening - I didn’t volunteer for anything! - and lots of painting done. At Baskerville Art I organised our first workshop - my friend, Maryann Devereux, who came and demonstrated how to use modelling paste and collage to create textures. Even I had a go and was way out of my comfort zone! Maryann’s artwork is wonderfully evocative of the oceans and country up in the north of the state, quite abstract but still recognisable. Quite a few of the Baskerville members are enamoured of the techniques and creating some interesting pieces of their own. I think I’ll stick to creating my textures with pastel sticks or brush and the occasional palette knife.

But I have done a slightly innovative thing, for me, that is. I was interested in colour shapers. I have somehow gained a couple and I wasn’t quite sure how they should be used. I discovered that they did wipe out areas of oil paint where I wanted a highlight, but wasn’t so successful with trying to use them to blend. So, onto the good old Internet…......I didn’t find out much about colour shapers but I did find another incredible pastel artist whom I want to share. Her name is Mary Herbert and she’s a UK artist who pastels the most beautiful portraits of dogs and horses. Her website is: Please check her out. She has done some amazing ‘speed videos’ of her work which are on YouTube and a joy to watch. The music is great, too. One day I will have a Links page added to this website and then I can share my favourite artists with you. Mary will definitely be there!

She did use colour shapers in her work although in the speed videos it was a little unclear how, but I decided to have a go in a close-up portrait of a kookaburra and found that it blended the pastel wonderfully. I achieved the most realistic blending of colours in the beak, much better than using my fingers and, in particular, I could blend easily into the tiniest corner without smudging pastel out of the area.So, more practise and I think these will become very useful tools.

The kookaburra portrait and a watercolour of galahs in a tree have been completed ready for our Artisans on Swan final exhibition in June. I framed them in recycled frames and am exceptionally pleased with the results - I managed to achieve the correct colours to suit the frames. The galahs was the first watercolour I’d painted in over a year and it turned out pretty well. No masterpiece, but quite a pretty painting.

Somebody asked me if I wasn’t tired of painting kookaburras! How could I be? They are such interesting birds, so full of personality and character. And I’ve taken some really good shots of late as a few have been visiting the woodland area of our property. They posed beautifully! So I must paint them! In fact, I’m being really ambitious now and doing a large canvas, over a metre in length which is huge for me, featuring four kookaburras and a fairy wren - a little storyline. Of course, going so large means I must paint an actual rural background so that’s going to be a challenge, trying to keep it muted and soft and, if I can, slightly out-of-focus. Oh, I wish I knew how to use an airbrush!!!! But to use my usual ‘blurred’ background of foliage would be too overpowering in such large format, and I have the birds sitting on old fenceposts so I can’t get away with a large expanse of sky, either. I’ve spent the last three days manipulating the birds into a natural-looking composition and deciding on how the background should look. I want to give a feeling of the distance and space in our Australian rural area but not keep it too flat and uninteresting, nor too complicated that it detracts from the birds. That’s why I’m really taking my time. It has to be right.

Will let you know how it progresses.

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