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Delphi Valley Ireland

Delphi Valley Ireland – a journey into my visual memory

… and painting number one of my Advent Art Adventure 2014 – click to see them emerge!

Delphi Valley Ireland, acrylic painting by Debra Wenlock

Driving through the Delphi Valley in Connemara on route to Westport as the sun was setting recently gave me a special kind of challenge. The batteries of both camera and phone had run out of juice just when the scenery was becoming a glowing, spectacular vision of beauty – but I had to capture it somehow… Armed with only a ballpoint pen and the blank reverse pages of our rally roadbook, whilst driving along twisty roads in an open top vintage car, I drew the quickest, if wonkiest, of sketches – the best I could manage – whilst focusing on fusing the sights I was viewing into my visual memory.
I don’t have a photographic memory, so the experience and the feeling of this journey all had to be rolled up into a concentrated essence of the place and saved into my brain’s newly formatted “Delphi drive”. To be honest the lack of a camera was a blessing and gave me the freedom to just “look” – and the sketching made me look as hard, seeking to capture the pure nature of everything in front of me. I soaked it up – feasted on every moment.

This is one of the paintings – in acrylic and oil pastel – made from one of the many resulting sketches and that fused-in memory. It is a subject that I will have an ongoing creative relationship with, an evening that I will strive to capture – and a method of working that I shall seek to develop.

Buy the painting here!

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Nude in boots!

Nude in boots!

Wouldn’t it be great to make life a little easier every day? Today I’m experimenting with posting from my phone…. It’ll be interesting to see how successful this turns out to be – as I’m really hoping that it’s an extra option that will help me to blog more often.

Nude in Boots, Debra Wenlock

Back to life drawing sessions this week and I’m happy to share a study of our model Skye in watercolour and wax crayon (yes – the Crayola ones). The great thing about the crayons is they don’t let me get too precise with my drawing and help my painting to loosen up, which is nearly always my aim.

The boots aware for warmth, but they add a certain edge,  don’t you think?

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Beaming Beth – a smiling child portrait in watercolour

Beaming Beth – a smiling child portrait in watercolour

Beautiful Beth was a little more of a challenge to paint than her sister Anna, as her big smile gives me another detail to paint – her teeth!

They can be difficult to paint, as I found with one of my self-portraits – giving myself a denture-like set of gnashers that was tricky to correct.

I think I pulled it off here – with watercolour it’s not too difficult to add the gentlest suggestion of shadow – assuming the shape is convincing enough.

She looks happy – so I’m happy!

Beth - smiling child portrait in watercolour by Debra Wenlock

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Watercolour child portrait – Anna

Watercolour child portrait – Anna

After a few days break in daily painting and daily posting I’m back with a watercolour portrait of Anna.

Watercolour seems to be the perfect choice when it comes to painting children.

It’s really important to keep the painting as simple as possible when portraying youth… no unnecessary lines or shadows and a minimal number of layers of paint – the skin must appear to glow.

I had a great subject and hope that I have successfully captured her character!

Anna - watercolour child portrait by Debra Wenlock

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Downton Portraits – Lady Edith and Lady Sybil

Another double dose of Downton Portraits!

I haven’t been feeling well for the last couple of days and painting felt like too much of an effort…
but I couldn’t actually keep away from my drawing board and I found that, although I didn’t have patience for paint, I did still want to draw.

My short bursts of creativity did perk me up and at least let me feel I had accomplished something!

Lady Sybil, Downton portrait sketch by Debra WenlockLady Edith, Downton portrait sketch by Debra Wenlock

These two portraits were made in oil pastel on oil painting paper, so I could pull out my oil paints when I’m feeling better or for speed stick with acrylic paint for a mixed media finish.

I’ll add the completed Downton portrait paintings here when they are done.

 

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Mary, Mary – Double Downton

Mary, Mary

Had a bit of a Downton day yesterday and grabbed an old pic of the three Crawley sisters from an early series of Downton Abbey. I had in mind that I wanted to create a Fauve style portrait – Lady Mary Crawley looked just the job! I set off with my oil pastel to make a nice bold face, just using the image as a starting point… Oh yeah!
Loved painting in the loosely grand backdrop.

Slapped on some skin tones and was pleased with a passing likeness.

Then got absorbed, a little too comfy, and too precious. Couldn’t resist trying to get it just right….

Well – Mary was all scanned last night and ready to face the world first thing this morning… except when I got up this morning I thought she looked a bit too grumpy and set about turning the corners of her mouth upwards – just a bit, mind.

Well, I’ve done it now, and that wee tweek of the corners of the mouth has gone and become a whole lipstick makeover. Lady Mary is morphing into Lady Sybil (no bad thing, if you think about it) and probably influenced by the fact that I also began a painting of Lady Sybil last night at bedtime?

Now I’m doubting Downton was a good move.

Here they both are –

Lady Mary Crawley, acrylic & oil pastelLady Mary Crawley acrylic & oil pastel by Debra Wenlock

What do you think – which is more Mary?

 

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A Family Face

A Family Face – Remembering Auntie with a Portrait

Auntie Jean, oil pastel portrait by Debra Wenlock

A few months ago my Uncle asked if I could paint him a picture of his late wife and I collected some photographs from him for the likeness.

None of them really stood out as being ‘just’ Jean though and I worried about it for a while, despite being flattered that he had honored me with the task.

This month of portrait painting feels like the time that I must set my nervousness aside and get on with it!

So I started yesterday, gently stroking a softly coloured page with my oil pastels, just letting myself enjoy the colouring process and spending a nice afternoon with my Auntie.

I enjoyed remembering her smile and I loved the subtle blend of colours that emerged.

I’m not sure if my pastel portrait is quite Jean either, but we’ll see what my family make of it and I plan to try a watercolour too…

 

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Ruth as Steam Witch

Ruth as Steam Witch

I received some lovely photos of Ruth, all bewitched for Halloween Steam, at the Railway Preservation Society of Ireland’s seasonal train trips with the message:

“She wants to be painted as the witch!”

That’s just what I like to see and hear – and I was most happy to oblige.

Probably the sweetest looking witch that I have come across – I have enjoyed making the portrait a little decorative and adding a few magical swirls to the hair!

Ruth as the Steam Witch by Debra Wenlock

 

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Portrait in Progress

Portrait in Progress

Today was one of those days when everything less important than painting seemed to take over…

I did mean to make my Daily Face a quick sketch, but somehow was lured by the paints. This one’s from a photo of my friend Nem, who lives in Austria, taken the last time she and her family visited Northern Ireland. I love the colourful hoody she wore that day and her expression was priceless. I hope she’ll forgive me for zooming in!

Sketched loosely with red watercolour pencil on canvas, followed by scarlet acrylic to define the outline and shadows. I try to keep the colours fairly clean and fresh to start with, working through to some subtler and more natual tones to complete the portrait. Too tired to finish this evening, I’ll restart and finish with a blast of enthusiasm in the morning.

Nem Portrait in progress by Debra Wenlock

And here’s the finished portrait!

Naomi Portrait by Debra Wenlock

 

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