Thursday 30 July 2020

Art Ideas! - thinking about space. *Outer* Space

(apologies for very dodgy font sizing and spacing and formatting throughout this post. It keeps glitching and I cannot work out how to solve it)

Following my last two blog posts looking at other worlds here are some ideas for bringing Outer Space Into Your Art.

Re-finding this oil painting

Leo -

and having fun further browsing through the Art in Healthcare Collection

Claire Cooper Walsh
Realms of Possibility
mixed media & collage

Wilhelmina Barns-Graham

apologies, I have lost the link for this artwork from the Art in Healthcare Collection

made me think planets. 

Well, you know, circles... sci-fi / fantasy head... = planets.

nb. choose spaceships if you prefer but planets are definitely easier to cut out.


1 - make some circles

- draw around lids, rolls of tape, anything circular

- colour the circles however you choose:


- PVA glue mixed with paint. 

- Brush or drip it on then leave to dry. 

- The PVA makes it dry to a lovely glossy semi-translucent finish. 

- Try different paper colours underneath.

- colour with oil pastel or wax crayon
- make lots of folds in the paper to add texture


- colour with oil pastel or wax crayon
- make lots of folds in the paper to add texture
- gently brush watery paint on top.


- colour with oil pastel or wax crayon

- as above only scratch rather than scrumple at the end. 


- a ' happy accident' using black drawing ink rather than black paint

2 - make a Space Background for your planets to orbit in

This background is painted. Lots of different layers of blues gradually changing from dark to light.  

choose your planet. This one is:

- oil pastel lines of blue and green

- watery paint of yellow and orange and pinkish filling in the rest 

3 - place your planet

Planet Rising

Planet Fills All


(Space background turned upside-down) 


(Space background turned right-way-up again) 


4 - Again with a circular Space background

Circles of paint. 

pva-paint planets placed


added a colourful oil pastel planet

one dark, one bright and bold


5 - one more Space picture

- painted-circles Space background
- planets are coloured with wax crayon,


Tuesday 14 July 2020

Art Ideas! - a bit more escapism - other worlds - other artists

Here are a few more of my Other Worlds for you to enjoy.

Or to make you think twice before next you see me.

Spot the space goblin?

Find a place in the real world which looks otherworldly. These human-made grassy mounds were spotted on a train journey then elaborated on for this painting:
modern hills
acrylic, miniature

Space serpents? Seaweed? Mountain range? Waves?
oil, 3x5ft

Choose a real object, put it in an unexpected place:
boat in the clouds
acrylic, miniature

A building on an impossible clifftop:
dawn in blue
acrylic, miniature

Choose a title to enhance the fantastic:
Journey of a Space Goblin
oil, 5x6ft

But it's not just me who likes fantastical. Honest. Here are some from ***Other Artists*** in the Art in Healthcare Collection.

These first two are by Peter Standen, an Edinburgh artist. He takes well known locations, often Edinburgh, and shows them as he imagines them in the far far future.

Try a landscape in sombre colours to give the feeling of something huge having happened.

Peter Standen
View From Calton Hill

Depict your pets doing odd things:
Peter Standen
Catalytic Catnip
57 x 68 cm

More cats. People like cats.

Michael Forbes
What's For Tea
66 x 76 cm

Great trees!
Michael Forbes
Familiar Faces
oil painting
62.5 x 72.5 cm

Alan Davie. Look closely for buildings, gardens, roads, trees, mountains and many curious things.

Try this with black ink or black paint. Or a felt tip marker.

Alan Davie
Between the Villages
73 x 62 cm

A scene from Greek mythology. Enhanced by its title. Without reading the title you might not guess at it being an other-worldly painting at all.

Philip Braham
Icarus Falling to Earth
oil painting
53 x 69 cm

Fantastical rollercoaster?

I would not go on that.

Jennifer would.

What do you see?

Try a big bold drawing using lovely soft charcoal, or conte crayons for a harder line:
Judith Rowan
Nine Pine Trees
Mixed Media and Collage
100 x 110cm

Three Flying Crowns...

Choose some objects from around your house, make them fly!:

Alice Shannon
The Flying Crowns
mixed media and collage
67 x 60 cm

A magical fantastical giraffey dreamscape by Maki Hamada. I was at art college with Maki.

Maki Hamada
acrylic and gouache mixed media and collage
67 x 60 cm

A very happy scene. Starry volcanoes, flying house.

Christopher Gilvan-Cartwright
Nothing is Impossible..II
oil painting
50 x 63 cm

I love this. A real building (demolished 1964) in a fantastical moonlit setting. With sunflowers.

Robert Leishman
Royal Arch (Dundee) Fantasy
oil painting

And your other worlds?

Wednesday 1 July 2020

Art Ideas! - a bit of escapism - other worlds

I've always loved fantasy - myth, legend, other worlds. As a kid - picture books, story tapes, Tolkien and Enid Blyton read at bedtime by our parents. Getting a bit older - fantasy novels full of dragons and elves and all things magic. Adulthood - haven't stopped. There's nothing like a fantasy novel before bed to make you (well, me) forget global pandemics for a while.

Creating your own other worlds brings some of the same escape. There are endless ways to do it of course, so here I won't share art techniques, rather give a few ideas to get your brain thinking in an otherworldy way.

Being me I'll talk from a painting point of view but please create your worlds using whatever materials and techniques you like. Drawing, painting, clay, collage, felting, writing, dried pasta... Dance? I can't advise on that last one.


1 - paint what you read

Whilst reading a book / listening to an audiobook jot down any landscape descriptions which appeal. I've done this with a few books, for example Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson. It's set in Scotland so isn't strictly otherworldly, but set in the 18th Century so I hope you let me off with it. Some of the descriptions conjured fully formed pictures right into my head. I sketched out my ideas using pencil then made these four detailed miniature acrylic paintings:

This giant boulder becomes a hiding place for Kidnapped's two main characters. 
I included two golden eagles circling by the top of the waterfall.

moonlit mountaintops

'Cluny's Cage', a hillside hideaway amongst the trees

moonlit bay


2 - real things in the wrong places

This is what I find usually works best. Look around you. Pick something, anything really. Sketch it down then sketch the wrong setting around it.

Choose something small and make it big - paint an apple on a tabletop, just a straightforward apple, painted to fill most of your paper. Then paint a little figure standing at the bottom of it, or perch a castle on the top. Suddenly your apple is a GIANT apple mountain.

Here's one I painted back when I was at art college. I painted the long straight desert road based on a photo I'd seen, probably in a National Geographic or The Guardian. I selected one of the (many) nature objects I've collected - a dried root of seaweed, clasped onto a hard piece of pinkish rock (granite?). I turned the rock upside and painted it into the sky.

And this goldfish on a rather unstable pedestal:

Poor thing.

Or choose something big and make it small - paint the church at the end of your street, paint it smallish on your paper and arching over it paint the stems, fronds or flowers of one of your house-plants. The church now inhabits a giant jungle landscape.

Here's a large observatory building transported to a little patch of clifftop grasses. The bird is an African oystercatcher:

Here's a small cone-shaped fossil I've painted (then annoyingly misplaced the fossil before photographing it for you. I'll probably find it as soon as I publish this):

Painting it alone on a blank dark background let me see it as an anonymous object or shape, which then let me more easily start imagining what I might make it.

A standing stone, I decided.

I sketched these thumbnail ideas using pencil & biro:

Finished painting, a standing-stone-on-another-planet:

Or is it a close up of a tiger's eye?


3 - make it up completely!
Maybe it comes from looking at and reading so much of this sort of stuff my whole life, or probably it's just how I am, anyway, sometimes these strange scenes just pop into my head, or they appear as I doodle.

Subconsciously Lion King?