Blog My own art and craft

Painting part 3. How do you make a print? – and the dread of overworking.

So, although Covid-19 continues to be a concern, the overall lockdown has eased and some of the drivers that were there for doing all the craft (namely, keeping my sanity and entertaining the kids when we’re all in the house together 24/7) are not quite as intense.

Couple that with the fact that my son has become obsessed with going out to hunt Pokémon on Pokémon Go, and we seem to have spent more time outdoors chasing Pikachu through the park and less arts/craft. I definitely don’t want to stop consciously doing creative things with the kids but it’s been good to be outside more. That said, I’ve been continuing to draw and paint once they’re in bed, and it remains satisfying that I’m getting slowly better.

This week, I started working on this painting of an orangutan. Random, I know, but its world orangutan day on the 19th August (bet you didn’t know that) and in the back of my mind I thought maybe I could ask for a donation to charity from anyone who might want it when its finished.

It’s not yet finished but you get the idea…

I contacted the Sumatran Orangutan Society to see whether they have a forum for selling paintings etc. They can try and sell things for you, but it’s easier if you do it yourself and then donate the profits so I will try and do that as even if it only gets £20 then that’s still something good for charity!

However, it also got me wondering about how prints are made from paintings, what’s the cost involved etc etc. I’m going to look into this and write about it for whoever’s interested in knowing about that sort of thing. As with most things I suspect that its only complicated until you know what to do.

Something else that’s been on my mind when practising painting, is when to stop with something you’re working on. I’ve never studied art or have any awareness of different styles etc, but it strikes me that as you do start to know your own preferences and skills, you have to make the decision on when is enough, enough. I know for example, that I’m not aiming for photo-type realism, so what am I aiming for?

As an example, take the orangutan painting. You can see that picture 2 is better than picture 1, but would a picture 3 be better than picture 2?

Picture 2 is where I’ve got to with it at the moment. It was never intended to be the final thing, but when I got up this morning I was actually pretty happy with it. Only thing is that I just bish, bash, boshed (technical term) the fur as I know I find it difficult (see and the fingers are only suggested, both of which I was aiming to go back and work on. I’m not now sure whether to do that or not though, so I thought to myself ‘am I starting to find my style?’, or ‘am I just scared of messing it up?’ (or can I just not do the detail?).

The answer I came to is that I need to keep going with it, and prove to myself how much is too much. I’m hoping that I’ll naturally find a point to stop where it looks its best, but I’m guessing I might go past that before I realise it!

I’ll put the finished thing on here so you can judge for yourselves. in the meantime don’t forget about world orangutan day, and if you’d like to make a donation to SOS, I’m sure they’d appreciate it.

For other painting blogs see:

Playroom –

Painting part 1 –

Painting part 2 –

My own art and craft

Painting …part 1

I’m slowly, slowly, getting better at painting with acrylics. This is just a short blog entry with pictures to show a process and where I’m at up to now. Might be useful to those who are on a similar journey.

My acrylics paint set is just a basic set of colours from the Works I buy a lot of white paint in larger volume as I tend to get through more of this than the others. The canvases I get in packs of about 5 from either the Works, Hobbycraft or Amazon (depending on who has a deal on at the time). I mainly buy larger canvases now, simply because it seems easier to paint on a bigger space, but the one for this dog painting is about A4 sized. If you’re a beginner and you go too small, it becomes really tricky.

The method shown below is one that I’ve found helps when I’m on a fairly short timeframe and when I’m doing something where I’m bothered that the end piece looks decent.

To start, I took the canvas and put a grid on it (you can get some apps that put a grid over a photo for free on iPhone or Android so you can use that to copy an image). I’m sure there’s probably a snobbery about grids and I don’t tend to use one when I’ve got longer (as I can just keep painting over things until it looks right) but they are really effective in helping to get started.

I’m partial to a bright background, which is easy to do. Just put blobs of your chosen colour and white, and mix on the canvas. It does make a difference which colour you use, and some will work better than others. As I learn more on this I’ll try and explain in future blogs.

Next sketch a rough outline to work from. If you want to rub your grid lines out at this point, you can. Or, leave them until later.

Now time for the paint. As with sketching forget about any detail in these early stages and just map out your darkest areas and lightest areas. The colour on this was essentially yellow ochre and white, introducing a darker brown (burnt umber) and black for the darker shades.

Once you’ve got your darkest and lightest areas, you can find the mid ground for the rest and build up. Acrylics dry quickly and so you’ll need to work with that, but it does mean you can get layers built up in a short timespan.

Once you’ve got basically got everything in the right place and your tones look about right, you can start to introduce more detail. It feels good when you do start to make progress and the picture springs to life. Here, the eyes made all the difference.

You then have to make the decision as to how far you’ll go with the detail. I don’t have the patience or skills to get something that looks photo realistic, so just like to get the sense of something. At this point in time, I also don’t really do backgrounds as I feel its almost like doing another painting which is too much risk in case I wreck it! That may change, but at the minute I’m happy with a bold character on a bright background.

So this is where I’ve got to at the moment in terms of a skill set. As and when I think I’m getting better, I’ll return to the blog.