Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

Walking the neighbourhood with my dog listening to a podcast by academics on Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. Composed in the 1400s, it lay undiscovered until the 1900s. The world of chivalry and a beheaded green night who picks up his head and throws a challenge at the knight before he gallops off. The married woman who tests him and gives him her magic girdle. Nature, which will lop you off, but regenerates itself and keeps living. The world is heavenly with spring growing into leaves and flowers everywhere. We have our first heat wave. I am a grain of sand in the hourglass of humidity, heat, dust. Breathing pollen.


Happy Holidays!

Wishing you all a happy, healthy, wonderful and loving Holiday Season! xoxo 



Self Portrait #11

Self Portrait #11, ©Brenda Clews 2019. 18"x24" (cropped), oil on canvas.

August 25, 2019

A resemblance to me is actually developing after eleven drawings and paintings! While this mirror self-portrait looks more like me, I'm told I'm still making myself look older than I am. Ah, well... lol!

This was my last painting in my spare room studio since it has been rented out. I've learned a lot about painting this summer because of the wonderful Self Portrait Sundays Facebook group and the weekly challenge to do a self portrait from life and am very appreciative. Normally, I don't have space to work in oil and acrylic so consistently - having a studio gave me the chance to experiment and, I hope, get better. I mostly painted one angle, though, since the space between bed and desk in the spare room didn't allow much maneuvering. I think painting the same pose over and over resulted in a better understanding of bone structure, musculature, skin tones and expression - I learnt to smile while staring intently into the mirror, too! In the background, the futon couch I've been sitting on to paint. Favourite new straw hat - it's blue!

Underpainting for Self-Portrait #11, ©Brenda Clews 2019. 18"x24", acrylic on canvas.

August 11, 2019

Today I covered a 18"x24" canvas in red acrylic paint, and then sketched myself in turquoise-phthalo. Very bright! Lol. I consider these self-portraits as ways to experiment with techniques and styles and, currently, I'm playing with underpainting. My plan is to paint skin tones, etc., overtop of this when I have time. Hopefully, I'll post the finished painting next Sunday.


Self Portrait #10

August 18, 2019

Don't know what to say of the journey to here or where I might be going.

Below is the underpainting in acrylic, and above, the next day, and many hours later, the portrait in traditional oils. Still learning! There's so much paint on it that I'm not sure I can work much more with it! Time to stop! Oils on a Dollarama 8”x10” canvas.

The underpainting, done August 17, 2019, took about an hour. The leftover acrylic palette from a bad commission experience, which probably fed into the painting- my 'sturm und drang'! Wanted to try painting in a different way to my normal mode. Overworked a little for sure - acrylics, even with retarder, dry so quickly you can't blend. It came out expressionistic. The proportions! From now on, I must draw or map out where the features of the face are before painting. I may try to fix it in oils, or not. A not-very-success self portrait on a Dollarama 8”x10” canvas.


A bad experience with a commission

I got caught in a tangle of intrigues, of hinted devastating illness and poverty, and when I realized the pull on the heartstrings was likely a ploy to get a reduced price, I refused to sell it. I was so incensed with the fabrications and the name calling mud-slinging when I called this person out, I said I would shred the painting. I was given what amounted to an honorarium, which was ostensibly the payment and honestly, so way-below-minimum-wage it was almost a 'bleep' and then told to keep the money since they didn't care about it. A bad experience.

In the invoice I sent to the client detailing the actual amount given, along with a high resolution .tif file, I made it clear that I had rights to use the lower resolution .jpeg image to promote my work on my website and in social media.

What I learned was to never drop your asking price on compassionate grounds. You don't know a person's true life situation.

And, sometimes, for wealthy people, money is a game. How big a deal can you get - it's fun for them.

My friends, some of whom sell their art, or offer other services like Reiki, or tarot readings, have all said you set a price and it is the same for everyone, no exceptions. They charge their friends the same price they charge their clients.

A lesson learnt. I am very grateful I did not sell the painting for the amount of money I was sent, and was able to say no to a larger commission that I had already begun to get caught on again.

The enquiry for the larger commissioned portrait and its cost was agreed on, and then they slipped in the spouse, the extra person. It was done so skillfully that I barely noticed.

Two people are two entirely different skin tones, two whole sets of preparatory drawings, two different palettes! It is twice the work! The curator at a gallery where I had a solo show some years ago told me I had to double, or nearly double my price for painting a couple.

I know that. How'd I get glamoured (hypnotized)?

This experience, of course, changes me.

Now, there is sympathy, certainly, deep empathy if the situation is difficult, but no 'deals,' no price drops. It's sad to come to this - but one bad experience does it.


Self Portrait #9

Self Portrait #9, ©Brenda Clews 2019, 14"x8", oil on canvas sheet.

August 4, 2019

Wanted to get a painting done quickly. Ha! Started with a wash composed of scrapings from a former palette that seems to have buckled the canvas sheet. The paint on the face is thick - learning to slather it on - and the different colours have different reflective qualities. It needs more work I think, but later on when it's drier, I can even out the tones and varnish will smooth out the reflectiveness. Or not. Who knows. This is a crop of a larger painting and I used it as a profile picture for a poetry event where I'm one of the featured readers.


Portrait of Rod

Portrait of Rod Pizarro ©Brenda Clews, 2019. 18” x 24”, oil on canvas.

He's the guy at the TV studio who decides which shot when during a game. It's super intense concentration, high-paced, not many people could do it, and so the colours around him, on his face, kind of represent that bustling high focus and all the action he's sending out over the airwaves, plus the light from the screens on his face, which are like chunks of photons.

Through it all, he's this smiling, calm guy, or that's how he appears to me, but the world he inhabits during his working life remains with him — the colours, movement, action, sports fields dancing around him in his aura.

I've drawn Rod before. He came over late November 2018 and we did a photo shoot. From those photos, I began a commissioned painting. First a throw-the-paint-down underpainting, and then a 2nd iteration of the same. Though he had commissioned the portrait to be hopefully ready by his 50th birthday at the end of February, the month came and went. It wasn't until July, when I finally had studio space to work in, that I was able to finish it over about 5 days.

He says he loves it, and what more could a portrait painter wish for! A wonderful man and very honoured to be asked to paint a portrait of him for his 50th - good news is, he's still 50!


Self-Portrait #8 (continuing to evolve as a painter)

Self-Portrait #8, ©BrendaClews 2019, 18"x24", oil on canvas sheet.

My 8th self-portrait for the Sunday Self Portrait group on Facebook (they gave it lots of likes but not one comment). On a green underpainting, I painted the figure directly, shaping the face without a drawing. The paint is applied thickly from a left-over palette from a commission. Pulled straps down to see the bone structure - those clavicles - I never go around like this! I look a decade older but don't care. I didn't work on the eyes, nose or mouth with a fine brush like I normally do. Everything's done with thick scrubby brushes. My portrait painting is continuing to evolve and that makes me happy. 


Transitioning to Grey Power

Yikes, did it. Cut shorter, letting the whites and greys be as they are. Asked for a Greta Garbo look... lol! When I got on a crowded streetcar, I had a new experience - a young man jumped up and offered me his seat, which I appreciated having walked about 7 km in summer heat, and sat gratefully with thanks to him. Once I get ma mop all grown out, I'll grow it longer again - this is a bit short, though nice for summer. #selfie


#7 Self Portrait Sundays (oil)

Self Portrait ©Brenda Clews, July 14, 2019

This is my 7th self-portrait so far, and I am still getting used to my face! Was trying to work on volume in this one. Also, as ever, to accurately paint what I see in the mirror. I am frustrated with lots of things in this painting, but enough is enough. Started on Friday, finished this morning. Oil on canvas sheet, 24"x18".

Friends have called me on the 'stern' look - uh, no. Rather... the self-scrutinizing gaze in the mirror trying to get the damn face in paint, and not liking how it's going!

The plain face, no make-up, alone in the privacy of intense concentration. The self painting the self in solitary scrutiny without thought to the social face.

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