I have wanted to paint a cake tree for a long time, I just loved the images that those two words brought to me.
But what is a cake tree? During my childhood it referred to a cake stand with little savory or sweet delights. It also filled me with memories of my last 'big' birthday when my family treated me to afternoon tea at Fortnum and Mason with small sandwiches, tiny cakes and a never-ending pot of Countess Grey tea - what bliss!
But what I really had in my mind was a tree where an assortment of cakes grew and could be picked at any time. And so I started to paint. First adding extra gesso over the linen canvas and then an undercoat of dark blue acrylics. This picture was destined for @ByardArt in Cambridge for their Summer Mixed Exhibition 2019. I prefer to paint in oil but deadlines are deadlines (had a lot of those when I was a graphic designer) so I decided to paint the whole thing in acrylics because it would be much quicker than waiting for my oil layers to dry.
My graduated skies normally take hours to perfect and I first came a bit unstuck as the acrylics dried too fast but I persevered and added lots of slow drying medium. The sky done I did my usual red tree trunk as a base for the copper leaf. My next problem was that I usually used an oil based size to adhere the leaf and I realised if I painted in acrylic over this the paint would be unstable so I dropped in to my local #Tindalls to have a chat and get advice. They certainly know their stuff and I happily walked out with a water based size which I painted over the red base and the copper leaf was now in place.
The next stage was painting the little cakes and then the smaller branches and leaves. So how did it work? I was disappointed. The picture didn't have that 'glow' of oil colours, the colours looked flat and I couldn't get the intricate detail and the covering ability of oil without repainting it about three times.
SO I REPAINTED IT ALL IN OIL!
What did I learn? I learned I prefer my oils but thought there must be a way of achieving a similar effect in acrylics to cut down the drying times. I have been asked to do four small paintings for the beginning of October, deadlines certainly focus the mind and I didn't want to be caught out again. I did more research and came across Golden Open acrylics that are described as "a professional, slow drying range, offering artists the ability to use and work into Acrylic over longer periods of time." I think I may have found the answer. I have bought a range of colours and am experimenting with them now. I will report back at a later date.
Like most people I love the moon. Sounds like an odd thing to say but it is reassuring to look into the sky and see it there even though it may not always be in a same place and of course we know it is there even when it is cloudy.
I think my love affair with the moon started during the moon landings and those amazing astronauts who made their steps on its dusty surface. But of course the most beautiful pictures were what the earth looked like from so far away.
My next big experience of the moon was on a visit to Germany, close to the then East German border where the air was crystal clear and I viewed the moon through a telescope. Breathtaking.
When I started painting seriously I found the moon crept into my pictures. When my children were small you could find my paintings on a stall at Chelsea Market. My paintings were for children and the moon made an entrance in most of them regardless of the subject and sometimes the moon itself was the subject.
Nowadays my paintings are influenced by medieval art, trees and Cambridge: but the moon is still there proudly part of my work.
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