Category Archives: Acrylic paintings

Sydney Skyline

Acrylic on canvas – 60” (152cm) x 40” (101cm)

This artwork was painted for a good friend of mine, Carlo. He had requested a red sunset for his lounge room and after a year I finally got some time and motivation to put paint to canvas. This took me 10 hours including sketches and layout. The key to this painting was picking the contrasting color. I put the color choose to a vote with some of my friends who chose teal. Apart from the bridge and opera house, which I added to cement the idea of it being the sydney skyline, the buildings match the view from my friends balcony. He had a shit week the week I painted it so I was happy to brighten it up with this painting.

How should artists depict women in paintings?

As a women I understand the effects visual media has on female self esteem. So when my almost 5 year old Niece, Zarna, asked me to paint her a picture of gymnasts for her birthday I had to ask myself “how should I depict women in a painting for her?”

The constant barrage of media depicting women with skinny bodies, flawless skin and carefree lives makes those of us with less than skinny bodies, skin issues and troubled lives a little bit self conscious!.  I don’t want that to happen to my gorgeous little niece!

My initial thoughts were to paint chubby, short, tall, out of proportion gymnasts reading books so that for years to come she is influenced by real life. In real life women come in all shapes do they not?

I sifted through thousands of gymnast pictures online to get inspiration and what I found is that all gymnasts who are high achievers have very little body fat, are on the short side, primarily small breasted, fit and flexible!

So in the end although I would have like to have made a political feminist statement about women in this painting I decided to paint the reality of what champion gymnasts actually looks like. I will leave my statement about womens body shapes for another painting.  Hope she likes it – I will be giving it to her tonight!

The Gymnasts-30x20inches acrylic on canvas - 5th birthday present for my niece
The Gymnasts-30x20inches acrylic on canvas – 5th birthday present for my niece
Close up of one of the gymnasts
Close up of one of the gymnasts
The palette - love working in acrylics - so quick drying I completed this piece in 6 hours!
The palette – love working in acrylics – so quick drying I completed this piece in 6 hours!

When is a painting finished?

There have been many times I don’t know when to stop painting a picture. Sometimes, like with this Circus Acts painting it took me 7 years to start.

Having re-baselined my Circus Acts canvas over the last few days, getting composition and the final characters ready, in acrylic paint before I start the major oil paint operation (see main image of this post), I have come to really like my 3 tone characters. It makes me think that maybe they should all just be in monochrome colours. The rawness of the painting as it stands tonight; lent up against my easel makes me smile. I like the lines of chalk that I scrapped on to remind me where the light is coming from and the characters are pretty easy on the eye to consume.

Last night a friend of mine said she really liked one of my paintings of Sydney Harbour. I am always surprised when anyone says they like this particular painting as for years I wasn’t ever sure if I really finished the picture. It was in 2007 when I painted this Sydney Harbour scene. I didn’t like the painting and I was 100% sure it wasn’t complete but I didn’t know what else to do to finish. So I put it away, allocating it to the ‘Unfinished’ pile of paintings.

The finished painting without frame of the Sydney Harbour painting I "didn't finish" in 2007
The finished painting without frame of the Sydney Harbour painting I “didn’t finish” in 2007

After years of not liking the painting I gazed at it again a year ago and decided I actually mostly liked it. I hung it up on my wall and there it remains today. Not perfect but finished nonetheless. When I look at it now it reminds me of my skills back then. I look at it and I think of the things I would do now if I was to do it again but I leave it be because it is finished, it was finished in 2007. It would feel like cheating to improve something I finished 8 years ago. I’m happy with it and lucky for me a couple of people even like it!

I trust more in my instincts now then I did back then. Now when I cant think of anything I else I can do to improve, I know that its time to stop. I put down my brushes and allocate it to the ‘Finished and Did My Best’ pile of paintings.

I looked on the internet tonight for tips on “how to know when to stop painting” and I got all sorts of websites giving advice like “watch out for muddy colours” and “get rid of your reference pictures and step back to look at it as a stand alone piece”. I think that advice is useless because it assumes everyone has the same perception of muddy colours and that artists can actually take an objective view of their own work (impossible I reckon – what do you think?  Are you an artist?  How do you look upon your own work before or after it is finished?).

When is a painting finished?

Nothing is ever really finished because as artists live, grow and learn we do more, do better, do different. So knowing when to finish a piece of art can only ever be decided by the artist at that specific point in time. A different day = a different finish.

Is my raw circus painting finished? No way! I will continue the Circus Acts painting for now as I have so many more ideas to bring to life on this canvas. Watch this space!