Wednesday 23 December 2015

How many Kings?

the adoration of the Magi
hand-pulled linocut Christmas card
© Teresa Newham

On this year's Christmas card I've chosen to depict the Three Kings - or Wise Men - or Magi, as they are often known.  Their story strictly speaking belongs to Epiphany (6th January), as Matthew's Gospel (the only Gospel in which they appear) does not state exactly when they made their journey - some commentators date their visit as late as two years after Jesus' birth.  

Originally I was going to call this little linocut The Three Kings.  This verse from The First Nowell gives a clue as to why I didn't :

The Three Kings also happens to be the name of one of my favourite pieces of Christmas music - a hybrid of two other pieces, Three Persian Kings from Lands Afar and  How Brightly Beams the Morning Star (click on the lyrics to listen to it).  It captures beautifully our response to the joy of our Saviour's birth:

May you and your loved ones have peace and joy this Christmas, and every blessing for the New Year.

Thursday 10 December 2015

Never too late to change your mind

Summer Storm at Reenroe ~ watercolour & gouache
© Teresa Newham
Some paintings go down onto the paper so easily they seem almost to paint themselves.  Others can be a bit of a struggle - which is the case with my latest piece, Summer Storm at Reenroe.

the beach path at Reenroe
© Teresa Newham
I wanted to depict the profusion of wild flowers which greeted us when we embarked on a wet and windy dog walk at Reenroe one rainy July morning last Summer - the last day of my Kerry holiday.

early washes
© Teresa Newham

For this painting I chose Winsor Yellow Deep, Burnt Umber, Permanent Sap Green, Cobalt Blue, Quinacridone Magenta, Titanium White, and Yellow & White Gouache.  The early washes were fine, and I was quite pleased with the way the mountains emerged from the misty rain in the distance.

adding definition
© Teresa Newham
The grasses and fence posts didn't present any problems either - I only started to run into difficulties when I tried to lay down the flowers themselves.  As we'd walked through the rain towards the beach the wet flowers had seemed to leap out at us, but spattering didn't give quite the right effect, so I tried dotting them in with a fine brush.

adding the flowers . . .
© Teresa Newham
Too late, I realised that this was a mistake.  Never mind, I thought, Arches paper will take a lot of punishment; so I took some of them out and dampened down others.  Trouble was, every time I made a change, something else looked wrong!

. . . and adjusting them
© Teresa Newham
By now, the painting was completely overworked, but I ploughed on, unwilling to be beaten. Some areas got softened, some things changed completely.  A new path appeared, running from left to right.  I kept changing my mind, until even I was forced to realise that you can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear.  It was time to stop.

the finished painting
© Teresa Newham
You've probably gathered that I'm not terribly happy with this painting.  Even putting a mount over it doesn't cheer me up.  But the amount of work I put into it has made it impossible for me to look at the picture objectively.  I need some feedback . . . !

improved by a mount?
© Teresa Newham