Painting larger than life

For my upcoming solo exhibition in a beautiful art hall in Denmark I decided to have a splurge and paint something in a large scale.
I rather like the idea of tall narrow paintings inspired by the traditional Japanese hanging scrolls. In these the eye can wander through the painting from bottom to top taking in the details on the way.
I felt this subject with stranded seaweed on the beach could almost be reminiscent of Japanese calligraphy. The composition itself matched the planned format nicely.
Taking many (and I mean many)reference photos along the local beach I finally narrowed the subject matter down to this ( see below). By cropping and adding details in the foreground the perspective was purposefully exaggerated.
After covering the white canvas with a base colour of pale orange I painted the sea and sky, graduating from light ultramarine to light turquoise and back.
The rocks in the background were painted diffuse with pale shadows. An acrylic marker was used to sketch the stones and shells on the sand. 

In order to keep track of the perspective I put all the shadows in place by painting these in paynes grey.
 Then the laborious work of filling in the details could begin.

drinking a cup of coffee in front of  the finished painting
"Calligraphy of the Sea" 220x100cm © Elizabeth Tyler


Splashing sea

No, I am not changing my style of painting to a Jackson Pollock lookalike. (I could perhaps be tempted as his price record for a painting was 140 million USD. ) It was Pollock who replaced the brush stroke with millions of drips and blobs in the abstract expressionist style of the middle of the last century.
I'm not using so many drips and blobs though, mostly squiggles.

But no matter what you use or how you
applying thin lines of acrylic paint with a fine pen.
apply paint to a surface, its the end result that matters and before that the noble art of being able to judge when the painting is finally finished. A close up view of any painting or photograph will look totally abstract because it's brought out of context. When working on the finer details of my paintings I nearly always have my nose just a few centimetres away from the canvas. With my reading glasses on I can concentrate on the nearest area of the work and the rest is out of focus. There is then the danger of losing the overall impression and composition. So a few steps back to look at the work from a distance is very often necessary many times during the painting process. The larger the work the further distance it should be viewed from.
The finished result  "Splashing Sea" 32 X 32 cm © Elizabeth Tyler 2016


Seascapes in acrylics

My painting "Morning glow" ( 33 x 97 cm) in the cockpit of my boat
Being surrounded by seawater for several months a year I feel inspired by it every day. I felt an irresistible urge to describe the ever changing colours, the random patterns of shapes in the ripples and the sparkling light and deep shadows in the waves. Also the way the sea sometimes disappears in haze in the distance, merging in a horizonless transition with the sky.
So I decided to work on some paintings with only the sea as subject matter. The sea would be the centre of attention in itself. No stones, rocks or seabirds, just water.

It's been done before, I know, by millions of artists throughout time, all over the world, there's nothing new under the sun.  Nevertheless I wanted to capture the scene at different times of the day and give each painting my own personal interpretation, rendering them in every detail.
"Misty sea" acrylics on canvas 45 x 69 cm


Step by step, an acrylic painting in progress

Painting on board my "floating studio" in Greece
The first four stages of the painting

This painting is 97 cm x 33cm. The step by step photographs were just taken with an iphone in varying light conditions, the quality is not so good but gives you an idea of the work involved.

The beach was bathed in a glowing yellow light just before the sun went down so I started by grounding the white canvas with a flat layer of yellow ochre. Then I added transparent washes of yellow, green, blue and white for the sea.  After that had dried I broke up the surface with short brush strokes of the same colours. The stones at the edge of the sea with their shadows and highlights were added and  blues and greens of the wet sand were worked into the surface. For this I used brushes of varying size and while the colour was still wet I lifted the paint again with a colour shaper. This technique reveals the underlying colour in stripes and dots to render the surface of the beach.

The last four stages of the painting "Evening n the beach"
I added darker shadows between the ripples and small waves and varied the direction slightly to give the impression that the water is flowing onto a slanting beach.
Using brushes and fan-brushes to seamlessly blend the colours I then used toothbrushes to flick tiny spots of colour for the spray and the sand. a colour shaper is great  to move the wet paint into flowing lines, and a natural, wet sponge to lift the colour and merge into diffuse patterns. Lastly I used a ruling pen to draw the light yellow lines across the wet sand.
I decided the painting needed something more in the foreground so I placed a few imagined stones at the bottom, taking care to use the same light and shadow as the existing group of stones in the centre of the painting.

The white foam spray looked a little artificial at first so it took some more work to add shadows between and under the tops of light spray. 


Swirling Sand - a new watercolour

Swirling sand          Watercolour 62 x 42 cm               © Elizabeth Tyler 2016
 A favourite subject of mine to paint has for several years been the beach. The dividing line where the land meets the sea seems symbolic and fascinating. Spending many months a year on my boat in Greece I never have far to find a potential subject. This time I found a small area of a beach with different coloured stones lying in the wet sand. Small waves were constantly washing over and around the stones keeping them wet and enhancing their colours. 
I painted the sand first in tiny dots of yellow, ochre, burnt sienna and blue/grey. This was done with the help of a toothbrush, spattering the different colours over the area. I then painted the stones one by one taking care to keep the white shiny dots of light clean. Lastly I wetted the area of sand where I wanted to render the swirling shallow water. This didn't turn out right at all at first because the underlying colours were dissolved and it all looked muddy. More like sewage water than the clear Mediterranean sea! I had to scrub the paper's surface with a wet saucepan scrubber and soak up the pigment. Afterwards I lightened the area where the water was painted with an aquarelle pencil. In other places I used the pencil again to suggest highlights in the swirling water around the stones.


Take off

Take off time                                  Watercolour                             © Elizabeth Tyler 2016
This is a watercolour painting which has been lying in my studio, unfinished for some time.
It's from a photo I took during the winter when the water in the Sound was partially covered in ice.
I was fascinated by the way the black backed gull took off amidst a spray of water. The dark rocks of the harbour wall brought a dramatic contrast to the soft snowy ice on the surface of the sea.
It was one of my more challenging works in watercolour and I am quite certain I will never be able to do anything like it again.


Watercolour Biennale Vancouver

I have just been informed that my watercolour painting "A walk on the wild side" has been selected by the IWS jury for the 1st International watercolour society Biennale 2016 in Vancouver Canada.
The entries from all over the world were selected on the base of photographs of the artworks. I will now be sending the original but haven't decided yet if I will attend in person.
The exhibition will take place in July this year.
"A walk on the wild side"                    watercolour                        © Elizabeth Tyler 2016


My living room right now. (The walls are not really curved its just camera distortion)
Altogether 62 of my acrylics, watercolours, lithographs and photographs are now exhibited in my hall, stairs, livingroom and kitchen.
Everything is finally ready for the annual open studio event which opens tomorrow. So if you are anywhere near Borstahusen Sweden you're welcome, just follow the signs.
The event Konstrundan Nordvästra Skåne with a total of 146 participating artists is open from Good Friday until the 3rd April.