Angus Grant Art

Paddling, Painting, Printing

Everything that goes into an Angus Grant painting


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What’s in a painting?

I’m painting towards a new exhibition in the summer (more about that exciting news soon!) and I’ve been thinking about all the different elements that contribute to each piece.

It’s always nice to start new work and as a bit of a distraction, I thought it would be interesting to show you some of the things that I use when I’m working. It was fun to have a go at a flatlay – playing Tetris was not a waste of time!

WhatsAPainting_key

1 Canvas – This is stretched linen, a bit fancier than canvas. Not out of the shiny plastic wrap yet.

2 Shirt sleeve – This is my painting shirt and I always clean my brushes on my left arm. It used to be my outdoor shirt but they all turn into painting shirts eventually.

3 Sketchbook – essential for my ideas and notes. This one is about fishing but I’ve got a few on the go, and loads of filled ones in a box under the bed.

4 Pastels – These are great for underpainting and sketching. I usually sketch out the painting first with pastel and use white paint to fix the colours.

5 Pencils – for sketching in my sketchbook. Don’t use them so much on the canvas.

6 Airbrush and acrylic ink and Indian ink – I use the airbrush for lots of different things, including fluffy clouds and applying thin transparent “glazes”. It is really useful for layering colour.

7 Whizzer – for mixing up the acrylic ink to make it smooth enough to use in the airbrush.

8 Brushes – you need a varied range for the different tasks in landscape painting. The wide ones, like the Skyflow brush, are brilliant for blending big blue skies. The fan brush is great for painting grass and trees. And the thin one are vital for all the wee details.

9 Acrylic paints – these are lovely acrylics by Vallejo. I like them because they are highly pigmented. And they smell good enough to eat!

10 Plate – I use this for mixing my paint. This one is well-used.

11 Sponge – for stippling and applying texture to trees and shrubs. I also use old brushes for this.

12 Toothbrush – useful for flicking paint to create flowers, water spray and bubbles.

13 Palette knife – for flicking bigger dollops of paint.

14 Masking tape – always useful when you need a crisp straight line.

15 Water pot – for cleaning the brushes.

16 Frame – the final piece of the jigsaw. I often make the frames before I think I’ve finished. Sometimes you can’t tell if it’s done until it’s framed.

17 Varnish – this is good quality artists’ UV varnish to keep the painting safe.

18 Headphones – I like to listen to audiobooks when I paint. It’s nice to have something to occupy my ears while I work. My Audible account is full of stories and will testify to how much painting I have done!

19 Coffee mug – an Angus Grant Art one of course! And it’s always many more than one mug of coffee per painting.

Pretty sure I’ve forgotten something…

 

 

Landscape painting upside down, Angus Grant


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Painting upside down

I’m still working away on my fishy pictures. Now that I’ve laid down the main colours, I’m starting on the details – the trees, mountains, water, rocks and fish (of course). This is the hard work of the painting and I’ll take my time to get it just right.

…Which leads me to a wee tip to help you. If after a while you decide to repaint the sky, turn your canvas upside down to prevent pesky blue drips ruining the lower part of your work.

As you can see in the picture below, I repainted the sky on this view of Loch Morlich after I painted in lots of detail in the foreground. Skies are easy to redo (more on those another time) but imagine how annoying it would be to see my lovely mountains and salmon ruined.

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Upcycling old etching plates into fishing lures, Angus Grant Art


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Upcycling old etching plates

When a printmaker has finished printing an “edition” it is traditional to destroy the artwork on the copper plate by scratching a great big cross on its surface.

Another way to destroy the plate is to cut it into lots of wee pear shapes. You can then tap each of these into a handmade wooden mould, (gently to preserve the wee bit of the artwork left on the plate). After that you could drill a little hole in the top of the wee bit of copper and attach it to a super posh handmade lure with semi-precious stones and silver plate finishings to be sure to catch the most discerning trout, pike or salmon.

This is what I did after printing the edition of Trout and Moth 2, which I created using the mezzotint technique.

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Mezzotint plate printmaking


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Mezzotint Etching

How to make your own mezzotint plate

Mezzotint plate printmaking

First take a nice shiny copper plate and rock the mezzotint rocker across its surface to cover it in lots of wee dots

Mezzotint plate printmaking

(1 hour later) As you add work across the surface of the plate you will create more and more wee dents that will hold the ink nicely.

Mezzotint plate printmaking

(4 hours later) After a while you will see that it is possible to create a nice black tone.

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(8 hours later) After about a day of mezzotint rocking you will be close to getting a nice even texture to your plate. You will have decided that the £35 that the art shop was charging for machine mezzotinted plates was an absolute bargain. You will go to bed and dream about mezzotint rocking that night.

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(12 hours later) You will have vowed never to mezzotint a copper plate by hand again, but your 10x15cm plate will print a nice rich plack.

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You create your image on the mezzotinted plate by selectively polishing areas of the plate so they don’t hold the ink as well.

Mezzotint print of trout and moth y Angus Grant

The polished bits will be a lighter tone. You will have to make lots of wee test prints along the way to see how you’re doing.

MezzotintpPrint of a trout swimming towards a moth

done


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Underpainting (version 2)

I’ve written previously about how I create various layers to build up a painting to its finished state. Below is a different way of starting your underpainting and it’s one that you might find highly effective. I’ve kept the explanations really simple!

Step one block in image in pastel

Step 1: Block in your image in pastel. This will be your initial sketch.

Fix image with acrylic paint.

Step 2: Fix image with white acrylic paint. This will soften the colours you used in your sketch and create the basic shapes of the painting.

Fine art acrylic painting Loch Morlich Cairngorms

Step 3: Finish the image using acrylic as you usually would.


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Layers of a painting

underpainting

I often like to build up a painting using layers of colour.  In the sunshiney one I last posted I started of with a rough purple layer. This will make the shadows look nice and rich as it complements the yellow which is the main colour in this painting.

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I’ll then build up layers of colour allowing wee bits of the base (purple) layer to show through which will tie the whole image together.

The finished image is below.

Angus grant fine art painting sunrise

Along the A9