Return of the dreaded ellipse

A portrait can be ruined by an eyelid being a millimetre out of whack. With ellipses (the intersection of a plane by a cone – i.e. the shape of a round thing viewed from the side), it is also a matter of millimetres. I suspect most painters’ studios have a graveyard of failed canvasses in the corner where the dreaded ellipse has gone wrong … along with an eyelid or two.

I decided to tempt fate by painting a disposable coffee cup that combined an ellipse with a turned up spout. What a nightmare. Never again.

Liquids, contained and uncontained

It is difficult to get the symmetry right when painting any bottle. It is harder still with an old green glass Coke bottle. And it is very nearly impossible when you are looking down on the bottle from almost directly above. So, that is what I did.

As I was attending to liquids, I also practised a drop of water and a drop of wine.

And a drop of water …

… and a drop of wine. Looking at this now, I realise it resembles the Japanese flag in liquid form.

Eggs in a microwave-proof dish

Good art instruction can be meditative. The instructors at Fitzroy Painting made me stop and spend a lot of time on the underpainting for this portrait of four eggs in a microwave dish. I have never looked at an egg this long before. They all have slightly different personalities. It was a calming experience.

The mollusc wins

I doubt the inventor of terracotta roof tiles used a colour wheel to ensure they are the complementary colour to a clear blue sky, but they are. Just as red berries are set off by complementary green leaves (to make them look more delicious to animals that will eat them and spread their seeds), so nature has ensured clay roof tiles complement the sky (at least on most days). Presumably nature does this to make us like roofs? (Or is it rooves?)

I used Michael Harding’s Cerulean Blue for this quick sketch of the roof. It is staggeringly pricey, but worth every cent. Yes, the chimney is wonky in this picture, but that is because the chimney is wonky (at least that is my excuse).

I did this painting of a mollusc’s roof ages ago. I was only happy with half of it, so I repainted the other half to provide a better context for the better half. Much as I like a red tile roof, this very old and dusty shell is a much more beautiful roof. However, it turns out we MUST leave these at the beach; apparently every shell we take does that little bit more damage to the sea.

Deployed airbag (with mascara and lipstick)

If you find yourself suffering an oversupply of hubris, I recommend a trip to a car wrecker. It is the opposite of a car showroom; tired, used up and smashed luxury items are savagely torn to pieces and shoved in rusty furnaces and bins. Apparently the process of tearing a smashed car to pieces is called ‘fluffing’.

There are incidentally beautiful things. Apparently it is common to see a faceful of make up on a deployed airbag – lipstick, eyeliner and mascara spread out just where they were on someone’s face. This is a good thing. It means the airbag worked and saved someone. I have heard a car wrecker call it ‘the kiss of life.’