More Dinosaurs and crowned heads of state

When I finally got off my ass and organised my exhibition, I went in and met the lovely Marc at Artboy Gallery, and I looked at the space I had to fill and thought about the paintings I had. I certainly could fill those walls, but it would be a bit sparce. So I came home and started another few paintings.

Anyway. I started on a few paintings and then inspiration took over and now I have 8 on the go.  I’m painting a lot more at the moment on the oils, it’s sort of an obsession at the moment. Which is as it should be.

I’ve now been manically painting every Wednesday, Sunday, and three nights a week. Combine this with my four day a week IT job and things are a bit random in other parts of my life. I keep forgetting things (like to take shoes to the gym) and my hand is now in a brace cause the tendon has started to go a bit iffy and the brace keeps it warm and supports it so it won’t seize on me. Last thing I want is the return of tendonitis.


This is my palette. It needs a good scraping back cause a lot of those chunks are dried and I’m running out of mixing real estate. I either lift off all the try paint and start again on the same palette when it gets too crusty, or i just start a new one.  I do a lot of my mixing on the canvas rather than the palette.

paint table

I’m not overly neat when i paint.

It’s not as stupid as it sounds, 8 at a time. I want to do about 10. Because they are oils, there is a lot of drying time. I usually work on 3 oils at the same time anyway, cause you get to different stages with each painting, then you have to wait for it to dry. I paint with my hand resting ON the painting which means that tracks moist paint all over the place so the paint needs to be very dry for me to work on it. If I work from left to right (being right handed) I can work on it while bits are still damp if I work across the canvas, but usually I work on bits at a time, let them dry, then come back.

I do a lot of underpainting first. I sketch them in, do a layer of two of acrylic, then i start on the oils. Flesh and faces might have 6 layers by the end to make them look right. I do the final tweaks on the last layers. Correct faces, for me, emerge slowly with lots of tweaking to get them right.

I base them on portraits that I like and then change them round to suit. Pictures of the current queen I base on photographs. I love the internet.

They sit around looking like zombies for a while:


Then I start to add the details in:

Liz one and ichthyostega

the last thing is doing glazes to shade them. The choice is to paint in the shadows while one is painting (I do this sometimes) or else mix up some transparent shadow colours and do them at the end. Either is fine. I prefer for portraits to do shadows as glazes. Takes about three goes to get the different depths of shadows.

I reckon I have about 3 more sessions on “The Ichthyostega portrait” there above. The brown thing over the painting is the large plush Pterodactyl I have hanging in the back room.

Liz1 currently without dinos

This one of Elizabeth as a surly teenager (she was actually kinda goth really, politics forced her to wear a lot of black and mope throughout her teen years!) looks like she has no dinosaurs but I’m going to incorporate them into the design on the dress.  It’s still very loosley painted. I might give her a copy of “The Origin of the Species” to read. I suspect the book she has in the original is the bible.

the queen's shoulder - action shot

Look! an action shot!

liz II and tarbosaurous

Liz II needs a bit more tweaking to get the likeness, this was my first crack at her flesh tones so she’s still not there yet. Tarbosaurous is looking good but far too pale. Not sure whether I’ll leave the background so blue.

Mary Stuart of Orange

I worked out I’d left out a Queen Regina – Mary! I’ve done Mary Tudor but I forgot Mary Stuart (not Mary Stuart Queen of Scots – but one of her descendants who ruled with William of Orange when they booted  her dad, James II out, for being Catholic). I love Stuart politics.  They showed up the ‘stupid’ genes they inherited pretty well from Mary Stuart and Henry Darnley. I have some respect for Anne but not a lot else of the Stuarts, they tended not to make very good decisions.

They dressed well though.

Liz 1 gondwana

A small portrait of Lizzy 1 – the one it’s based on is called ‘The Ditchley” and she’s standing on a map of Ditchley. This is The Gondwana, she’s standing on Gondwana and she’s accompanied by an Australian Dinosaur.  This one is starting to get close to being done, needs all the details in. Only half her ruff is laced. I did the wrong side first and have to wait for it to dry.

Liz1, Hank 8, and metal hand

Another portrait of Liz who is my favorite figure of history, based on the Armada Portrait. She is patting a mammal-like reptile And the pictures behind her will be the comet landing and then the mass extinction event. (Behind that is the finished Beyoux tapestry with William I which depicts the same event). Then there is another Henry who is going to have his embroidery of pre-cambrian flora and he’s getting a different dinosaur painted into his jewellery.

I need more small paintbrushes. So much fine work.

underpainting of charles I

And finally – this is still very much underpainting – Charles I on a stegosaurous. Can you see him bounding through the countryside, at war with the Roundheads? I can. 🙂