Posted by Tina Ashton
With Valentine’s Day looming I thought I would write a brief story about how I fell in love with creating romantic paintings all about lovers, and tie it in with showing you the beginnings of one of my semi-abstract lovers’ paintings.
Right from my younger days I have always been a big soft romantic and have loved anything soppy and romantic, and was always drawing hearts (my favourite shape & symbol) and such like everywhere.
One of my earliest paintings titled “Amazed” featured hearts and was in fact inspired by a song, and particularly the lyrics to that song, of the same title by Lonestar. This painting has evolved (the photo above showing “Amazed II Golden Moments”) into several slightly different versions and I really enjoy re-creating this one and can almost feel another one coming on in different colours!
However, much of my influence I think has come from films, although in honesty I have to admit to showing a big preference to a real proper love story over today’s “rom com” style movies. I remember watching films like Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961), one of my all time favourites and interestingly made the year I was born, An Affair to Remember (1957), Dr Zhivago (1965) and Love Story (1970) which are all amongst my favourites. These days I would much rather find an old black & white movie on the TCM channel of TV than watch any modern day stuff. When my husband and sons all go off for their racing weekends I long for the time alone to tune it to my favourite channel all weekend, in between painting & arty stuff of course!
Audrey Hepburn is my favourite actress and I have all her films on DVD and my favourites of hers are Roman Holiday (1953) and Sabrina (1954). Not sure I can pinpoint why these are my favourite films but I know that Audrey Hepburn epitomises femininity and offers this wonderful image of the fragile & vulnerable woman which I actually really like. I’m not sure that actresses like Angelina Jolie for example offer us quite the same image in today’s films. Women are often shown to be action women who are almost as tough as their male counterparts, and more likely to come across as sexy than as fragile & vulnerable. A reflection of today’s society I guess, and maybe I’m just a bit old fashioned in my view here!
I have lots of books about lovers in art and lovers in poetry which I study often, and I love to read fictional love stories too, and it is amongst these along with images from movies of famous screen kisses that I find my inspiration for painting my lovers.
One recent painting, titled “Pink Meets Blue” started out life from one of the poems, but as is often the case long after that first sketch it evolves into something else once on canvas and in paint. This is one of my favourite paintings and it also marked a stage in my career as an artist by being one of the paintings that appeared in my recent exhibition in Budapest. It has now sold to a private collector in Ireland making it a fairly well travelled painting too!
To follow is a photo of a rough sketch I have done this week in preparation for my next lovers painting. This drawing was inspired by a screen kiss, but I do not like to declare which kiss it is because the intention is for it not to be a version of this, but to become its own special moment once laid with colour.
This is a very quick rough start to my painting, but I like to lay down some loose features and shapes before I decide on how it will sit on the canvas. Sometimes the next stage for me will be to add some colour with the use of coloured pencils, although sometimes I do this digitally by scanning in my sketch and adding colour by using Photoshop. Other times I will just draw it straight from the sketch on to canvas and here is where it evolves yet again!
Once on the canvas I add in more lines and shapes to highlight features, or just to put in some more of an abstract feel to it and for it to flow nicely on the canvas and have the makings of a decent composition. Then I need to decide on colours and I usually like to pick out some colours before I get painting, either from the sketches, or just simply pick a colour range like “reds” for example and then work from there.
My background studying Interior Design does also have some influence on my colour decisions occasionally when I imagine it sitting over a bed in a modern bedroom space. I also usually select a fairly limited palette and rarely use more than 4 or 5 colours, more likely 2 to 3 colours and then use shades and tones of these.
I like to think of the colours representing the emotion within that special intimate moment too, and when painting I work with more intense colours towards the centre of the human closeness where their faces/lips touch for example. Once painting of course, the secret then is knowing when to stop and most artists will agree that this is one of the hardest decisions! It seems to have got easier over the years, although I have to admit to looking back on some old paintings and thinking “ooh, maybe I should just tweak those lips a little and add a little colour there…” I then almost have to shout at myself “No! It’s finished!” before I get tempted to dabble further and possibly ruin it!
When my latest painting (from the sketch you see above) is finished it will be here on Arts2Arts for sale and maybe I should even post another story for you here to let you know how the process went from this early stage. Watch this space! Tina x