Retrospective – Desert skull

So what happened? Why did I suddenly disappear off my own website?

Truth be known, I think I needed a break. I’m also sensing a theme. I’m guessing that if I check back through my posting history, I will find a lull right in the middle of winter. Seasonal disaffective disorder maybe? A little too much gloom and not enough inspiration? Possibly. If it is recurring, I guess I will have to learn to work around it.

But the difference between this time and previous blog-and-art-down-turns is that I still had art class to keep me arting.

I have been attending a small, private art school since the beginning of the year. Focussing solely on painting, I think after three terms that I can now declare myself a real painter 😀 I have learn a huge pile of stuff, mostly about myself and what my style seems to favour, what I like painting and what I don’t, and practise, lots of practise, has done me wonders.

The last painting I posted here was what I initially titled Still life with Emotion, and have since retitled ‘The Letter‘.

Still Life with emotion by Liz Powley

Now at the time I was very disappointed with the composition. I was happy in the majority with my technique, but was having trouble with the positioning of each of the objects (I tried something new and it crashed and burned). But I learnt a great deal, and will forever be in love with that plum in the center, and hate that jug for the torture it put me through to get the final effect.

After we finished this assignment I disappeared from this blog except for one random post about photography. But the art class didn’t stop and next we tackled a Georgia O’Keeffe style of painting with the subject of skulls.

Sheep skull

First we did a sketch of the skull in pastel/conte and charcoal. I was happy enough with that. I quite like sketching, though I don’t do it often.

And from that sketch we had to work out a composition for our painting. This was my first attempt.

Desert skull first composition

Georgia O’Keeffe painted lots of skulls in lots of deserts, so our assignment was to create a composition of a skull with a desert like background. I, of course, wanted to go Australiana, so red sand and my beloved Sturt Desert Peas. This composition didn’t work for me though. I needed that skull front and centre and to be the prominent feature with strong perspective (perspective is not my friend), and this just wasn’t doing what I wanted it to do.

So I drew another composition drawing.

Desert skull second composition

Similar, but different, and with more impact. Happy, I then started painting.

Desert skull wip1

Desert skull wip2

Beautiful killer WIP3

Beautiful killer WIP4

I had a huge fight with the sand ripples. They are not easy to paint, be warned, sand ripples are evil!

Beautiful killer WIP5

See here I thought I had those ripples working well….turns out that I haven’t and will have to discuss this with this painting at a later date.

Add a skull…

Beautiful killer WIP6

If you’ve been following me on Facebook, you would have seen all of the above before. But you’ve never seen the finished painting, because it isn’t finished. This is what it looks like now while it is gathering dust in my studio.

Beautiful killer WIP 8

And a couple of closeups…

Beautiful killer WIP 8 detail

Beautiful killer WIP8 detail2

So, why did I stop? I was certainly excited about it and enjoying it. I was having a little trouble with the grass, but the peas were working wonderfully and I was receiving a lot of great compliments on it. I really wanted to finish it.

I stopped because I ran out of time. I didn’t finish it by the time it was due and the next project rolled in. I have limited time and really only enough for one class project at a time, so I picked up the next project and dropped this.

I have tried to pick it backup again, but I’ve lost the space it was living in my head and my technique has been altered by the projects that followed. I find myself almost scared to touch it in fear I’ll stuff it up with one errant brushstroke. But it is sitting there and one day I will tackle it. I’m so happy with it, it is worth finishing.

So what was the next project, why did it have me tearing my hair out, and why didn’t even my Facebook get to see it finished?

Next project, next post 😀

Best wishes.



10 responses to “Retrospective – Desert skull”

  1. You need to finish this one. It is great and I don’t believe that you can stuff it up

    1. Thanks, Mynx 😀 I don’t know about the finishing bit, but I’ll attempt it at some point , I’m sure.


  2. Ooh I am so curious! I love your story post, lots of juicy here. I totally get what you went through but I am curious in what way it’s not finished. Looks good to me, but maybe not to you. What is the painting telling you? Sometimes paintings need to cook and once cooked that’s it, that is enough. You move on, they move on too. But I am curious too about what happened next and to see more of your latest work, so yes, please blog again. The thread, the golden thread … it’s out there shining on this one that’s for sure. Stunning effort! Wonderful stuff, Georgia would be proud I am sure.

    1. Thanks, Suzii 😀 You are, as always, wonderfully supportive. Thanks for your kind words, and yes, there is the next chapter of this story already up and I will shortly be writing the chapter after that.

      Thank you for your kind words.


  3. I really like it, I hope you pick it back up and finish it.
    How exciting to be taking art classes.
    Found you via Blogtoberfest.

    1. Hi, Alana 😀 Nice to meet you.

      Yes, the art classes have been an eye opener for me. Giving me trust in myself and opening my brain to new ideas. Well worth the effort. They also keep me grounded in my art, year round.

      Thanks for dropping by and happy Blogtober!


  4. I think you are creating some amazing work!
    I do like the still life with letter, you must be proud of how the jug turned out!

    1. Hi, Tess 😀

      Yes, that jug…I fought with that one, but I won. vEry happy with how it turned out. Though I have to say, I saw it around the art studio the other day and it was a case of ‘the jug, the jug, aaaargh’ 😀 Let’s just say it has imprinted itself on my brain 😀

      Thanks heaps for dropping by and thanks for your kind comments.


  5. Hi, I too am doing the blogtoberfest this year and you are the first blog I have read, I used to paint, now into glass and oddly my daughter has just done her first year of 6th form (we live in the UK) and studied Georgia O’Keefe, very interesting painter, I love your painting in her style, and that jug in the first piece is gorgeous was what caught my eye, I will find you on FB I think and keep up! Laney

    1. Hi, Laney!

      Thanks for the like on Facebook! Your glasswork is lovely. And thanks for all your kind words. Nice to meet you 😀

      Happy Blogtober!