Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Cornwall sketches July 2014

Godrevey Lighthouse , watercolour/mixed media in S&B Delta sketchbook

A chance to sketch fairly intensively on a trip to Cornwall.  Happy.

I was feeling very rusty, particularly with oils as life has been hectic and I haven't had much time lately for plein air sketching.

There was plenty of passing cloud and the day was windy, the sea intensely blue.  This is a corner of Cornwall I wasn't familiar with, so it was lovely to discover new places.  There were so many beautiful spots to paint within a very small distance from where we were staying.

I was painting from the Towans Cornish for dunes - most of the coast has cliffs but being on an estuary (St Ives is across the bay), there is a large area of high, grassy, shrub and flower covered dunes. the highest in Europe apparently.

More to follow ....

Monday, June 09, 2014

Swithland Woods in Inktense .... and some gouache ... editing update

Swithland Woods, Inktense, a bit of pen and now some gouache and a touch of pastel. in S&B A4 sketchbook

As I said, I wasn't happy with the background foliage (here) - so today I used it as an example of editing/adjusting for my class.   I won't finish the foreground off, it's still just a sketch but I was able to regain the highlights with gouache and intensify some darks, simplifying both but keeping the complexity of the foliage.



Saturday, June 07, 2014

Swithland Woods in June, sketch with inktense

 Swithland Woods, detail.  Inktense, coloured pencil and a little ink

 I sketched for a short while in Swithland Woods yesterday.   I'd taken my Inktense pencils - and lovely as they are I really really felt the need for oil paints to cope with dappled light and the ability to put back light over dark.  I'll have to get back there with my oils.

Swithland Woods, S&B Beta A4 sketchbook, unfinished

The sketch is unfinished because the background leaves got overworked and fussy as I tried to get the deep shade and brightly lit flashes of sunlit leaves - and the light changed dramatically, making the trees that had interesting light on them a few minutes before, simply silhouettes.  It would have spread further over onto the right hand page.   Woods are rather like seascapes though, where you have to work fast.  Oil paint would have let me do it in the time and with simple direct marks.  Pencil is so much slower even though this was a very quick sketch.

I could use a little gouache to simplify overworked areas but will leave it unfinished.   

I love the way that the dried leaves on the ground take on a peachy pink colour against all that green,

More details:

Older work in the same area:

A previous oil painting done a short distance away in the same woods, 11x12 inches

And a tiny digital image of the same woods

Further sketches and paintings in the area here

Tuesday, June 03, 2014

quick sketches of art students

What to do while the paint dries .....

 rapid sketches of students and/or fellow painters :>)

 ( and some older ones:)

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Masquerade Roses, against the light in watercolour

Masquerade Roses contre jour, watercolour and coloured pencil sketch in 7x7 inch S&B sketchbook

This was a challenge to myeself to do some blowsy roses, strongly backlit by the bright day outside, creating deep shadows on leaves and window frame (which I simplified to abstract geometric shapes).  Flowers aren't something I do very often.  They are climbing masquerade roses that I remember buying for £1.60 as a sickly little plant a few years back, that have now spread yards along a fence and flower and flower.  They start out yellow and gradually the red creeps in and takes over as the flowers open.

The route I took was to play with the intense shadow, lost edges and brightly backlit elements.  Interestingly this week A&I magazine (July issue - in May!)  was about painting light, featuring a series of different painters.  One, Edward Seago whose main interest was the depiction of light, said that there were 2 ways of tackling bright light:

  1. to darken the whole painting, dramatising the lights
  2. to make the whole painting higher key
He said his preferred option for backlit subjects was the first .... the very route I'd decided to go with this :>)

In the same magazine, Ken Howard in different words, says something very similar and of course models backlit by large windows are a key subject for him.

It turned out a bit tighter than I would have liked but it was a good learning excercise.  Practice practice practice ..............

Friday, May 09, 2014

Using ink and a stick to draw the contents of my desk, backlit aginst the sun

sunglasses and eye drops, backlit,  ink drawing in A4 S&B Zeta sketchbook

I've been neglecting my blog lately.   A mixture of a Mount Everest of marking and paperwork to do :>( and having had laser eye surgery.............. and being able to see without glasses (except for reading small print).  :>)   Yay!!!!!!

I liked the backlit arrangement of clutter relevant to the surgery on my desk after I'd used the eye drops and decided to draw it.  It started off with some Herbin Gris Nuage but it didn't go dark enough for the shadows so I added FW acrylic Paynes grey ink and touch of their white ink to regain some highlights ,,,, then a small touch of Tombow pen.  The stick I used was a handle from a broken paintbrush, sharpened with a pencil sharpener.   I think I prefer the freer marks of twigs but it worked very well.  There was of course also water and a paintbrush for creating washes of paler ink.

There were lots of really wet washes and the Zeta stood up to them brilliantly, no buckling at all.

Who likes drawing with ink?

Friday, April 04, 2014

sketching constantly moving children, from life, in coloured pencil

 Playing on the iphone, very fast coloured pencil sketch

A quick sketch of my youngest grandson, constantly moving, playing with an iphone.  He disappeared to the play area of the cafe before I drew his arms.  Done with 2 brown coloured pencils  in a small Derwent journal.  (2 because he insisted on having the first one to do some drawing himself, so I had to find another).

Drawing active children is so difficult! they just moved constantly.   The 2 below of my slightly older grandchildren were very messy!  I attempted to catch the huge brown eyes of elder grandson and the mop of fair hair my grandaughter was trying to see through to draw and the soft curls of the 2 boys.

Below the oldest ones who were so wriggly and active that the drawings aren't successful - more practice needed obviously ....

constantly looking up to talk to me, brushing her hair off her face, leaning forward to draw with hair entirely covering her face etc etc etc ....

Playing a game on an ipad, totally absorbed but moving ++++++  I tried to catch the curls and the big brown eyes and the concentration

I thought that being absorbed in what they were doing they might move a little less,  but no.   I tried to catch them each time they went back to a position, with varying degrees of success.  Enjoyable but practice needed I think.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

of flowers, abstracting from flowers in paint and in inktense

 Of Flowers.  Mixed media on canvas.

The image below is a part of avariation on this canvas which you can read about here - each version exploits the mark making potential of the medium used.  The flower is purely imaginary and abstracted.  It's about flowers rather than being a flower. 

I was asked to do a commission with abstracted flowers and this is a fragment ....

 Fragment of a commisssion, using Derwent Inktense

I can't show it yet.  All will be revealed later, when the website it and another image, are done for is up and running :>)

now to look at paperwork :>(  and hopefully paint some more ....

Friday, March 21, 2014

Feather in mixed media

Ragged feather in mixed media

A ragged feather in a mix of watercolour, coloured pencil, Derwent tinted graphite pencils and biro.

I can't show the work I've been busy with yet.   And paperwork and marking has been taking up a lot of time too.   So many plans and ideas and so little time and energy!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Experimenting with still life, coloured pencil in A3 moleskine sketchbook

  Cat carving and cardoon by lamplight, coloured pencil in A3 moleskine

Still looking at the items on the shelf above the tv but moving them around on paper, rearranging and looking at pattern and colour.  They aren't in the positions I've drawn them in at all and I've simply used the colour of the vase, though lightening it, not wanting the vase itself explained.  The same with the wheat and hearts patterns.  Warm light from the lamp and the cool lavender shades are observed so that the whole thing hangs together.

Below are the earlier stages as it evolved.  I only have a rough idea of the final piece when doing this, unlike a traditional set up, where everything is where it will be in the image.   It evolves as I go.  Major elements like the cat carving, cardoon, blue of the vase and the honesty are decided immediately - they are the skeleton that everything hangs on.   Decisions about depth of tone, lost edges, patterns of wheat and the hearts and scrolls, taken from a little chest of drawersare all decided as I go; as was the late addition of an amber border, which allowed the cream of the paper to be something in its own right in the cardoon and honesty.

In paint or charcoal or ink I work fast and fairly freely.   The initial.sketchy lines establishing the positions of elements in this were also done freely but, after that, building optical mixes of colour and deepening tones is a slow meditative way of working, giving lots of 'thinking' time as to where next. 

I do like the way that you can make colours subtly change with layering in coloured pencil.   I'm much too impatient to work in it all the time but for subjects like this I'm enjoying it.

Stage 2 with more depth of tone to the background and the wheat and hearts patterns added

I added the hearts and scrolls design in the background at this stage - but knocked them back into shadow at the end as they conflicted with the honesty, taking away from its lovely simple shapes.   I didn't want the background completely plain though.

stage one. with the major elements in but lots of decisions still to be made about the background and depth of tone

A Derwent battery eraser was used as a drawing tool, taking out the shapes of the wheat ears (but leaving them simply as pattern, not detailed) and some of the small highlights in the cardoon.

I occasionally smudge colour in base layers to lose the paper colour entirely but don't burnish, liking the optical mix and texture of colours.

This is in a moleskine book.  It's waxy paper works well with pencil and ink and erases cleanly - but is so limiting to me with its inability to cope with paint.   Had this been on other paper I might have done a watercolour/coloured pencil mixed media piece.

As I've said before, I enjoy doing studies of individual still life objects but can't get excited about doing traditional still life set ups - as-is - what a friend describes as a clump, a lump and a vessel, all in a row.  This is me thinking around ways to make it more interesting to me and taking away that 'given' element, where the result is known at the start and I negotiate my way through.  I'm enjoying it more than I expected :>)

Let me know your thoughts???

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

It's cold outside - so experimenting with still life in coloured pencil

Study for a larger work, coloured pencil in A4 moleskine, honesty

It's cold, very very windy and raining cats and dogs.   I'm lucky that we aren't affected by the terrible floods affecting large areas of the county but I still don't want to go out in it!  So I'm continuing to look at still life, a subject that I rarely do as a finished painting, preferring to do occasional studies of things that interest me and concentrating mainly on landscape.

The items on the shelf over the tv, lit by a table lamp caught my eye - a vase of honesty, wheat stalks and a large cardoon head, a carved wooden cat, some carved abstract birds on a tree, the lamp and a bright pottery cat.  So .... how to make a different arrangement of them? playing with colour and pattern, not simply doing them 'as is', which didn't interest me.

Switching the lamp on gave wonderful colour contrasts, the shadows having a positive lavender colour and the highlights a warm amber.  Light is so important in any painting.

I'd doing what I very rarely do, working from photographs.   The photos caught the light well.   I photographed elements separately and at different angles - the cat looked best from above, the vase straight on, the cardoon at an angle, the honesty with an abstract pattern of colours from the books on the shelf beside them ... all are being moved about in the versions I'm working on.

This one just looked at the mauve/amber shadows and highlights on a section of the honesty and the pattern of colour behind,   I didn't want to explain the books etc in detail, just use the pattern and colour they create, simplifying.

I could potentially develop this into a more abstracted painting, quite large .... even very large.  Maybe use pastel?  on a toothed paper like Fisher 400?  Maybe oil on canvas?

Another one I'm working on and will show soon involved the carved cat, the cardoon head, some wheat and honesty - all rearranged on paper.

I'm using up my moleskine sketchbook - I do quite like it for ink and pencil but as I mix media such a lot I find it limiting.  It's useless for paint.  I know I could prime pages but won't as I will simply use a different book - like my S&B where I can use anything in them.

I'm enjoying playing with these elements, rearranging, weaving the patterns through  :>)

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

still experimenting with still non conventional still life, working out elements in A4 moleskine

Carved wqoden cat in Crayola and Tombow pen in moleskine sketchbook

A probable element in the next still life painting - it will be based on the things on the shelf above the tv.

Done really fast with my grandson's Crayola pencils, some of which don't work very well on the waxy moleskine paper (but what's new!  so many things don't) and grey and black Tombow pen.

I'm wondering if the finished painting might be done in Artbars and Caran d'Ache Neocolor II.   I think the ability to use  coloured line and wash might work with this and the other objects.  I'm also thinking it will need to be a full sheet of watercolour paper to weave the different things together in the way I want.

Sketches to do and problems to solve ....

Another in the jazz in paint, still life series, watercolour. charcoal and ink.

A3 Khadi paper, watercolour, charcoal and ink, variations on a theme

I've done a series of variations on this theme from the same original objects. Using sketches done from life I've then simplified, moved things around on the paper, played with patterns and in different media, rather like the way musicians plays with a theme, creating variations and counterpoint.

I'm exploring the ways that still life can interest me as I don't find doing conventional set ups do.

This one started with tinted watercolour washes, in a variety of greys that I mixed, developed with charcoal and white and paynes grey acrylic inks, with a little white oil pastel.  It's fun to work within a limited colour range like this.

The Khadi paper is interesting to work on.  It's pure rag, heavy and quite absorbent so the paint doesn't sit on the surface as with some papers.  The paper is curling in the photo as it was still damp but it is actually square straight edged.

A previous variation (original arrangement was done by a friend, pretty but conventional, hence the lemon, which I would never have put in!   for colour it worked beautifully but was somehow so incongrouos ).  This one was done with Art Bars as part of my involvement in testing them during development, Derwent went on to buy it.  The colours have been played with a little but are close to the original.  After this I experimented further with moving the objects more, changing colours entirely, losing the lemon! and playing more with the patterns.

If you look at the Still Life tag in the right hand column, you can see digital experiments and other sketches where I worked on earlier variations and ideas.  Prints of these digital images went into my sketchbook,. along with original sketches and are now a useful base for the beginnings of this ongoing project.  Sketchbooks are gold mines!

So ... I've explored this series of objects enough for the moment and have started on another. so more later ....

Pleases feel free to comment.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Jazz with paint - experimenting with still life in watercolour

Experimenting with still life - jazz in paint.  Watercolour and oil pastel

I meet up with a group of friends, fellow painters, once a month and we critique each others work, talk about art, exhibitions. artists etc and put on exhibitions ourselves.  We all work very differently.   We decided to challenge ourselves to tackle a subject we rarely do - still life - and each find an angle on it that makes it interesting to us.  We've talked about doing a project on it for some time and decided to stop talking and start doing :>).  We all have to take an A3 painting to the next meeting.  This is mine so far.

As usual, the photograph doesn't bring out some of the subtle colour changes :>(

This is based on sketches I did a year or two ago- you can see some of them here, here, here and here.

This one was done with watercolour on Khadi rag paper (A3) with some gold, copper,  orange and irridescent pale blue Sennelier oil pastel scribbles.   The paper is really absorbent and rather different to use.  I think I like it.

Originally a traditional still life had been set up but I don't really enjoy doing them.   So I decided to play by moving objects on the paper, playing with the rich patterns so that reality and pattern merged and overlapped, to create something different.  Working like this, still life began to interest me.

 The one below was one of the earlier experiments in charcoal and ink - I may play with this arrangement in colour next.

What do you think?  

Monday, January 06, 2014

Drawing with pens, Rotring, Lamy, ballpoint, Sharpie and Tombow

Sketches with a variety of pens, Rotring and Lamy fountain pens, a Tombow double ended brush pen, a Sharpie and a Parker ballpoint pen. In S&B Zeta A4 sketchbook, ideal for ink as it's smooth, heavy paper lets the pen flow.

Examples are for a forthcoming class, showing some of the marks each pen can make, alone or with a water brush to create washes of tone with the water soluble inks.  I simply drew items from my pencil case.

The last sketch, of scissors, uses a mix of fountain pen, Sharpie and Tombow. The grey Tombow giving varied washes of tone, the fountain pen with black ink for fine lines and the Sharpie for flat, even, intense black.

These are the pens I keep in my pencil case.  The Rotring pen I bought many years ago nd I've never had any problems with it.  I'm giving the Lamy a second chance, the first one started off ok but the the ink just refused to flow no matter how much I cleaned it.  It did not impress me.  Friends like theirs so I bought another to try ... so far so good but the jury is out until it stands the test of time.

The Tombow pens are a favourite, especially the grey as you can build up washes of tone and the dual ends give a good range of marks.

The Sharpie for me has a more limited use but when I want large areas of dense non-streaky black, it's perfect.

Biro (ballpoint pen)is another I like.  It flows across the paper and can be used to create delicate, pale marks as well as bolder line.  Here I've stuck purely to ink but biro is great with coloured pencil for a line and wash effect.

Of course all of these can be combined with other media, as I frequently do, charcoal, watercolour, acrylic .... anything.

Work in ink:

I don't particularly enjoy metal dip pens though I have a couple somewhere, not sure where though!  I prefer the lively organic marks of twigs, bamboo pens, brushes and sticks with bottled ink but that's for another day ....