sketching at the botanical gardens

Sketch of a water feature in the pool at the University Botanical Gardens, 10 ins approx

Today I was sketching with my class at the University Botanical Gardens - I don't normally 'do' gardens/manicured/tidy so decided to just look at texture and reflections. This isn't a finished painting - just a study, a practice piece, so the composition isn't great. The subject wasn't one I'd want to do a 'finished' work of, I couldn't see a composition that really appealed to me.

The water was very murky and the fish (koi carp) had to swim near the surface to be seen! Depending on the light - which changed by the minute from sunlit and warm to overcast and chilly and back - the water was deep khaki/peaty brown or amber.

detail of painting above

The surface of the bronze bell interested me as it contained so many subtle nuances of colour and texture - at the bottom (due to an unseen patterned structure underneath?) the water trickled at regular intervals, creating a pallisaded effect.

A short jet of water came from the top, to trickle down the sides and drops caught by the breeze created circular ripples on the water around it.

My attention was focused on the bell and water - so the far edge and grass are very roughly put in.

There are lots of layers of glazes to try to get the subtle colours in the bronze, some washes, some scumbled dry brush marks, some drips. There is also coloured pencil and some white oil pastel and gouache and some tippex pen - they've started to sell them in art shops now but of course they were designed as typing correction pens and that's when I first got the idea of using them. I use them for the white ripples caused by the drops from the fountain and to create some of the lightest reeds.

Do you do 'practice' pieces just to hone skills?


Love your layers and calligraphic like strokes! Sounds like you carry the kitchen sink with you :)

I do find my time spent nature sketching really helps when it comes to creating a serious painting.
vivien said…
thanks Pam - and I totally agree, it really feeds into your knowledge of what is going to work and enables you to work more freely the more you sketch :>)

oh dear I am a kitchen sink plein air-ist! I admit it! Though I'd limited the cp's to a handful, guessing which I'd need so it wasn't tooo much!

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