Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Gouache and Artbars landscape in the Stillman and Birn Alpha sketchbook

Evening Light, Winsor and Newton Gouache and Derwent Artbars in the A4 Stillman and Birn Alpha sketchbook.

Further experimenting with gouache, Derwent Artbars and Stillman and Birn sketchbooks.

This was a demo to students about the benefits of working on a dark background when painting moody scenes.   I scribbled various deep colours with the Artbars and then washed them into a streaky deep background.   Then with gouache I worked over it - thin glazes and thicker paint - then worked back in with the Artbars in places.  Leaving parts of that dark background as tree trunk, far trees, some of the field, scratching through to the darkness below for fine lines and marks.  The pale flowers in the foreground were done with white gouache, flicked from a bristle brush to keep the marks random and free.  The combination of media worked well with lots of  variation in marks possible.

Monday, June 25, 2012

New arrival, sketch of newborn baby

New born: very quick sketch of Charlie at 15 hours old, pencil in Stillman and Birn Gamma sketchbook

This is one of the reasons I've been absent - new arrival Charlie, my youngest daughter's first child :>)

Other hospital stuff also going on with more sketches to follow and hopefully I'll catch up with the series I was writing.

Thursday, June 07, 2012

How do you decide which size to work? and 3 abstract works in widely different dimensions

Undergrowth: mixed media on canvas, 5ft wide x 2 ft tall

 Katherine Tyrrell asks an interesting question on her blog today questioning  the scale in which you work and whether you work to standard sizes.

She makes some very good points - but on conclusions I differ somewhat.   For me it's important to work to the size/format that suits you composition - and hang the cost!  (her first option in her poll)   Not because I'm wealthy - I'm quite the opposite!  Just because I think it's important that every bit of your chosen area matters.   I see so many good works ruined by an insistence on keeping the full size/format of the paper in order to fit existing frames :>(.  It means that parts of a composition are spoilt, areas sit there not earning their keep, destroying the tension of the composition.  Once students learn to crop to suit the work, and not their bargain frames, their work looks so much better :>)

You can always use that frame but have a mount/mat cut that helps it fit - allowing more space at the bottom for instance and having a wide mat.  Or if you are neat, learn to cut your own.   I don't do neat :>(  so my framer cuts mine.   Tiny works sometimes look wonderful in a large frame with a very wide mat around them.   A couple of printmaker friends do this a lot and the work has so much more impact framed this way.

Also if you find a good framer, he/she will usually do a good deal for you once they know you are a repeat customer.  Mine is a treasure.

Abstract based on sketches of the river Dordogne, mixed media on canvas 40 ins square (and yes it did match the sofa cushions!)

Tiny abstract based on words, slightly off square, about 5ins

These 3 pieces vary from a long thin landscape format to square to off square.   Each needed to be that particular format to me.

I tend not to like the A5/A4 etc proportions and like a 2:3 ratio better when working in a rectangle.  Hence the 20x30 inch canvas.

Paint big and get noticed is one option Katherine mentions - and this certainly seems to work for local open exhibitions where larger works hold their own in a crowded jumble of paintings hung floor to ceiling.  They are frequently the prize winners.

Depending on just how big, they often look better on people's walls even in a small house.   I like to have a large painting over my sofa - currently I have one of the Harlequin series (landscape 30 x40ins) next to a 20 x 30 ins (portrait format) seascape .  My room isn't tiny but isn't huge either.  Paintings this size look far better than the occasional A3 paintings I have for a change in a row of 3.

Because the larger paintings are  unframed, on deep sided canvas, they are proportionally cheaper to have exhibition ready.   I prefer them unframed.   This cuts down on costs - remember gallery commission is on your expensive framing as well as your work,

In exhibitions it does look good to have at least some of your work the same size - but some variation looks good and gives buyers options to buy smaller and cheaper work as well as large pieces.

I have a maximum size limit these day - the size that fits comfortably in my car with the back seats down - both of these canvases would fit.

Some paintings work beautifully on a small scale, others cry out for the larger canvasses - so working to fit the subject is important.   Though I love working on paper, it's a surface I enjoy,  to work very large on paper costs SO much to frame that I tend to move on to canvas for very large pieces.   I also like the clarity of colour, with no glass reflection.  I do intend to try Sarah Wimperis' way of varnishing watercolours with a matte varnish so that they too can be framed without glass.  Another friend, Nicole Caulfield does this with coloured pencil work very successfully.

How about you?   stock sizes?  size according to subject?  how do you work?

Monday, June 04, 2012

Derwent new watercolour paper pads - experimenting with sketching in various water soluble media

Trying out Derwent's inktense, watercolour pencils, Graphitint, Graphitone, Artbars and more on their new watercolour paper pads

Derwent Watercolour Paper

Derwent have brought out some new watercolour paper pads, perfect for their water soluble pencils and crayons.   It's 140lb which is heavy enough for the amount of water I'd normally use with these - I wouldn't normally have huge wet washes.

I tried out sketches of items from my sketching roll and various coloured pencils and crayons.  All worked really well, the surface was a delight to work on with colour flowing freely, with the potential to lose or keep marks as I wanted.

Products used here were 
  • Derwent watercolour pencils
  • Derwent Inktense
  • Derwent Graphitint
  • Derwent Graphitone
  • Derwent Artbars
  • Derwent Aquatone
  • Derwent Charcoal Pencil
  • Rotring Art Pen
....  with sketches of their electric eraser, sharpener for pastels and waterbrush, just some of the things from my pencil roll of sketching materials.

Sketch in watercolour pencil, close up

sketch using Aquatone pencils and waterbrush

Verdict:   When life demands allow me out to do some more serious sketching this book is coming with me.  I really like the paper very much, it allows colours to be clean, glow and yet mix beautifully in both free flowing masses of colour and 'tighter' observations,   I like the smooth surface, which doesn't impose an unwanted texture on my work. 

Links to previous posts on the media used

Various watercolour pencils