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  :>)