292 Plein Air Sketching

I’m still sketching out and around my town most weeks. Here are some of my recent sketches.

The first was done in town at one of our favourite spots, showing my set up – a little home made easel attached to a camera tripod. The brush holder is a cardboard cylinder covered with fancy duct tape. I also have Velcro attached to the easel and the underside of the palette (not in its correct position in this photo), to keep the palette in place. We do have a windy city so this helps, but I usually call it quits when the palette blows shut or the brush blows away.

Here is the initial sketch, almost a continuous line drawing. These are fun to do and help me when I don’t know where to start. This was done with a Preppy pen with brown ink. I left out my usual pen when I packed my kit and this was the only one I had on hand. The ink bleeds slightly but not enough to bother me.

Another day, back at the same park looking in a different direction towards the old post office building. A bright sunny day here making nice shadows.

One outing took us out to a beautiful little inlet, the bright sunlight again making beautiful shadows on the white sand, perfect for sketching in watercolour.

Back in town at St John’s church. It was a rather bleak and windy day for summer but the sun came out briefly. I have learnt now if that happens, stop what I’m doing and get those shadows in real quick.

Another day was out of town at a rural property with a beautiful outlook over a dam. We disturbed a few kangaroos but they disappeared by the time we got our painting gear out.

A more recent outing was looking back at the port and town from the other side of the bay. I usually manage to find a shady spot to paint from to avoid the glare of sunlight on white paper.

This last sketch was done from the shelter of a local port side cafe on a grey and wet day. The sketch was done initially with pen, followed by grey shading with a Tombow brush pen then watercolour added later at home.

Here is the initial sketch on site. Not such a good photo but I included it to show the grey Tombow shading. They are fun pens to use, double ended with a brush tip and a fine tip the opposite end, and come in several shades of grey which are so useful for tonal sketches, as well as various colours.

All of these sketches were done on 200g drawing paper, apart from the farm scene which was on 300g watercolour paper. I find that sometimes the heavier watercolour paper seems to suck the colour

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291 Freeing Up

This week I discovered Mile Svob’s super 20 minute painting tutorials on YouTube, called Create Paintings You Love. He demonstrates by using big brushes, bold shapes and not stressing the details in order to loosen up and paint more freely.

Mike demonstrates 5 different principles – Tone/Value, Shape, Colour, Edges and abstraction, and different methods in each lesson. After watching the first one I was itching to start. And keeping with my personal challenge this year to use up existing or rarely used supplies I dragged out my old acrylic paints, gessoed over some failed watercolours and I was set to go.

Lesson 1 Value – Using a light and a dark plus white. I struggled a bit with this one but it really made me think about the tonal or value patterns in the design.

Lesson 2 – Shapes. This was painted from Mikes photo so I didn’t have to think too much about the composition. A great lesson in simplification.

Lesson 3 – Colour. A lesson in using contrasts in hue and intensity.

Lesson 4 – Edges. Seeing where to have hard edges in the clouds as opposed to lost edges, how to blend and soften.

Lesson 5 – Abstraction. A really fun exercise with no boundaries or direction. Abstraction has always intrigued me so it was liberating to paint with no idea where or how this would end up.

I could have continued working on this one for ages, adding and subtracting, just playing with colours and shapes.

I really enjoyed these tutorials. It was a great challenge trying to do them in 20 minutes. I probably went a couple of minutes over on some but it forced me to not stress the details. If you like the look of these sign up with the link above. Mike is doing another mini online painting course starting 24 January.

290 Gouache to the Rescue

I go out Plein air sketching most weeks somewhere around my local area . Most of the time I start out with watercolour. Sometimes they are successful, sometimes not. Often looking at it at home away from the scene I can decide if it works as a painting or it’s a bin job. If I’m unhappy with my result when I return home I often “fix” it with gouache.

This little sketch wasn’t working for me at the time. It had too much green and was rather boring, but it had possibilities. A loose approach like this gives me a lot of leeway.After fiddling with gouache for a while it started to come together. Sometimes when I’m away from the scene I put a bit more effort into making the painting work, instead of simply copying what is in front of me. The only original part left here is the sky 😄

Another day, another Plein Air session and another failed watercolour. I really should bin some of these attempts and regard it as experience, or as added miles on the brush, but I don’t like to admit defeat. So I tried a Gouache makeover again, but I still wasn’t satisfied with the result. This time I resorted to adding pastel for the grasses and touches here and there on the foliage.

I’m continually learning with Plein Air painting. Each one is a challenge and sometimes I have absolutely no idea how I’m going to approach the painting.

Recently I have been trying to plan a bit more before I start by mapping out a composition with a preliminary thumbnail sketch using a Pilot V pen, a cheap disposable fountain pen with watersoluble ink and a waterbrush.

These are only quick scribbles, then a few strokes with the waterbrush to create different tones or values.

This tiny journal was a bargain buy, reduced from $10 to $2, originally bought as a notebook, just because I can’t resist an art bargain, but I started using it for these quick scribbles and found that I really enjoy using it for ink and wash thumbnail sketches.

I’m now remembering to note where they are sketched but I must start adding the date as well because it is becoming a good reference as well as a nice little memory journal to flip through.

289 New Year Resolution

Nope! I’m rubbish at resolutions, always starting off well but inevitably fall in a heap after a while. So instead for the new year I’m doing a personal challenge, that is to do more fun stuff…… and hopefully blog more regularly.

2018 saw me become involved in exhibiting my work both in Riverfront Gallery, Denmark and Southern Art and Craft Trail. As an exhibitor in a gallery the main object is to sell work, and with the economic climate and increased competition, sales are hard to come by. I feel that I’m constantly trying to paint what the buyer may want,so it becomes work rather than pleasure.

So I’m resolving now to just play and experiment, and use some of those art supplies bought on a whim and promptly ignored. An added motivation to do this was the opportunity to participate in a rerun of Liz Steel’s Sketching Foundations course which I completed in 2015. Liz reopened this course for past participants, and new students this week, so I’m hoping this will reinvigorate my love of sketching. I’d also like to get more proficient at painting directly with a waterbrush.

Here’s my start, my most used sketching tools in a half used page in a Canson Montval journal. Hey, I’m using up stuff and not buying new!

The pencil was sketched with the watercolour pencil, and blended with a waterbrush. Side swatches show a blending of colours, dry pencil at the top and blended with a waterbrush at the bottom.

The mechanical pencil was sketched with pencil with watercolour wash over.

Uniball pen and palette were sketched directly with a waterbrush, using my mini limited palette of a favourite triad – yellow, magenta (Permanent rose) and cyan (Pthalo Blue) with extras – Quinacridone gold, Raw sienna, Burnt sienna, Ultramarine blue and Indigo.

I’m starting with minimal tools but I hope to use all my arsenal of art supplies over the 12 week course.

I will also post other work during the course but I hope I can keep up my fun sketching as well.

288 Catch ups

I’m posting a few of my sketches that I haven’t shared here over the past few months.

While on holiday visiting family I was travelling with minimal art supplies – a little travel palette, a travel brush, a waterbrush, a small travel journal and a cheap watercolour pad.

You can see my little travel kit here.

I had to paint a “mingo” for a very special little client, as it was her favourite at that time. It was framed and hung on her wall with other favourite animals.

Another request was for a dog portrait of a very special, super intelligent dog who was dying of cancer. This painting was a challenge with a very small photo for reference and my limited palette of Pthalo blue, Ultramarine, Alizarin crimson and Quinacridone Gold.

On that trip I didn’t get to do a lot of travel sketching, as I don’t feel comfortable making people wait around for me while I indulge. I did manage a few quick pen sketches intending to add colour later, but that didn’t happen. However I did get to do this little journal sketch of the view from our balcony.

Arriving back home after three weeks of beautiful European alpine sunshine but sadly no painting, I was happy to get back into Plein air sketching again. The circus happened to be in town that week so I got out the gouache for the colourful big tent and painted this in my tiny A5 journal with 200g paper.

Another week, another sketch, this time of the recently decorated wheat silos at our local port. These decorated silos are part of a silo art trail with artwork on a huge scale by international mural artists. 35 metres high the various silos can be seen here https://www.facebook.com/110402535676145/posts/1865956763454038/

Ink sketch with watercolour on Fabriano Artistico paper.

I’ll try and do more catching up with blog posts shortly.

287 Otto

Here’s Otto, captelaine’s lucky draw dog portrait.

It was a bit of a struggle doing this one. I’m going through a bad patch with my art at the moment, and doing a lucky prize painting would perhaps be a way of getting me out of the art doldrums. I needed some motivation and direction so I decided to fall back to what I love doing, namely portraits of people and pets.

So I’ll share my struggles so you can see how I puddle around trying to make something that looks like a dog painting. I started this on top of a failed watercolour with a coating of gesso over.

Next I defined a few features with black ink, then a bit of watercolour.

Watercolour wasn’t working too well on this surface so I started adding gouache. Being thicker and drier gouache seemed to be a better choice. I was unsure about the background, scrubbing different colours around at this point.

Otto wasn’t looking too bad at this stage but the background was still giving me a headache. This is where I put the two images side by side to try to work outside where I’m going wrong.

I gave up at this stage, ready to bin the lot and give up painting forever, and went off to bed in disgust.

In the morning I took another look at it and decided it might work with a different background. Otto seems like a gutsy type of dog needing a strong background so I painted over the lot with burnt sienna gouache.

I think it suits him much better. I hope you like him Elaine 😊

Now, I might take a break from painting for a while and go and do some gardening or something……. or I might not 😂