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 😂

285 Win a Portrait

This week I reached an Instagram milestone. What started there was merely a fun daily posting in my little diary, with a sketch and quote, experimenting with different media, styles and calligraphy.

It has since evolved a mixture of urban sketches, Plein air painting and my very favourite portrait and pet paintings.

I now have over 1000 followers which is huge for me, and as a thank you I’m offering my followers a chance to win a personalised portrait sketch. Since I’ve been blogging much longer than instagramming I’m extending this offer to my loyal blog followers too.

I’d love one of you to win, so if you would like a portrait of yourself, or a loved one or pet, all you need to do is leave a comment below to go into the draw.

284 Fun Portraits

I’m still around in case you were wondering, but my blog posts are becoming an infrequent occurrence. It seems I don’t have anything interesting to post these days but when I go through my photos I can find a whole bunch of stuff, whether it’s interesting or not remains to be seen 😄

Spring weather can be a bit iffy in my area, so quite often our regular Plein air outing ends up not Plein air, and we end up at the local library or a cafe. On this occasion I was bored with the idea of yet another sketch of the town hall, so I sketched one of my painting buddies instead. This was a semi blind contour sketch in ink on crummy paper, which was a lot of fun but my friend turned out looking like a 90 year old bag lady.

But, gouache to the rescue. Later at home I fixed it to resemble her, and her beautiful Opera pink scarf. She even offered to buy it, but I was happy to give it to her seeing she liked it so much.

After this session I decided I needed a bit more portrait practise. The Inktober challenge appeared on social media and even though I was a few days late starting I thought I would do a series of portraits depicting the daily theme, using different media.

Day 1 started out ok, using a Pentel brush pen for a direct sketch with a bit of colour for the prompt of Poison.

Day 2 – Tranquil. A BIC ballpoint pen sketch. Ballpoint pen is rather nice to sketch with as you can achieve linework varying from very faint with light pressure to quite dark with heavier pressure.

But it’s often the case that I’m not good at following daily prompts when it gets too hard to find a suitable subject for that prompt. So I drifted away.

However last week I found myself with a lot of time to waste in waiting rooms and I just happen to have a cheap IKEA notebook and a pencil with me, so I grabbed a few images from Sktchyapp to while away the time. Sketching really makes time fly.

These were all about 30 minute sketches. I think I improved as I went along.

This little session has reminded me how much I love doing portraits. I’ll keep doing them for fun in between my Plein air sessions and trying to master landscapes.

283 New Sketch Bag

I’m not a good blogger these days, so sorry. Too many other things seem to get in the way. Travel, family illness, and over the last few months I’ve been asked to act as a social media promoter for an organisation Southern Art Trail. This annual trail has 93 venues open from Sep 15 – 30. I will have my work exhibited in three of the venues so I have been rather busy.

Some of my Plein air paintings I will have on display in one local gallery can be seen here.

Another gallery has a variety of different paintings and sketches.

In addition to those two I will be exhibiting along with my Plein air buddies, all small watercolours painted in and around our town. I will post the link to that page when I have the pictures ready.

Apart from that, I just had to make myself a new sketch bag. I had one that worked really well and fitted in a bunch of stuff, but it was not meant to last and finally fell to pieces. I used the idea to fashion a similar one, not as big so I’m not tempted to pack too much. The idea is to keep it light and simple.

The sewing on the bag is not too fancy, but it works.

It fits an A4 watercolour pad, and another smaller one if I need it. A plastic basket fits nicely inside keeping my palettes flat so the paint doesn’t run everywhere. Yes, I’ve had some awful messes to deal with from palettes not being carried flat.

The little easel is fashioned from a camera tripod and fits into its own carry bag.

A see through zip bag contains miscellaneous pens, clips, knife, a kneadable eraser and sharpener fit into a small plastic disposable glove container, a towelling wrist band and a strip of towel for blotting brushes.

The brush container is made from a cardboard roll, covered in duct tape with a string attached to hang from the easel. Water container, watercolour pencils, watercolour palette and gouache palette make up the rest of the kit.

Now I just need to put it all into practise. I did have a trial run, catching up with sketches in my moleskine travel journal, clipping the book to the easel with the small black clip thingies.

I do hope to get back to regular sketching after this busy period is over. I miss just sketching for fun, and not have to worry whether my work is “Gallery worthy”.

282 Sketches from Far and Near

First sketch is a commission – Manhattan NYC – on the other side of the world to me. It’s not so easy doing a commission from somewhere you’ve never been from a lousy phone pic. I tried to create an illusion of distance in the buildings with an interesting skyline, while keeping the near buildings recognisable. The client was happy so that makes me happy.

Canson Montval paper, ink and watercolour.

Back to more familiar territory. This Victorian building is our local Town Hall. I sketched this with a Staedtler Stabilo pen on drawing paper. When watercolour is applied this ink bleeds and softens the linework.

Another day and a different view of the Town Hall. The building is undergoing refurbishment and we would like to think that it may house a permanent art gallery, as our town is sadly lacking one.

Sketched with a Lamy fountain pen with permanent ink and watercolour on drawing paper.

I love doing old decaying buildings. This one is an old woollen mill that is crumbling away. At one stage this mill was the largest producing carpet wool in Australia but was a victim of corporate collapse and the town lost a very important industry. I guess the building won’t be there for too much longer as it now a haven for skateboarders and graffiti artists. I really enjoyed doing the graffiti, only in my sketchbook though.

Ink and watercolour on drawing paper.

I am presently working towards an exhibition in a few months time. The exhibition will be part of an “Art Trail” with over 90 venues and open studios over a two week period. Most of my work on display will be Plein air sketches and paintings. I have also had a range of cards printed for this, most of them from my sketches about town. A wonderful local gift and garden store “Designer Dirt” is now stocking some of them.

Photos by Designer Dirt.

I will share some photos of the exhibition when it happens. In the meantime I’ll be busy matting and framing.