276 Some Plein Air, some not.

With summer here we are making the most of outdoor sketching. Yesterday was a glorious sunny day made more enjoyable by painting along with excellent company.

I loosened up for my first sketch, easy to do when painting with my favourite brush. I scored this brush from a workshop by the wonderful artist John Lovett.

I still had 30 minutes before I had to leave so I did another quick sketch with gouache.

I didn’t have time to resolve the stone wall problem, so I took a photo and fiddled with it later at home.

The week before we painted at a local boat harbour. This is my very edited version of the actual scene, as I couldn’t get my head around too many boats and masts.

In the older part of our town is the Rotunda, constructed as a bandstand in the late 1800s. This was a bit of a challenge and as a result ended up rather overworked. But that’s what I love about Pleinair painting, everything is a puzzle and I always learn from each painting.

The following one was from a photo because I’m not often up and around to capture an early morning foggy scene. It was painted with a very limited palette with successive overlapping washes, fading out towards the water, with the man and boat added later.

Another one painted from my photo reference. This is just one more of the stunning beaches found along the southern coastline. This was painted with thinned gouache, used like watercolour.

As I am now working towards an Exhibition later this year all of these paintings are on artist quality watercolour paper and not in my journals. I really don’t like removing pages from journals as I paint in them just for me.

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250 Finishing UFOs

I decided this past week to finish off some of my ufo’s………unfinished objects 😊 I’m  working my way through the pile. This landscape was from a National Park we visited on our long trip around the country. It has been in the unfinished pile for ages, so now there is one less.  I think I salvaged it and will hopefully sell it at an exhibition later in the year. 

I do have a lot more unfinished paintings to work through and I will be ruthless. If I can’t make them work I’ll bin them.

In the meantime I had a morning with the local pleinair air group at the beach. Fine weather but the wind was a little chilly, which always makes me sketch a lot quicker. The first sketch is watercolour on cartridge paper.

The next one was a little gouache, looking across the bay.

And then I went for something completely different, a larger acrylic on canvas. I haven’t painted with acrylic for a long time and I forgot how much darker it dries, opposite to watercolour. This is 600 x 450 mm or 24 x 18″. Another one for the exhibition?

#229 A portrait, a city view and boats.

Firstly another  portrait from the Sktchy app, in watercolour and graphite on buff Stonehenge paper. I like how this paper gives the mid tone allowing white highlights to be added.


Early in the week we had a quick trip to the city for a few days and I was lucky to meet up with the new Urban Sketchers group for a quick sketch in Kings Park overlooking the city. It’s always fun to meet up with others with a similar interest/obsession 😄 which is helping me overcome my trepidation about sketching in public, and enjoy the process.  I am also getting used to people peering over my shoulder and making a comment.

Then back home into the cold south on another sketch outing, I managed to find a sheltered spot in the sun out of the breeze. I actually got quite warm sketching while rugged up.


Our maximum temperatures in winter here vary from about 12 to 19c though it often feels a lot colder with our prevailing southern wind. Some hardy locals go swimming all year round. Me, I’m like a cold blooded lizard looking for a warm sunny spot, so I was quite happy doing this sketch.

228 Quick Sketching

I’m having  a hard time putting pen or brush to paper this week. I’m blaming it on the bleak winter weather but that’s probably a poor excuse for what is simply a lack of motivation. Scrolling through my email box I found Craftsy were having a sale on classes and I had been eyeing off James Richards Sketching the Energy of Places, another excellent class.  I succumbed, I can’t resist a bargain 😄 I watched the entire 7 episodes that night then the following day I did a few scribbles from the exercises and it made me want to explore some quick tree sketches.

The following day I met up with a local pleinair group for an outing so I tried to utilise some of the techniques. At least I learned not to get bogged down with trying to do perfect figures or trees.

 This was in contrast to one I had done a few days earlier from a photo on Wetcanvas by Surob. That was on Strathmore toned paper with ink and watercolour pencil.
Yesterday was another outing with the pleinair group to a local yacht club. I used gouache for this rather rough brush sketch.

Today being the first of the month I decided to join in the Facebook group World Watercolor Month. Initiated by Charlie of Doodlewash thousands of artists around the world are participating, with a daily painting, or at least one during the month.

Here is my first watercolour for the month, from a little sketch I did while at the yacht club yesterday.

#212 Gouche is Fun!

Despite the title I managed to do a couple of watercolours this week – with a little gesso help.
I had little time to do much sketching or painting on Wednesday as I was busy baking for a birthday dinner. I’m not really much of a cook but I can make a mean pavlova. It beats a store bought one any time. A quick recipe sketch with ink and watercolour.
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I needed to gesso the next page to cover the ink bleed through so I thought I’d do the double spread for a watercolour landscape of one of my favourite local beaches. The water is an amazing turquoise colour, and the sand is so fine and white at this beach it actually squeaks when you walk on it.
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Sometimes I spend a bit of time messing around on different paper. I like the effect of gouache on kraft paper so I used a Pentel brush pen and gouache to sketch our dinner, and cut and pasted the sketch and recipe so I can find it again.
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The Pentel brush pen is a little hard to control but fun to use. I did a little more messing around with it on a scrap of kraft paper. Pity I haven’t got a journal with this paper …… yet : ) I can see lots of possibilities with this technique. I had fun with this, painting on a piece of throw away paper over other scribbles.
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I thought I’d explore the same portrait with pen and gouache in the little journal. It’s one of my favourite actors but I didn’t quite get her.
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The calligraphy and the heavier pen lines on the portrait were done with a 2mm Artline calligraphy marker. It doesn’t seem to bleed through as much as some others.
Next is a sketch from the 2 hour weekend challenge on Wetcanvas from a photo by Nickel.
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I used a Micron liner pen and gouache for the sketch and Pitt artist brush pen for the lettering.
The colouring of this cat reminded me of my dear departed wee Jock. I loved my little Scottish Fold. He was such a character, sitting on his haunches like a frog, sometimes going to sleep in that position. Unfortunately he was the result of bad breeding and sadly we only had him for 4 years. But he left his big footprints on my heart. I still miss that little guy.
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A few have asked about gouache so I thought I’d share my process, such as it is. I’m no Roz Stendahl or James Gurney, both gouache gurus. For some reason I can’t link their blogs but if you google them you’ll find them. James Gurney also has an excellent downloadable video called Gouache in the Wild.
I just muddle my way through in my own fashion.
First step is a scratchy fine liner sketch with the darker areas indicated with thinned gouache.
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I like to do the eyes next, a few different colours, yellow ochre, raw sienna and a touch of green. A thin wash of grey for the fur and a little blue shading.
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Building up the layers with thicker gouache added to the next layer and some highlights on the fur.
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The beauty of gouache is that you can start with fairly transparent washes before building up to thicker layers of paint. You can go back with a damp brush and blend areas to soften the lines, and dry brush over areas as well. And still use watercolour pencils and pen on top if you want to.

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Gouache IS fun!

199 Puppies and Urban Sketching

I’m guilty yet again of neglecting my blog, but I have been away for a week and I’m no good at blogging on the road.  That’s my excuse anyway.

The night before I left I did a super quick sketch (for me) of some cute dogs posted on the Wetcanvas weekend challenge. First a 10 min contour sketch of the puppies trying to escape a bath, the a little colour splashed over. I thought the page looked  bit feeble so I added another dog with pen and watercolour pencil.

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While I was in the city I  caught up with a friend for a spot of urban sketching at this old church. I forgot to note the details while I was there so google helped me out with them.

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I do enjoy getting out to sketch and it is much more fun with a sketch buddy than going alone. I would like to do some gouache sketching too so today I trialed a new limited palette plein air set up with gouache – Magenta, Cyan, Yellow, white and black. Now I just need a super lightweight easel to go with it.
This was done in a Kraft paper journal 20 x 20 cm, which is actually a photo journal but I like being able to add pages of different papers.

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From a photo on Wetcanvas by Dewi.

195 Pastel Beach

Unfortunately there’s not a lot of sketching or painting being done at my place, but I am doing some research and experimenting with a different technique. I’ll keep you posted if and when I am successful with it.

And just because I haven’t done anything new to show you here’s an older pastel of our wonderful local beach again. I don’t think I have posted this one before – my apologies if I have.Midbch

Middleton Beach – Pastel on Colorfix paper.