298 New Sketchbook

I can’t believe it’s been 4 months since my last post. So much has happened since then. Life was getting busier than ever for me with a couple of exhibitions as well as having my work in a pop up gallery space. All of a sudden things have come to a full stop in a devastating way, not just here but all around the world. Life as we have known it will be changed in ways we have yet to understand and come to terms with.

There have been numerous posts giving advice on using this enforced time of social distancing to take the opportunity to learn a new skill, get fit, do all those projects you’ve been putting off, and all sorts of challenges and other stuff you could be doing. It’s taken me a while to realise that’s not what I need right now and not to burden myself with unrealistic expectations.

After not having any direction an idea of overcoming this isolation came while video chatting with my 3 yo granddaughter who is lockdown in Europe. We decided I would send her a daily line drawing for her to colour in and send back to me. It was cute to see her trying to put her drawing back into the printer to send back.

Following on with this idea I’m revisiting a project from 2015. I started keeping a little art journal with a daily sketch and quote. You can see some of the entries here. As I didn’t have a little journal on hand for this new project I decided to make a new one from scratch with some Fabriano paper I had on hand. The cover is still to come.

I’m combining the idea of the Urban Sketchers “sketch at home” theme with my daily granddaughter sketch so she will be getting some pretty mundane sketches to colour in. Oh, she just got the line drawing for this one. I did my own colouring in here!

Hopefully with all this spare time on my hands now I’ll be posting more often.

297 Sketching Tools

One of my favourite sketching tools is a Tombow dual brush pen – fine tip one end for consistent lines, and a brush tip on the other which works like a paintbrush to create fine, medium or bold strokes. They come in a wide range of colours but I find just a few shades of grey useful for quick sketches. I like to use a light grey fine tip for initially outlining the basic shapes, then switch to the brush end for blocking in and for shadows.

The following sketch was done while filling in 15 minutes waiting for my taxi. The brush end allows me to fill in larger areas quickly. I added the colour on the sculpture later as my ride appeared too soon.

Another journal sketch of a little cottage opposite a local park on Strathmore toned grey paper, was done the same way, adding ink linework over the initial Tombow sketch, then colour with watercolour pencils used dry. The grey paper works well, providing a mid tone background, with the Tombow for shading, black ink linework and a white Posca pen for highlights.

The next sketch was done the same way, sketch with the light grey Tombow, adding the shadow areas before adding Ink and colour with Portfolio water soluble oil pastels, a set I picked up some time ago but rarely used. I believe these are childrens crayons, but similar to Neopastels. Probably not archival but fun to use for sketchbooks.

Like many artists I find it hard to resist new art products, which seem to keep on appearing on each visit to the art supplies shop. But I am sticking fairly well to my resolution early this year not to buy any new products (apart from replacements), and to use up what I already have.

296 Streetscape Journal

A recent project I am doing with my Plein air buddies is to gradually sketch our way along a street in town that has a great selection of Victorian buildings. For this project we had a small workshop showing others how to make a concertina journal, using one full sheet of watercolour paper glued to heavy card for the front and back.

The idea is to sketch a building on each fold, or over a couple of folds to create one long fold out panorama view of the street. There are a few newer buildings but we chose to ignore these and concentrate on the more interesting older ones.

I used a Uniball Vision Elite ballpoint pen for the sketches with watercolour on Bockingford paper.

The inspiration for this project comes from Helen Wilding. Her street sketches are amazing.

Kooka’s Building
The Old Courthouse
Old Bell buildings

It’s amazing how many people stop and chat while we are on site, sharing their memories and stories of the buildings. This project will be a long term one, so I will keep you posted on the progress from time to time.

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

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.

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.

#281 Direct Watercolour

When I saw this challenge pop up on Marc Taro’s blog I decided that 30 days of direct watercolour painting in June would be a great opportunity to get some practice in. Yikes, no pencil or pen, just drawing with a brush. I needed this practise to become a little more adventurous and bolder with brush work.

It’s so hard for me to break old habits. I had a practise run before the start of the month with a floral painting. Not as bold in the foliage as I would have liked but I don’t mind how the bud turned out. I guess if I can find one small part of a painting I’m happy with then it’s not a complete disaster.

My second attempt was a portrait. After all I do like doing portraits so it shouldn’t be too intimidating. Wrong! Once again much too tentative. Ignoring the fact that it looks nothing like the subject the few parts I thought were successful were parts of the hair and the clothing.

Third attempt I thought I’d go for a simple subject. What can I say about this one? Nice paper 😂

Next attempt was a Plein air sketch of a little heritage cottage in town. I think the foliage was reasonably successful and I’m happy that it conveyed an impression of the cottage, but as usual I’m often disappointed with my result.

The following was another portrait attempt, which I think was a little more successful than the first. I started this with a small waterbrush and Raw sienna. You can just see the initial lines under the chin and top of the head. Unfortunately I still have a tendency to keep painting into wet areas and not allow that layer to dry.

My last sketch of a rooster was done with limited supplies as we were travelling and all I had was a little sketch book, a waterbrush and travel palette.

Unfortunately I wasn’t able to keep up this challenge as life and travel got in the way, but I can see how keeping up this practice would improve my skills. I might have to give this another shot at a later date.

280 Sketches around Town

WordPress tells me it’s been a month since my last post so I guess it’s time for an update.

I have been busy, Plein Air painting, gallery painting, thinking about painting and simply messing around with paint. I’m trying to build up stock for the Southern Art Trail, an event that has about 80 artists and venues exhibiting all forms of artwork for two weeks in September.

I will be exhibiting in three of the venues, two of them being Plein air exhibitions, so some of these sketches might make it to the framers. I still have a few months to do more, so I’ll keep on painting.

I won’t bore you with too much but I’ll share a few I have done this past month.

These are mostly sketches from around town, done with ink and watercolour on various papers.

Firstly, the old buildings around town.

The old Post Office on Canaletto paper.

The first farmhouse built in the Albany area.

The oldest church in Western Australia.

The ruin of the Lighthouse keepers cottage.And the new – the Entertainment Centre.

And Rats Bar with a beautiful bougainvillea growing outside.

Looking across the bay to the town.

Lastly a watercolour sketch at one of the local rivers.

272 Plein Air Popularity

Plein Air outings are now a regular event each week for me. I find I am learning a great deal from painting on the spot, such as how to simplify a scene, choose colours and trying to make a painting work without being a slave to exact realism. My aim is to capture my thoughts and feelings about what I am experiencing at that time.

A couple of weeks ago our group visited a local winery and were able to set our easels up amongst the vineyards. I liked the view looking towards the distant Ranges.

Here is a photo of what I saw, although I find taking a photo in landscape mode always seems to flatten the image. And of course I exaggerated and used my artistic license.

The following week we painted in a street full of historic cottages, all lovingly cared for with beautiful gardens. We found out by chatting to one of the owners that many of these cottages were flat packed and imported from Scandinavia in the 1890s to house mill workers in the town.

At this time of the year on Instagram you see lots of posts popping up with the # 2017bestnine hashtag. A website works out the algorithms for your most popular posts for the year. It is interesting and often a surprise to see what pops up. This year mine were predominantly Plein Air sketches and paintings, with a junky tree study and a really quick silly Inktober sketch.

Does this mean I should concentrate more on Plein Air?

My downfall is that I can’t just stick to one thing. I love portraits, pet paintings, still life and more, and I want to try it all and keep on experimenting. I’m planning on taking a summer school course next month touching on abstraction. It will be interesting to see where that leads me. I’ll keep you posted.