Here’s a little watercolour sketch done on site while out with my local Plein Air Group, where I tried a different approach. I started with a few lines on the window, then grew the sketch outwards, mainly with colour and a waterbrush, adding a few ink lines at the end. I see now where I need a bit more work but as this is all done on site I might leave it as is.
It’s an interesting way to sketch, starting with the focal point and working out from there, and it doesn’t really matter at what point to stop, leaving the sides unfinished works as a vignette. You can always keep working to complete the sheet but as a sketch it shows what I focused on.
Squinting removes details by taking the subject out of focus. It also reduces the amount of light entering the eye eliminating much of the color. Seeing fewer details makes it easier for the artist to identify essential shapes and values, as well as the hard and soft edges.
Squint your eyes until they’re almost closed, to the point of seeing through your eyelashes, just like Clint 😉
Here I’ve used last weeks photo as an example. Firstly by blurring the image to eliminate details, then removing the colour to reduce it to tonal values only.
For some time I have been wanting a sketchbook of a reasonable size that folded back on itself to make it easier to handle while sketching, so I recently made my own, with a bunch of different papers of unknown variety that would have otherwise remained unused.
I covered it with faux leather made from a brown paper shopping bag and trimmed with a suede like fabric to strengthen the spine and corners. It is definitely not a professional or precious journal which takes away the trepidation I have when working in more expensive journals.
This week I trialled it while out with my Plein Air Group in town. Here it is supported on my easel, but it is comfortable enough to hold on my lap while sketching.
Here is the finished sketch – on A4 180g cartridge paper…. I think 😊
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.
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.
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.
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.
A couple of my most recent portraits. I haven’t been doing so many lately. I must get back into the habit as it’s something I really enjoy.
I have long admired Pat Southern Pierce’s drawings of buildings and urban scenes combining ink and crayons on toned paper. I decided to try a portrait using that combination of materials, an ink brush pen plus a little watercolour pencil and crayon. The tan Kraft paper works well in this case providing the mid tone of the sketch.
Thanks to Madison from Sktchyapp.
The next double portrait was a special commission for my big brother. He celebrated a milestone birthday recently, so I painted a soft and pretty watercolour of his granddaughters as a surprise. I think he was pretty happy with it.
Another recent commission followed on from a recent painting I posted on Instagram. The original sketch was from a Plein air outing to a local tourist site and I was subsequently asked to do the same boat from a different angle.
The original sketch done on site – Ink and watercolour on 300g paper.
The commissioned sketch from a photograph. It was a challenge getting all the masts, rigging and ropes to look right, as it was going to someone very familiar with this boat and needed to be fairly accurate. Doing a previous Plein Air sketch certainly helped as I found it was so much easier to work with what was in front of me rather than trying to interpret a photograph.
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.
Our pleinair group met at a local historic cottage last week on a beautiful sunny autumn day. It’s fun sketching these old buildings with their funny angles and numerous chimneys. Artistic license allowed me to edit out the ugly buildings behind the cottage. Ink and watercolour sketch.
Back to my current daily habit, sketching a portrait in front of tv at night. This is Foggy from Sktchyapp – 2B pencil in A5 Quill journal.
This is Michelle in my Strathmore toned paper journal, experimenting with a Pentel brushpen and Portfolio water soluble oil pastels.
Mlle June in 2B pencil in Quill journal.
And Kaysha sketched with something different, having fun with a Kohinoor magic pencil in the Quill journal. These pencils have various colours in the lead so it’s a surprise to see the colours appear.
This may be my last post for a little while. I have recently had eye surgery and at the moment trying to focus is a problem, and will be until I have follow up surgery in a few weeks. Hopefully I’ll be back sketching up a storm after my break.