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.

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278 Watercolour to Pastel

I’m still painting and sketching but I’m not so good at blogging these days. I go out each week with my painting buddies to paint or sketch somewhere in or near our beautiful town. One recent outing we met to paint near a stand of majestic karri trees along a road verge. I chose to sketch the base of one of these trees looking through to the adjoining farm. Most of this painting was done with my favourite cheap scruffy Chinese brush on Fabriano 300 g paper. I just love the loose effects this brush creates. Details were added later with a rigger brush.

I quite liked that scene so I thought I’d try it using pastels, as I would like to be able to do Plein Air paintings with them. I have done a few pastel paintings in the past and I love the effects other artists can achieve with them, but I definitely need a bit more practice. This is my tryout piece on black paper.

And this is one of the reasons I don’t use pastels often.

I really don’t like the mess, apart from pastel dust over everything, hands, bench, floor, I inevitably touch something that I shouldn’t and transfer the dust to it. I found disposable gloves help a bit but I seem to be forever putting them on and and taking them off. Maybe using them outdoors might be the answer for me if I can work out how to pack, carry and set up a range of colours.

Watercolour is definitely a much more simple and compact medium for painting on the go.

Maybe a combination of both might be the answer for me. A watercolour block in with pastel accents over the dry paint. I did attempt this technique of a portrait sketch on a small piece of white Colorfix paper.

I think it has possibilities. I will continue experimenting.

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.

274 Gallery Paintings

A new year brings a new venture for me. I have been invited as a member artist in a south coast gallery – Riverfront Gallery, Denmark, so I needed to do a few extra paintings to add to my allocated gallery space.

The first painting was painted from several photos my sister took on her holiday in Italy. It is certainly not an accurate representation, but more like an impression of a village scene.

Italian Village – Watercolour on Fabriano Artistico paper

The next painting is an attempt to capture the dappled light through the giant trees, so typical of the forests surrounding this area.

Karri Forest – Watercolour on Arches watercolour paper

In addition to the gallery paintings I received a rushed commission for a dragonfly painting a few days before Christmas. Watercolour painted, framed and collected with a day to spare.

One very happy client!

Dragonfly – Watercolour on Canson Montval paper

273 Holbein Watercolour Parrot

I’ve wanted to try Holbein watercolours for a long time, but they are not readily available in my corner of the world. I had to order them in and wait awhile. Living in Western Australia we always joke that WA stands for “wait awhile”.

So after waiting awhile they finally arrived, and to try out the pigments I made swatch cards. I cut up a sheet of watercolour paper into small rectangles, drew a line with permanent black pen, then painted over it with each colour, the bottom section with undiluted paint, the top with dilution. The black line allows me to check the transparency of each colour. I note the name of the colour, the pigment number and lightfast rating. I have done this with most of my different brands of paint, as it gives me a permanent record of every colour and it’s also handy to use for colour matching or selecting a background colour.

This was the basic 18 tube set, with colours I would not choose but the red and green seemed just right for the painting of a little parrot.

I needed a piece of artwork to be exactly 8 x 10 inches finished size for an exhibition, and adding a frame would reduce the painting area, so I googled an alternative way of presenting a watercolour. I found how to gallery wrap watercolour paper onto a small canvas frame. I used Fabriano Artistico 300 g for this “canvas”.

The process – cut the paper large enough to wrap around to the back of the frame – soak the paper before stretching and stapling it onto the frame. The paper shrinks when dry to a nice firm surface to paint on. To finish the painting I applied several coats of wax medium, buffing to a low sheen to give a waterproof finish.

The bird I painted is a Western Rosella, native to our area. I have a special affinity for these birds.

We had noticed a breeding pair flying around our house looking unsuccessfully for a suitable nesting hollow, so once again Mr Google was consulted and the answer found. My clever hub built the perfect nesting box, attached it to the front verandah and the female took up residence the next day. It was a great success. This week three babies flew the nest. It was a real delight being able to watch these birds come and go through the window of our living room.

I wonder now how I could manage without access to the internet. Ordering supplies, googling information and inspiration and sharing art.

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.

270 Plein Air Outings

I’m rather behind with posting my Plein air sketches so this post is a bit of an image dump. This is also a little tour of the area that we are blessed to live in. Our town is situated on a very beautiful coastline, but quite rugged and treacherous at times as there is no land between us and Antarctica.

I am now regularly sketching each week with my painting buddies, and it’s a great way to try out different subjects and techniques. I love the fact that while out there I can just tune out, and the only worries I have is working out how the heck am I going to paint what’s in front of me. It’s good for the brain as well as the body πŸ˜„

On an unusually calm but overcast day we hiked up to the local war monument situated on a hill with amazing views. This hill was the last view of Australia many World War 1 soldiers had before perishing in the battle of Gallipoli.

From Wikipedia – “The statue at the top of Mount Clarence is a copy of one originally forming part of a memorial erected at Port Said in 1932, and which was destroyed during the Suez War of 1956, salvaged and re-erected in Albany in 1964.

It shows a mounted Australian Light-Horseman defending a New Zealand Mounted Rifleman standing beside his wounded horse. It is said to be based on an incident in the charge at El Arish in 1917.”

Albany was the final departure point for the first ANZAC troops on their way to the battlefields of the First World War.This precinct has many places to sketch and a lot of historic buildings so we decided to return the following week. I sketched one of the original old stone residences.The next sketch is an extra thrown in, as it was a beautiful sunny spring day and my hub wanted an outing. We took a picnic lunch to an inlet a little way along the coast. I painted while he walked.Back with the weekly sketch group we met at a little park overlooking the inner harbour. Those are wheat silos in the background in case you were wondering πŸ˜„ Next outing was around the bay to the old Whaling Station. This has now been made into a very popular tourist precinct. I sat on the jetty looking back at the staff cottages. One of the retired whaling ships is dry docked and part of the tourist complex. I always take several photos when I go out sketching, and I used one of them to do a quick gouache sketch at home, just to see if it would be feasible to take these paints out in the field next time. I’ve always had problems with gouache drying too quickly on on the palette in our dry atmosphere, so I devised a little kit to try and overcome the problem.

Today I got to use the kit in the field. I had a new set of Holbein gouache and filled a pill container with the colours. The mixing palette has a piece of palette paper over moist paper towel. I attached Velcro tape to the easel and palettes to keep them in place. As I paint I have to open and close each section of the pill container to pick up colour, which is a bit of a pain, but the paints stayed moist right throughout. At the end of the session I store the palette in a zip lock plastic bag with moist paper towel and so far it seems to work fine. Hehe, I felt like a real artist with this setup, instead of a sketcher sitting on my little stool with a sketchbook in my lap.

I’ll let you know in future how successful this system is.

If you are on Facebook and are interested in what our little group does you can see it here.