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 😄

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 😄 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.

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267 Inktober sketches Part 2

One thing about doing a monthly challenge is that it motivates you to sketch at least once a day, whether you feel like it or not. Some days inspiration just doesn’t come, so its back to the old adage,  “Inspiration finds you working”. So for the Day 12 prompt  “Shattered” I picked up a ballpoint pen and just started scribbling. I like adding an appropriate or amusing quote to each sketch, often simply to make me feel better about a drawing I’m unhappy with.

Day 13 – Teeming. I drew a few strokes with a white chinagraph pencil before applying a watered down ink wash for a rain effect.


#14 – Fierce. Sometimes it’s easier to find a quote first before looking for a reference photo. Ink, watercolour and brushpen. A brushpen is maybe a little heavy for a toddlers face 😄

# 15 – Mysterious – sepia ink with a waterbrush.

# 16 – Fat – ink and watercolour

#17 – Graceful – ink and coloured pencil.

#18 – Filthy – ink and watercolour. 

#19 – Cloud – permanent and water soluble ink. It’s a clouded leopard in case you were wondering at my interpretation. 
#20 – Deep – ink and watercolour

#21 – Furious – ink, brushpen and marker.

All these sketches were done in one of my handmade journals 10 x 7 inch of 160g Daler Rowney cartridge paper, with various inks as per Inktober challenge,  and the lettering with various markers.

Well, I managed to make it to day 21. Not too many to go so I think I can manage to do the whole month. 

265 Catching Up

I’m posting a few of my pleinair sketches from the last few weeks. Our sketching group adjourned over the winter months as the weather is usually cold, wet and windy, but now that spring is here we are back to meeting up weekly.

Early September we had a bit of rare sunshine and the group took the opportunity to meet at the local port. I chose a spot on some steps in the sun, out of the cold wind and this was my view. There were much better viewpoints but I’m too much of a wimp to brave the elements. I was going to do a bit more on this sketch later but I decided to leave it as it is.


Then the clouds came over and the rain returned so we adjourned to the nearby tavern and continued sketching. This was a sketch looking out the other way, done directly with my waterbrush. I should do this more often as I think the result looks fresher than a laboured ink sketch.


A week later the circus came to town. It’s always fun to sketch the tent shapes, but unfortunately there was not a lot of activity on the side we were allowed to sketch. 


The following week only two of us braved the weather to sketch at a spot along one of the rivers. We were lucky to have 20 minutes to get a quick sketch before the weather changed, and we adjourned once again to a nearby tavern to add the colour.  Most of this one was painted with a rough bristle brush, fun to use as you can’t get too precious with brush strokes. I added a little brown ink and white gouache to make a bit of sense of the rough blobs.


The next sketches were done at a local garden centre, a great place to visit with wonderful garden settings and an array of landscape paraphernalia.

I sketched the old wagon with a fountain pen at the garden centre and added colour and the darks with a brush pen later at home.


This last sketch was at the garden of one of our group. I sketched directly with gouache while I was there, but added a bit of watercolour pencil and fiddled a bit more with the gouache at home. I probably should have stopped sooner but that’s another lesson learnt.

Meanwhile, I’m still doing Inktober and I’ll post all those sketches in the next update.

263 Mini Canvases

I’ve been experimenting with gouache over gesso on these little canvases. It’s not as receptive as paper, as I like to begin with thinned paint to block in the shapes, progressively adding thicker paint strokes on top. The gesso is a bit resistant to the initial layer of paint and it takes a little extra work to cover the white spots that show in the weave. When finished I give the canvas a couple of light coats of Matt varnish spray.  Ready to hang on the wall without having to frame behind glass.

Why bother with gouache instead of acrylic? No particular reason, I just love gouache!

And at last, my first selfie sketch without glasses! I have had follow up eye surgery after 5 months following complications with the first surgery. Now all is good and I am just using cheapie x2 glasses for reading. 

Watercolour with watercolour pencil in 6 x 8 Quill cartridge paper journal.

259 Pleinair Air Sketches

I’m gradually getting back to sketching. A few weeks back I met with the local sketching group. Still having problems with my vision I decided to focus on shapes and skip the detail. It did help simplify the sketch.

Watercolour – Canson Montval journal.

 

Next sketch was in a beautiful garden, in bright sunshine again. Always a challenge trying to depict all the different greens. I have been using a limited palette and most of the greens are a combination of Pthalo Blue, Quin Gold and Alizarin Crimson added for the darks. Ultramarine is added for variation.

Watercolour – Quill journal

Last week was at one of our local picturesque spots, a park on the banks of a tranquil estuary. Although it is winter here we have been very fortunate to be able to find a sunny spot to sit in and paint.


Watercolour – Stillman and Birn Alpha journal.

I find it really helpful to have a couple of journals on hand when I’m out sketching, as I often do a thumbnail sketch in a small one, and watercolour in the larger. I can always do a few small quick sketches in one while waiting for paint to dry in the other. Can’t waste time while out painting 😄

 

257 John Lovett Workshop

It’s been a while and a frustrating month since my eye surgery. Unfortunately things didn’t go quite to plan and I have continuing problems focusing, and getting back to normal will take a while longer than anticipated. 

But that didn’t stop me taking a workshop with John Lovett, an artist I’ve long admired and was fortunate to be able to get into his class. I figured I’d be able to soak up some knowledge even if I couldn’t focus too well. I did however manage but suffered a bit with eye strain at the end of each day. I did learn a lot and will do some more to some of these paintings at a later date but I thought I’d share them as they were at the end of each workshop. 

Our first lesson was an exercise in simplification of a fairly busy village scene. John uses mixed media, generally starting with a very loose charcoal pencil sketch. This is followed by washes with his signature rough brush, various sized flat brushes for windows and brickwork, dip pen and ink for linework. Sometimes a rigger brush is used, sometimes an Inktense pencil. He sometimes uses gesso throughout his work, to soften areas and draws back into them.

Then a river landscape which was a composition exercise in creating a focal point. I would have liked to carry this one a bit further but my eyes were telling me no. 


Next lesson was once again choosing a focal point and different textures, drawing first with a charcoal pencil, applying loose washes over, then picking out details with ink and dip pen.


The final session was another river landscape with a rock escarpment. This was a fun exercise as rocks are very forgiving. Dropping colour into wet areas, as well as drawing with ink into damp areas gives unpredictable results.  Gouache was used for some tree trunks and that vivid blue sky, so typical of northern Australian landscapes.


John teaches in Australia, Europe and US each year. If you have the opportunity to take one of his workshops you won’t be disappointed. Failing that there is a wealth of information, very generously shared on his website and he has books, dvd’s and downloadable lessons available there.

255 Outdoors and Indoors

Last week our pleinair outing was at the old cemetery. Some of the group were reluctant to paint in a spooky place but I thought we were paying homage to the old forgotten graves. I’m sure the spirits of the departed would have looked on us as friendly visitors. The weather wasn’t so kind to us though, as after about an hour the skies opened up and we were soaked in a matter of minutes 😄 Luckily I took a photo just before the drenching and the paint running and dripping off the page.

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Back safe and warm indoors I resorted back to portraits from Sktchyapp, trying different techniques and materials. First up is an ink and coloured pencil sketch on Strathmore tan toned paper. The white highlights are Uniball Signo white pen.

Next was a gouache and Pentel brushpen in a Quill journal.

And because I have a couple of commissions coming up I thought I should try out some “good” Fabriano Artistico paper again, and do some step by step progress shots. This is the ghastly stage 😄 Using a very limited palette – cadmium yellow, cadmium red and a little cerulean for the flesh tones. Adding some darks with burnt sienna, ultramarine and pthalo blue, and a few splashes to try and loosen up a little.

The final dark accents on the face, glasses and background.