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.

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#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.

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.