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.

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283 New Sketch Bag

I’m not a good blogger these days, so sorry. Too many other things seem to get in the way. Travel, family illness, and over the last few months I’ve been asked to act as a social media promoter for an organisation Southern Art Trail. This annual trail has 93 venues open from Sep 15 – 30. I will have my work exhibited in three of the venues so I have been rather busy.

Some of my Plein air paintings I will have on display in one local gallery can be seen here.

Another gallery has a variety of different paintings and sketches.

In addition to those two I will be exhibiting along with my Plein air buddies, all small watercolours painted in and around our town. I will post the link to that page when I have the pictures ready.

Apart from that, I just had to make myself a new sketch bag. I had one that worked really well and fitted in a bunch of stuff, but it was not meant to last and finally fell to pieces. I used the idea to fashion a similar one, not as big so I’m not tempted to pack too much. The idea is to keep it light and simple.

The sewing on the bag is not too fancy, but it works.

It fits an A4 watercolour pad, and another smaller one if I need it. A plastic basket fits nicely inside keeping my palettes flat so the paint doesn’t run everywhere. Yes, I’ve had some awful messes to deal with from palettes not being carried flat.

The little easel is fashioned from a camera tripod and fits into its own carry bag.

A see through zip bag contains miscellaneous pens, clips, knife, a kneadable eraser and sharpener fit into a small plastic disposable glove container, a towelling wrist band and a strip of towel for blotting brushes.

The brush container is made from a cardboard roll, covered in duct tape with a string attached to hang from the easel. Water container, watercolour pencils, watercolour palette and gouache palette make up the rest of the kit.

Now I just need to put it all into practise. I did have a trial run, catching up with sketches in my moleskine travel journal, clipping the book to the easel with the small black clip thingies.

I do hope to get back to regular sketching after this busy period is over. I miss just sketching for fun, and not have to worry whether my work is “Gallery worthy”.

282 Sketches from Far and Near

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.

#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.

279 Portraits and Boats

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.

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.