287 Otto

Here’s Otto, captelaine’s lucky draw dog portrait.

It was a bit of a struggle doing this one. I’m going through a bad patch with my art at the moment, and doing a lucky prize painting would perhaps be a way of getting me out of the art doldrums. I needed some motivation and direction so I decided to fall back to what I love doing, namely portraits of people and pets.

So I’ll share my struggles so you can see how I puddle around trying to make something that looks like a dog painting. I started this on top of a failed watercolour with a coating of gesso over.

Next I defined a few features with black ink, then a bit of watercolour.

Watercolour wasn’t working too well on this surface so I started adding gouache. Being thicker and drier gouache seemed to be a better choice. I was unsure about the background, scrubbing different colours around at this point.

Otto wasn’t looking too bad at this stage but the background was still giving me a headache. This is where I put the two images side by side to try to work outside where I’m going wrong.

I gave up at this stage, ready to bin the lot and give up painting forever, and went off to bed in disgust.

In the morning I took another look at it and decided it might work with a different background. Otto seems like a gutsy type of dog needing a strong background so I painted over the lot with burnt sienna gouache.

I think it suits him much better. I hope you like him Elaine 😊

Now, I might take a break from painting for a while and go and do some gardening or something……. or I might not 😂

275 Portraits Again

While I love painting all manner of things, landscapes, Plein Air, still life, I’ve decided my very favourite thing to sketch and paint is portraits. It’s my relaxation and it’s fun to curl up in the lounge chair in the evening with my little journal in my lap and my iPad to scroll through a never ending stream of portraits from Sktchyapp. If I decide to paint the portrait I map out the sketch in the evening and paint it with better light next day.

This is my most recent one – gouache, ink and pencil – Jon from Sktchyapp.

Here are some older ones from a few weeks ago.

This is Elizabeth. Here I’m trying new materials – Conte carbon pencil and white Pitt pencil on A4 Strathmore tan paper.

Happy dance! This was my first commission through Sktchy. Painted on A4 watercolour paper with gouache and watercolour pencil. I couldn’t show this for a while as it was to be a surprise.

Back to my little journal A5 size. This is Jane – gouache, ink and coloured pencil.

And a lazy, late night lounge chair sketch on Kraft paper with Conte carbon pencil and white pencil.

And for a change of faces a lovely German Shepherd called Dutch. Ink and watercolour on A4 drawing paper.

That’s it for portraits for a while. Next post will probably be Plein Air or landscapes, depending how the mood strikes.

262 Taking a Break

I’ve been on holidays, camping out in the great outdoors and also taking a break from social media. Mobile coverage is very patchy when travelling in this big country, so it was rather nice to switch off and chill out for a while. I took it easy and only did a few sketches at some of the stops along the way. 

I took along a Strathmore 500 Mived Media journal and used it for this sketch of the original cottage on a large grazing station. It was painted while sitting in the shade of a large eucalyptus tree – a very enjoyable hour.

Further up the coast the soil changes to red and is a great contrast to the white sand, blue sky and aqua water. This peaceful bay is inhabited by a friendly family of dolphins.

I also had a Moleskine journal with me and used it for these little thumbnail gouache sketches of a couple of campsites along the way. The paper in this journal is great for gouache.

I didn’t make much use of my mini journal although it was really handy for a couple of quick sketches when I only had a few minutes, just enough time to scribble a few lines and add colour.

And one in a larger journal. This is Buddy, a cute little fellow we met at the caravan park. He was a rescue dog and is totally devoted to his mum and charmed everyone who met him. I did this painting and gave it to his mum, but Buddy wasn’t too sure about it. He growled at it. Maybe he didn’t like that other dog looking at him, lol.

This was in a 11 x 14″ in a Holcraft Journal 200 gsm cartridge paper. I know I said I was going to travel light and take minimal supplies but I just happened to call into a RiotArt store on the way and spotted these discontinued journals at less than half price. As an added bonus if I spent over $40 there was another 50% reduction. 4 journals for $24! How good is that 😊

249 Mainly Portraits

This past week has been almost exclusively Portraits for me. For inspiration I scrolled through Sktchyapp and I found a cute photo of a little chihuahua. I loved the expression on his face and tried to capture the little dog, big attitude look.

The #mondaymuse challenge on Sktchyapp this week was a girl who writes poetry, and the challenge was to include words into the artwork. Well, I had this great idea for using words. I’m rubbish at poetry and prose so I thought I’d use an old book with text. I applied a thin coat of gesso and added watercolour. That didn’t  work so I used copics that I don’t know how to use, then coloured pencils, fineliner and finally some watercolour that sort of worked. I learn as I go 😀

The #quickdraw challenge was to do a drawing and add colour in less than 5 minutes. Fun to do when you throw caution to the wind.

I really like doing challenges like these as they stretch me a bit and help get me out of the rut.

This next painting was a quick class demo on skin tones. I gave away the sketch I did last week so I quickly did another. I should have taken a bit more time on the sketch because I didn’t get a good likeness, but as I was concentrating on mixing skin tones the sketch had to do.

After the lesson I played around with gouache, to remedy the problem areas.  The more I play with gouache, the more I like it, especially as I have a new set of Holbein.

The width of the nose and the eyebrows needed some surgery. You can see here where I reshaped the eyebrows and the nose. Patches of watercolour still show through in places.
I have also been keeping up with #20sketches20days on Facebook. I decided that the best way for me to keep up is to keep them small, so I decided on the diary format in an old Moleskine type journal. The paper is challenging to work with but it’s all about doing a daily sketch, so it will suffice.

But now I feel the need to knuckle down and do some serious painting as opposed to indulging myself with all this fun stuff. Maybe I can do some stuff that is saleable to earn a few dollars to recoup expenses.

Watch this space 😀

241 Pets and Gouache Kit

A mixed bag again this week. My ink sketches for the month of Inktober totally ran off the rails. Not surprising for me 😄

I decided instead I should do a few more pet portraits to try and boost interest in my Pet Portrait page on Facebook.

This is Thor, painted from a photo posted by Kay on Wetcanvas.

And a cat named Oliver Bean, painted from a photo posted by Yulonda on Sktchyapp.

These originals are both available for purchase – $AU60 150 x 170 mm Watercolour on 300g watercolor paper.

At last weeks outdoor painting group session I decided to try out a Stawet palette using gouache. It wasn’t very successful unfortunately. It was a rather windy day and the palette paper I used in the palette dried out too quickly and almost blew away. It might work in calmer conditions. 
I sort of followed James Gurney’s advice on making my palette. James is a master with gouache and a lot of information is available on his site –  this page has lots of information. You can also see how one reader made his own wet palette on another page

Anyway, this was the result of a very pleasant couple of hours with pleasant company, despite the wind.

I then changed my idea of how I’ll paint with gouache while travelling. I decided to use my tiny credit card palette, you can see how I made it here. Here’s a practise run with this setup, painted from a photo of the Italian Alps.

I pre moistened the gouache with a couple of drops of water and let it sit a short while before painting and it worked fine, and used my own design travel brushes 😊

The travel brushes I made from a 3/8 flat brush and a #6 round, cut down to fit inside the barrel of old calligraphy pens. I roughly measured the length of the handle to fit far enough inside the barrel so the bristles wouldn’t bend when the cap was fitted, then glued in place with hot glue. Works fine for me and now I won’t be worried about losing my good brushes while travelling 😄

240 Planning for Bali

I’m heading off to Bali for a couple of weeks and I think I’d like to do some small gouache sketches while I’m there. So today I had a test run of my limited palette of cyan, yellow, magenta, black and white, a “stay wet” palette and different papers to try and decide what might work for me. I looked at a travel website for some photos of Bali and did some quick little sketches from them. These are all only about 9 x 6 cm, much smaller than they appear here.

First one is on 126gsm cartridge paper. It’s not really suitable for my type of painting as it has a tendency to break down if I brush over the paper while it’s still wet.

Then I tried Rains 300gsm watercolour paper. I picked up a pad of this paper recently and while it is reasonably priced and it performed pretty well.

I then used Art Spectrum Draw and Wash 210 gsm paper for the next sketch. I think this is also called Canaletto paper. It wasn’t too bad, fairly durable, but the surface felt a little slick for the gouache.

Looks like the Rains paper will be the one I use. I’ll make up another little journal and I can use it for ink and watercolour as well.

I may also have to rethink the palette idea when I’m there because it’s going to be hot and humid so I’ll just have to see how quickly gouache will dry.

I’m also still doing a few Inktober sketches. I knew I wouldn’t get to do an ink sketch a day for the month even though I started fairly well. This poor little fellow was done in a few stages and sadly ended up being a little overworked. Pigma Micron pen .05, Pentel brushpen and watercolour on Fabriano paper.

A sketch in front of TV last night, from a photo on Sktchyapp on Rains 300gsm paper with a brown Staedtler fineliner and softened with a waterbrush.

I should do this each night instead of wasting time on Facebook or Instagram, the time theives. 

232 Pet Portraits and Sketching

Something a bit different this week – a Sktchy portrait first up. I really want to be able to capture faces quicker than I am doing at present, so by tapping into Sktchyapp I can find thousands of photos to use for practise. I had great intentions of doing several quick practise sketches each week but I only managed one this week. Just a 2b pencil on cartridge paper.

In my town Thursday morning has now become a regular Meetup with a few other artists for some local sketching. As we are in the middle of winter only a few diehard sketchers braved the chilly winds in the centre of town this week. I’m getting a little more comfortable sketching in public, and don’t really care if I’m making a spectacle of myself anymore. I find it interesting that previously people would just pass by, but when they see you sitting there sketching, the same people will stop and chat about drawing and art in general. 

I sat opposite the town hall and sketched it with a Uniball Eye pen on Canson Montval paper, then added the watercolour at home where it was a bit warmer. We actually had a couple of hours sunshine so I was able to capture the shadows from a photo I took.

I also managed to finish a painting I sketched last weekend. This cute little fellow was from a photo by Shadoe posted in the weekend challenge on Wetcanvas. I tried to capture his personality as well as his likeness. Painted on Arches cold press watercolour paper.

As an animal lover I do enjoy painting dogs and cats. This got me thinking during a visit to our local veterinary clinic early last week. While I was in the waiting room I thought it could do with a bit of animal art displayed on the walls. That got the brain ticking over. Maybe I could get a few pet portrait commissions if I displayed one of my paintings there. It would help a little towards the vet fees too 😄.  They were happy to do it, so as a result I am now in the Pet Portrait commission business. I’ve updated my Pet Portrait  page. Have a look and tell me what you think.

#203 A week of sketches

I’m guilty of neglecting  the blog again, but I’m still sketching ….. sort of. All still in my little diary/journal with it’s unfriendly paper. But what I am finding out is how to work with difficult papers. Gouache is so forgiving, it works so well on this flimsy paper.


Watercolour works in a fashion but only if I put a layer of gesso on the page. It’s not the ideal surface for watercolour but it can take a layer or two. Good enough to try out different mixes for skin colours. It seems almost any yellow red and blue will give a reasonable flesh colour.


I need to think of different things for each day, maybe I’ll dedicate one day a week for a portrait. I remembered David Rankins 5 minute Sketching Recipe. Not that my sketch was 5 minutes but I will keep trying. If you are interested in quick face sketches have a look at his site. Very cool.


Which led to to another weekly page idea. Dogs or animals ….. lots of scope there.


A page for ideas and experiments and what I am currently using.  Still Cyan,  Yellow and Magenta. But I did use ultramarine for the background on the dog page, just because it was easier than trying to mix the blue I wanted.


A brainless contour sketch because I couldn’t think of anything else. I should do more of these too. Great practise in hand eye coordination.


A page or two for the weekly challenge on Wetcanvas.


I forgot that the brushpen bleeds through this paper as you will see on the following page.


The Micron liner doesn’t deposit as much ink so there is little bleed through on this sketch and it works well with gouache.


And to finish the weeks post with another dog (actually it was more than a week). I’ll try to keep to the weekly posting.
This week I have also been posting on my Facebook page. I was nominated by a friend to post a painting a day for seven days and to nominate another friend to do the same. As a relative newcomer to facebook I find from my little list of friends (sad isn’t it?) that most have already done the challenge or are too busy at this time of the year. So instead I’m sharing a painting each day along with one a painting or sketch from seven artist friends who have inspired me.

174 – Sketches and Wallaby

I’m still sketching for the Every Day in June challenge, but mine is now only an occasional  sketch in June. I don’t seem to be able to do these daily sketches if I have other stuff that needs doing. I did manage 2 in a row. Both in sketchbooks.
Day 16 – The prompt was “Help”. Here’s man’s best friend who helps in many ways.


Day 17 – Transportation.  On our trip round Aust. in 2013 we saw many forms of transport. This cute, beautifully restored little rig was one we spotted in outback Queensland after having travelled from the opposite side of the country.


Something else I have been working on this week.
Wallaby, painted from my photo taken in the Bunya Mountains area in Queensland.
Watercolour on gessoed paper.