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.

#254 Pencils and paint

More portraits 😁 It seems that I can’t go a day without a portrait now. Each time I go into my art room to think about starting a “proper painting” another portrait calls out to me. This next one is another watercolour pencil sketch with a waterbrush touched here and there. This process is a bit hit and miss, sketching, adding water with the brush, and going over that with pencil. If I need extra depth or colour I draw directly into the wet area and sometimes dip the pencil into water. Most of my watercolour pencils are Faber Castell with a few Staedtler and Caran D’Arche as well. This is a sketch of Joanne from Sktchyapp.

Another portrait of Jane from Sktchyapp painted in gouache with Pentel ink brushpen over.
A quick sketch from real life. I decided it’s about time I tried another selfie, standing in front of the mirror using a brown Pitt artist pen in a crappy sketchbook. I added the watercolour with a waterbrush and watercolour pencils. You can see the different pencil lines, the lighter ones are used dry and the darker are into wet areas.

And finally something different. We had a gorgeous autumn day last week so we went for a picnic at a nearby National Park. I did a little value sketch followed by a quick little gouache. I quite like the scene and hope to get around to doing a “proper painting” of this in the future.

250 Finishing UFOs

I decided this past week to finish off some of my ufo’s………unfinished objects 😊 I’m  working my way through the pile. This landscape was from a National Park we visited on our long trip around the country. It has been in the unfinished pile for ages, so now there is one less.  I think I salvaged it and will hopefully sell it at an exhibition later in the year. 

I do have a lot more unfinished paintings to work through and I will be ruthless. If I can’t make them work I’ll bin them.

In the meantime I had a morning with the local pleinair air group at the beach. Fine weather but the wind was a little chilly, which always makes me sketch a lot quicker. The first sketch is watercolour on cartridge paper.

The next one was a little gouache, looking across the bay.

And then I went for something completely different, a larger acrylic on canvas. I haven’t painted with acrylic for a long time and I forgot how much darker it dries, opposite to watercolour. This is 600 x 450 mm or 24 x 18″. Another one for the exhibition?

248 My week of Sketches

We are experiencing stunning summer weather here on the south coast, well most days. One day last week my painting buddy and I headed to the King River, an idyllic spot with beautiful granite rocks. I forgot to pack my watercolour paper and all I had was a tiny journal with me so I used gouache for this sketch.

I’d finished my painting but Zoe was still working on hers so I sketched her still working.

During the week I had  a mini class on portraits. I demonstrated the basic proportions and features using a reference photo from Sktchyapp. This is an excellent free app available for iPhone and iPad, with thousands of portrait reference photos to use for inspiration. Some not so good but there are excellent ones there too. Unfortunately it’s not available to android devices.

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Each week on Sktchyapp there are a few challenges and prompts such as #quickdraw and #monday muse. The Monday muse last week loves the colour green so I grabbed a paint swatch from the hardware store and used that to sketch her for the QuickDrawimg_2448

You should know by now that I’ll sketch or paint on anything. While I was taking out the recycling papers and boxes I liked the look of the inside of a coffee box and thought it would be fun to draw on. I did another QuickDraw with a Pentel brushpen and seldom used oil pastels.

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It’s all good practise for my pet portrait commissions. Here is another practise …. in my journal this time 😀 This is Tiger.

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I am now doing custom paintings and if you would like a personalised portrait of loved pet or person, you can find further information on my Pets portrait page here.

247 My Week of Sketches

Thank you everyone who commented on my last post. It is good to know that my posts are appreciated, as writing sometimes takes me longer than painting 😀 I will try to do a post a week but no promises.

I’d rather sketch than go shopping, so I opted to wait in the car instead. While I was waiting I quickly sketched the truck across the road. I still had time to kill so added the cafe behind.

Then back home I decided I needed to try different ways of depicting different trees, instead of painting the same stuff all the time. I started in my journal but I was painting rather fast and couldn’t wait for the paper to dry to turn the page, so I started on plain copy paper and scrap paper. Copy paper is not really very good for watercolour but it’s cheap and good for quick experiments, and I don’t care how much I use. Most end up in the bin anyway 😀

I was then able to put my tree practise to good use as the following day I met with a painting buddy for a pleinair session at a local park. It’s good to get out there as it is a very different experience  to painting in the studio from a photo. It’s good brain exercise too, trying to work out how to paint it, and deciding what to leave in or out of the scene. There was actually a whole lot of cars and houses behind the distant tree, but I didn’t want them there so I ignored them.

Back in the studio and back to Sktchyapp for inspiration. The challenge for the week was to do a quick scribble sketch without lifting the pen from the paper. My first attempt was more or less a contour drawing with a .6 Artline pen on Kraft paper. The pen has a tendency to bleed a bit when pausing and it looks a bit like a dot to dot drawing 😀

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So I tried a different approach. For the second attempt I scribbled with a Uniball vision ballpoint pen on Kraft paper. I like this pen as it doesn’t need to be used in an upright manner like Artline or Micron pens, so it feels much more like a comfortable writing position.

Finally I felt like getting out the gouache again for another portrait. The more I use gouache the more I enjoy it. It is such a forgiving medium, although it can be a frustrating learning curve. I like to start with thin watery washes, gradually building up in thickness. If too much water is added to the next layer of paint, it can dislodge  the previous one. This can be an advantage though if you want to blend a harsh edge, and very fine detailed work can be achieved using gouache.

Not for me though. I’m still trying to get a more painterly look as opposed from too detailed. I enjoyed doing this little sketch on tan Stonehenge paper. Lovely surface for gouache. 

I’m happy to say this portrait is on its way to a new home across the big ocean 

I’m up to date now with my posts. Stay tuned for next week for another episode of random sketches 😀 

245 

Oh dear, it’s been a while since my last post and we are already into 2017. I have too many other things getting in the way at the present, so much I’ll just do a little catching up for now. 

Just before Christmas I had a day with my painting buddies and we painted in the gardens of a local church. I did a little warm up brush watercolour sketch first, on Fabriano Artistico paper.img_2033After that I switched to gouache and concentrated on the ivy clad wall.img_2036

More playing with gouache, a quick little selfie(supposedly😂) once again in gouache with Pentel brushpen on cartridge paper.img_2062

Another in gouache, this one had to be a specific size hence the “portrait landscape” 😊 –  on Arches paper.img_2070

And finally some Sktchyapp portraits, trying to keep within my 5 minute time limit. These are all done with a conte carbon pencil and watercolour crayons. I enjoy doing stuff like this when I have little time to sketch. It’s fun and liberating doing these quick sketches, trying to make them a little recognisable while not being precious.

244 Too Many Journals

I wish I was more disciplined in my use of journals. I read on some blogs how some can just fill up one journal before starting another. I seem to have several on the go at one time and have different preferences according to where I am or what I’m painting. I am getting a little more organised now though, and I’m keeping one for car sketches, one for gouache, my mini one for sketchwalks. That’s not counting my junk journal or other assorted ones with toned paper and my good paper ones.

Here are a couple from my car sketch journal, one while we were driving through the tall timber country and I tried to convey the impression of the huge trees towering above the road.


At a stop along the way trying to capture the beach scene.

When I want to paint but can’t settle on a subject I find myself browsing through photos on Sktchyapp looking for a victim. I tried the Staedtler fineliner pen and waterbrush on Sketch and Wash paper. This would have been more successful on a better watercolour paper.

I really want to speed up my sketching of faces and figures so I browsed through the Wetcanvas photos for the Weekend Drawing Event and decided that I’d try a quick 15 minute waterbrush sketch of a young girl. I added a few lines with watersoluble pencil over. Not too successful,I might add.

I decided to try a different minimalist approach, even faster, with a couple of 5 minute sketches both from Sktchyapp, using Conte charcoal pencil and crayon.

These were rather fun to do and hopefully I can learn a little about capturing the character quickly without unnecessary fiddling about.

And talking about unnecessary fiddling about I did a little gouache sketch of my beautiful granddaughter. It look me quite a bit longer than 5 minutes 😀 I loved the photo of her sleeping on a striped towel in her beachwear so I wanted to capture the moment.


I love gouache but I’m still coming to grips with it. I don’t know if I’ll ever master it but it’s fun trying. It’s very forgiving while being very frustrating at the same time.