298 New Sketchbook

I can’t believe it’s been 4 months since my last post. So much has happened since then. Life was getting busier than ever for me with a couple of exhibitions as well as having my work in a pop up gallery space. All of a sudden things have come to a full stop in a devastating way, not just here but all around the world. Life as we have known it will be changed in ways we have yet to understand and come to terms with.

There have been numerous posts giving advice on using this enforced time of social distancing to take the opportunity to learn a new skill, get fit, do all those projects you’ve been putting off, and all sorts of challenges and other stuff you could be doing. It’s taken me a while to realise that’s not what I need right now and not to burden myself with unrealistic expectations.

After not having any direction an idea of overcoming this isolation came while video chatting with my 3 yo granddaughter who is lockdown in Europe. We decided I would send her a daily line drawing for her to colour in and send back to me. It was cute to see her trying to put her drawing back into the printer to send back.

Following on with this idea I’m revisiting a project from 2015. I started keeping a little art journal with a daily sketch and quote. You can see some of the entries here. As I didn’t have a little journal on hand for this new project I decided to make a new one from scratch with some Fabriano paper I had on hand. The cover is still to come.

I’m combining the idea of the Urban Sketchers “sketch at home” theme with my daily granddaughter sketch so she will be getting some pretty mundane sketches to colour in. Oh, she just got the line drawing for this one. I did my own colouring in here!

Hopefully with all this spare time on my hands now I’ll be posting more often.

297 Sketching Tools

One of my favourite sketching tools is a Tombow dual brush pen – fine tip one end for consistent lines, and a brush tip on the other which works like a paintbrush to create fine, medium or bold strokes. They come in a wide range of colours but I find just a few shades of grey useful for quick sketches. I like to use a light grey fine tip for initially outlining the basic shapes, then switch to the brush end for blocking in and for shadows.

The following sketch was done while filling in 15 minutes waiting for my taxi. The brush end allows me to fill in larger areas quickly. I added the colour on the sculpture later as my ride appeared too soon.

Another journal sketch of a little cottage opposite a local park on Strathmore toned grey paper, was done the same way, adding ink linework over the initial Tombow sketch, then colour with watercolour pencils used dry. The grey paper works well, providing a mid tone background, with the Tombow for shading, black ink linework and a white Posca pen for highlights.

The next sketch was done the same way, sketch with the light grey Tombow, adding the shadow areas before adding Ink and colour with Portfolio water soluble oil pastels, a set I picked up some time ago but rarely used. I believe these are childrens crayons, but similar to Neopastels. Probably not archival but fun to use for sketchbooks.

Like many artists I find it hard to resist new art products, which seem to keep on appearing on each visit to the art supplies shop. But I am sticking fairly well to my resolution early this year not to buy any new products (apart from replacements), and to use up what I already have.

296 Streetscape Journal

A recent project I am doing with my Plein air buddies is to gradually sketch our way along a street in town that has a great selection of Victorian buildings. For this project we had a small workshop showing others how to make a concertina journal, using one full sheet of watercolour paper glued to heavy card for the front and back.

The idea is to sketch a building on each fold, or over a couple of folds to create one long fold out panorama view of the street. There are a few newer buildings but we chose to ignore these and concentrate on the more interesting older ones.

I used a Uniball Vision Elite ballpoint pen for the sketches with watercolour on Bockingford paper.

The inspiration for this project comes from Helen Wilding. Her street sketches are amazing.

Kooka’s Building
The Old Courthouse
Old Bell buildings

It’s amazing how many people stop and chat while we are on site, sharing their memories and stories of the buildings. This project will be a long term one, so I will keep you posted on the progress from time to time.

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.

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.

272 Plein Air Popularity

Plein Air outings are now a regular event each week for me. I find I am learning a great deal from painting on the spot, such as how to simplify a scene, choose colours and trying to make a painting work without being a slave to exact realism. My aim is to capture my thoughts and feelings about what I am experiencing at that time.

A couple of weeks ago our group visited a local winery and were able to set our easels up amongst the vineyards. I liked the view looking towards the distant Ranges.

Here is a photo of what I saw, although I find taking a photo in landscape mode always seems to flatten the image. And of course I exaggerated and used my artistic license.

The following week we painted in a street full of historic cottages, all lovingly cared for with beautiful gardens. We found out by chatting to one of the owners that many of these cottages were flat packed and imported from Scandinavia in the 1890s to house mill workers in the town.

At this time of the year on Instagram you see lots of posts popping up with the # 2017bestnine hashtag. A website works out the algorithms for your most popular posts for the year. It is interesting and often a surprise to see what pops up. This year mine were predominantly Plein Air sketches and paintings, with a junky tree study and a really quick silly Inktober sketch.

Does this mean I should concentrate more on Plein Air?

My downfall is that I can’t just stick to one thing. I love portraits, pet paintings, still life and more, and I want to try it all and keep on experimenting. I’m planning on taking a summer school course next month touching on abstraction. It will be interesting to see where that leads me. I’ll keep you posted.

271 Sktchyapp Portraits

Most of my portraits at the present time are from photos available on Sktchyapp. This is a fun app, available sadly only for iPhone and iPad at this stage. One of the fun aspects of this app is the ability to swipe sideways to see the inspiration photo and the artwork, and to see each artist’s interpretation, their methods and materials. It’s always inspiring to see and learn from others. This is a screenshot of the swipe in action.

And here is the complete portrait, painted in my small Quill journal with gouache, pencil and a touch of white Posca pen. Thanks to Nariman for the reference image.

I love painting portraits as you probably know by now, and recently became aware of the option to offer commissions through the shop at Sketchy. This is a trial run for Sktchy I believe, before adding the feature more widely through the app. You can see my listings here and if you like what you see feel free to commission one of your own. Id love to paint one for you or of your pet 😉

Another experiment, this time with a patterned background – once again, gouache with pencil. Thanks to PixelPrincess for her inspiring photo.

Thee month of November is #noshavenovember and #movember in support of cancer awareness I chose a lovely moustachioed subject for the following portrait. Thanks Stuart for your great image.

All of my images up until now have been iPad photos, which I think have been perfectly ok for my purpose. But now that I’m offering commission portraits the images need to be a bit better, and a higher resolution, so I will be going back to the more laborious process of scanning, saving, photoshopping and colour matching. It is probably worth the effort as it is sometimes very hard to tweak the colours in the photo.

The photos of Stuart and PixelPrincess are both iPad photos but the top one of Nariman is a scan. Can you tell the difference?

268 Inktober Sketches Part 3

I managed to keep up with the daily sketch, and even followed the official Inktober prompts. It wasn’t easy doing sketches of things I would never have normally chosen, as I followed the official Inktober prompt for the sketches and most of the reference photos were from Sktchyapp.

#22 Trail – Ink and watercolour

#23 Juicy – Ballpoint pen and watercolour

#24 Blind – Pigma Micron 005 and Pentel brushpen 

#25 Ship – Ink and watercolour

#26 Squeak – Ink and watercolour

#27 Climb – Ink and watercolour pencil used dry.

#28 Fall – Ink  and watercolour pencil. I was loaned a Sailor Fude fountain pen to try out. These are really different but fun to use. The thickness of the line is dependant on the angle you hold the pen so it takes a bit of getting used to. The ink in this was not permanent so I had to use the coloured pencils dry to avoid bleeding, even though I really wanted to watercolour those lovely colourful leaves.

#29 United – Preppy fountain pen with brown ink and watercolour. I’m no sports fan but even I have heard of Manchester United 😄

#30 Found – Ink and watercolour

#31 Mask – Ink, mainly Pentel brushpen and watercolour, plus a little colour pencil.

Most of the images used came from Sktchyapp and all were done in my handmade journal with Daler Rowney 160g drawing paper. It’s not watercolour paper but I quite like using it as it dries fairly quickly and the colours stay nice and bright. I made this journal initially for Liz Steels Online SketchingNow class, then used it for Every Day in May sketches a couple of years ago. This has almost finished this journal as there are only a couple of pages left. So it will be put away on the shelf till I find another way to use up those pages. 

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.