292 Plein Air Sketching

I’m still sketching out and around my town most weeks. Here are some of my recent sketches.

The first was done in town at one of our favourite spots, showing my set up – a little home made easel attached to a camera tripod. The brush holder is a cardboard cylinder covered with fancy duct tape. I also have Velcro attached to the easel and the underside of the palette (not in its correct position in this photo), to keep the palette in place. We do have a windy city so this helps, but I usually call it quits when the palette blows shut or the brush blows away.

Here is the initial sketch, almost a continuous line drawing. These are fun to do and help me when I don’t know where to start. This was done with a Preppy pen with brown ink. I left out my usual pen when I packed my kit and this was the only one I had on hand. The ink bleeds slightly but not enough to bother me.

Another day, back at the same park looking in a different direction towards the old post office building. A bright sunny day here making nice shadows.

One outing took us out to a beautiful little inlet, the bright sunlight again making beautiful shadows on the white sand, perfect for sketching in watercolour.

Back in town at St John’s church. It was a rather bleak and windy day for summer but the sun came out briefly. I have learnt now if that happens, stop what I’m doing and get those shadows in real quick.

Another day was out of town at a rural property with a beautiful outlook over a dam. We disturbed a few kangaroos but they disappeared by the time we got our painting gear out.

A more recent outing was looking back at the port and town from the other side of the bay. I usually manage to find a shady spot to paint from to avoid the glare of sunlight on white paper.

This last sketch was done from the shelter of a local port side cafe on a grey and wet day. The sketch was done initially with pen, followed by grey shading with a Tombow brush pen then watercolour added later at home.

Here is the initial sketch on site. Not such a good photo but I included it to show the grey Tombow shading. They are fun pens to use, double ended with a brush tip and a fine tip the opposite end, and come in several shades of grey which are so useful for tonal sketches, as well as various colours.

All of these sketches were done on 200g drawing paper, apart from the farm scene which was on 300g watercolour paper. I find that sometimes the heavier watercolour paper seems to suck the colour

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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.

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.

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.

270 Plein Air Outings

I’m rather behind with posting my Plein air sketches so this post is a bit of an image dump. This is also a little tour of the area that we are blessed to live in. Our town is situated on a very beautiful coastline, but quite rugged and treacherous at times as there is no land between us and Antarctica.

I am now regularly sketching each week with my painting buddies, and it’s a great way to try out different subjects and techniques. I love the fact that while out there I can just tune out, and the only worries I have is working out how the heck am I going to paint what’s in front of me. It’s good for the brain as well as the body 😄

On an unusually calm but overcast day we hiked up to the local war monument situated on a hill with amazing views. This hill was the last view of Australia many World War 1 soldiers had before perishing in the battle of Gallipoli.

From Wikipedia – “The statue at the top of Mount Clarence is a copy of one originally forming part of a memorial erected at Port Said in 1932, and which was destroyed during the Suez War of 1956, salvaged and re-erected in Albany in 1964.

It shows a mounted Australian Light-Horseman defending a New Zealand Mounted Rifleman standing beside his wounded horse. It is said to be based on an incident in the charge at El Arish in 1917.”

Albany was the final departure point for the first ANZAC troops on their way to the battlefields of the First World War.This precinct has many places to sketch and a lot of historic buildings so we decided to return the following week. I sketched one of the original old stone residences.The next sketch is an extra thrown in, as it was a beautiful sunny spring day and my hub wanted an outing. We took a picnic lunch to an inlet a little way along the coast. I painted while he walked.Back with the weekly sketch group we met at a little park overlooking the inner harbour. Those are wheat silos in the background in case you were wondering 😄 Next outing was around the bay to the old Whaling Station. This has now been made into a very popular tourist precinct. I sat on the jetty looking back at the staff cottages. One of the retired whaling ships is dry docked and part of the tourist complex. I always take several photos when I go out sketching, and I used one of them to do a quick gouache sketch at home, just to see if it would be feasible to take these paints out in the field next time. I’ve always had problems with gouache drying too quickly on on the palette in our dry atmosphere, so I devised a little kit to try and overcome the problem.

Today I got to use the kit in the field. I had a new set of Holbein gouache and filled a pill container with the colours. The mixing palette has a piece of palette paper over moist paper towel. I attached Velcro tape to the easel and palettes to keep them in place. As I paint I have to open and close each section of the pill container to pick up colour, which is a bit of a pain, but the paints stayed moist right throughout. At the end of the session I store the palette in a zip lock plastic bag with moist paper towel and so far it seems to work fine. Hehe, I felt like a real artist with this setup, instead of a sketcher sitting on my little stool with a sketchbook in my lap.

I’ll let you know in future how successful this system is.

If you are on Facebook and are interested in what our little group does you can see it here.