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.

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.

295 Watercolour Classes

I recently taught a beginners watercolour course at a local arts centre and in doing some preparation, was attempting some loose still life paintings, in the style of the late, great Charles Reid. No one comes close to his style but I think these later ones are an improvement on my very early attempts at watercolour.

Have a look at my earliest watercolour on this blog, which incidentally I started way back in October 2011 merely to keep a record of my progress.

The composition was acceptable, a reasonable attempt at negative painting, but the rest was pretty bad. I’m glad I started this blog (which was purely for my own record) so I do have a record of paintings that have since long gone. This one to the rubbish bin.

The following are my most recent still life watercolours, both painted with my limited palette of Cotman colours on Bockingford paper with cheap Renoir brushes.

I chose these budget supplies because I was allocated a limited budget to supply paints, brushes and paper for each student. I am more than impressed with Cotman watercolours. Classified as a student range the tubes have the pigment code, permanence and lightfast rating listed which a lot of the cheaper brands don’t.

The Renoir brushes also perform extremely well for their price. At $4 and $6 (Australia) each I don’t mind replacing them more often but so far they are still working like new.

Bockingford paper is manufactured by St Cuthbert’S Mill makers of many of the top watercolour papers, and is very forgiving. It is heavily sized and takes a lot of punishment, can be wiped back or erased easily, but sometimes this can be problem as multiple layers can tend to lift if the paint is applied with too heavy a hand. I’ll continue to use it.

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

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.

276 Some Plein Air, some not.

With summer here we are making the most of outdoor sketching. Yesterday was a glorious sunny day made more enjoyable by painting along with excellent company.

I loosened up for my first sketch, easy to do when painting with my favourite brush. I scored this brush from a workshop by the wonderful artist John Lovett.

I still had 30 minutes before I had to leave so I did another quick sketch with gouache.

I didn’t have time to resolve the stone wall problem, so I took a photo and fiddled with it later at home.

The week before we painted at a local boat harbour. This is my very edited version of the actual scene, as I couldn’t get my head around too many boats and masts.

In the older part of our town is the Rotunda, constructed as a bandstand in the late 1800s. This was a bit of a challenge and as a result ended up rather overworked. But that’s what I love about Pleinair painting, everything is a puzzle and I always learn from each painting.

The following one was from a photo because I’m not often up and around to capture an early morning foggy scene. It was painted with a very limited palette with successive overlapping washes, fading out towards the water, with the man and boat added later.

Another one painted from my photo reference. This is just one more of the stunning beaches found along the southern coastline. This was painted with thinned gouache, used like watercolour.

As I am now working towards an Exhibition later this year all of these paintings are on artist quality watercolour paper and not in my journals. I really don’t like removing pages from journals as I paint in them just for me.