Dreaming of Summer Flowers

This weekend has been all about flowers and gardening, on saturday our little village had its Spring Flower Show.  That sounds a lot grander than it was, which was essentially a few stems of daffodils and other spring flowers scattered around an incredibly crowded village hall.  I was particularly taken by the delicate long petals of the magnolias.

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I did the sketch while I was there, and wanted to do more but I was being jostled by traffic and didn’t have a place to sit.

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Some of the buds of the silver willows have started to open.  Don’t you just love those fuzzy flowers?

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I was flipping through one of my gardening books when I came across some photos of beautiful opium poppies.  They seem like such a long way away now, but I enjoy dreaming of these summer flowers.

2015-03-29 23.18.03And of course I couldn’t resist adding a bit of colour to them.

My plan this year is to fill my garden beds with lots of flowers for cutting (and plenty for bees and butterflies too).  I don’t often buy flowers from the shop but find so much satisfaction going around the garden cutting my own.  I am only a beginner but I hope I can get at least a few things growing this year.

Daffodils Three Ways

Nothing says spring to me like daffodils and I’m so lucky to be surrounded by hundreds in our garden.  Flowers always are an inspiration to me, their colours, shapes and scents are simply intoxicating.

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Here’s me trying to break one down to its simplest form in straight up watercolour.

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And a more intricate line drawing of some in a bunch my little children picked for me.

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And the same with a bit of colour added.  The last one is my favourite.  I pulled out my set of Ph. Martins Liquid Watercolours, they add instant punch to a painting.  I lost a few highlights here and there so I added some with white acrylic ink.  It took on a slight yellow tint but I think it looks fitting here.  The white ones were difficult to do, shadows in white or yellow are always challenging for me.

Do flowers, or nature, inspire you too?  Hope you are all starting to see first signs of spring wherever you are.

REVIEW: Daniel Smith Watercolours

I mentioned in my last post that I’ve been using Daniel Smith watercolours.  I’ve had them a couple of weeks now and have spent a lot of time trying to get to know them.  Here is my plastic folding palette that I use day-to-day with them.

All tests done on Cass Art 300gsm Cold Press watercolour paper. Paints purchased from Jackson’s Art Supplies.

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I think from here you can see the colours that I like to use most, but here they are in swatches.

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Ignore the incorrect spellings, I chose my colours based on the recommendation of Jane Blundell and Liz Steel.  I have a neutral yellow (Hansa Yellow Medium), warm yellow (Quin Gold), cool red (Quin Rose), warm red (Transparent Pyrrole Orange), cool blue (Ultramarine) and warm blue (Pthalo Blue GS) and 3 earth colours (Goethite, Burnt Sienna and Buff Titanium).

The first thing I noticed with DS colours is that they are really intense.  You only need a tiny bit to get a lot of juicy colour.  Pthalo blue and Pyrrole orange are particularly strong.  They also rewet better than any other paint I know.  They go as wet as tube paints when sprayed with my mister so you never have to scrub at hard cracked paint. The earth colours are more subtle but they, along with Ultramarine have the most beautiful granulation.  That being said, I use those earth colours the least.  They are not as strong as the primaries and I find my paintings look a bit dull when I use them (like the Bread in my previous post where I used a combination of Goethite and Burnt Sienna).  I thought the Buff Titanium would be good for food sketches, but actually it’s quite opaque and I rarely use it.

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I absolutely love how those primaries mix, I get such great vivid greens and purples and even the greys are lovely.  Pyrrole Orange and Pthalo blue can make a fantastic black or dark brown depending on the mix.

I don’t think merely having great paint can make you a great painter (definitely not the case for me!) but having paints that you love and want to use will definitely help you do more and ultimately improve.  I’d say they are great value and I’ll be replacing the primaries when I use them up, and maybe add one of their many many other colours to my palette.

Are you a fan of Daniel Smith watercolours?  Or maybe you have another brand that you simply love?  What does your limited palette look like, or is it an unlimited palette?  I love hearing about other artists’ paints!

Everyday Sketchbook Pages

I’ve been trying to use watercolours in my “everyday” sketchbook pages and feel like I’m finally getting to know and understand how they mix and the look I’m wanting.  It is so fun to splash a bit of colour on the page.  These were all done in with Daniel Smith paints, and I hope to write a post about them soon.  Short story is I am in love!

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Can’t wait for your bread to cool?  Do a sketch of it while you wait!

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Super quick sketch while my eggs were cooking in the pan this morning.

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Obligatory playground shoe sketch, these are my husband’s boots.

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This was a negative painting exercise.  I really have a thing about shoes I guess? And splatter, can’t get enough of that splatter.

Have you done any sketchbook pages this weekend?  Sending a bit of warm spring sunshine to all of you!

Fear of the Big Page

I’m not sure if it’s just me but I hate the idea of wasting materials.  My most expensive sketchbooks are waiting until I’m “good enough” to fill them, I dip my paintbrush into tiny amounts of precious Daniel Smith watercolours, and I cannot make myself use an entire sheet of A4 watercolor paper at once.  Maybe this is the curse of the beginner?  I’m hoping to one day get over this hurdle and recklessly fill an A4 (or larger!) paper one day to create an actual finished piece.

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For now I have been doing very small practice paintings on sheet folded into 4, so A6 size.  They are quick and so fun to do.  I get to try different techniques and see what works and just play with colour without fear.

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My ultimate goal at the end of this year is to have produce at least 1 finished work that I could hang on the wall.  I am in love with sketching and little practice paintings but I can’t say they are “finished”.  Maybe this is a reflection of my own personality that I find this so difficult to do?  Fear of commitment?

Any of you out there find it hard to work big?  Or to create what you would call a “finished” piece?  How do you approach a project like that?