Cassart Make a Splash Challenge 1-4

The last couple of days I have been attempting to catch up with the Cass Art “Make a Splash” watercolour challenge to make 50 paintings by May 30.  That means nearly 2 paintings a day for a month for me.  I feel a little insane attempting it but the benefit is that I’m finally diving into paintings with ideas I’ve had swimming in my head.

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I’m attempting more of an illustrative feel for these than my usual sketches.  Learning to simplify and still make an image come across is so hard without pen for me, but I’m finding it a lot of fun trying.  Simplifying this landscape is one of my top challenges, I want to get a little more depth into this.

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So inspired by the spring leaves emerging on the trees lately.  I love these vivid greens (much more vivid than real life obviously), and playing with tree shapes.

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All the birds around here have been gathering materials for nests.  This is my first attempt at a piece that tells a story.

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Birds again (surprise surprise).  I love the elegance of barn owls, though making the chick cute was a challenge!  I actually liked the finished product enough to make it into a simple Mother’s Day card with some hand lettering.

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This wasn’t an official entry in the challenge, but the weather has been so fine today that I couldn’t help going out and sketching some of the beautiful spring trees I see from our garden.  It’s always good to practice since I”m sure I’ll be doing lots more trees in the next month!

Do you have any personal challenges coming up for May?

Dandelion Three Ways

Today I had a bit of time to do some sketching in a playing field while my children were at the playground.  Of course this time of year it is filled with dandelions, they might be a menace but I still find them charming.

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Here is the spread of dandelions I did in different ways.  As I gain confidence with this art thing I like to play around with the style of a single subject.

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I always love pen and ink, something about the bold line of the pen always seems to feel right to me.  I also get to splash on the colour very loosely this way.

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This was done directly to watercolour, no pencil or anything underneath.  I tried to use the strokes and values to indicate the shadows and petals.  While I like it, it seems to lack a bit of impact for me.

The final one (seen in my original shot of the spread) is where I used a darker watercolour outline in a similar way to my penwork.  I was looking for a more graphic look without the pen.  I did end up muddying it up a little, but maybe I’m getting somewhere with that idea.  I was using a waterbrush so the marks ended up pretty thick.  I also did some very loose watercolour dandelions but they just don’t read like the flower to me.

In the end I’m still not sure which one I like best, pen and ink or the one with watercoloured outlines?  I’ll keep experimenting.  Do you have a particular “style” that you tend to stick to?  Or do you like to play around?

Milestones and Giving Thanks

A few days ago I reached my 100th day of daily art (barring those couple of sick days).  I felt so surprised that 100 days had already passed, but at this point it’s hard to remember a time when I didn’t draw or paint everyday.  The sketch I did on the 100th day was not exceptionally exciting, another loose watercolour sketch.

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But to celebrate my milestone instead of rewarding myself I decided I wanted to give thanks to a friend of mine who has been a constant support throughout my artistic journey.  I met her online a few years ago but have since met her in real life and she’s just as wonderful in person.  She is the proud owner of two very handsome specialty siamese cats.  I’ve seen a few photos of them online and decided to do a pet portrait especially for her.

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This is the prototype for her red siamese, Rio.  You can tell that I really overworked this, particularly his face and the shadows.  But that’s okay because this was just the first draft and I was trying to work out what colours to use and how to approach it.

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My second attempt turned out much better, I feel like I captured a bit of a likeness here (long face, very large ears and regal look).  I kept the shadows lighter and not so grey and did away with the distracting shadow underneath him.  I sent it off yesterday and am crossing my fingers that she likes it.  It is the least I can do for someone who has cheered me on every step of the way.

Do you make art for others, as a way to give thanks or to mark an occasion?

Fast, Loose Vegetables

Yesterday we took a trip out to a couple of local farmshops searching for seasonal treats, particularly purple sprouting broccoli and rhubarb.  Purple sprouting broccoli is only available in early spring so it always feels like an occasion when we have it.  It is also quite beautiful with its purple florets, just a shame it goes green when you cook it.

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I felt like dipping back in the watercolours last night and went for straight-to-watercolour slightly abstract, loose, splashy look to this spread.  The broccoli is probably more abstract than I intended but the one thing I am particularly pleased with is the variation in colour.  Now I’m really looking forward to the growing season to get a chance paint and draw more vegetables!

Have you done any fruit or vegetable drawings?  Or growing anything in the garden this year?

Back to Pencil

It’s been a while since I’ve sketched with a pencil, I did some very early in my daily art project but then started inking over my drawings with pen and then progressed straight to pen drawings.  I love the boldness of pen but decided to do some more pencil drawings to see how I felt about it.


A few tulips in my garden have just started to open and it was fun sketching them in pencil.  I started out with very light lines making the basic shapes and then went progressively darker.  I forgot how nice it is to have softer shadows.

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In the evening I did this one of some spoons my husband carved a few years ago.  The pencil works better for the texture of the wood than pen.  The only things I didn’t enjoy was smudging the graphite with my hand.  I worry that these probably won’t last long-term in the sketchbook.

Do you use pencils for sketching?  Or are you devoted to ink?

Easter Weekend

I want to thank you to you all for your kind comments and good wishes when I was poorly last week, having your support helped such a lot to get back onto my feet this Easter weekend.  I can only hope you had as wonderful time as us, the weather was absolutely perfect: sunny and hot enough to make you think it was May or June.  I spent virtually every minute possible in the garden soaking it up, and even managed to squeeze in some sketching time too.  Here are some that I did over the weekend.

2015-04-07 07.09.17A little painting of two of my favourite visitors to the bird feeder, coal tit and blue tit.

2015-04-05 13.53.43Did some pages in my garden journal documenting what I saw in bloom or coming into leaf.  Forsythia has the most vivid yellow flowers on red stems.

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Taking this shot with the shield bug on the paper was not easy, he kept crawling away before I snapped this.

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A really super quick (10 minute) sketch of our local church in my moleskine.  I keep it in the bag that I take everywhere with me in case I get a moment or two to sketch.  I was with the children so it had to be fast!

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Something is rather mesmerising about drawing popcorn.  Maybe it’s all those nooks and crannies?  Fun to eat too.

Hope you all had a happy Easter wherever you are in the world and had a chance to do some art too (or take a break if you needed it).

Following Rules and Being Kind to Yourself

Unfortunately I don’t have any sketches to share with you today because the last few days I have been completely wiped out.  I don’t get poorly often, maybe an occasional cold but something has totally sapped all of my energy.  Other than doing what was absolutely necessary I spent the last two days sleeping.

I spent a lot of time beating myself up about “failing” my art everyday challenge, but then thought, if this happened to anyone else what would I say?  “Take care of yourself”, “Get better soon” and “Don’t worry about the challenge, it’ll still be there”.  Sometimes we feel like we have to stick to the rules no matter what, or we’ll be failures, but that’s exactly what kept me from doing any art years ago and I don’t want to think like that anymore.  What’s probably more upsetting is that I felt like I was finally getting to where I wanted to be right before this virus or sickness hit me.

I did do a sketch today, though it’s not any good and it was a real struggle.  So I’m going to try and take care of myself, to get better, and get back on that horse as soon as I can.  I’ll allow myself these sick days, even if it means taking time off until after Easter.  I thank you all for your continued support in following my blog and art, and hope you know too that following rules on your personal project isn’t what makes or breaks you as an artist.