Local Sketches

The weekend often provides more opportunities to go out and do some urban sketching, here is a quick 10 minute sketch I did from the bus stop in town.

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Finally got the nerve to start sketching in my Stillman and Birn Alpha sketchbook.  Oh this paper is simply wonderful, it works with watercolour beautifully and the colours stay so bright and fresh.  My first page is a sketch of my current travel palette.

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Then in the evening we took a walk in our village and I sketched one of the cottages from a sunny bench.

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Two Local Landscapes

Yesterday I worked on doing a couple of local landscapes.  What we lack in urban architecture around here we make up for in sheer natural beauty.

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Pen and Daniel Smith watercolours in HandBook Journal

This is the view of the hills from our bedroom window, it’s hard to get sick of this view which is always changing throughout the year.  The heather and bracken can go from purple, brown, yellow and green depending on the season.

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Pen and St. Petersberg Watercolours in Derwent Cachet

At the childrens’ request we went to the nearby beach which is hidden gem for these parts, at the bottom of some interesting cliffs which the twisted strata is clearly visible.  This was an amazing sketching experience as I was knee deep in sea water, drawing while the children splashed.  The sea gets so warm in this particular spot, like a bath.  I added colour after we got home.

Though neither of these are perfect I feel like I’ve made a bit of progress with my landscapes, despite not working on them for a while.  I did do little value sketches before working on the bigger sketch which I think helped a lot.  Looking forward to doing more of these in the future.

Food and Flowers

I cannot say enough how thankful I am for all your messages and comments.  As someone who doesn’t have any real life sketching friends an online support network can heal and inspire.  I feel so happy with my decision to come back and am excited to share and connect again.

With that, here are a few sketches from the last week or so.  Going back to my favourite subjects: food and flowers!

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I sometimes feel I get a dependent on sketching “things” since I find sketching a landscape or cityscape daunting.  So many details to get lost in.  I challenged myself by drawing the view from our deck of our new hammock in a particularly wild part of the garden.  Hoping to get more confident with these sorts of scenes in the upcoming months.

Bouncing Back After Failure

Hello all, remember me?  I don’t blame if you don’t, it’s been such a long time and writing this post was so hard for me.  I think it always is when you know you failed.  But learning to come back after failure is one of those important lessons in life.

So what happened in the last couple of months?  At the end of May I completed my “Make a Splash” challenge to make 50 watercolour paintings.  50 paintings!  In less than a  month!  I felt thrilled to have done it, it was a genuine accomplishment for me because of the effort it took to make each one, sometimes two or three in a day.  One day I might show you the rest of those paintings.

But after it was done I could not bear to pick up a pen or brush.  I was completely burnt out.  I thought I’d just give myself a day or two to recover but even after that I couldn’t bear to look at a blank sheet of paper.  I sewed, knitted, baked, photographed, but drawing was the last thing on my mind.

I had failed my daily art challenge in a big way.  I lasted 6 months before dropping completely off the wagon and that reality pushed me away from art even more.  I figured that was it, no more drawing for me.  Ever. I’d just let my art accounts die a quiet death, nobody needed to know what happened other than I failed and never posted again.  I was sad and bitter about the whole thing and tried to push it to the back of my mind.

But after a month something strange started happening.  Relieved of any responsibility or obligations I felt the urge to draw come back.  I’d doodle a little bit here and there, and play with paints with my children.  I started feeling excited about art, something I honestly never thought would happen.  My sketchbooks started coming with me again, my art books reread, blogs followed.  The last week I have been following the Urban Sketching Symposium in Singapore with interest and envy.  I dreamed about being there amongst so many inspirational artists, workshops, lectures.

Yesterday they announced that the next symposium would be in Manchester, UK, a mere 4 hours away by train.  My breath quickened, this could be it, my chance at being there.  Not just imagining but doing.  And the excitement of sketching flooded back, and I knew, as hard as it was, I wanted to get back into the fray.

This time I don’t have any specific goals, I don’t want the pressure of having to do something everyday whether my heart is in it or not.  I want to keep practicing, learning, and hopefully gain more confidence in my own drawing.  Will I be going to Manchester next year?  I really hope so, it’d be the scariest and most exciting thing I’ve done in my adult life.  Whether I go or not, I’ve come to understand that art will always be apart of my life but my interest will wax and wane, and going with the flow is the best way to ensure that it will come back to me.

So, I hope you will join me once again in this art journey, I look forward to catching up with old friends and hopefully meeting some new ones along the way.  If you have any stories of losing your mojo or coming back after a break I’d love to hear it.

Make a Splash 21-28

The last week my family have been away on holiday, our first in a very long time.  We had a lovely time and I am pleased to say I even managed to keep up painting for my Make a Splash challenge.

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#21 Lily Pad and Tadpoles.  Don’t feel this one was as successful as i wanted, the white got a bit heavy again.

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#22 Luggage. Trying a lighter more subdued palette.

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#23 Calendula

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#24 Rooster.  We stayed on a farm so there were plenty of these beauties to inspire me.

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#25 Clematis

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#26 Peacock Feather.  There was a peacock on the farm and his feathers were simply amazing (also they are extremely noisy birds)

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#27 Flower Doodle.  I happened to pop into an art shop and picked up a few new colours which ended up looking pretty good together, this was my little test to try them.

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# 28 Blackberry Flowers

I wish I had gotten more done while I was away, 50 paintings still seems like a stretch for this month.  But keeping up a habit when your schedule is disturbed is a challenge in itself.

I hope you all had a great week and I look forward to catching up with all your work.

Make a Splash 18-20

Hot on the heels of some pieces I really liked of course are ones that I don’t think are nearly so good, but they all count towards the 50 paintings.

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#18 Red Clover.  This was an experiment in making a dark background.  I actually like the effect but just need to refine the edges so I get a crisper image.  It’s a bit nervewracking because you need to work fairly quickly with watercolour but painting around all those details is painstaking work.

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#19 Moth and Honeysuckle.  Simple image I did late at night when I was feeling rather tired.

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#20 Morning Coffee.  Oh man, do you ever have one of those pieces where you have a good idea but fail on the execution?  Yeah, that.  I ended up cropping a huge part of this painting out because the perspective of the croissant was really weird and somehow I managed to smear a huge part of the cafetiere.  The saucer is a weird dark colour too and I couldn’t decide whether or not to do shadows.  I could go on and on, but the plus side is I still like the idea and wish I really had teacups with Russian dolls.

Still going to push through the pain and get some more done.  Have you ever had a real painting disaster?  If you had I’m hoping you didn’t have to post it for the sake of a challenge.

Make a Splash 16 & 17 Florals

So I had to make an edit to my last post about Every Day in May, apparently I’m not doing that at all since it’s a very specific set of challenges.  Which is fine, at the moment I feel very full doing my Make a Splash challenge paintings.  Of course realising that I didn’t need to do birds everyday was equally liberating because I got a sudden urge to do florals again.

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#16 Peonies.  I love the composition on this and how it turned out.  I am keeping up with the more illustrative approach that I used for my Wagtails and I love the effect.  My husband even commented how it reminds him of stained glass.  It is rare for me to genuinely like a piece of my own work so I am gifting this to my mother for Mothers’ Day, hope she likes it!

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#17 Icelandic Poppies.  Maybe the composition isn’t as strong on this one but oh those deep rich colours have been something I’ve been chasing for a long time.  Much happier with the detail on this too, I used a very tiny brush for the hairs and a script liner for the veins on the petals.

Every month of my art challenge so far I feel like I’ve been a different sort of artist enamoured with a different style and medium.  And that is part of the fun really.  Some days I just want to pick up a pen and go do some urban sketching, or life drawing but this watercolour challenge has forced me to focus in a way I haven’t done before.  The last 3 pieces have all been full A4 sized paintings, finished paintings.  It’s a goal I wasn’t sure I’d even achieve by the end of this year.  5 months in I’m finally starting to enjoy my own work and see where I want to be going as an artist.

Have you had an artistic epiphany?  A moment where you felt like it was all starting to click?