Sheep Skull and Progress

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A friend of ours in the village specialises in cleaning bones and skulls to be used in education, he gifted my son this sheep skull last year.  It’s something I’ve been wanting to draw for a long time but always found it too daunting.  Last night I decided to give it a try and was surprised at how well it turned out.

Drawing this it made me realise just how much progress I made even after a mere three months of my 365 day project.  At the beginning I often felt frustrated and discouraged, was this ever going to get easier?  Would my lines ever get better?  Will I stop having a headache with perspective?  The answer is yes, a little at a time, yes.

The funny thing is, starting the fourth month, the “project” feels less like a big deal.  It’s just something I do, it’s not something I think about or that my family asks me about anymore.  Goes to show this making a habit thing really pays off.

How is your personal challenge going?  Do you have a new one planned for April?  Can you see progress from when you first started?


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.

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!

Deciding what to Draw

I’m sure a lot of us would love to sketch so much of what we see if only we had the time (or ability), but in reality we always have to make decisions about what we draw.  I always find this interesting because these decisions often unconsciously define who we are, if only for that moment.

The other day I had a few minutes at the playground with the children.  There were so many things I could have sketched; the playground equipment, the trees in the area, the houses and buildings, but instead I sat down and drew my shoe.

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It’s hard to explain why I decided to draw this instead of all of the other options.  I liked the challenge of the foreshortened view and often find my favourite sketches are the simple “everyday” things in life.  Stuff in your bag, what you ate, your desk… These details can say such a lot about a person and maybe that’s why I find them so fun to do.

The next day I managed a little drawing of our county council building from yet another playground (see a common theme here?)  I loved all those strange angles, though I got the proportions a little wrong I feel like it still reads well as a building.

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And here are the trees and bushes to the right of the buildings.  I love both natural and manmade landscapes, but still struggle to render them in a way that makes me happy.

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How do you decide what to draw?  Do you have a favourite subject that you keep coming back to?  Do you think your choices reflect the kind of person you are?

Village Sketchcrawl

Here in the UK we have Mother’s Day early, so for my special gift I was given the time to go and do some solo sketching.  I think any mother appreciates the gift of “me” time once in a while!  I went down to the village to sketch one of my favourite cottages.

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I don’t know much about the history of our little village in the quantocks, but this cottage strikes me as being one of the originals.  The shape is slightly curved and it has the classic thatched roof that gives it so much character.

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Here’s what I managed in about half an hour.  I did some guidelines in pencil to makes sure to get all those wonky angles correct then drew in with ink.  I wanted to concentrate the focus on the doorway of the cottage so spent more time putting in detail and just suggested the rest of the cottage.  I think the effect works well.  I liked working across the spread, but this particular sketchbook has a very annoying perforated spine so it wasn’t quite as smooth as I wanted it, but for my first village sketchcrawl I am really happy with it.

There are so many more beautiful buildings in our village, I can’t wait to do some more.

Winsor & Newton 5″ x 8″ sketchbook, Lamy Safari F nib, De Artemis Archive Ink.