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.

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.

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?

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).

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?

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.

Experimenting with Watercolour Techniques

The last couple of days I’ve been playing with the watercolours some more.  I had this idea to paint a card for my mother-in-law for Mother’s Day, so I practiced doing some using different techniques.

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Here is a peony using almost entirely dry-on-dry techniques which gives these crisp edges and a stylised look to the flower.  I liked the process but think my rendition is a bit heavy handed, particularly in those shadows and somewhere along the line I lost the sense of form.

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Here’s another done almost entirely in wet-in-wet.  I applied the darkest colour in the petal first and used clean water to pull the colour up gently to soften the edge.  I dotted some warm colours here and there too.  When it was dry I added a few shadows.  I love how this one turned out, but bungled it up with a really primitive leaf.  It makes me want to try more wet techniques.

In the end I didn’t do a card, I spent a long time trying different flowers and techniques but just didn’t feel confident in any one design.  I found the lettering daunting too.  It showed me that I’m not quite ready to share my art more openly in a piece like that, though I’d one day love to send art to my family and friends and even have one of my own works up on the wall.

I went back and did a very small landscape of our view in my sketchbook.  The hills were very damp and misty so I let the edges blend a bit and added some splatter for texture.

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Moving from Burn Out to Fun

Do you ever experience burn out?  I certainly do.  When working hard on a particular skill or subject (in this case landscapes) I find that I keep working going until I just find it too frustrating to go on.  I stop making progress, if anything things get worse.  At this point I let it go and do something relaxing, something that reminds me why I enjoy art in the first place.

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So late at night after countless failed landscapes I sat and drew my son’s bugle.  It is an old and battered thing passed down from his grandpa. I haven’t done this type of observational drawing for a few days and was surprised by how good it felt good to do.   One of those sketches where you just lose yourself and I was surprised by how confident my pen lines felt this time around. Maybe just a contrast with the struggle of painting?

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Another relaxing type of drawing I love doing is drawing from reference photos, particularly those great pictures you find on instagram.  This was based on a beautiful shot in London.  Again, pure relaxation, and I loved painting it in afterwards.

Finally after all of this I felt at peace again and wanted to try landscapes.

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Again this is based on a reference photo and I felt like I made such a lot of progress on this one, but the best thing of all was that it was fun.  I’m delighted to have a process that can work me through a funk or burn out.

When in doubt go back to basics and find what relaxes you.  Just have fun.