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Thursday, May 30, 2013

Manly Sketch class Week 4 - Colour!!!

 Yesterday was week 4 of my 8 week sketching course…and finally we got to use our watercolour paints!

Putting together an 8 week course is a lot of fun for me - I am trying to provide a broad overview of all the foundational techniques that I use in my sketching and trying each week to leave my class with one or two key thoughts  that they can use to build on, in whatever direction they choose to go. So how to do an introduction to colour and watercolour in one morning session was a challenge!

And before I go any further I did not mention any pigment numbers!!!! (well I don't think I did…maybe one or two slipped out in passing by accident…but it was not my intention to do so!)

When it comes to colour theory it is easy to get lost and confused by the formality of it all… and although I have a few (!?!) books on colour theory that I have read over the years NOTHING replaces a working knowledge of the colours you have in front of you. I also think that colour is SO personal. "what is your favourite colour?" is a question toddlers get asked! Gaining a degree of confidence to trust your own colour preferences is what is most important. Yes, sure read up on colour theory - the more you know the better - but don't read and read in the hope that you will become 'good at colour' by reading!
So my big thought is "play, play, play" Colour is FUN!

When it comes to watercolour… ok, we all know that it is 'hard' …but I think we need a mental shift… its unpredictable nature is what makes it MORE FUN! Especially in the context of sketching. We are not trying to create perfect works of art… so a watercolour 'happy accident' is part of the joy of sketching. Don't take watercolour too seriously!

My silly catch phrases of the day  are 'juicy' washes and ' hit it hard and leave it' - now how can you 'hit watercolour hard'? Silly expression but the principle is to be bold!In particular it is important not to be wimpy with that first wash (nail the local colour first time) - this is something that I have picked up from Charles Reid… he is my watercolour hero! 

I was SO impressed by how bold my class was yesterday…. we painted vegetables in the studio and then went down the road to a group of shops with some crazy colours… and played with colour, tried to make our washes juicy and tried to apply the things we were looking at last week - local colour-shade-shadow. It was great to have another glorious warm sunny day.

What was also exciting was how, while devouring our lunch at the lovely Cafe La Bas, we could SEE the process of some people's watercolour use. We could see those that worked very wet and those that worked dry, the washes that were over mixed, how to get a back wash, how leaving white gaps separated the washes, putting water down before the sky vs running out of water half way through. Maybe that is why I love watercolour so much- the process is so visible. We also talked about mixing problems (murky browns) and granulation (ok, I will admit it I did start talking about pigments and how I love to find the ones that will react together the way I want…but no numbers)

Anyway… such a fun day…of course we will be working in watercolour for the last 4 weeks… but next week buildings and that dreaded p word! (perspective!)

Final thought - there is NO way to understand watercolour except by using it and making many 'mistakes' … the more joy you can get out of the happy accidents and crazy stuff watercolour does the better.

PS - Here are some photos (thanks Suzi!) from yesterday. You can see me(or my hands!!!)
top left: getting very excited about the pigments reacting on the paper
top right: pointing out an exciting back wash where the yellow exploded into the red(happy accident!) during our lunch review of everyones adventures with paint and water
bottom: showing how my first attempt at painting the vegetables (in the larger book on the table) I didn't have enough pigment and the red pepper went flat and splotchy.
(BTW, I think that the secret to using Stillman & Birn Alpha paper for watercolour like I lots of pigment - juicy washes!)

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

My new palette - after colour mixing with Jane Blundell

Ok - here is my new palette - post colour mixing master class with total legend Jane Blundell (I can't put into words how great our session yesterday was - thanks again Jane!)

I am not sure how many people are that interested in this…but it is a great record for me to type this up. I blame this addiction to exploring pigments to Roz Stendahl - she did a post years ago (2009?) where she went through all her mixes and decisions. I started to research the pigments behind the names and what they did as a result of that.

Before I get into the pigments, one amazing tip I picked up yesterday from Jane was not to fill the pan fully. I have heard that before but always thought it was a little silly since the top bit is the easiest to pick up with the brush. I moved to full pans because 1. I go through paint too quickly 2. more importantly I was drilling down into the pans with my brush to pick up paint and ruining the tip of my sables.  So, the brilliant idea is to fill the pans at an angle so you pick up paint on the side of the brush not the tip. I am going to see how easy it is to train myself for this new pickup of paint and work out which is the best direction.(I can fit in my pans either direction)

This is not a total new palette- I cleaned mine up and tried to introduce a ramp into existing pans. My palette felt SO self conscious when surrounded my Janes prisine palettes  yesterday! Also my 'ramps' were not smoothed out yet when this photo was taken

Ok…ramblings about colours….. warning another one of my long blog posts!

All colours are now Daniel Smith except for WN Cobalt BLue Deep but I am planning to wean myself off that as it is series 4 and too expensive (surely I can find a grey mix that is as good….) So any colour below is referring to DS uno(unless noted otherwise)
We worked systematically through my list of list analysing each choice.

Previously I had two yellows - a cool (Lemon Yellow PY3) and a warm (New gamboge PY153 I LOVE the colour and it came into my palette in 2011 when I went to Lisbon . Hansa Deep is an alternative but more opaque) but we discovered that Quin Gold can do that job. I am also happy that I can mix light bright  greens so no need for it to be a lemon yellow. Decided for a more mid yellow - Hansa Medium (PY97). This gained one spot - a good start!!!

I have never found a warm red that I liked - most are too strong and a bit opaque. I am also in love with the Sch Translucent Orange but could never justify having a dedicated orange colour (though VERY useful with all my trips to T2 and those orange napkins etc!) SO when I discovered a week or so ago there was a colour transparent Pyrrol Orange PO71 I knew I had to test it out - being a dark orange means that it could function as a red. It did not disappoint. It is also a perfect complementary for a pthalo blue (red shade) which is another quirk of mine.

I had done some research recently on the cool red spot and decided that Quin Rose PV19 made a good orange with yellow, lovely pinks when diluted and gorgeous  purples with blue AND when mixed with my warm red makes a primary red. (this is an example of having a single colour that can mix different directions and truly multi-talented!) We did explore other options - some Jane had actually been doing recently. Quin Red, Sch Quin Magenta, Da Vinci Perm Al. Crimson….but happy with Quin Rose ( I might try quin red one day)

The rest of my palette (9 of them) is devoted to blues and earth colours… I am a brown and blue girl no doubt about it. A lot of that has to do with sketching a lot of architecture…and want lots of variations in browns and greys. And I just love blue too!

these haven't changed much except for trying more Daniel Smith. I love Indanthrone Blue PB60 as my dark colour- and use it for dark greens (instead of perylene green- another colour I love but can't justify in my palette).I make dark browns, indigo, black from it with QBO.  It makes lovely deep purples as well.
Next spot - one of my peculiar choices Cobalt Deep Blue(PB74) instead of French  Ultramarine . This colour is my standard blue and important for mixing purples and greens but also MOST important for my greys - blue grey or warm grey.. I just prefer the grey it mixes over a FUB. My next variation will be to try the DS Ultramarine instead of the French variety. It is slightly greener and makes better greens.
Cerulean - I have the wrong one PB35 - I need to try the PB36 Chromium version. This blue is great for skies and my more subtle moments (do I have them?) when I want soft greys or greens.
Pthalo Blue(red shade) PB15 I don't like the green shade version- too strong, but the red is less staining and a good match for our sky and still mixes lovely greens with Quin Gold. This is the main reason it is in my palette…and sometimes you do need a bright bright blue!

Earth Colours….
Earth Yellow - I am sticking with Monte Amiata Natural Sienna PBr7 - a transparent Raw sienna …though I really want to explore Jane's favourite Goethite and I did get a tube. Yellow Ochre is a more yellow earth colour but I prefer more transparent colours.
Earth Orange - This is the burnt sienna spot. Two pigments are used for this 'colour' - Pr101 transparent or PBr7 more plaque. I am definitely a PR101 girl (this is what Winsor and Newton use which was the first BS I used) and my favourite is Quin Burnt Orange. The other contenders are transparent red oxide and trying a more opaque burnt sienna for a change. But I am trying to get a VERY specific mixed grey so sticking with QBO!
Earth Brown (cool) - this is the NEW addition. DS Raw umber PBr7 is a beautiful cool brown colour (nothing like the WN raw umber) and I am looking forward to exploring what this does. I think it is going to give me some good greys! I did have Burnt Umber in this spot but it can easily be mixed, I love the coolness of Sepia but it has Black and a huge drying shift. So raw umber is an exciting discovery!

Personal (Crazy?) colours
Jane and I were laughing - she is a Buff Titanium fan…while I use potters pink PR233 for the same reason. I use PP to add granulation and mute colours. Love it! Mix it with a yellow and you get great creams (as in jam and scones!)
And my latest craze CobaltTurq light - trying the DS version combat Teal PG50.

Ha! Can you tell 1. I am having fun 2. I love colour!
BTW guess what we are going to be looking at tomorrow during my sketching class at manly…. hmm, COLOUR! But I am NOT going to mention a single pigment number, I promise!!!

Monday, May 27, 2013

Mixing paints with Jane

 Had the most amazing time with Jane Blundell today - trying out all different pigments and going through alternatives to tighten up my minimum palette. Amazing to find someone who knows the options that I have been tossing up - Quin Rose vs Red vs Magenta? Do I need a purple or do I just mix?.... Do I have too many blues- which ones can I mix? etc etc

Talk about a kid in a candy store! I feel so unbelievably fortunate to have had such expert guidance today and to work through my palette systematically (though with a few tangents) and then to just have a bit of fun with a few crazy colours. We both love granulating colours!

Jane knows SO much - just like the site, has tested SO many paints and brands and has it all recorded in an unbelievable systematic way.

I was able to buy some Daniel Smith full pans to try and some tubes directly from her (no waiting for an order to come from interstate!). I am now in possession of some Transparent Pyrrol Orange - I am most excited about this- a gorgeous colour and great mixer and perfect for my warm red. I also discovered a new way to fill pans - more of this later.

I met Jane at last months monthly meeting of the Kuringai art society. You can read about the night here.

We are just SO much on the same wavelength when it comes to pigments - that it almost a bit scary..but a lot of fun when we get together just to play with paint!

Jane has a blurb book of her colour mixing tests if any one is interested.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Mixing colours

Here is one of my blobby colour playing pages... it is loosely mapped out like a colour wheel... I am not going to tell you what the initials stand for...see if some clever person will be able to figure it out. (i probably should have listed them as pigments)

This contains a lot of my mixes. What is not shown on this is a more muted grey which I am experimenting with from raw sienna, cerulean blue and a mixed purple. Getting closer to a selection of colours that I am happy with...but not quite there yet.

BTW we will be looked at colour and how to get juicy and confident washes in this weeks sketching class in Manly. There are a few casual spots availabe if anyone is interested. (you do not need to be using 'my' colours) More details here

BCN planning meeting

BCN planning meeting!!!
I am just SO excited that my two wonderful Sydney sketching friends Alissa and Chris are booked to go to the symposium as well this year. We had a catch up at T2 teahouse - Alissa was sketching in between the non stop talk… but I was taking it easy and didn't sketch (first time ever I think) But our sketchbooks still had to have a group photo shoot as well.

If you don't know their work - you should!

Both are wonderful artists… but more important they are very special friends - it is such a privilege to have these two as my friends!  We have lots of fun sharing our sketching adventures, talking about improving our skills and all other kind of things - today we had lots of travel talk to go through. I can't tell you how excited I am at the prospect of having them share the symposium experience with me. Also, missing from this meeting is 'Eza' from Edinburgh(but she is an honorary Sydney sider!) who will also be part of the gang from Sydney.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Friday night baroque????

Friday night Baroque… hold on a minute, it is only Thursday night!

Yes… I am a little confused and in need of a bit of splashing paint around, a bit of scraping and a bit of scribbling with ink and water colour pencil. THis is a delightful building in Rome that I sketched when i was there in 2010. Yes, it is from a photo… but I am experimenting with new techniques and trying something out for a upcoming project.

It might be a little laboured but I have to say that there is a special element of FUN when I combine watercolour pencil and watercolour. For some reason the act of switching to and fro between paint and pencil rapidly during the process of the painting makes me feel like a little kid and I get somewhat excited!

This was pure relaxation for me... but of course now I am pumped and not relaxed ready to get some sleep! Oh dear! will I never learn?

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Manly Sketching Class- Week 3: Value

Week 3 - Value
We had another fun day today in Manly … with some very important concepts to get our head around. Achieving good values in your sketches is essential and training the eye to see colour as value and to make decisions on value when out on location is a lot of fun!!?! Isn't it!!!!

We started in the studio with some abstract exercises - reducing the scene before us into only 3 values- light, dark and mid tone and then secondly working with a 5 value scale. We also tried to make clear distinctions between whites - local colour - shade- cast shadow -blacks. Lots of brain stretching is needed to get a clear idea of these 5 distinct concepts - but it comes in so handy when painting in watercolour which we will see next week (in fact it is easier to understand with colour BUT it is important to be able to see colour as values first)

I was hoping desperately for a sunny day- but it was cold and grey. As we spent longer on the studio exercises today we only got out for a short period and sketched the subject building in lines. We then headed up for lunch at the Butchers Cafe (food was great!) and I explained how to do a value sketch of the building from my photo taken on a sunny day - showing how the workflow of preserving whites, looking at local colour, shade and then cast shadow works when out on location.

Here is my sketch of the building with my value study done with pitt brush pens. Having 4 pens - warm grey iii, iv, v and black - is perfect for doing 5 scale value studies. (you can use the cool grey versions instead…but I am a warm grey type of girl!)

Another fun day! ….thanks again to my totally amazing and dedicated class!!!!

next week COLOUR - I don't need to tell you all that I am really looking forward to that one!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Catching up pn my EdiM

Oops .. I have neglected my blog for a few to catch up (from today backwards)

Sorry - another paint theme EDiM. The last thing I bought was food but it is all eaten… so I had to go back to Friday's visit to the Artscene!

This sketch started out as a controlled ink and pitt pen grey tonal study of my empty pans… (yes my current paint tin has a combination of half and full pans) but then I just realised that I haven't scraped or splashed for a while… and I sure was in the mood for it! SO MUCH FUN! Particularly the scraping part…

I think I need to make sure that I remember to scrape more regularly!

some random notes (thanks to Jenn for the new 'credit card' - this was its first use!) and I also had a wonderful few hours with Helen from Melbourne and some really special botanical artists. Was talking to Beth about making sure that their was joy in her work- look at this piece of hers

EDiM 20 Your favourite Drink
Groan...another tea cup... but what I am supposed to do when the challenge for today is draw your favourite drink... I couldn't possibly draw anything else could i? So added some silly notes about what I was thinking about while I was drawing it. Actually this is quite a bit larger than my normal size in this sketchbook... every cuppa sketch is different!
EDiM 18 Palm of my right hand
EDiM 19 Something belonging to someone else
 Such a different thing to be doing commission work for others rather than such playing in my sketchbook… got to get in the mood and then START!
So just to warm up I quickly did today and tomorrows EDiM (I don't sketch on Sunday so need to get ahead) The blue fireplace detail in the background is part of what I am about to paint… ok here goes… sigh, deep breath, I can do it!
EdiM 17
my goal for the EDiM challenges this year is to try to make my subjects as relevant to my life at the moment as I can… ie. not draw random objects. So today's item form a first aid kit is some sport tape that is very much part of my life at the moment. It helps a lot! I get bored with drawing single objects (well unless it is a tea cup!) some a little bit of collage today as well!

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Why Blogging is an important part of my creative journey

There is a lot I could write on this subject… but this week I was reminded of this fact during my preparation for my sketching class - we were looking at lines and the interface between colour and line (ha! I can't just look at line without thinking about colour can I???). In going through my work I came across a series of sketches I did as part of a great online course with Cathy Johnson on watercolour pencils. I will copy the original images and text below and also include the links to the original flickr posts as the comments are interesting as well.

Three things about the content of these posts: (continue reading below to read the original posts)
- amazing to see that back in 2009 I was already experimenting with mixing watercolour and watercolour pencil
- taking away my inklines was not something that can happen immediately - I was pushing and trying it for a few years before they disappeared. I think part of this has to do with the confidence in colour
-  the impact that the line had on my colour is fascinating!

Three things about blogging and your creative journey:

- Firstly I must say that keeping a journal of my life has been an enormous help to the development of my art. The desire to record my life gives me a reason and incentive for sketching and also has an inherent narrative nature which helps in the mind set of 'process rather than product'. Each single sketch is part of a story and is therefore valuable whatever the 'success' of the work is at the time. AND I see blogging as an extension of it. An opportunity for me to record just a little bit more of that journey (ok- some days I write a little bit more than a little bit!) I see the whole online posting process as the final part of my work of art, not as something extra that I have to find time for. I think my background as an architect and the daily discipline of finishing a drawing, scanning or pdfing it and then emailing to the client with description/questions explains a lot of my efficiencies in blogging. It is a discipline that is ingrained in me.

- Blogging about the process of the sketch is incredibly useful - once again it helps to reinforce the creative journey aspect of the work - it also helps with the learning side and discipline of self critique. Not stressing about 'success or failure' (how do you know at the time which is which???) but trying to take away something from the experience for next time. Coming back on these posts is then a really rewarding experience.

- I primarily blog for myself- in the sense that I am recording my thoughts experiences of that moment…just like a diary. In one sense I don't care if no one sees it or comments because it is there for me to re-visit and it is part of my process (are you sick of me mentioning this?) BUT of course the fact that I am sharing this with others, that so many of you comment and follow and are return 'hits' has been an incredible motivation for me and encouragement.

SO here is another opportunity to say THANKS for coming along and sharing my journey with me.

And here are the original posts from 2009

Ok - these are just really quick sketches which I didn't focus on greatly(I am exhausted tonight!)... to get the feel for sketching in pencil  - something I never do unless I am using my chunky architect 5.6mm lead clutch pencil(which I used to use quite a bit...mmm need to try it again)

I found the pencil(HB) a bit fuzzy to use but much preferred the sketch before I added the WC pencil. I think I need to go back for a bit more definition and that I should have used a softer pencil! Ha! using something different is so much fun?!

The ink version I did in a very lazy mood (made a mess of the I said ...lazy!) but without realising  it, I  was bolder with the colour for the first stroke - the crispness and strong ink lines frees my use of colour- no doubt about it.

Now I want to try a thick pencil one and a watercolour version with some WC for texture - but maybe tomorrow night (I have had it tonight - as you can tell from my rambling notes!)
Ah! SO NICE to get my chunky pencil out again! I have had this pencil since my 3rd year architectural students when it was the absolutely coolest instrument to do preliminary design sketches with. (not that I was the coolest student but I had the pencil that only a few elite had!)

I have been telling myself for the past year or so that I am a real ink person and don’t like pencil ... But a review of my travel sketches from 2007 (see links below) has reminded me that I have used this thick pencil for real quick sketches for many years – some of my favourite sketches in past years have been quick ones done with this pencil. When travelling in 2007 I used it when I only had under 5 minutes to sketch (because at the time I didn't have the confidence to do ink sketches without pencil setups)

So really enjoyed this one – though I simplified the portico and missed two columns as there was no way that I would be able to fit them in.(shameful!?) Also, I really felt like splashing paint on this and not using WC pencil... So I suppose I have another version to do tomorrow night!
I thought I might get sick of sketching the same scene four times but I didn’t one bit! Maybe because it was a fairly easy form but probably because I left the one I expected to enjoy the most to last!!!

My previous use of WC pencils used to be to hide a bad watercolour job... So this is one of the first times I have used it with purpose. I can see that the pencils could be extremely useful to create texture that I don’t want to do in ink. Also they are great for adding life into shadows!

A few quotes on the side for those that are interested.... Last time I went to Venice I spent three months researched and created my own architectural guide by supplementing a very basic architectural guide I bought with a whole lots of extra notes I collected during my research – so it was a real treat for me tonight to pick this one book up and read three different opinions of this building.

Another aside – I like listening to music related to the place I am visiting, reading about, sketching so I have been listening to Vivaldi tonight at the same time and just realised that the piccolo concerto is on at the moment.

Also I made a typo in that quote - it should read"I have seen churches without domes before, but I’ve never, until now, seen a dome without a church."

Friday, May 17, 2013

Updated basic palette

I made a slight change further to my post the other week on a basic palette of 12 colours...

And if you missed it- the actual palette I am using at the moment is slightly different - refer here

slightly modified from the other day- out goes the Winsor Blue Red and in comes CTL!!! I love that colour. Also Sepia has been replaced by Burnt Umber so all single pigments.

I normally use a few more colours in my everyday palette so it is hard to trim down to 12 and I still feel that it might need more refinement. I am thinking of whether it is possible to replace pyrrol red (which is the only really scary heavily pigmented colour in the mix) with transparent orange (a pigment I absolutely love....either Schmincke or DS Trans Pyrrol Orange which I only discovered this week) everything in my art I like to evolve and refine. All still the same principles but slightly adjusting over time.

 The change to the blue came about after this little exploration  trying to match the amazing blue sky colour that we get in Sydney.

The most glorious autumn weather imaginable in the last month... SO warm and sunny. This photo has of course darken the colour of the sky - so hard to show you how much of a match it is. Our sky is still a little warmer than my mixes.

I made an interesting discovery today....looking up for some pigment information randomly came across a statement claiming that you can match a pthalo blue by mixing cobalt turq light and a french ultramarine. Now I have winsor blue (red) shade in my palette for two reasons - it makes a good(well good-ish!) match for our blue skies (this is the top splash of colour) and also makes some nice bright greens when mixed with quin gold. The middle splash of colour is W&N Cerulean Blue - it is just not the right shade for our intense blue sky on a day like today.
The bottom mix is French Ultramarine with CTL and it is indeed a close match for the top one but with much nicer as you have pigment interaction and granulation (this is just a 105 gsm cartridge paper not serous watercolour)
I am excited as I have no found a way to get CTL into my basic palette... I just simply ADORE that colour. You have to have a few 'I just had to have it in there' colours in your palette - friends that just make you smile!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Every Day In May

A little late…but I am IN! Everyday in May starts today for me! (it is funny because on previous years I normally have to give it up around day 15...this year I am starting at 15)

EDiM15 Draw a pencil … well maybe I got carried away.
I am doing what I told my class yesterday they had to do - work out how their watercolour pencils come out dry and wet and mixed.
On the left is my old standard collection which is what I recommend for my classes…but funny enough I lately have developed a very odd collection of different pencils - the only two being the same is the burnt sienna and ultramarine (funny that hey?)
I am REALLY tired but somehow doing this loose sketch was a great way to wind down and give me a little thinking time.

Ah! feels good to be part of the EDiM group again… can't promise every day but see how I go!
Thanks again to Wendy Shortland for organising again this year!

EDiM 16 Something that scares me…. how can tubes of watercolour paint SCARE me!?! is the number of them that I have- and all the ones I still want to try.

Some are because I am trying to refine my palette and make the best selections - the colours that will mix the most number of different colours and that work well with lots of water, that never go muddy etc.

Others are because I just love colour and want to try something new. In recent weeks I have been introduced to more "must try' paints in the Daniel Smith range… I don't need to… but well I would like to!

I can assure you one thing… if a paint makes its way into a half pan and then into my rectangular palette (which holds up to 30 pans- mixture or half and full) that is sitting on my drawing board in my studio…it will be used!! I have really been mixing up the paints I use lately (and noting which colure I use in my sketchbook) But apart from the tube of moon glow I bought the other week - splurging on new watercolour paints is just not something that I will be doing at the moment. Trying Daniel Smith dot cards…on the other hand….

Just for the record this pile, in fact, is the current selection that am  I these actual tubes don't scare me on bit- they are like old friends!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Manly Sketching Week 2

Another fun day with my class sketching in Manly. We had the MOST glorious May day today and ended up down at the beach sketching. Hard to believe that the supposed start of winter is only a few weeks away! I am wishing that all my readers can have a day like we had!! Maybe you have to come and visit us in Sydney to get a dose of Sydney sun and blue skies!

Today we looked at lines - how to use them to define edges. Hard vs soft edges … what is the best way to define these. How much line work do we need for soft edges ( how does pencil compare with ink) and how much can we do with colour later? We also looked at texture and pattern and how to make sure we don't get to distracted by these till after we have defined the important edges. There is so much that we could say about line… but hopefully we all have some new things to think about after today!
Next week …tone!

Once again I am so impressed with the work, enthusiasm and dedication of the people in my class - and we all sure enjoyed our lunch!  It is such a joy to spend Wednesday morning with you!!!
Casual spots are available on a weekly basis.

How my lines have changed???

I am really loving all the preparation for my sketching class in Manly… in particular I have been going through my work and seeing threads and developments and evolving ideas and techniques (sometimes recurring themes I was not aware of). Today we will be  looking at lines.

What often strikes me now when I look through my first sketchbook (started in Jan 2007) is not so much the baby steps in watercolour but how my linework has  changed.
When I started I worked small and neat - totally reliant on pencil setups OR I was very sketching building up the volumes with multiple lines. I was heavily reliant on my architectural drawing skills - either the 'neat presentation' approach or the 'design sketching'.
 The sketch on the right is from 2 years ago… at the end of a 3 week trip when my hand and eye coordination was really in sync - I looked at the building and my hand just recorded it (there is one of those quick gesture like setups in red lines but in essence when I used my pen I was looking at the object and not tracing the red lines!) I was also highly distracted by double decker buses that kept blocking my view…but that only added to the fun and joy I experienced when sketching out on location.
The 2007 sketches were still enjoyable at the time but not in the same way - there is something about sketching out on the streets that gets me excited!

oh! I am rambling… but thought you might be interested in seeing some sketches that have never been scanned.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

More BCN sketches...

Here are my two pages from the last two days. I have been very busy but had started each day with a warmup of a BCN building and testing a few different paints (such as Daniel Smith Moonglow!)

I much prefer to be sketching something that is directly related to what I am doing that day so finding this a little boring after 2 days in a row! It would be a different if I was actually reading about these buildings and then responding to the urge to sketch them…but not got an spare time for reading at the moment. And I am worrying that I am drawing too much of the city in preparation… I don't seriously think that this will spoil the fun…but still there is a limit.
While pondering this problem I suddenly realised that I should look at the Every Day in May list - I thought I was too busy to commit to it…but if I am looking for something to sketch at the start of my working day it would be perfect.

Lets see how long that idea lasts… before I get the next one. (full of ideas and projects I know!!!)

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Thinking about dresses and pigments

Of course I can't have a sewing day (or a few sewing hours) without doing a sewing sketch - can I? Once again I am leaving it to the weather gets cooler before I start sewing. Last years dresses that I made for Santo Domingo were not very successful - I have definitely refined the model. The navy polka dot dress I hurriedly made for SG at Xmas time is close to the ultimate sketching outfit but unhappy with the make… so today I started another one. Of course once I get the sewing machine working (and the overlocker/serger threaded- this is the big issue) I start making big plans and exploring options. 'Need' another travel skirt(with secret pocket) as well. The big question is whether my purple dress will make it to a 4th symposium in a row!!!

And while I am seeming to be obsessed with pigments… on Thursday a lovely little package arrived from Georgia Mansur (australian artist) whose Daniel Smith palette has just been released. So of course I asked for a dot card didn't I? - it came with some extra goodies as well. THere are a lot of amazing paints in the Daniel Smith range… including some of these! AND I naughtily bought a tube of Moonglow in honour of my friend Charlene the other week - so when Georgia suggested that she wish it was in her palette, I decided it was time to confess about that extravagant purchase! I really am aiming to only buy things that I normally use!

Looking at a gaudi creation

More BCN warmup - finally I tackle a Gaudi. I am doing this little series in the hope that it might help some people going to BCN who might be a little overwhelmed by the architecture - actually I think we will ALL be overwhelmed by it. But maybe working out my approach will be useful for others. it is also getting me in the mood.

When I came across a photo of this structure I immediately wanted to sketch it but it was a very complicated structure and covered in mosaics- so I just spent time looking first. The important thing that I was looking for was the underlying structure - ie. I was trying to ignore the tiles and look at the 3D form. Once I could see this, I then started looking at the mosaics and worked out where the full rectangular tiles and where the broken tiles  (trencadis) are. It was all very logical and geometric as the rectangular tiles followed the edges of the structure.  Totally easy to draw now - right? Well, maybe not easy but a lot more manageable and I was happy because I now UNDERSTAND it! The resultant sketch is less important to me as I am now satisfied with my discovery.

So, this was no different from any building that I attempt to draw - I study the overall 3D form/ structure first and then look at the decoration. What will be challenging in BCN is the fact that the decoration which we can often see up close and feel can easily distract us when we try to sketch at a larger scale. The best thing might be to do 2 sketches - the overall and then the detail. Try not to get distracted or overwhelmed by the detail when drawing the overall - so my explorations are trying to find ways at hinting at the richness of the decoration. Today I used a small flat brush. I am also thinking about water colour pencils…. but whatever approach I use, I assure you that I will not have the patience to draw every tile and brick like some other USKers do.

Earlier in the Day....
Having a BCN day - a morning reading out in the sun...and I am just about to start some sewing (once again I leave it till autumn/winter and a period when I was very busy to sew my summer dresses)
BTW this atlas looks a very good overview of history and architecture and the Gaudi biography (which I bought 10 years ago and never got into at the time) it a great read.

A night of colour mixing

On Tuesday night I went to the monthly meeting of the Ku-ring-gai art society. I didn't actually know who was speaking …. so you can imagine my surprise and delight to find out that it was all about colour mixing
.Jane Blundell is a wonderful artist …and one who REALLY knows her pigments! Her colour books (and she has many) are beautiful and extensive explorations of pigments and how they mix. They are like an illustrated guide to the site - I would love to sit down in a comfy chair and just read them cover to cover!

As you know I love colour and exploring various watercolour pigments and learning how they react. I am also starting to get to know all the various important pigments - while I can't rattle them off (I am hopeless at remembering numbers) I certainly knew most of what Jane was talking about - and to my shame, had actually tried nearly all the pigments/ convenience mixes that she mention during the talk!(two that she mentioned that I haven't tried were DS Raw Umber Violet, which Anita Daves recommended to me last week!, and Imperial Purple - you know I was looking for a good purple) Also I totally agreed with her approach to a lot of things and it was exciting to see my favourite colour Daniel Smith Quin Burnt Orange on the list of 16 ultimate mixing colours! (I knew I was in for a good night when I saw that!) Not that many Australians know about Daniel Smith paints - so great to have an evening of it and to met someone that has tested nearly every one! Wow!

My mind is in a buzz wanting to try a few things out as a result of the evening…
- BRILLIANT idea of mixing up your favourite mixes as a colour on your palette - of course the Burnt Sienna/ Ultramarine mix is the classic to try doing this - but also what about a mixed purple
-  I have been using raw sienna over yellow ochre. Jane suggested that yellow ochre is better as it makes good greens. I have started to think about this - I have raw sienna in my palette because it mixes a good soft grey, and quin gold for my greens. Want to test this further
- Raw Umber "very useful' - not a colour that I have ever had in my palette
-I use Burnt Quin Orange (or transparent red oxide) instead of Burnt Sienna. W&N BS is PR101 and rather transparent. I really struggled to use DS Burnt Sienna when I got it as it is the more opaque PBr7. I want to revisit using PBr7 and I just might be missing out on something special by trying to use as transparent as possible.
- Want to try DS Cerulean again….

Ok.. I think I have raved on enough …
thanks Jane for a great presentation!

Friday, May 10, 2013

More BCN warmup and trying out a dagger!

my very very quick BCN warmup sketch from Tuesday morning...
This building is near the top of my BCN hit list. I know yesterday I decided not to sketch those on my must see list...but I weakened this morning. There is a LOT of detail that I simply omitted in this sketch - just trying to get the overall form. It has started me thinking about how I want to get a better feel for the decoration... thinking of watercolour pencils for the decoration and textures - I want to express its richness but not get bogged down in the drawing it all with ink(which could get too heavy!) Maybe tomorrow (or the day after) it will be time to look at a Gaudi building (BTW I started reading a biography of him at the moment)

BTW2 that 'sticky' ink from Monday and applying fixative over the top is the first instance of anything coming through the page of an alpha page.

Trying out a dagger (brush) . Malcolm Carver very kindly gave me a small dagger brush on Tuesday night (I was at an amazing talk on mixing colour- will post about soon I hope) and so this morning for my 'BCN warmup' I wanted to have a go. It is a lot of fun...I was working at my normal speed and forgetting that I wasn't using my usual round brush. so got some 'mistake' strokes. Lots of fun (oops I have already said that!)
As I was flicking through my BCN books this morning, I had lots of interesting thoughts about how to simplify those crazy buildings but I just wasn't in the mood to tackle one today. So instead I opted for something simpler so I could test my brush. LOVE this space (from the photos) and cant wait to experience it IRL. I don't think that we went there when I was in BCN 10 years ago - I am sure I would have remembered it and taken a photo or 2 or 10!

In print again!

This time the last page of the April/May edition of a travel magazine DestinAsian. Amazingly there is a great looking article on food in Barcelona in this edition... I am going to sit down and read that now!
This is one of numerous sketches I did on my last morning in NYC last July in a made out of control non stop sketching session.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Manly Sketching Class - Week 1: Learning to See

Well, we all had a lot of fun at our first Manly Urban Sketching class this morning!!!
We had a lot to get through in addition to the exercises for the day -  introductions, talking about materials and class goals (1. loving the process, 2. loving your materials 3. Not only accepting but rejoicing in your own mark making and who you are). But somehow we managed even if we were a little late starting our lunch.

I want the classes to start with foundational drawing skills and translate these into exercises that can be used on location. Today we looked at "Learning to See" and how to record what you see on the page. Seeing shapes vs seeing volumes, drawing contour lines vs measuring/ sighting.

I shared the secret of my red lines. Doing red 'construction' lines as a quick initial setup is something I have done since July 2010 (don't use it as much these days) and although it is a very quirky personal trait, there are some very important reasons why I have found it so effective for my sketching. So we did an number of exercises both in the studio and outside (at Manly Wharf) exploring how simple setups can be used in the drawing process, and when to measure vs when to draw blind contours. Using the red lines helped us analyse and understand the process.

When we went outside, we used a combination of techniques and also made sure that we had a clear focus so that we didn't get distracted by all the details in front of us. These are not completed or 'pretty' drawings but we could really see the process of our work. We were not looking at the finished image but the workings…and I found this VERY exciting and stimulating! What really blew me away is that each person had had a different experience and had made different adjustments along the way - eg. one person adjusted the setup very early on, while someone else corrected a mistake when doing the ink 'on the fly' later in the process.

It is this spontaneous discovery and the process of recording it in an exploratory way through sketching that is the thing I love so much and being able to share this with the class was such a buzz today. I loved hearing all their ideas for ways that they could modify the exercise to other sketches of their own during the week!!!

Can't wait for next week - we will be looking at lines…and we all know how much I LOVE LINES!
Also looking forward to a few more joining the class who were unable to make it today!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Catching up from last week

Been so busy lately that I haven't had time to post these...

I am working on a commission for a beautiful building in the UK with very fancy interiors. As I am working from photos I am trying to find ways to connect as much as possible with the place. Even though you don't really see the details of the mouldings and balustrades in the final sketch I studied the detail CAD drawings and drew the details so I got to know them as well as I could.

And my wonderful wonderful father... made me a unique light box out of bits and pieces in his shed. Due to my neck issues I wanted it to be  sloped  - this angled allowed for the largest light fitting to fit in the back. We are also thinking about tubes down the side- but this works perfectly.

I do still do my 'text pages' but rarely post them. This was just a loose floral sketch done later.

Loosening my hand before doing a 'neat' A3 size painting. Although some of you might groan at the sameness of my subject matter - it IS good to have a something that you can use for this type of warm up... and I am experimenting and doing it differently every time!
 Another inkless tea sketch. BTW I really like the shadow in the cup (this has something to do with my desire to have a violet in my palette)

Love this building in Manly... trying to think of a way I can get the class to sketch it! Perspective 101? perhaps not!

I seriously had no idea of the time....

Monday, May 6, 2013

My actual palette (currently as of right now)

After that long wordy post about my basic palette...  in fact I carry around more colours. this is my current (as of today!) palette. BTW it has taken me over a week to get around to adding the paint to this page(that is how busy I have been lately!)

Suddenly I feel the urge to have a purple/violet in my palette. Haven't had one in there for years and years...but just in the mood for something different. Any suggestions?

BTW although this sketchbook is numbered 61- I have about 40 other sketchbooks from trips, colour book, special projects etc. I think I hit the hundred mark sometime this year. Rather exciting!