Saturday, March 30, 2019

View from 14 Henrietta Street

I was lucky that the person I was meeting was 5 minutes late, so I had a chance to sketch the view from this window and take a quick pic too. I finished the drawing at home (the flats in the foreground) and added loose watercolour. What a glorious city Dublin is!
Still in Ulysses mode, and the quote jumped out at me: "They see the roofs and argue about where the different churches are."

Friday, March 29, 2019

Rocks - work in progress

I decided to zoom in on the rocks and drop the bridge altogether.
So I started with a thumbnail and a small version in a watercolour sketchbook, which I'm rather pleased with. Will I sustain the momentum and create the same energy in a larger version?

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Life Drawing - Lexy and Cindy

I enjoy having two models to work with (Or even three!!). It keeps me on my toes!! And having a new model is always a challenge. I remember when I drew Lexy first, I really struggled with her long limbs and how tall she is. This time, Cindy was the new model. And she's tall too, but very different from Lexy. So every time is a new learning opportunity for me.

My favourites are always the drawings I do at the end of the evening, generally with a Fude pen and watercolour in my Stillman & Birn sketchbook.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Bridge over troubled water

This is a view that's been on my mind for a while, but I've never got to the point where I actually try to paint it! A few years ago, we walked the Gap of Dunloe, on a hot summer's day. At every turn of the road, the view changed. It was really exciting. I did a little bit of sketching. And I took a lot of photos. But as is often the case with sunny skies in the middle of the day, a lot of my photographs were not good subjects for painting.
Anyways, I keep coming back to this photo of an old bridge over a stream which is more rocks than water.
So, let's start with thumbnails and colours!
I quite like this continuous line drawing. Maybe that's what I need to do, rather than a watercolour?

Lots of thinking and a few good ideas, but I often forget to apply these when I start painting! Like connecting all the darks, and looking for dominance in shape, colour and value!

Loose painting inspiration

I must try and copy this painting. I think there is a lot for me to learn here!

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

sketching while waiting

You can't always sketch the people across from you. For these occasions, Sktchy is the best way to while away the time!

Rajio Taiso

I must try this in the mornings! I believe this is done in a lot of companies around Japan at the start of every workday.

Monday, March 25, 2019

Watercolour pencil

I'm becoming addicted to watercolour pencils. The colour names don't match what I'm used to in watercolours. For instance, the ultramarine is completely different from a watercolour ultramarine. Now I just need to decide which colours to bring with me in my sketching bag!


Can't believe this was last summer. Just forgot to post. I've done a lot of sketching since!

Three days in Toulouse. Beautiful city. Lovely hotel. Good food. Good wine. The best travel companion. And I managed to sketch a good bit too. The lesson I learned is that there is little point in carrying a watercolour set, unless I'm travelling with fellow sketchers. Best to carry a small sketchbook, a pen and a few pencils.

Sunday, March 24, 2019

Sunflower field

This is just what I needed. Something crazy and loose to remind me what watercolour painting is all about (for me anyway).

I started with two quick sketches, based on a photo I took a while back on a short trip to the South West of France, just at the time when sunflowers were at their best. What a glorious sight it was! (and as you can see, I haven't completely set aside the idea of green trees!!)

I then did a quick painting in a small watercolour sketchbook, just for the fun of it, and I used watercolour pencils to add a little bit of texture.

I explored calligraphic marks too.

And then I painted quickly and loosely and with rich pigments on a really heavy and rough paper (Two Rivers I think). Colours are Cobalt Blue, Moonglow, Pyrrole Red, Aureolin Yellow, Permanent Rose (PV19), a dash of Potters Pink and two dots of Cobalt Teal (PG50). All paints Daniel Smith (except Potters Pink), which is now available in Evans in Dublin. This is so exciting, to know I can get the paints I need without having to order them from the UK!!

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Light tree

Sometimes when a painting doesn't work out, it gets to me. Sometimes it just spurs me to push it further. I moved to different paper (425gsm vs 300gsm). I read part of an article about colour shifting. It's a long article, but definitely worth the read. I now think that my main problem is Helio Turquoise, which I had used in all my previous attempts. A gorgeous, tempting colour when you apply it, Helio Turquoise. But I can't put up with that amount of shifting. It might be fine in sketchbooks in small amounts, but I can't depend on it for a larger piece.

So, here is my final attempt. Still doesn't match what I have in my head (although that's quite vague, I have to admit!). The colours have worked out better, but I want a stronger balance between soft edges and hard edges. This is mostly hard edges, and if I wanted that, I might as well paint with a crayon!

Time to move on!

Light tree against dark background

After all these attempts, I think I would be better off trying a dark tree against a light background!!

I tried and I tried.

Too wet-on-dry. Blocky and dull.
Too wet-on-wet. And the colours shifted too much when the paint dried. 
Another one that didn't work out. Unsightly bloom just in the wrong place. Still not what I had in mind. Time to take a deep breath.

Friday, March 22, 2019

Trees - exploring colours and composition

Exploring composition and colours in my sketchbook again. The subject this time is from a photo I took during our hot dry summer. I'm writing this as the wind is picking up outside and I can hear the rain falling. But I remember that day so well, and the strong contrast between light and shade, and that little yellow tree that stood out in front of the big dark trees all around it.

Again, I'm inspired by Anne-Laure Jacquart (Following the White Rabbit on YouTube), and her tips on greens!

In particular, I was reminded to use a warm yellow like Quinacridone gold (I got rid of Mayan yellow in my palette - it lacked punch for me), and most of all, to use Perylene Green for my darks.

Here are thumbnails and colour swatches. What I'm realising in retrospect is that the paper in this book that I use for trying out ideas behaves very differently from watercolour paper. It's a Strathmore sketchbook I think, and the paint always seems brighter on it than on watercolour paper.

And a few small paintings to try out different ideas. Some worked out. Most didn't!

Blobs of paint. Ugly.

At this point, I decided to change the composition, placing the little tree in a much more prominent position. I like how this worked out, so I decided to move to my normal size watercolour paper (about A4) after that

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Life drawing - Nabilla

An unusual name, Nabilla. She said she was from Spain, and that her name is of Arab origin. This was a taught class, where you get a little bit more time to measure and try and get things right. And it makes me realise I still have so much to learn. But I do like to alternate between taught and untaught, as the untaught sessions give me an opportunity to explore different media. But they also remind me that I need to constantly apply what I've learned and measure measure measure!

In the second half of the class, we got to play with costumes - where we discovered how much heels and clothes change the human form. That was definitely my favourite bit, despite the fact that I had brought minimum supplies and couldn't render some of the effects I wanted, like the shimmering 1920s tassel dress!

Most drawings 5 or 10 minutes (time at the bottom of the drawings; the number at the top of the drawings is a vertical measurement of how many heads to the full length of the body)

Trying to use shading more, rather than line, to indicate shoulders and spine

Amazing what high heels do to the body - legs look longer, the behind is lifted, the pelvis tilted. It was very interesting to draw the model without the heels first, and then exactly the same pose with high heels.

For this pose, we drew the model nude first, then she added shorts, a see-through skirt and a soft draped top. I first added these to my first drawing in a different colour, then I drew her again. 
This outfit looked more interesting in reality, but I only had a few pencils with me. The high socks were bright red orange. I suppose I could go back over this one with an orange pencil! 

This was the golden tassel dress, but I didn't have any gold pencil with me. So I used a brush pen to try and render the texture.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Tea bag

Inspired by a video from Anne-Laure Jacquart, I tried to paint a tea bag using negative space. It doesn't look quite as good as the video demonstration, but that's why she is the teacher with the YouTube channel!!

One of the things I noticed afterwards was the tiny little bit of white that she leaves at the top of the teabag and at the top of the tea inside the teabag. That makes a huge difference. And also she seems to be able to paint the space around the plate without thinking about it, whereas I struggled with the shape of it from the start. But a very useful exercise!

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

View from KC Peaches

I'd already done the big sweeping view of Dame street on my recce visit to KC Peaches, so I picked a different viewpoint. There were a good few sketchers who turned up, and I think everyone enjoyed the afternoon, particularly when the rain turned heavy and we were nice and cosy.
And if you like brownies, my personal favourite is KC Peaches' gluten-free version!

I had never paid much attention to that building on the corner of Dame Street and Great South George's Street, but it grabbed me, after I was finished painting my cup of tea (chamomille) and my chocolate brownie, that is.

I was intrigued by the B carving at the top of the building - there was a sign on the right that said 'Burton' - I gathered it used to be a department store or something like that. It is a beautiful art deco building, and the renovation on the ground floor works well with the overall look of the façade. Click on this link to see how it looked a few years ago. I remember a Philips store there many moons ago, where we bought a photostream device that was all the rage at the time. I used to spend hours every few months copying photos over to the SD card and reducing them to the right format so that I could maximise the number of photos it could display. I kind of miss it - not the time spent, but the scrolling of photos, bringing back memories of holidays and loved ones. I probably have more photos on my phone than I ever had on that device, but it's often multiple versions of the same shot, and I rarely look at them anyway!

And I found a mention of chocolate in Ulysses that fitted the mood!

'BLOOM: (Takes the chocolate.) Aphrodisiac? Tansy and pennyroyal. But I bought it. Vanilla calms or? Mnemo. Confused light confuses memory. Red influences lupus. Colours affect women’s characters, any they have. This black makes me sad. Eat and be merry for tomorrow. (He eats.) Influence taste too, mauve. But it is so long since I. '

Monday, March 18, 2019

St Patrick's Day parade and festival

I managed to make it to town to see the St Patrick's Day parade this year. It's been a long time! I had a good spot towards the end of the parade route, but once it started, it all happened so quickly that I think some of my scribbles won't mean much to anyone else but me!! After the parade, I went to Merrion Square to sketch the performances that were entertaining young and old!
And the rain stayed off!