Saturday, August 31, 2019

My minimum sketching kit

Another assignment for #SketchingNowOnLocation. This is something I don't normally enjoy, but it was sunny on Saturday and I sat outside for a bit and drew everything carefully, then added colour, then shadows. Not exactly to scale, but close enough!

The Lamy Joy is a relatively new addition. But the Sailor Fude (55 degrees bent nib) has been my favourite pen for at least a year.

And here are the colours I use (which you'll find in the next sketch). I use mostly Daniel Smith and Schmincke tube colours, but also some Sennelier. I buy empty pans and half pans and I stick them in an old empty metal palette. There are a few in this set I haven't used recently (Piemontite Genuine, Goethite, and Perylene Maroon), but then again, I could be painting red brick buildings tomorrow and I'd be glad I have them in my set. But maybe I need room for some stronger colours, like Permanent Alizarin Crimson and Indigo? Difficult decisions, but what really matters is that I can mix a good variety of lights, darks, transparents, opaques and granulating colours, and this choice of colours definitely does that!!

Friday, August 30, 2019

Life Drawing - Kevin

Another good session at Life Drawing with Dublin Drawing, with Kevin modelling. Plus the fake (but realistically-heavy) baby for the last pose. I worked all evening with the ArtGraf tailor shapes, except for the last drawing, with the baby, where I switched to Sennelier watercolours (using just two colours from their mini palette). Limiting my tools has certainly helped me focus more on shapes, proportions and shading.

Café sketching, and trying to add people

Quick café sketching with a fellow-artist. You can see I wasn't really concentrating here! But it was fun!

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Hot Chocolate and teapot

I'm getting back into a normal rhythm after a wonderful summer. The hardest part is to keep on sketching. So I grab every chance I get. Even if it's only to go to our local café, HX46,  and paint what's in front of me - and yes, I did ask the manager if she could give me one of the pretty teapots to paint, although I was having a hot chocolate. I had also asked for salt and pepper, but all they had was plastic grinders that didn't look that great, so I didn't sketch these. I think the manager was relieved to see that I didn't add pepper to my hot chocolate!!

This was an assignment for #SketchingNowOnLocation, trying to use lots of different watercolour techniques in the one little sketch. Next time I draw a glass or water bottle, I will try to paint a lot more watery than I did here. I was happy with the teapot and hot chocolate, cup and saucer, though.

Plus I did it all in direct watercolour - no drawing beforehand. I really had to think about the shapes and how to keep the whites and how to overlap the objects. I started with the hot chocolate itself, which means I could start drinking it before it got cold!

Article in Dublin InQuirer

Lovely little article about Dublin Sketchers in the Dublin InQuirer: click on this link. And yes, I was wearing a fleece and a raincoat in August. Plus holding my umbrella while sketching!

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Mount Jerome

August is no longer summer when you're in Ireland. Expect frequent showers, wind, and cooler temperatures. I was dressed appropriately on Sunday, but when the showers became prolonged and vicious, even my little umbrella wasn't enough to protect my sketchbook. Have you ever tried gathering your paints, closing your water bottle, packing a backpack, folding your camping stool and getting up while holding your umbrella over your A4 landscape sketchbook? It wasn't pretty is all I'll say! But you know what, the drops of rain on the pages didn't ruin my efforts. It's just that I would have like to fit in another sketch in the time I had, but I had to abandon that idea and take shelter in the pub instead. Ah well.

I have no excuses for this one. The lady on the left was happy enough with how I sketched her. The one on the right, not so much! I can't blame her!

Can you see the effect of the drops of rain on the watercolour?

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

5-minute sketch

Sometimes, all I have is 5 minutes in a day. And that's OK.

Here are a few samples of what I sketch when there is time for nothing else:

From photos:

Or from direct observation:

Monday, August 26, 2019

Life Drawing - Jennifer

Really enjoyed the evening of life drawing - Jennifer was the model, and she takes her job really seriously. I always love drawing her. This time, I brought my Viarco ArtGraf Tailor Shapes - I used an ochre and a sanguine, trying out different ways of using them as the class went on. Initially, I tried to draw with the side of the shape, and then add water to dilute the pigment. That worked out ok for the shorter (1-minute) poses. But then I diluted the pigment with plenty of water, applied with a brush and then tried to darken the shadow areas with less diluted pigment, still using a brush. In the end, I used very diluted pigment to draw and paint, adding an extra layer for shadows, and then drawing directly with the shape to tighten the overall figure. I don't have them in chronological order, so you'll have to guess which is which! 

I really think I have found my tool of choice for life drawing. I don't particularly like charcoal, as it makes me too hesitant, knowing that I can erase and fix things actually is a hindrance for me. I love watercolours, but there isn't enough time in a 5- or 10-minute pose to glaze layers. One factor I'll have to assess in future is the ambient temperature - it was a warm night and maybe that's why the colour dried quickly on the page. I'll try it on a cooler evening this week. But assuming it all goes well, the ArtGraf tailor shape is very much the all-in-one tool for me. 

Saturday, August 24, 2019

Evening light

I don't normally do commissions, but a very good friend asked me, and the scene she had in mind was so gorgeous that I had to paint it! I hope she likes it!

Friday, August 23, 2019

Street scene

I haven't settled into a rhythm yet since I came home. So I'm jumping from watercolour to line drawings. Jack of all trades, master of none. But it's all part of the journey!

Thursday, August 22, 2019

What title to give this one?

Lots of ideas, but finding it hard to finish anything. Funny, I've looked through all my photos of Amsterdam, but I'm not really tempted to paint from any of them. I should have looked through Deb's photos - she takes photos with a strong composition in mind and they make perfect starting points for painting projects. I copied a few of her photos from the Beara Peninsula, and she captured the light beautifully, so I will definitely use some of these to paint.

This one I'm working on is a good example. Deb took a photo of the farm shed beside our AirBnB, and what attracted her was the beautiful shadow play on the the white wall, which I hadn't even noticed.

Rather than plunging right in, I'm trying to decide on a composition and colour scheme. Colours are easy, I think. But what I really need to do is decide on a title first, which will help me with what to highlight and what to subdue. This is a good idea Deb told me about - it might have been something an instructor said at a workshop, but I really can't remember! Basically, by giving your piece a title before you start painting, you will remember what the focus should be, rather than try to paint everything everything.
My problem is that I can't decide what title to give it! What should it be?

  • Shadow on the barn
  • Lavender sky
  • Country road
  • Distant mountains
  • Dark tree against white barn
What I should really do is paint all of these versions, as an exercise in choosing a focus. But paint the same scene 5 times is hard! Unless, maybe, I try to apply different techniques for each of them. e.g.:

  • Shadow on the barn - giving a sense of calm by using a few colours 
  • Lavender sky - increasing the drama by using strong colours
  • Country road - a sense of peace by limiting the value contrast, or increasing the distance by increasing the value contrast
  • Distant mountains - a sense of space using shape contrast (more intricate shapes closer to me, simpler shapes in the distance)
  • Dark tree against white barn - strong value contrast to bring the attention to that spot - darkest dark against lightest light.
I'd better clear my calendar, so.

More colour swatches

I did give away some of the goodies I got at the Urban Sketchers Symposium in Amsterdam - I just knew from last year in Porto that I wouldn't get to use everything. Although I have to say I am so envious of the workshop instructors, who got amazing goody bags!! Of course, they are influencers and that's why the sponsors love them! But I kept some for myself. And I also bought a few bits and pieces at the art market (I was much more restrained than in Porto, though).
So, in the couple of weeks that it takes me to get back into a normal routine, I've managed to fit in an hour here and there to play with my new paints! Mixing colours is so relaxing!

New favourite colours?
Aquarius Green and Aquarius Caput Mortuum, without a doubt! Such exciting colours!
And I also loved mixing the three QOR samples: Nickel Azo Yellow, Ultramarine Blue and Quinacridone Magenta.

Transparent Red Oxide sample from Daniel Smith

Pencils from various companies

Jane's Grey from Daniel Smith, Quin Magenta, Nickel Azo Yellow and Ultramarine from QOR, and a white gel pen

Aquarius colours

Caput Mortuum from Aquarius

And once I start, there's no stopping me!

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Sunset in Kerry

I painted two versions of the same view this weekend. I'm a bit tired tonight so I'm actually not 100% sure what colours I used, but I think it's mostly Quinacridone Magenta, Ultramarine, Nickel Azo Yellow, and some Green Apatite Genuine for the foreground. I might have used a touch of Cobalt Blue for the sky too. But really, I'm not sure. I should have written it down, as I quite like how the colours turned out, except for my clouds, which turned out heavier than I had planned. But it always takes a little while to get back into painting after a few weeks of sketching only!

They are both the same view, from a photo Deb took while I was driving I think! The sun was close to setting and the mountain range in the distance was stunning. I love our long evenings in the summer. It's late-August now and the light is fading, though.

I painted the two versions together, learning from one to the other, and letting layers dry in between.

So, I did the wash for the sky and the sea for this one first, but didn't wait long enough for the paint to dry before I did the clouds, so there's this very soft effect which dulled the band of sunshine behind the mountains. But then, after it was fully dry, I came back and added a delicate blue (probably a bit of Cobalt blue and a touch of Quin Magenta) and kept the clouds quite abstract. And for the foreground, which is the very last thing I did, I used a very calligraphic brush and kept my mixes very loose, which I like a lot. The mountains are a bit flat, though. But the water is a lovely silvery colour!

For this one, which I started second, I got a much brighter sunlight behind the mountains, and my mountains are more majestic.  I also got some nice colour mixes in the rocks to the left and the grasses at the front, which I pulled with an old credit card. But I painted my clouds too dark and muddy.  I should really paint a third version where I apply what I learned from these two. I've got lots of other ideas for paintings though, so it might have to wait.

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Paella at Drimnagh Castle

Every year, Pat organises a special afternoon for Dublin Sketchers at Drimnagh Castle - this time it was paella for all. I've sketched Drimnagh Castle before. It's a beautiful 12th century structure, with a moat, gardens and also a fabulous room with an open fire. Having been there before, I didn't feel the need to sketch the castle this time.

Instead, I focused on the meal preparation, with the action taking place at the barbecue - I missed the prepping and chopping! I wasn't in the mood for a complex sketch, so I did little thumbnails and a bigger one.

I still had a bit of time before the food was ready, so I went inside the castle, and tried to sketch one of the windows using the skills I had learned at Reham Ali's workshop in Amsterdam - well, it didn't turn out too good - and I got frustrated with it, which didn't help one bit, and I am useless with hatching so I don't even know why I tried. Must try again some time!

Urban Sketchers Symposium Amsterdam 2019

Just sharing this video of the Symposium in Amsterdam because it brings back good memories! And I make a cameo appearance in it too!

Monday, August 19, 2019


Another outing with Dublin Sketchers - just round the corner from us, so very handy for me!

Fortified by a delicious courgette and goat's cheese muffin, I set to work quickly and captured the sun and shadows over a colourful arrangement of pots. Knowing Airfield well was a big bonus for me, as I knew exactly what I wanted to sketch, without having to explore the full 30+ acres! This scene was near the entrance.

The grapevines have grown a lot since I last saw them - I didn't think to check if the grapes were doing well. I was more interested in the overall view, which reminded me of the STTNG finale, "All Good Things ...". This sketch would probably have benefited from a few pen lines to tie it together better, at least for the first row of vines. I could still do that I guess.

And then I went over to say hello to the donkeys - and sketch the lovely tree in their enclosure. To all small children's delight, the two donkeys peed and pooed, and it appears that they have a specific spot for these activities - you learn something new every day! I added watercolour to this one when I got home, using the three QOR colours that were in my goody bag from Amsterdam: Nickel Azo Yellow, Ultramarine Blue, and Quinacridone Magenta.

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Life Drawing - Anuta

After two weeks of constant sketching, I needed an evening of life drawing to settle me back into the normal routine. The model was Anuta. I chose to sit and draw with Polychromos pencils and paint in watercolour. I found it hard to settle, though, so it wasn't as satisfying as I had hoped it to be.

This one is my favourite of the evening - maybe one that worked out should be enough? This is a direct watercolour - no pencil, no pen. Hard to do when the watercolour isn't drying quick enough to paint another layer within the time allocated, which was 10 minutes!

I won't post all the others, just the ones that I'm not too unhappy with! But I did struggle with proportions all through the evening! You'd think that two weeks of constant sketching would have helped!