Friday, January 31, 2020

More faces

So, I've been very good with this January challenge. Actually, it was perfect for the month that's in it - you get a sense of having achieved something in a month that's often so busy you can't even get started on your goals for the year! Drawing a portrait every day was made easy by two things: the photo to work from is already chosen for you, so you don't have the "what will I paint?" syndrome; and then there is a video with a specific tip given to you by an experienced artist, so you don't have to worry about whether to use a pen, a pencil or watercolours, and how to tackle the task! And for me, there was the extra bonus that I don't normally do portraits, so my expectation of what I could achieve was low!

I also drew our bear Christmas decoration before its long hibernation in the attic!

Day 8 - creating lively blacks with a blue, a red and a green

Day 9 - an unfinished drawing - it got lopsided!

Day 10 - Negative space - that cat was too scary to draw!! and I applied a few things I learned from previous lessons, like leaving the drawing unfinished!

Day 12: don't be afraid of teeth. Where did day 11 go?

Day 11 - there it is - sculpting with white space - I was rushed, so I didn't draw the face, nor the ice-cream cone in the hand.

Day 13 - this is one of my favourites of the whole series

Day 15 - it seems I have lost day 14? It's in my sketchbook, but I'm stuck with Sumi in my lap, so I can't get up to photograph it! This one looks ok if you only look at the eyes!

Day 16 - Drawn with my left hand! With a charcoal pencil!

Day 17 - trying to get the rhythm of the lines!

Day 18 - fountain pen and a bit of Ecoline shading.

Thursday, January 30, 2020

Life Drawing - Felicity

I've started to bring my own easel to life drawing and it's given me a freedom that I didn't have before with the big studio easel. 
Felicity is a great model who's not afraid to hold difficult poses for long periods (even if she needs little breaks when it becomes too hard!!). The confidence and stamina of youth!
As always, some poses worked out better than others!

Monday, January 20, 2020

Merrion Square and National Gallery

I wasn't really in the humour for the National Gallery. I know it's winter, and it's time for indoor locations, and the National Gallery is beautiful, but the sun was shining, and I didn't want to spend all my time indoors sketching paintings, or just looking at paintings. Don't get me wrong, I like to go into art galleries and look at art. But when I'm sketching, I'm sketching. 

So I felt so lucky when I walked through Merrion Square and saw two guys practising their tightrope walking skills. They were happy to be sketched and they were very relaxed, chatting away as they practised their skills. The hardest bit seems to be actually getting on the rope - each had their own technique, but in both cases, it involves going from sitting on the rope to pushing yourself up using only the strength of your legs - hard on the knees and glutes I imagine. 

Once the sun had moved behind the row of Georgian houses, I decided to go into the gallery. There is a spot I know where you have a fantastic view of Lincoln place and Lincoln's Inn. I couldn't use watercolours, due to the proximity of paintings on the walls nearby, so I just drew with a very light pen, observing the proportions and relationships between the various elements. It didn't look like much. And I was a bit frustrated with it, I have to admit. But when I added colour and extra pen lines at home, I was happy with how the spread turned out. The windows on the right-hand page are from the buildings nearby.

At that point, I was ready to go outdoors again, and I just sat outside the gallery on Merry Square - the sky was interesting, as was the bare tree. I decided to only hint at the building itself. It was a quick sketch. Despite my little cushion, it was cold out there!

Time for meeting everyone in the Gingerman pub. They still had their Christmas decorations on. So I couldn't resist that. This is a few weeks back of course. I do expect they have taken the decorations down by now!

Saturday, January 18, 2020

The Vaults

Well, I've decided to dedicate this sketchbook to Climate Change. I am trying to change things in my life to do my bit for a better, safer, world. I've significantly reduced the amount of meat I eat. I use public transport or walk whenever possible. I reduce the amount of packaging by buying from the Minimal Waste Grocery or similar shops (there's one that's just opened in Dundrum). I don't buy products with palm oil (I had to survive Christmas without Marks&Spencer's Belgian biscuits and Belgian chocolate truffles - you have no idea!!!). I sign petitions. I will talk to our politicians when they arrive on our doorstep for the upcoming election. I still feel it's not half enough. But it's something.

So, for every page or every sketch, I will find information or a quote about climate change, even though it's got nothing to do with the sketch itself. But there is nothing more important than climate action right now (not in 10 years or 20 years' time - that will be too late - actually, according to the quote here, right now is too late, which is no surprise when you hear about the fires in Australia and the flooding in Jakarta)

I really enjoyed sketching this - we were talking about how to free up a sketch and the answer, to me anyway, is direct watercolour - no pencil, no pen, just the brush! I wish every sketch worked out like this one!

"The former United Nations climate chief Christiana Figueres has said that we have until 2020 to avoid temperature thresholds leading to runaway, irreversible climate change."
Jonathan Safran Foer
'We are the Weather - Saving the Planet Begins at Breakfast'

I really wish that 2020 was a typo!

Friday, January 17, 2020

Big clouds over Bray Head

Well, I did finish that painting eventually, but I feel so rusty - I really need to carve out more time for watercolours and get out there and paint (or work from photos - watercolours take forever to dry in the winter in Ireland - it's not so much that it's cold, but the damp is a real killer!)

Still, it's good to be thinking about watercolours again.

Two things I need to watch out for: 1: values - when I increased the contrast in Picasa, it was much more powerful; and 2: composition: the hill on the right was too dark and attracting the eye (I guess that's actually values), so it looks better when I cut most of it off the page - which you can do in Picasa, and also in watercolours!!

The original:

How it would look if I had used juicier paint:

And if I cropped the hill almost out of the painting - it's a little bit odd, although I feel my eye rests on the cloud more. Maybe I should just lighten the paint on the hill so it doesn't attract the eye out of the painting?:

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

studies for a winter sky over the sea

I think of myself mostly as a watercolour artist. But lately I have been more focused on urban sketching and life drawing. Just one of those phases in life. A kitten who jumps on the desk without warning. Other preoccupations. Just normal life taking over.
So I've this big sky I would like to paint, but so far, I've only done a few studies for it. But without enough focus really, so it may never get to a finished painting. Too many other shiny objects distracting me with new challenges and courses right now!

And by the way, nothing to do with art, but this morning as I was walking the dog, I saw a woman pull her car up beside a public bin. She got out. Then took a plastic bag from the car. And put it in the bin. I called out to her: "Really?" I said "Do you not have a bin at home?". She just looked at me. Got back into her car. Did a three-point turn. And drove back into the estate right beside the public bin. What hope has the world got? Maybe it's for the best that the human race will be erased by climate change?

Rant over.

Time to paint!

Monday, January 13, 2020

Adding a glaze

I really need to get back to watercolours. It's amazing how I feel I have lost fluency in this medium. I am learning other skills, which I'm sure will be useful in the long run, but there are only so many hours in a day, and I miss the joy of pigments mixing on the page!
Sumi is becoming quieter but he still has super-active periods, and I can't have watercolour paper, paint, brushes or water on the desk at those times. You can actually see on this painting a scratch on the left-hand side, left by Sumi when he jumped on the desk. It wasn't my most successful painting, thankfully! So I'm using it now to practise with ideas I am finding on John Lovett's website. The idea I used here was the use of overglazing to guide the eye through a painting. So I glazed with Lavender on the left-hand side to tone down and Quinacridone Gold on the right to brighten up the area. Quin Gold is perfect for glazing as it's so transparent. Lavender maybe not so much due to its opacity. But, hey, I had nothing to lose!! I wonder could I push it further?

Sunday, January 12, 2020

30 faces/30 days

I'm taking part in the 30Faces/30Days challenge on #Sktchyapp. It's a bit of a struggle to keep up, but weekends are my catchup time, so I'm hanging in there. It's so much fun! I don't normally draw or paint faces. I tend to prefer skies or the sea. But it's hard to paint full watercolours when you have a kitten who keeps jumping on the desk. In fairness, he's just 6 months old and he's settled quite a bit!

So, here are the faces I have done so far! 6 great instructors. 30 wonderful models. I might be converted to portraiture after all!!

 Blind contour. The cat jumped on the desk as I was doing one of these

Proportions - There were some corrections to the proportions after I did this - the bottom of the nose should be a little higher than the quarter line, for instance

Mapping lightest light and darkest dark

Shading in one direction

Vanishing point

Add words

Drawing with a time limit

Thursday, January 09, 2020

Gelli print and Stazon for image resist

I've been trying to do image transfers many times in the past, but without much success. I've recently come across a new technique from Gelli Arts's Birgit Koopsen, and I'm delighted with the results! So exciting! It works really well with magazine photos, and in a small format. I've tried a few with my bigger Gelli plate, but the result wasn't so good - maybe the paint was drying too quickly? The magic ingredient is Stazon ink pads! I'm really looking forward to trying on some more. I can't believe I recently threw away lots of old magazines during a Marie Kondo clearout. I still have some nice pages that I will practise with when I next get a chance. But I might have to buy new magazines!

Tuesday, January 07, 2020

Cross-hatching in pencil and in pen

I've been avoiding cross-hatching all my life. Well, it's a bit like putting people in my sketches. If I don't practise it, I will never get better! Followed the Cross-hatching tutorial from France Van Stone on Sktchy Art School. Cross-hatching potatoes in pencil and pen, then a nose. I even tried it with Sumi, while he was quiet for a few minutes (not Sumi ink, Sumi, our kitten). Then graduated to drawing a person from the Sktchy app. Well, not quite ready for graduation! My hope is that all this work will help me to observe better and see the lights and darks (and everything in between), and eventually paint them better in watercolours!

I have a chunky 9B graphite stick that I decided to use for this. It was messy, but so satisfying. Also used 4B and 2B pencils.