Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Stormy Day

With so little time at the moment, with the garden like a jungle and accounts to be brought up to date, and paintings to frame for our coming exhibitions, there has been little time for painting. My only output, therefore has been what came out of the AVA programme this week.'Stormy Day ' is once again well outside my comfort zone, but as I haven't painted skies for a long time, it was the moment to give it a go. I used a piece of 300lb  Leonardo paper to allow for plenty of water.

I did a very simple drawing of a skyline of simple buildings and trees, keeping them very low in the frame and then simply adding the hills and sky, trying to make the clouds look threatening and the hills receding.
As a final touch, I fulled some of the approaching black clouds down to give the impression that it had begun to rain in the distance. This was perhaps a mistake!

                                                                'Approaching Storm'
                                                watercolour on 300lb Leonardo paper
                                                                     25cm x 15cm

Saturday, 17 May 2014

On the Beach

Just a quick post to show you what happened at AVA this week.
I was totally unprepared. I have been busy with some occasional work and we had visitors all Wednesday evening. I was, therefore totally unprepared for the group meeting. On Thursday morning I grabbed a piece of 'Cornwall' paper, my bag of painting gear and a pot of Galeria's 'Heavy Structure Gel' which I had come across whilst clearing out a cupboard. I have no idea what made me buy the stuff and it was new and unused.
My idea was that I would use the paste for some sea or sand texture and if the whole thing was a disaster, I could blame it on the experimental work that failed!!

On arrival, I had to do something that I have never done before which was to paint from imagination. I kept it simple, dividing the composition into vaguely three third sky, one third beach huts on sand and one third water/shoreline.

I started with the gel. I sort of expected it to dry like gesso, but in fact it remained fairly soft throughout, a bit like the mastic used to seal double glazing windows or bathroom fittings. I spread the gel using a toothbrush and a palette knife to put in some water texture, and some sand and rock. As its white it was difficult to see what was happening. I did try to dry it with the hairdryer, as time was limited, and that was reasonably successful.

I painted in a wash for the sky, drew in a very simple row of beach huts and a wash for the sea and sand.

Then it was just a case of trying to remember what each of the elements would look like. I painted the sand too dark so it became a rocky outcrop, which meant I needed to devise a set of steps to access the beach, and I needed to link beach and sky together, so added a mass of trees, and greenery behind the huts.together with a little fence. When I added the sand and water, I was reasonably surprised how successful the gel was at creating little ripple waves.

As usual, a bit of splatter completed the effort.

In hindsight, I think the gel was a waste of money for me, as I do not think I will be tempted to use it again, so an acrylic painting member of the club might benefit from my mistaken purchase. But, as usual, it was great fun to give it a go!

                                                                       'Beach Huts'
                                              Mixed media on Cornwall paper by Hahnemuhle
                                                                         450 gms

Monday, 12 May 2014


My favourite week at AVA as the subject was 'flowers' 
I felt it was quite important to paint from life, but on searching the garden, I found lots of flowers in bloom but only one or two of each sort. I was loathe therefore to cut any of them. I did, however, find half a dozen heads of Euphorbia, which I thought might be an interesting challenge in several ways.

I was sure that the mass of small flowers (I am sure someone will tell me that they are not really flowers but bracts or something) would present problems at both the drawing and painting stages and also the lime green would prove difficult to mix.
In the end, after a bit of trial and error, I used a mixture of Cobalt Teal Blue and Nickel Quinachridone for the green, to which I added Indigo and Quinachridone Gold to paint in a very loose background.I used plenty of water and dropped in the colours to allow them to do their own thing. I added some sea salt to produce the characteristic rings where some of the 'flowers' were going to be, and using sandpaper and an 'Intense' water soluble crayon, I added some dark speckling.

When all this was completely dry, I simply painted the shapes, having done a very small amount of pencil work just to define the outside limit of the subject, leaving some quite loose, others quite pale and on the left, others darker. As I worked the 'flowers' I added darker backgrounds so that I could see how the 'flowers' would show up. I then completed the background and the stalk, trying to add texture to it by splattering and more sandpapered watercolour pencil. It was fun to try something new, and maybe it will need a second attempt to get it right, but I am quite pleased with this first attempt and I really enjoyed the experiment.

                                    Watercolour and Acrylics on 300g Fabriano Artistico Paper
                                                                    28cm x 38cm

Saturday, 3 May 2014

Cherry Blossom

At Avon Valley Artist's group this week, there was no specific subject. The programme had kept a blank space for members to finish any half painted work from previous weeks. As I always finish anything with potential, I had a completely free choice of what to paint.
The cherry blossom had been particularly spectacular again this year, so I used a photo to have another go at it. The flowers fade so quickly when cut, it seems a pity to bring it indoors, so I nearly always use a photo, as it is too cold in my north facing garden to sit and paint outdoors this early in the season.

I put on an initial  wash onto a piece of 300gm paper, placing it where I thought the flowers would go, using Opera Rose and Quinachridone Magenta. (The paper on the RH side was left white, and the blue colour comes, I think, from shadows in the room when I took the photograph!)

When I was satisfied with the wash and it had completely dried, I added my drawing. By doing this on top of the wash it enables me to remove the pencil lines as I proceed. It does mean however, that I need to give careful thought to the placing of the original wash.

I started the painting by using stronger Quinachridone Magenta and various mixes of greens and golds to paint the negative background shapes around the flowers, being careful not to go over the pencil lines if I wanted to remove them. When I could see how the composition was progressing, I painted in the blossoms using lots more Pink, Magenta and Moonglow to give the petals form. I left quite a bit of the flowers white for the highlights, but was able to adjust this with White Acrylic Gouache. I also used this to wash out some of the edges of the petals to give the painting a bit more freedom.

As the flowers began to take shape, I started adding colour to the background, painting negative shapes to produce distant leaves and petals. The milky effect is created by dropping White Gouache into wet washes of Magenta, Indigo, Nickel Quinachridone and Apatite Green Genuine. I added some granulating fluid to produce some texture.

I finished painting the blossom, added the supporting branches and strengthened the background being careful to leave the RH side much lighter than the LH side. The final photograph is again a bit darker than the reality, not helped by the fact that the photo was taken after I had framed it. I added more White Acrylic Gouache to the edges of lots of the petals and washed the LH side of some of the blossoms with Moonglow to create shadows. Finally, as always, a good splatter of White Gouache to complete the painting.

                                             'Cherry Blossom'   36cm x 26cm Watercolour
                                                       on Fabriano Artistico Extra White