Isolation – consentration.

This could be a time to turn a difficult situation into time positive.

Time to practice things we say we wish to improve… But never find the time.

Drawing with crayons.

Maybe sketching using different materials. The same view or objects over and over. Observing more and translating it differently – being led by the varying qualities of the medium. Wet or dry, sharp detail or soft suggestion, full colour, black and white or monochrome.

Practicing takes the pressure off. But another good practice is to revisit past works. To see if they resonate or rekindle a dialogue. If not, edit out any good bits and disguard the rest. I find lighting a bonfire with them works for me.

The tulips continue- with friends…

A drawing and painting class. The last in the studio before lock down…

Painting by Tina – Not complete. But still… Lovely.

We started with drawings. Working toward a good composition that could be translated into watercolour painting.

Three tones… Plus pattern.

The drawings were really engaging and most people worked on them longer than I expected. Starting with a linear composition and adding three tones of shading. Looking for areas of close subtle tones and also counterchange. Light against dark to dark against light drama and contrast.

Then painting in monochrome.

It was a really enjoyable lesson. The most difficult part, translating the sketches to the watercolour paper was achieved well in most cases.

The progress through the last few week was quite visible. Still maintaining good flat and graduated washes. Wet in wet. All that, as well as more complex subjects and composition. They did well. (And had a good time.)

Basics continued. With tulips…

Watercolour terms such as Wet in wet, wax resist, transparent, Opaque or body colour, make the language that is specific to its subject – and can sound pretentious and rather inpenetrable. But like all language that is specific – it is actualy pure and discriptive and really essential to describe the activity, if you have the interest.

Flat and graduated washes. Wet in wet, soft edge and hard edge.

Over the last two weeks we have covered these basic watercolour techniques and this week we pulled them together with the help of some cheerfully coloured tulips.

Bloomin marvellous, ( that’s my opinion not a technical term)

Good practice, lots of clean water. Fresh unfussy colours.

Some managed also to translate reality to something more delightfully fansiful.

All three classes this week responded well to the brief.

Some were more personal.
Some literal.
Some delicate.
Or dynamic.

My challenge is to maintain and even raise the level next week.

Back to basics – watercolour.

Classes have started again at Mill Farm studio. A new year and a fresh look at familiar techniques.

Graduated washes. , I believe to be one of the hardest watercour techniques. The need to control the ratio of paint to water, while using the right sized brush for the scale of aplication. Keeping an effortless look to the work while carefully reacting to what is happening.

Some colour pigments flow more evenly. Lighter toned colours are easier to graduate than dark, some colours stain and are unforgiving of any error. But no blood is spilt, only dirty water.

Every colour – Light medium dark.

We practiced painting flat washes and then adding water to the pool of colour to lighten the tone. The lightest colours can be so delicious. But a fear of being wishy washy, too pale: or even insipid, often leads to them being lost to a desire for bold, bright and eye catching.

Pale toned glazes.

By layering the palest of tones it is possible to build up to richer colours and greater detail. Starting with washes that underpin and unify the picture, the image can be developed and detailed while remaining connected, cohesive and convincing.

Winter Work

Walking in the landscape most every day. Watching for the small changes that signal the next season. A few Aconites have pushed through a debris of leaves and snowdrops show a slit of white at the spear head of the stem. 

Sketching outside is where I feel most connected. To the landscape, nature, to the elements of weather and most importantly to the drawing. I went out on Sunday to Breamar ( and beyond) with painting buddy Sarah. It was cool – but we found a couple of spots to sit out and draw the hills and river valley.

We always had the intention to visit the Fife Arms and it was a wonderful place to warm up, restoring body and soul. It is tartan, gothic Scottish, ancient and modern. Brimming with stuffed birds and antlers. And Picasso, Freud and Louise holding court.

The food was fab and worth every penny. A destination to lift the spirits.

West Dean – monoprint workshop.

The dates for the workshop 10th – 13th February. Just under a month away so I am preparing in spite of the possibility that it will not run.

I have perfected the recipe for jelly plates so a couple of people can work on those at any time. The premis of the workshop being ‘press free’, though of course there will be presses available. I learnt my mono print techniques before I owned a press and want to show how much can be achieved without using a print workshop or purchasing expensive equipment.

I came across this image which has such good counterchange and dark to light relationship. It would be a good subject for a basic wipe back monochrome monoprint.

Any means of transferring marks from one surface to another is monoprint – the different surfaces dictate the paints or inks that can be used and the quality of the detail that can be achieved. Printing using hand pressure or wooden spoon. A car or a load of people. The boundaries are only imposed by our imagination and our own ambition.

Rest and Restoration

Low sun, short days, a contemplative mood, resting or waiting for something. In a creative tunnel with no light shining. Patient. Making Sketches and working without inspiration. It is a fallow time, it happens after a rich creative seam is mined and comes to an end. It feels like depression but is really a nessesary winter with the belief of spring to follow.

I have a number of ways to kick start, but being too needy can be inhibiting.

Watercolour sketched out.

The same theme starting by way of monoprint.

It’s on its, side but that doesn’t matter. It may or may not start a creative coversation.