Watercolour; an old shed in the garden 

This week’s class was about drawing and painting. We spent nearly two hours using fine line pens to build up a dense, textured drawing of a garden with an old shed in it, and then half an hour sloshing watercolour over it. It needed longer than that as the paint really needed to dry in stages. 


Although I quite liked the result, I think it probably looked better when it was just a drawing… 

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Mixed media seed heads 

I was at my last mixed media class today. I have decided to give them a rest, at least until the autumn. We were looking at doing first a large and then a small drawing based on an array of seed heads. I chose some dried Chinese lanterns, as I liked the warm colours. The large drawing is in pastels predominantly, with some over-working with charcoal and conte crayon. 

Then I focused on one lantern and drew it just with a very fine fineliner. I did this in a curious little sketchbook I bought in Tamil Nadu over ten years ago. Made in the Auroville ashram in Pondicherry, a place that did not impress me favourably when I visited it a couple of years later. 

The paper has a beautiful, almost basketweave texture. Made by survivors of the 2001 tsunami, allegedly. I must use it more. It is hinged at one corner, which is unusual. 

Dorset landscape 2, the Agglestone Rock

This is another little landscape which has taken up a lot of time. I’m not sure even now  if it is finished. The Agglestone rock is a crumbling sandstone outcrop above Studland heath in Dorset. I hiked out to it on a hot morning in August. I took a photo of what is a beautiful scene. There is something irresistible about isolated ancient rocks. 

I sketched the view with the intention of painting it, so there are some colour notes scattered about. 

The first painting was on the wrong shaped board and I was never that happy with it. 

I stated all over again on a long, narrow canvas. This has been repainted at least four times. I’m still not sure about the skyline to the right of the rock. The heather colour is very difficult to achieve but this looks the most convincing so far. I wanted a feeling of a deep landscape, and I think that works.  I shall leave it for now, and possibly for good. 

Dorset landscape/seascape 1

I have been struggling over two small acrylic landscapes based on sketches I did last summer. I think this one is just about done. I have completely repainted it about four times. I’m very pleased with the distant hills, quite pleased with the forefront grassy dunes and the sunny lady. Not certain about the sea, but this is so much better than it was that I think I will stick with this. The other landscape still needs a bit more tinkering. 

After six months of work, I think I’ll call it “The Red Hat” 

Historic sketching

I have started posting sketches on the Urban Sketchers Facebook group, and this lead me to look back through old sketch books. This is quite a job, as I have a whole shelf of small sketchbooks stretching back to the 1970s.

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Not to mention another shelf length of large sketchbooks going back to the 1990s.

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In amongst them all, I found this sketch from 1972,  which I think is the earliest sketch of a real building I ever did, or at least saved. It is the second Villa Wagner, in the outskirts of Vienna. A beautiful building which I hope I might see again this summer.


And this little life sketch, which I think was the first life drawing I ever made. We had an opportunity to go to life classes when I was an architecture student. I think this dates from about 1975. All things considered, I think it’s isn’t too bad. Probably the first time I had ever dared look at a naked woman closely.

Manet triptych 

I’ve completed my triptych based on the Folie Berge Bar, but what to do with it. The three panels lend themselves to being displayed together, but how? Sticking the arms at each side seems logical… 


But swapping the outer panels makes, I feel, a better composition… 


The eye travels better, from the flowers, across to the oranges, then down to the loose orange and across to the bottle. I also like the way that the three secondary colours, green, orange and purple are so prominent. That wasn’t planned, it just emerged. 

It would also be interesting to display them as a free standing item. But where?