Tag Archives: watercolour

Botanical art

Not my usual subject matter. At the drawing class I go to, we were given a poinsettia to draw. I was at a loss, so reached for my colour pencils. I was really pleased with the drawing, as far as I got in the morning (mainly the red top) but it looked a bit wishy washy. The tutor suggested going over it with water colour. This worked beautifully, so I completed the drawing, partly from a photograph, but largely from imagination.

The initial drawing. As far as I got in the class. Just colour pencil so far.
Watercolour washed over. It really intensified the colours, so I started blocking in more leaves in colours pencil.
All the plant drawn and painted.
The completed image, using a much nicer pot than the plastic one the plant was really in. The pit is just in pencil. All the rest is over washed with watercolour

Summer days

I’ve found a beautiful corner of the cotswold water park, where I can indulge my pleasure in skinny dipping in the sunshine. Very few people go there, although a chap got a surprise when I climbed out today. I made this water colour and coloured pencil sketch of the view whilst keeping very still. I had a beautiful, tiny blue beetle hiking across my big toe, and I didn’t want to disturb him (or her).

John Busby memorial Sea bird drawing course

I spent a wonderful week in June on the above mentioned course, with about 20 other artists. We were based in Dunbar in East Lothian and spent each day drawing and painting out in the open at St Abbs Head, Dunbar Castle, Seacliffe and best of all out on the Bass Rock. Sitting surrounded by thousands of gannets was a once in a lifetime experience. My drawings were OK but some of the art produced by the others was astonishing, especially when you realise it was all painted out in the open, sometimes in the pouring rain, and on the Bass, pouring bird poo. I’ll try and show some of the other artists’ work in the next entry. We spent one morning visiting John Busby’s studio, which was another high point. I bought one of his small paintings.

Drawing birds?

In amongst work on my boats, I’ve managed to do some drawing today. I went to the Wildfowl and Wetland Trust at Slimbridge, which is just down the road from us, and had a go at painting some of the birds from life. Not brilliant, but it’s a start. I shall go back over the winter to see the migrants.

In the evening, I went to the Stroud Life Drawing drop in session for the first time in a long time. We had a lovely model, which made a nice contrast to the middle aged men that I seem to have been drawing in life classes for years. I used pencil to try a tonal drawing, which is not usual for me. Worked quite well and was fun to do.

More birds, in New York

Catching up still on art projects. after St Abbs Head, we spent two weeks in New York State, with one week in the beautiful Catskill Mountains. I didn’t paint any birds directly, they flitted about too quickly. But I did paint four that I saw flying around the house in Woodstock, even though I copied the pictures from a guide book. I feel the world is a better place for having a bird in it called the yellow bellied sap sucker.


Painting birds at St Abbs Head with Darren Woodhead

I’m getting very behind with this blog. In early July I spent four days at St Abbs Head on a sea bird painting course, lead by Darren Woodhead, a superb wildlife artist. Despite being coastal Scotland, the weather was superb, with scorching sun each day. I’ve never painted birds direct from life before, peering at them through a telescope, so I was pleased with the outcome. Most people produced one, or maybe two paintings a day. I produced 14 overall, in three days! I’m planning to go on a week’s course with Darren next June, out on the Bass Rock. I doubt the weather will be so kind again, but who knows.

Japanese woodcut

I’ve just completed an excellent two day workshop at Ardington School Of Crafts run by Laura Boswell. An introduction to Japanese woodblock printing. An art form I love but I have never tackled before.

I started with an image of pine trees falling into the sea on the end of Furzey Island in Poole Harbour. I photographed it last week and even did a sketch of it in charcoal whilst sitting cross legged on the roof of my boat.

Laura took us through the stages of breaking the design down into blocks which would build up the image. These are carved on both sides of the wood block and coloured using horse hair brushes, watercolour paint and rice paste.

The blocks are printed onto damp paper, using a baren to burnish the back. I produced several multicoloured images and a final, fairly rushed one just in blue, which is very traditional.

It’s a fascinating technique. These results aren’t that great, but they are a starting point. Hokusai, here I come…

Life class, clothed figure.

Just a sitting, clothed figure this week. I did two full figure drawings and two sketch book portraits. I am really poor at portraits so want to concentrate on them. I’ve just ordered a book on drawing the human head.

These full figures are largely in contè crayon, which I really like. You can get very subtle effects and really dense darks.

These two portraits are in Derwent Graphik pen. I haven’t liked it before, but it really came into its own here. It isn’t waterproof, which is where I have come badly unstuck before, using it as a base for watercolour. A real mess.

Last watercolour classes

I’ve been to my last two water colour classes. Next autumn I am going to a printing class at the Gloucestershire Printing Cooperative for a change and a challenge. The last classes produced some interesting work. First a Klimtish landscape of birch trees, painted using tube water colour, straight from the tube with no water. The trunks were done in white gouache, dragged on with a palette knife. The effect is quite convincing and barely looks like water colour at all.


In the last class, we worked outside behind Cirencester parish church. Pen sketch with quick watercolour washes over. I had taken a folding chair to suit on, but actually found it more comfortable to suit on the ground. Used a light weight sheet of double walled plastic as a drawing board, which worked well.

The result is a bit messy, but not bad overall. I am going on an urban sketching day in Cirencester next week, so this is a preliminary.