Monday, 28 June 2010

A Lighthearted Break...

image: watercolour and pigment pen on cartridge paper

After the last session at evening class, I got really fed-up with painting, getting bogged down in the seriousness of so much tiny detail. I replied to Sandra's comment that I needed to do something a little more lighthearted and fun to bring me out of it, so I set my camera to multi shoot mode and did a few mug-shots pulling funny faces at the camera! Some of the resultant pics turned out highly amusing - well to me anyway, and I picked one to do a quick pen and wash sketch, and here is the result.

Taking around an hour to complete, I couldn't help but smile as my paintbrush (one large one only - you all know I hate fine detail) gently flitted across the paper, and boy did this do me good! My wife took one look at the finished result and said "That's terrible!"

What! Is my thinking wrong? I thought it was funny. Oh well, here it is for all to see.

image: me being silly. Original shots 640x480 b/w multi-shot mode, 16 chosen from 50
contrast boosted and grid put together with Paint Shop Pro.

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Art Class Week #8/9

Please Miss, "I quit!"

Well, not the art classes, as I have already signed up to the autumn course, but this painting. I have spent three weeks at class and quite a number of hours at home on this one, as there is so much going on and so much detail, I find myself mixing paint for tiny little areas and messing about with small brushes. It's not that I don't find the painting interesting, it's just that I am so bored doing the same painting for so long.

There are students at the course who have been working on the same painting for the whole course or almost. I just don't know how they can do it! Admittedly, some have done some good work and one lady in particular has done lovely work on the same painting all these weeks, but using the tiniest of brushes to add minute specks of different colour to a painting is quite frankly beyond me. I have seen the odd painting that's been worked on for several weeks and it looks so overworked I want to scream!

Give me large brushes and a good sized piece of paper and let me finish the painting in a few hours please. Spending so much time on one painting is not good for my mind, heart or soul - I have so many ideas going around in my head that are just bursting to get out and onto the paper to mess around that much!

Our tutor tells me that she would rather I did one good painting over the ten weeks, than several mediocre ones done quickly. Well, the quick ones don't have to be mediocre, and can be good testing grounds for a masterpiece to come. I may come back to this painting in the future (if I'm desperate), but for now I have had it up-to-here and want to bury it behind all my wife's pairs of shoes at the back of the wardrobe!

So, summing up, it's been an experience - some bits are OK, others not, but case now closed, I'm off to regain my sanity!

Sunday, 20 June 2010

A Straw Herring ...

I have to say that I am addicted to Julia Kay's Portrait Party on Flickr. Here, Dave Burwell (Straw Herring), seemed quit a challenge with all those whiskers everywhere.
In portrait watercolours, I usually start with a pencil sketch, then when I am satisfied that I have a reasonable likeness, pick out the main features with a very fine pigment pen, erase the pencil, then lastly shape the facial contours using the paint in layers. Mostly with women I soften the layer edges for a smooth complexion, but here in this male painting, thought it better to leave the edges fairly sharp for a more rugged appearance. But the one thing I have learned with pen outlining is to be very careful with the mouth, as lines around the lips look very unnatural.
Summing up, this is one painting that I feel happy with, though comparing it with the source photo, some things could have been done better, but I got immense pleasure from the whole exercise, which I guess is why we keep doing what we do!

Source photo

In the scanned image here, pen lines show up more than in the painting.

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

15 Minute Watercolour #2

A Mingling of the Media.

This is another of my watercolour exercises, where the only rule is "Try and do a watercolour direct to paper, without a preliminary pencil sketch in 15 minutes".

On the source photograph, it was the shapes and colours which really caught my eye and prompted me to think a little differently about how I could translate that onto paper. I really let myself go, not waiting for any of the colours to dry or  worry much about being too accurate. The paint, especially around the face, soon began to mingle an run back. This is about the freest I've ever been with watercolour, just getting the paint on the paper as quickly as possible!

I wasn't too sure about how people might react to this one, so when at art class, I showed it to my tutor first and she loved it, along with a couple of the students. This gave me the courage to post it here and on the Flickr website. It may not be everyone's cup-of-tea, but at least I've done something a little different for a change.

Source Photo:

Thursday, 10 June 2010

Art Class - week #7

Well, after two weeks with no  art class, it was good to get back into the swing of things. I had saved the elaborate drawing of Cotton Manor coffee shop for painting at class, not touching it at home. Like I said in my last blog, I wanted to get some advice from our tutor before attempting to paint this tricky scene. Although you can only see a small section of the picture here, there are a great many people to paint and although this doesn't worry me, there are some background details I needed a little help on how to go about it. For instance, there is no sky in this one, just a mingling of trees, shrubs and buildings and roofs. There is also much shading under the eaves of one large building (not shown in this clip). I mean, to get the darker shading, is it best to use a darker colour from the onset, or would it be better to lay the wash for the whole brick wall and then go over with a darker layer later?

Anyway, I have managed to get some paint on the scene and although it doesn't look like much has been happening, I decided to paint every brick in the background building on the right, which turned out to be very time consuming. Most of time I usually work quickly and suggest this sort of detail, but I am working to new rules on this one. Hopefully I will get round to painting some of the characters next week.

Summing up, I am fairy happy with things so far, but again I am making mistakes, some silly ones too. Not paying enough attention to the stone building, I ended up painting the shadows in the recesses round the windows on the wrong side! I also managed to paint the first wash on the large roof of the left building (out of sight here) too dark, and according to 'Miss', the wrong shade of slate! Again I forgot the rules that she showed me a few weeks back - fold the photo and match it against a sample of the colour you have mixed to check the shade - doh! I also got told off for using Pain's grey, rather than mixing a grey form other colours to get a softer tone - you can just see it near the centre at the bottom of the hedge. Also I think I have made the mortar between some of the bricks too thick considering how far away the building is.

There is still so much for me to learn and it is niggling that I make some of the same mistakes again. I mean, haven't I learned anything? I will just have to put these things down to 'senior moments', of which I seem to have all too frequently these days!

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Art Class - Half Term

There was no art class last week because of the school's half term, so I thought I would show you all a WIP (work in progress). We visited the lovely old English town of Shrewsbury while on holiday in Shropshire, where there were so many ancient buildings, narrow streets and beautiful places to sit and have coffee. I took one or two photos with a view to painting at a later date, this being one of them, showing a typical street view.

With only a little paint on the work so far, I am already displeased with it! The sky is too dark and I am sure I don't know if I can cope with so much tiny detail in the beam work of the centre building, being not too good with the smaller brushes. This is one time when loose brushwork is not my aim!

This week at art class, I will be back working on the outdoor cafe scene in week five. Before applying any paint, I think I am going to have a long chat with my tutor after the many hours work on the drawing!