Sunday, 28 November 2010

After the Storm (unfinished)

Watercolour A3
I was fortunate to get a week’s holiday in mid-September this year, and we spent a few pleasant days away in my son’s mobile home. The weather was good to us while we stayed at a campsite in Drybrook, Gloustershire, where we were able to explore some of the beautiful countryside further inland around the river Severn.

The views all around the site were pleasant, but one late afternoon there was a short shower followed by clearing blue skies. As the dark rain clouds receded into the distant landscape, the sun lit-up the fields in the foreground, adding the most breath-taking and colourful effect on the view before us. I immediately snapped this picture up for later reference, when it may or may not turn out to be a good subject for a painting.

The picture here is the (unfinished) result that I worked on at a couple of night school sessions. I say “unfinished”, because it still needs some more detail work on some of the foreground. However, I am unlikely to finish it because I spoilt what was a good sky by darkening the blue too much at the second session. Don’t tell me that I can lighten it, because my attention span has been surpassed, and I feel that the work as a whole is never going to turn out to be a good painting. I am simply including it here as a sort of ‘also ran’.

The things I like, and think I did get right are the foreground house and buildings, along with the gates and stone wall, and maybe some of the fencing on the right.

Ladies and gentlemen, I invite you to pull this work to pieces and tell me what you think works and what is not so good. Will I ever make a landscape artist or should I concentrate more on buildings, or maybe stick to portraiture? My future work is in your hands!

Sunday, 21 November 2010

Journal 14/11/2010 Visit the Grandchildren

One of the best things about a family get together for me is meal times. I mean a proper meal where everyone sits at the table together and we chat, laugh sing or whatever as well as eat! No one is sitting with a plate in front of the TV, nor computer nor upstairs in their room; just enjoying family moments together over a nice meal.

This was the scenario last Sunday when we visited our two grandchildren, and after we’d played ourselves out with all the toys and books and things beforehand. We sat down to a lovely roast chicken with baked vegetables and gravy. Of course, we had the usual things with kids like getting excited and standing on the chair or trying to get them to eat what we think they should eat and not actually what the child wants to eat, but that is all part of bringing up a family.

Now the fun part for me was when it came to dessert. We had a little bowl of chocolates each (well mostly Maltesers), and a selection of fruit. I decided to have a little fun with William and made out I was going to pinch his bowl of Maltesers. Knowing full well my intentions, he pulled the dish well away from me chuckling “No, No” and “mine!” with a cheeky little smile and glint in his eye, and me trying to keep a straight face! So then I turned my attentions to Thomas, but he too pulled his dish away and pushed my hand back saying “These are not yours granddad, you’ve got your own!” while giggling at the same time.

Now a short time later, Thomas had to be excused to visit the loo, and while he was gone, I stole his dish and placed it right next to mine. On his return, he looked at the blank space and said “Where are my chocolates?”, and then with much exclamation, “Granddad!” which very definitely meant that I had to give them back followed by much laughter between us.

By the end of dinner, and some more playing, granddad began to get quite tired and ended up sitting slouched on the settee. Thomas seeing me like this, also decided that a rest was in order and he snuggled up under my arm and there we both were, stretched out on the settee, the best of playmates.

In that moment, Daddy popped round the corner, camera in hand, instructing us to say “cheese”. So, with a big long “cheeeeeeeeeese”, there was a flash, and another beautiful moment was captured for the family album. A moment which at some future point in time will be looked back on by some with fondness, maybe stumbled upon in a time of nostalgia with a feeling of love for those in the picture and, eventually, no longer with them.

Monday, 15 November 2010

Journal 15/11/2010

Some of you have done some lovely picture journals, which have inspired me to have a go. Here is my first attempt, though not my intended first entry, that may come later - just to confuse things! :)

I hope I've done this right!

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Look no pencil!

At art class this week, our tutor gave us the task of painting a still life. Pretty straight forward, or so we all thought, untill we discovered that we were not allowed to use pencil to get an accurate image down on paper first, and the only medium allowed was watercolour. In addition, we were only allowed to use was a no.6 brush and in one colour only. There was also the fact that we had to paint it twice in our two hour lesson.

Well of course, this presented more of a challenge. In our tutor's words, these were to be "working drawings", where all our mistakes could not be erased and to be seen there in the finished artwork. There were a few gasps, but nevertheless, we set to using our paintbrushes in pencil fashion at first, then adding shading later.

In the first painting, I chose cobalt blue and quickly outlined the pots very roughly, correcting with shading as I went along. It seemed quite alien to paint this way, but turned out to be a highly intuative way to get the image down on paper. Apart from the initial linework, the shading was key to getting form and shape to the pots.

In the second painting, I used burnt umber and decided on a different tactic rather than do more of the same. This time I did no initial lines at all. I started with the handle of the tall vase and painted the shapes of the shadows. Then working my way round all the other pots in the same way - no outline, just shapes and depth of shadows. The highlight on the upturned bowl on the right was made visible by adding a lightly shaded background to make the white shape stand out. For me, this was a marvelous way to paint this still life, not by painting lines but merely painting shapes to form the picture.

The paper used for the first painting was heavy watercolour paper, but as I only had one sheet with me left, the brown version was done on ordinary cartridge paper, which had a lovely smooth finish, but buckled terribly, and of course the scanner recorded this as dark patches. The original is also more colourful than shown here.

I have to stress that these are quite rough sketches intended as practice for doing the 'real thing', but they are so useful for seeing what works well and to include in the final version etc. For instance the upturned bowl on the right of the second work looks really good when used with the negative shape created by the background.

In all, this has turned out to be a highly informative lesson and I am so glad that our tutor has took a firmer stand in giving us these projects, which teaches us not to get stuck in a rut with one style of painting doing our own projects in the same way each week.

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

An open letter to all of You.

My dear fellow artists,
as many of you know, I started this blog earlier in the year to reflect my return to watercolour painting after a long break of 12 years. In the short space of time blogging away here, I think I have caught up with the standard I reached before putting my paint brushes down so long ago. While I have painted and painted, a lot of the techniques I had previously mastered, slowly came back to me, along with some new ones. I know I am not yet a good artist, but I know I can improve if time and fate are kind to me.

Thank you all for sharing your blogs with me, I have learnt so much by looking at your own work and reading your written thoughts no matter what your expertise in this lovely hobby. Blogging away like we do, we all help each other and I think advance our work en mass to a higher level. Thank you so much for all your comments, which have spurred me on to try to achieve a better and better standard of work.

The purpose of this blog was to take anyone interested along with me in my endeavour to pick up watercolour painting again and advance it to my former state. That being the case, I am now starting to add to my interest, other forms of artwork and media. You may of noticed the odd sketch and acrylic creep into these blogs. Now I introduce pastel, or to be precise, conté crayons to my growing list of medium.

With this in mind, I have decided to change the name of this blog slightly to reflect this additional content to "Frank's Watercolour and Art Revival". The link will remain the same so as not to lose all the work so far.

Thank you all once again, for reading, commenting and helping me in this artistic crusade!
My kindest regards,
Frank Bingley.

Conté Crayon, Charcoal and chalk
on 160gsm pastel paper.

Since my last blog, I have joined my local art club, which meets once a month for ten months of the year. On my first attendance, we had a speaker who showed us his technique of charcoal artwork. His use of charcoal and a little pastel and chalk amazed us as he did superb portraits of two of us in less than a couple of hours. Spurred on by his work, I have purchased some similar media and had a go myself, and I have to say that it is  a fantastic and quick medium to work with. This sketch took me 70 minuets, and while considerably smaller than the speaker's, is 12x8 inches in size.

Though I got Martin's head slightly too tall, I think it is a reasonable likeness, and I got such a buzz out of doing it. Yes, this new addition to my mediums is a hit with me, and I can't wait to do some more!

Source photo here: