Monday, 29 August 2011

The Inquisition

The Inquisition
Aquarelle pencil and wash.
Last year, I took a painting along to our local art club for evaluation by a professional artist. It was a busy scene at an outdoor cafe, and there were lots of people in the painting. While the evaluation was pretty good on the whole, our professional artist remarked that I had "seen too much", and that I should have concentrated on a small group rather than including everyone in the picture. Well OK, but that wasn't what I wanted to portray, I wanted to get the feel of all these people sitting at the tables and chatting away, an atmosphere.

This year, while in Wells, we walked around the busy market there. Camera in hand, I got a few pictures, mostly of the stalls and lots of people browsing around them. Now, a few months later, aqua pencil in hand and nothing much on the telly, I thought I'd have a go at sketching one of those market scenes. Looking at the photos, thinking about what a lot of work there would be in them, our professional artist's words came back to me, "seen too much"! This in mind, I centred my attention on a couple of women at one of the stalls. I was helped in this fact by having used a camera with 12,000 pixels, which allowed me to zoom in on the subject with little loss of definition.

The sketch above is what I came up with. I used an aquarelle pencil for the sketch and initial shading, followed a wetted no.6 paintbrush to pick out a few mid tones. It took me around a couple of hours, which is about my attention span for a drawing or painting A3 size. I do tend to lose interest rapidly after this time, so although it is not perfect by any means, it's as good as I want it to be. Is that the right way to feel about your artwork? Maybe, maybe not, but that's just the way it is.

The picture below shows the original scene. By taking the two women out of context, the busy market atmosphere is lost, but now the scene takes on a new feel. They are both looking inquisitively at something we can't see. Something that makes us wonder and think that they are definitely interested in something? In the original photo, they are both obviously looking at the market stall, but in the drawing, no matter how many times the viewer will come back to look, they will never know what.
Wells Market: Original scene
In a photo like this, there are lots of little scenes going on if you look around for them, so maybe I can get several paintings from this one photo, instead of painting the scene as a whole. Mr professional artist, maybe you were right after all!

Monday, 15 August 2011

Life In Miniature

A little while back, I saw three beautiful little frames at a car boot sale. Although they were small, the width of the frames was around three inches, and the finish was battered gold. As the stall holder only wanted a couple of pounds for them, and they were in excellent condition, it would be foolish to pass them by. The high cost of frames has prompted me to keep a lookout for second hand frames at such venues, although if frames are in a car boot, there's usually something wrong with them, but these were good.

This last week, I've done a couple of miniatures to fit the frames. Well, I say miniatures - the maximum picture size I could get away with in these is 14x8.5cm, which is the smallest that I have ever painted! Using small brushes is a must with paper this size, and I have to say really quite alien to me - I like nice big brushes usually.

The first painting was a simple landscape and I was fairly pleased with it, but I'll have to do it again, because in my rush to get it into one of those frames, a major faux pas occurred! I had cut the mount, which fitted perfectly, but on cutting the backing board, I hadn't noticed that my painting was underneath it. You guessed it, my lovely painting sliced in two! Bagger, what a plonker!

Any way, it might have done me a good turn, as some of the finer lines did look a bit chunky and I would never have been completely at ease with it.

The painting above is of a terrace in Bath, England. This is the back of a lovely terrace nestling beside a river - I knew instantly that it would be a good subject for a painting, though I would never have guessed such a small one at the time. Using pen and watercolour wash, I've completely ignored the lines in many places. The actual buildings were all shades of grey, but this would have looked a bit dull, so I added light tones of reflected colour liberally in places. The sky took on a mind of its own, as the French ultramarine I used ran back on itself, making branching patterns so typical of this colour. I'll leave you the viewer to judge whether this is a good or bad thing.

Friday, 5 August 2011

Journal 6/8/2011 - Kibworth Windmill, Live!

Kibworth Windmill
Armed with my trusty paintbox and a few of my Art Club colleagues, we set off for an 'en plein air' painting session to the Kibworth Post Mill. The journal tells the story, so I'll just say that it has been around 15 years since I did a painting outdoors on location! We were on private land and well away from public view, so onlookers were confined to club members and not at all unnerving really. Once I got stuck in to the job in hand, everything and everyone else faded from my mind while I sketched away!