Unbuttoned

I’m not sure what happened with this picture – it was supposed to be quite free and fairly large scale, but it turned into a mediocre ink painting. With nothing to lose, I decided to have a play on top with some bigger outlines using a very fine nibbed dip pen, but this was my first try on watercolour paper, and being a leftie it turned out quite scratchy. Never mind. It’s just an experiment, after all.

Daffs or Narcissus?

Who knows? But they are always a cheery sign that Spring is well under way.

I started with a torn paper background from an old bag, then added fineliner and white gel pen for highlights.

A simple, quick, image of hopefulness.

Unexpected violence

I normally think of myself as pretty calm, and suspect this comes through in my art. So what was going on the day I produced this doodle?

It began with the last page in a sketchbook whose paper I’d never really taken to. Finishing it would be a relief. I laid down a set of lines in Indian ink, drawn with a feather dip pen made on the spot. I applied blue ink, then drops of red, which I blew into spindly shapes. It began to have hints of landscape about it, reminding me of the walk up Mam Tor in Yorkshire. I encouraged this tendency with mark-making, a bit of silver acrylic, some white gel pen, a smidge of blue fineliner – even a bit of finger painting got involved. It was a real no-holds-barred experience. Sometimes these things just happen.

And suddenly, a title suggested itself: And Man Walked; and Farmed; and Fought.

Triptych complete

So, I was on a roll with my waterfalls. I decided a third would make a satisfying triptych, and having not done much watercolour recently, decided I should have a go. It was more straightforward than I’d expected really, once I’d found the stinky old masking fluid and decided that it would just about do for my needs.

My focus was to try very hard to put in the full range of tones – I always struggle with getting really good darks into my watercolours, partly because I’m often too impatient to wait until everything dries and add to sections for good depths. This time I was conscious of that need, and worked at it; I think it paid off in the third image below.

Now I just need to find some wall space to hang them…

Treasure box

At Christmas we were sent a box of shortbread. Although the shortbread was delicious, the box was even better – much too good to throw away. So it sat on my shelf, waiting. Finally, I knew what I wanted to do with it. A quick scavenge in the garden, a little blue ink, a touch of gold paint and gold leaf and hey presto!

So, from left to right we have a sprig from a plant of which I don’t know the name, a sycamore leaf, a dove’s feather, a portion of monkey puzzle tree and a skeleton holly leaf. All imperfect beauties salvaged for posterity. I just wish my handwriting was a bit more… perfect.

A new take

It’s been a looong while since I visited my WordPress site, but I’m going to try to remedy that. Lockdown life has been busier than one might expect, but thankfully there has been some time for reflection and art amidst the travails of working from home.

I was given this orchid about two years ago. It’s been a superstar, blooming almost continuously. I have danced around painting it for a long time, but didn’t have a clear idea of how to approach it. The abundance and complexity of the blooms deterred me.

Yesterday I finally went for it. I’ve been trying to think less literally about drawing; the intention was to put down a selective light colour ink wash and then draw over loosely, holding the pen at its very end to reduce control. As sometimes happens, things took a slightly different turn, and the inking became a bit more than just a wash (although not quite a painting) to the extent that I was reluctant to draw on top of it. However, I had a stern conversation with myself and stuck to the plan. I’m glad I did, because I think the pen lines really add some interest, and have salvaged the pot which was not at its best.

I’m actually really happy with how this turned out – playing was key. I need to remember that – it feels like an evolution.

14″x10″, Dr PH Martin’s inks, black UniPin, Pitt white marker, Staetler triplus coloured fineliners on Langton 425gsm watercolour paper

Relaxed impression

A very quick, unrefined sketch of my husband in characteristic pose in ‘his’ chair. I was playing on the iPad in Sketches again, this time using the pencil tool and my finger to draw. I wasn’t worried about getting any details in, just a general impression, still trying to get to grips with the app’s features.

I added the block colour on a whim, and I quite like the print effect it gives – I can really see how this kind of app can be helpful when planning a lino print, and for reduction printing in particular. That’s something to remember.

Sketches 32

Comfort zone

Brace yourself, there’s going to be an influx of iPad sketches, because I’ve finally got round to finding out how to export them to WordPress (and it’s very easy).

For a couple of years I’ve been fooling about in idle moments with various free packages on the iPad. Mostly this happens when I’m too tired or have too little time to get ‘real’ media, and I just want to have a little play while sitting on the sofa.

Sketches 6

This sketch was made using the free Sketches app, using the basic watercolour and pen tools. It’s a composite of half-remembered scenes from our travels, a Tuscan-Yorkshire hybrid, and the purpose was to experiment a little with the app’s watercolour tools.

What I enjoyed was the transparency of the colour stripes, and the ability to eye-dropper ‘watercolour’ to give the roundish blotches suggestive of trees and shrubbery. And it’s so quick and easily altered, I confess it’s rather beguiling.

I’m pretty certain that the iPad won’t replace traditional media for me, but it does mean that I can be creative even when time and energy are short. And in my world, making something is better than making nothing, however you achieve that goal.

 

Brimham Rocks

Yep, ‘Brimham Rocks‘, both literally and metaphorically for me. This is a significant sketch from 2013, when I’d recently started using watercolours. It records a really lovely day spent with friends in Yorkshire. The morning was spent at a climbing wall in Harrogate, which was great fun, followed by a walk and some ‘real’ climbing for our son (then aged 12) on the Rocks, let by the lovely Rhiannon.

I got out the sketchbook and sat myself down to wrestle with the scene.  My sketch buddy Andy tells me that this was the moment when he (also present and, at the time, a lapsed artist) asked himself why on earth he wasn’t doing likewise. Soon after, he picked his pen and brushes back up in earnest, and continues to employ them with gusto to this day.

So, this sketch is a very welcome memory of a really great day out, and the pinpointing of a significant turning point in someone’s sketch history. I’m still delighted about that. For me it’s a reminder that actions have consequences, sometimes demonstrably positive, whether or not we know it, or intend it so, at the time.

Brimham Rocks watercolour

Keep it simple, stupid

Still on holiday for this sketch (I’m eking them out). The chair had been calling to me for a couple of days. I liked the shape of it, the simplicity, moulded from a single piece (probably plastic) and upholstered in grey tweedy fabric. I knew I didn’t want to paint it. Somehow a line drawing seemed right, and fortunately it came without too much bother. I had fun with the slightly broken lines, and especially with the fringe on the cushion. I like the sparsity of the chair compared to the complexity of the plant and stool. Fineliners rule! (well, sometimes).

alex-chair-ink.jpg