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…

Cascade 2

Taking the previous waterfall experiment as a starting point, I then thought it would be entertaining to take it further into a small series. In truth, I thought a drawing of the scene would complement the more abstracted version of the waterfall, and help it to ‘make sense’.

I do really enjoy drawing in fineliner, and it was quite a meditative process to convert the image to monochrome, although I’ll admit I’d forgotten how long just drawing something can take when you’re really concentrating on the detail.

It was satisfying to use the humble brown paper to draw on, and the white gel highlighter added at the end really helped the image spring to life.

I’m pleased with the graphic feel of this one – not so much my usual style, but I think it works for the drama and starkness of the subject.

Cascade 1

A few years ago my sketching friend and I went to a workshop at Leeds School of Art. The focus was to study the work of David Tress and take inspiration from his work into our own art. In retrospect I really gained a lot from the session, moving away from detail and towards elements of abstraction.

With time on my hands I thought I could revisit what I’d learned, so I picked up a small, narrow piece of mountboard and looked for a subject. I found a photo of a waterfall in Wales which appealed and suited the dimensions of the card. By collaging packing paper and newsprint I created a textured base on which to paint with acrylic. I went a bit mad with colour (I thought at the time) but was pretty happy with the result.

It’s rough and ready, but I think it looks at home mounted on some brown paper.

Acrylics in Earnest

After feeling a bit lost this morning, wanting to do a picture but not knowing what, I decided I needed to try something a bit different. Having invested in a multipack of some decent Reeves acrylics for the Bigger Picture project, and being something of a skinflint, I resolved to have a real stab at seeing what the acrylics could do for me.

I was looking at this as an exercise in trying out the paint and experimenting with colour, rather than concentrating on form and sketching as I often do, so I turned to our photo album for inspiration. Painting from photos isn’t something I do very much, but I admit freely that it can be a relief and a pleasure to paint something which just holds still, and where the light doesn’t change. I came across a picture I took in Venice harbour (ooh, get me!) which I snapped because, between the overly ostentatious yacht moored there and the harbour wall, there was a spectacularly gorgeous section of green water,  contrasting attractively with the worn chains and weathered wood. I thought this would give me the colour-focus I was looking for.

Venice water acrylicI prepared (ably assisted by my husband) a piece of hardboard, as recommended by Mary on her blog, Oil Pastels by Mary. The board measures around 30cm square – I quite like a square format. I chose a large, square blending brush to begin with and, as I’m quite lazy, this was what I ended up using right the way through this picture. Maybe not the best tool for the entire job, but there you go. Sometimes you just get caught up in the moment and forget that other brushes are available…

Sorting out the order of play was really important I think. I know that you can apply acrylics in any order as they’re opaque, so I decided to work from the majority colours down to the more fiddly details last. I started with the bright green water, moving on to the darks, followed by the wooden post. The chains were last to be added.  The acrylics did dry quite fast, but not as rapidly as they had done on the mountboard I’d used previously, so there was some wriggle room with adding colour, which was part of the pleasure today.

Because you know what? This was really enjoyable to do. I tried to pick up several colours on the brush at once without mixing on the palette, and this can give some really great results (and some less so). I love the streaks of colour which emerge – and I’m pretty sure this won’t be my last acrylic picture.

Gone Fishing

I had a ‘free’ morning today. My son was off with his Grandad learning about bee-keeping, my husband was on a bike ride, so my Mum and I went sketching. We decided we wanted to paint water, so made our way to our local fishing ponds. Although there was a fishing match on, we were lucky enough to find an unoccupied bay with a decent view, and installed ourselves. The day started very overcast, but over the course of the hour, the sun did manage to break through a little and the light improved. The view was especially nice when the sun hit the dried reeds, which are a striking pale straw against the backdrop. As we painted, a Canada goose family with five tiny, fluffy, goslings swam over to see if we had anything good to eat. We didn’t, so they soon paddled away, but it was delightful to see them.

Fishing lake watercolourI laid down a wash for the sky and the water, then some large areas of green for foliage. After that I concentrated on adding some texture and depth. I currently have a problem with my masquepen (it’s totally bunged up and I haven’t got round to trying to free it), so I made big efforts to reserve the white paper where the reeds were. I’d have liked to have made a better job of the background trees, but I actually quite enjoy how the reeds worked.

It’s funny, but just taking a photograph of the sketch and reviewing it shows how it needs to change, more than just looking at the picture itself. Maybe it’s because the photograph always seems to lose some of the subtlety and luminosity of the original… Anyway, I think I might try to lift out some of the dark line in the top level of trees at the back, which I don’t like – it sticks out like a sore thumb. So, another landscape experience under my belt, and quite a lot learned (again).