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.

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…

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

Bronze Babe

I don’t know much about Jacob Epstein – which could be easily remedied, of course. But I do appreciate the way that he handled bronze. This bust, entitled ‘Third Portrait of Oriel Ross’ is on display in the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, and principally it was the scrunchy hair textures which attracted me. Epstein had sculpted huge hunks of lively, wavy hair, its dynamism in contrast to the smooth skin of the young model. Her pose is confident, focused, and even slightly assertive. I like it very much.

Bronze has a most beautiful quality once the patina has developed – slightly golden-orange, and yet overall dark, showing the play of light on its surface. It never ceases to make me wonder that something so durable can represent flesh so well.

Epstein bronze.jpeg

I wasn’t carrying much in the way of materials, but did have my Inktense pencils, brush waterpen and a fineliner. A decent kit for such a sketch. I wanted to convey the bronze patina, with its glints of golden light; tricky especially as with the Inktense you are trying to predict how they’ll look when you’ve added the water and let them do their thing. Maybe there should have been more darks in there for a realistic result. Since I didn’t sketch this out in pencil before diving in with pen, I failed to achieve quite the correct proportions, but I feel that the more I take this approach the more I’m forced to look carefully before committing to paper, so I’ll persist with winging it.

In retrospect I quite like the reiteration and correction lines, and the intense streaks of colour, which have saved this from being a slavishly realistic representation and offered up something a bit different. Maybe our errors are where the magic really begins?

On the Edge

I was given some new Staedtler fineliners in a range of lovely colours – first quick test out was to see how they worked together without water (they are water-soluble). What better than the kitchen windowsill? And yes, those are hyacinths, which look a bit worse for wear.

Windowledge pen

The pens were very nice to use (I restricted myself to just three colours here, don’t want to have too much fun all at once) – precise, and just the tiniest amount of solubility with each other, which I quite enjoyed. Yes, I think they will find a place in my art bag – I’ll squeeze them in somehow!

Nuts!

Only a few minutes to spare today for sketching, so here’s a funsize version of one of my favourite seasonal treats – Kentish Cobnuts. These are a sweet, succulent nut related to the hazlenut, and are at their best when they are fresh and green. These have been in the bowl for a little while, so the lovely green fringed cases have shrivelled somewhat and dried to a pale brown now, but the nuts are still very good to eat. The shells are delicately striped, and have a beautiful velvet finish which I found very hard to convey in a monochrome sketch like this.

Cob nuts inkI find that drawing straight into ink is a really good discipline which makes me have to concentrate very hard on understanding shapes and relative dimensions before committing a mark to paper. Here I used my sepia fineliner in my smallest cartridge paper book (3ins sq) which goes everywhere with me, for those occasional, surprise moments when I can squeeze a quick sketch in.