Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Drying up

 It's amazing how the work of other artists and books by artists for budding artists can inspire so much.

We visited the neighbouring town of St Neots yesterday. My intention was to do a bit of sketching in the town whilst my wife and eldest step-daughter went off to 'shop' ;).

I wandered into the local book shop and made the usual bee-line for the art book section. I came out with a wonderful little book called simply 'Sketching'. The book is about  A7 size so it fits in my sketching pack (or even just a trouser pocket) and provides a nice portable reference for tips and inspiration, and Heaven knows I need some of the latter sometimes !

The reason I mention the 'Sketching' book is because the author recommends hard pastels,  pastel pencils and Conte crayons as good sketching tools and so, since my collection of dry materials were looking a bit forlorn in the bottom of one of my art boxes, I decided to get them all out and give my watercolours a little rest. Here then, purely from imagination, are the fruits of my labour.

Monday, 25 April 2011

Raising the bar a little

Ok, I'm totally out of my Comfort Zone with this one . As you can probably tell from my Flickr account I'm not a portrait artist by any means! However, I do feel like a little change from painting landscapes once in  a while and I'm quite happy with how this turned out.

I started with a basic outline in pencil and kept restating lines until it looked right. I then used a Pentel BrushPen for the line drawing.

Once this was done I erased the pencil marks and then left it all for a little while. I couldn't decide whether or not to add colour but I couldn't resist in the end and so out came the watercolours.

I used Yellow Ochre  and Cadmium Red for the skin tones with a little Ultramarine for the shadows. For the hair I used Cadmium Yellow for the light values, a Yellow Ochre and Burnt Umber Mix for the middle values and Burnt Umber for the dark values. I added a little coloured pencil in places after it had all thoroughly dried.

I've been trying various paper, media and techniques today and this was the result of that exercise.

Hope you have all had a good Easter :-)

Friday, 22 April 2011

The Ancient

I don't know the age of this wonderful tree but I bet it was around at the time of the English Civil War when Cromwell roamed this county and perhaps some of his army would have stopped here for shelter from the strong Eastern winds that sweep across from the North Sea. Cromwell was born and educated here in Huntingdon; he later moved to Ely and his battle headquarters were in nearby St Ives so lots of the local streets and buildings carry his name.

I drew (painted ?) this on the spot, using mainly watercolour pencils , building it up in layers, activating some of the pigment with a waterbrush and applying dry pencil or wet pencil to areas to produce more intense colour. I'm quite happy with this one.


Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Rebooting: the journey starts here

Ok, I am a software engineer but I hope you're not expecting me to produce anything clever with all this HTML stuff! After much deliberation and goodness knows how many failed attempts to choose a name for this blog I'm finally here.

After a sabbatical of about 15 years or more I've recently started to sketch and paint again. I'm mainly into watercolour but I have dabbled a bit with pastels, coloured pencils, oils and acrylics although I can't say I'm  a master of  any of them yet! There's a wealth of information out there to help the amateur and professional artist alike and the number of art blogs is bewildering. So why would you want to come here and waste valuable blog reading time. Well, I hope to share with you a little bit about my artistic journey: the materials I use, the places I go to sketch, the problems I encounter and the solutions if and when I find them :-) I have very little time in the week due to my job and fairly hectic life but I will try to post at least once a week, most probably at weekends.

To start things off, here's a sketch of the ubiquitous rusty barn in  a field. I love these things and Cambridgeshire is full of them. I think it's the complementary colours of the red rust and green grass that just beg to be painted. I finished work early - it was a Friday and a fine day too - so I cycled out to a neighbouring village with the intention of finding something to sketch. The barn itself is quite well hidden so I was delighted to catch a glimpse of it and stopped immediately to take a better look. I did the basic drawing with a soft pencil and then added watercolour back at home. I used Cotman watercolours but I'd like to do some more sketches and possibly work on  a larger format version with artists' quality colours. This is a double page spread in my A6 Daler Rowney Ebony sketchbook - very nice paper for watercolour sketching like this.

That's all for now. Back again soon.