Wash challenge, week eight – stormy days

Little Gem No. 16

Little Gem No. 16

It’s rained a lot this week, and it’s still raining now… I can hear it pattering on the skylight in the dark (I’m writing at midnight). It’s great for the garden as it’s been very dry recently, but being as near as we are to mid winter it also means short, dark afternoons and moody skies.

Which might be why a beautiful stormy photo on a fellow painter’s Facebook page inspired me to paint one this week. The photo is of the view from the studio window of extremely talented artist, Linda Foster, and it’s stunning –  the contrast between the heavy blue-grey sky and the sunlit wheat field is just gorgeous, so I’ve tried to be true to the colours depicted in the original, using Indanthrene Blue, Raw Sienna, Undersea Green and a tiny bit of Perylene Maroon.

With a view like this one, I don’t think you would ever be short of subject matter!

Little Gem No 17

Little Gem No 17

My second Little Gem for this week started off as an experimental wash… in fact it was definitely destined for the bin!

It started life last week as the first attempt to paint the seal with it’s suckling pup, but it went horribly wrong so I just carried on filling the paper with grey splodges (once you know what you’re looking for you might be able to see two likely lumps near the middle!)

After it had sat on the desk all week I began to forget about the seals and started seeing rocks instead. A seagull and some Indigo Blue sea helped make the transformation complete, although I’m thinking the seagull still needs a bit more contrast. It might be one to try again sometime…

 

Wash Challenge, week seven – Yaralla House

Little Gem No. 14

Little Gem No. 14

Two more little gems, both painted earlier this week…. The first is from a photo taken last year at my most recent favourite place, Yaralla Estate, Concord West, NSW. I found the estate by accident when a walk in a nearby council park brought me to an open gate in a tall chainlink fence, with a wooded walk beyond it – too enticing to ignore.

After following a leafy path for a few minutes I found myself in the grounds of a beautiful old house on the banks of Parramatta river. It even had it’s own man-made fairy grotto (unfortunately, in a bit of disrepair). I later found out it was the family home of Thomas Walker and his daughter, Eadith Walker, who was appointed Dame Commander in 1928 for philanthropic works.

The land of Yaralla Estate, and the Thomas Walker Memorial Hospital on the next peninsula (now known as Rivendell), are part of a trust formed by Thomas Walker which means they can’t be touched – and, amazingly, these beautiful peaceful grounds right in the heart of Sydney are also accessible to the public. You might even catch a glimpse of Yaralla if you watch the Great Australian Bake Off on tv, as it’s filmed in the grounds.

Little Gem No. 15

Little Gem No. 15

The second little gem is from a photo taken on holiday in South Australia, some years ago. There’s a resident seal colony on Kangaroo Island, and this is a Mummy seal who was snoozing while nursing. I was experimenting here with mixing the right colours to get sealskin and only had a small piece of paper so I’m afraid her baby didn’t feature. The various soft greys you can see here were created using just Ultramarine Blue, Perylene Maroon and Quinachridone Deep Gold.

Wash Challenge, week six – Thassos, Greece

Little Gem No.13

Little Gem No.13

Well, my painting practise is becoming more regular, but now I need to work on my writing! These two were painted last week, Monday or Tuesday I think, but I couldn’t think of anything to write at the time and so they have been sitting, neglected, on my drawing board. Only the concern that I could soon have two posts to write at the same time has urged me to do something this morning!

I’ve also labelled these back to front (oops)… yes, of course the warm up wash was done before I started painting pictures! I actually did several and this one was my favourite – so vibrant and warm, using Indian Yellow, Quinachridone Deep Gold and Perylene Maroon.

I don’t think I’ll ever get used to the discomfort of painting without a plan, with no idea of subject or which direction to move my brush, where to start with the colour, what to do next. I wonder if, as you do more of these, your brain suggests things or if you fall into patterns that you know will work. For now, I just know that I don’t have anything to fall back on and it’s always out of my comfort zone!

Little Gem No.12

Little Gem No.12

By the time I’d done a few uncomfortable washes I was itching to find something more structured to work on. A quick search in the inspiration folder on my PC and I found a photo taken in Thassos, Greece on a wonderful holiday with my Mum & Dad. I’ve had this scene earmarked to paint for ages and this time, for the first time, it didn’t seem too complicated: flat wash for sky, a wash for the sea and one for the sand. Then some tree trunks, stippled leaves, and add shadows on the sand.

Previously, it’s been the trees that put me off, I’m sure. I’m pretty hopeless at them usually, but these seemed fairly do-able with slim long trunks and a mop of leaves. I am pleased with the result, although I know that the leaves were not as easy to paint as they look. There was some agonising in the process, including washing off, and I would liked them to have been simpler – I know my shoulders were right up by my ears with tension while I was painting, which makes it really difficult to paint loosely!

As always, much more practise is needed. The goal has to be a catalogue of effects in my head ready to remind me what’s possible using different approaches!

Wash Challenge, week five – Sunflowers

Little Gem No. 10

Little Gem No. 10

Last Sunday I was wandering through Facebook, as you do, and came across a great demonstration of sunflowers by Birgit O’Connor, shared for Mother’s Day.

I discovered Birgit’s work some years ago. It was through her online videos that I began to see that watercolour wasn’t so scary and how it could be controlled. Her extreme close up flowers are stunning…

Anyway, I was inspired… it was a perfect exercise for a lazy Sunday afternoon, so I watched the video and then tried a few sunflowers for myself. Here are the results, using Indian Yellow, Indanthrene Blue, Quinachridone Dark Orange and Quinachridone Purple.

Little Gem No.11

Little Gem No.11

I’m always a bit impatient when it comes to loose painting, there’s a sense of urgency with wet paint and I feel I have to keep going until it looks right. Of course this generally results in a soggy mess – too much water, muddy colours and buckling paper.

So it was great to see Birgit using layers even in this really simple example, and the result are still loose. It was also a timely reminder that most paintings will go through a stage where they look pretty awful. Then you let them dry, add a little more, and they get better again.

These two both have a couple of layers. The second painting, the single sunflower, was completed much wetter but without my usual haste (panic 😛 ).

The session was a great exercise in patience, and although they would both be improved with a bit more detail I’m really pleased with the results!

 

If you’re interested in finding out more about Birgit O’Connor she also has her own Youtube channel with lots of demonstrations.

Wash Challenge, week four

little gem no.8

Little Gem No. 8

Hello, it’s Friday again! Yay!!

It’s so good to reach the end of the week, but then not so great when you realise you haven’t painted again! Quick panic, and then pick up a brush…

The first Little Gem was a simple doodle to get me painting anything at all – lots of roses! Or are they Camellias? I have just discovered that I have a Camellia bush in my new back garden… a plant I have no experience of. It’s covered in buds but doesn’t seem to want to actually burst into flower – any tips, anyone?

Little Gem No. 9

By the time I reached the second Little Gem I was obviously a bit more relaxed, although I thought the colour choices were strange even as I made them. I’m fascinated to see now that they seem to have worked overall! We have Ultramarine Blue, Undersea Green, Turquoise (I think) and Green Gold – I think I also mixed some Burnt Sienna into the Undersea Green to get that neutral grey tone across the middle.

I’m very happy to say I also made it to Sketch Club on Wednesday this week – it was the first time back since I broke my hand. It was SO GOOD to be back!! My favourite musician (classical and jazz guitarist Jim Pennell) and my favourite model (Clementine), a glass of wine (or two)… what could be better!! It was a little tricky holding a pencil with my hand still in a splint, but I think it actually improved my drawing 😛 . Here’s a quick peek at some of the results:

Clementine 1

Clementine 1

Clementine 2

Clementine 2

Clementine 3

Clementine 3