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

Wash Challenge, week three… A little looser

Little Gem no.5

Little Gem no.5

I seriously thought I might go to life drawing tonight for the first time in a month, but it’s still just a bit too hard as I’m unable to drive with my broken hand. A bit disappointing, but the upside was that I picked up brushes instead and gently moved some paint around – it was so much more relaxing than dealing with public transport at rush hour!!

Continuing the watercolour washes challenge (week 3!), this first Little Gem is simply Ultramarine Blue and Raw Sienna – and very effective for just two colours! I’m very impressed by some of the greys that have resulted, and I love the granulation of the blue. I can see this being very useful for skies.

Little Gem no. 6

Little Gem no. 6

With the second piece I also used just two colours and tried to keep the paper drier for a change – I generally have a lot of trouble creating dry brush effects which is why they’re hardly ever seen in my paintings. So I thought I’d have ten minutes experimenting and practising, and I’m really very happy with the results.

The colours here are Phthalo Blue and Rose Madder, making some beautifully delicate purples where they’ve mixed together in the brush and on the paper. I found that sweeping the brush fast across the paper gave a much better result than I usually manage.

Little Gem no. 7

Little Gem no. 7

And finally, I went back to an old favourite and practised painting eyes. The eye on the right, in Quinacridone Deep Orange and Quinacridone Purple, looks almost finished but the first one might benefit from some more work – maybe a darker centre or iris of some kind.

Both were painted from imagination, and I wonder what kind of animal each one might belong to!

 

Wash Challenge, week two results

Little Gem No-3

Little Gem No-3

Here we are in week three already, and I haven’t shared my results from week two yet! Yes, I did actually manage to complete the task, even with a rickety right arm and while work is horrendously busy. Fortunately, I can just about hold a paint brush (and also type, after a fashion) so the only barriers are time and inspiration.

The first square I painted was a bit lacking in said inspiration – I find imaginary pieces really difficult and confronting. I’m determined to improve though, and this will only happen through practise. So I chose some colours and simply put the brush down, paint filled, to see what happened. The colours here are Quinachridone Purple and Bismuth Yellow, with a touch of Indigo for the suggestion of a silhouette skyline.

Little Gem No 4

Little Gem No 4

The second piece went a little easier, probably because I’d already done the worst part: getting started with no idea what to do! So, I was more relaxed with this one and felt happy to just watch the Pthahlo Blue run into the Bismuth Yellow and vice versa. Then I used a smaller brush to add some grassier strokes when it was slightly drier, and finished again with Indigo for darker, shadowy fronds.