World Watercolour Month Catch up – Days 9 to 12

Day 9 Cooks River, Tempe

Day 9 Cooks River, Tempe

Just a very quick catch up on some of this weeks paintings for the World Watercolour Month Challenge. My days have been busy with work so most have been done in the evening. It’s always interesting the next day to see exactly what colours you’ve used after painting in artificial light!

I’ll try and write a few lines for each one, but I’m running out of steam a bit. I’ll also split them over two days so tonight will be days 9 to 12.

Day 9 would have been last Saturday, and a rare foray into landscape painting. Until Christmas last year I lived near the Cook’s river and still miss walking the dog along the banks every day. I actually still live near now, but further upstream, and the river here is basically just a 20ft wide concrete storm drain.

Day 10 Cuckoo

Day 10 Cuckoo

I was flagging a bit by Day 10  and wanted something simpler. So I chose a Cuckoo from a book we used while learning to paint Chinese Spontaneous style. This is the first of two in this style completed this week, but you’ll have to wait until tomorrow to see the other one. I did cheat a bit because it’s just on a normal watercolour block, not on the proper paper which is harder to use.

Day-11-Seamus

Day 11 Seamus

The following day, Monday and Day 11, was the birthday of a very special friend so I took the opportunity to paint something for her. May I introduce Seamus, her border terrier. He’s a little guy with a big character who’s sadly no longer with us. This was a rare picture that just worked, straight off the brush, and I’m extremely happy with the result!

Finally for this post, Day 12 is a study of the leaves of The Chinese Tallow tree. It’s a beautiful tree I had never seen before moving to this house. It has small heart shaped leaves that turn the most amazing colours during Autumn. The one just around the corner still has a few leaves even though we’re well into winter now, and to be honest I haven’t really done it justice – the reds are much redder than I have them!Day-12-Chinese-Tallow

World Watercolour Month Catch up – Days 4 to 8

Day 4: Watching

Day 4: Watching

Day 5: Heron

Day 5: Heron

Since I restarted painting I’m having lots of trouble controlling the amount of water on my brush. As a result I’ve noticed my brush strokes are tightening up – I’m over compensating. The cat on the left was Day 4 of the challenge and an attempt to do a soft, loose wash, but I fiddled with it as it dried. Luckily the brush strokes look like fur so I think I got away with it.

Day 5 was a much more complicated subject taking lots of concentration. The background got very messy, again juggling with paint consistency – either too dry giving hard edges, or too wet and bleeding back into other areas. I was much happier with the effect though, suggesting energy and movement.

Day 6 Life Drawing

Day 6 Life Drawing

Wednesday, which was Day 6, was a break from routine as there’s a favourite life drawing venue I visit: a fabulously bohemian bar, where drawing is accompanied by live music and a glass of something nice! I always use graphite but bravely took some brush pens filled with ink to try out, so I could keep the watercolour challenge going. I have to admit I’m not keen on the results, but it’s definitely broadening my horizons!

Day 7: Maroubra cliffs

Day 7: Maroubra cliffs

Yesterday, for Day 7,  I picked up something I’d started several months ago as a practice. It was just a very light wash that had dried with clingfilm pressed into it to make some of the angled rock textures. The rocks were fun to paint and I’m very pleased with the sky.

And finally, today was Day 8, which brings us up to date. As I mentioned above, I feel I’ve been tightening up over the past week, getting more fiddly as I struggle with the paint.

Day 8: Kitten Lucy

Day 8: Kitten Lucy

So today I decided to deliberately push myself the other way and paint a very soft, wet in wet, wash using a photo of my brother’s fluffy new kitten. I had big ambitions for it to be bold, confident… a single, soft edged wash suggesting the outline of the cat. But the paper didn’t hold up, the sizing simply disappeared as soon as the first wash went on. Everything after that was difficult as the paint just soaked straight into the paper.

I couldn’t give up, it was too late to start something new! So with a lot of patience, a lot of reworking and some opaque white to help recover the eyes, followed by some more working, I got something I was happy with.

Despite all the challenges, I have found something positive – I’ve been reminded not to give up to soon. With watercolours there’s often a stage halfway through where you feel it’s gone horribly wrong. You want to throw the painting in the bin but instead you should walk away and take a break. Often with fresh eyes and some patience you can bring it back to life 🙂 .

#‎WorldWatercolorMonth‬

Watercolour Month Challenge Day: 2 & 3

Challenge Day 2: Banana (Watercolour)

Challenge Day 2: Banana (Watercolour)

I suspect I’m not going to have time to write a post everyday during World Watercolour Month. I’ll be too busy painting every day! However, I’d still like to share my efforts with you and will definitely write every few days or so. Just to share how it’s going, whether I’ve run out of steam or ideas yet (is it too soon to write about that yet?) 😛 !

Also, apologies in advance to anyone following me on Facebook and Instagram as well… you are going to see a bit of repetition!

Formalities out of the way, here are my efforts for day two and three. #‎WorldWatercolorMonth‬

Challenge Day 3: Bramble Rose (Watercolour)

Challenge Day 3: Bramble Rose (Watercolour)

World Watercolour Month – Day 1: Sulphur Crested Cockatoo

Sulphur Crested Cockatoo (Watercolour)

Sulphur Crested Cockatoo (Watercolour)

I’m really excited to be taking part in World Watercolour Month during July, with a challenge of painting something every day for the whole month and sharing it on the special Facebook group page here. Hopefully, it will give me the boost I’ve been looking for to get back into the swing of painting (and writing!) regularly again.

So I stopped work early this afternoon, before the sun fell too far to see properly, and spent an hour or two playing with this cheeky Cockatoo. I think the photo must have been taken late afternoon because his white feathers have picked up a lovely orange glow and the sky is a delicious deep blue that has just a hint of grey to it – certainly not the bright blue of midday. The two colours complement each other so well and turned out to be a great way to paint white (i.e. his feathers).

‪#‎worldwatercolormonth‬

So, What’s the Problem?

Comfortable Silence (Graphite)

Comfortable Silence (Graphite)

I’m really finding it hard to create anything at the moment! I think I’m finally getting back on track again after all the upheaval of last year… So, what’s the problem? I ask myself this almost daily at around this time (11pm), not entirely surprised to find the day is over and I’ve missed another chance.

So, I decided I might try and share some of what I’m experiencing. Maybe getting it down on paper will help me work it out, maybe if you’re stuck too it’ll help you, and just maybe you’ll have some amazing tips to share with me 😛 .

As a bit of background, I’ve spent much of the past year allowing myself to be unproductive while recovering from lots of life things – an unexpected break up, illness, increased workload and ultimately moving house… Happily, I’m feeling much more myself again and keen to get on with life. I’ve begun spending time working on my neglected website and I’m starting to feel enthusiastic about painting again.

However, all the good intentions are going nowhere as far as actually painting is concerned, and each day ends without pencil or brush touching paper. I’m quite bemused at myself! Do I really want to paint or not? If I do, why do I keep not doing it? Who’s kidding who? And how do I keep tricking myself out of it. As you can see, I’ve been doing a lot of talking to myself!

This weekend I finally picked up a brush and dabbled for a while, and the results illustrated (pun intended) what might be the problem… I’m facing exactly what I’ve been fearing: Can I actually remember how to paint?! Answer: No, not really… all the practise I’ve put in over the past three years has gone. The sketching is still mostly OK, as you can see from the doves pictured… but watercolour? Forget it.

I’m not saying that I can’t hit the paper with a brush covered in paint, but that’s about as far as it goes. The mental link from brain to hand is missing. You know, that special magic skill that you don’t learn until after you pass your driving test. Well it works for painting too, and probably for any skill you become really familiar with. I think I’d just begun to experience, and enjoy it, when I stopped painting.

So what’s been stopping me is the worry that it’s not like riding a bike and I’ll have to go through the whole awkward learning process again to get it back. I’m disappointed to have lost it so quickly, a bit angry with myself really, and I’m embarrassed to share stuff that I’m not thrilled about. Hence the sketch, not the painting dabbles 😛 .

Then last night I came across an article called “Practise isn’t Sexy” that described my problem exactly and put it in a nutshell:

“If you can’t quite seem to commit the time to learn then it’s time to admit one of two things… Either learning that particular skill is not really a priority for you or you are afraid of looking stupid.” -Lindsay

I’m pretty sure I want to learn the skill or I wouldn’t keep torturing myself about it all the time, so I just have to make time and get over this fear of looking stupid!

 

The article is also worth a read if you have a moment or two – “Practise isn’t Sexy” by Lindsay.