The Pressure of Handmade Christmas Cards

Robin Christmas Card (Watercolour)

Robin Christmas Card (Watercolour)

Before the weekend I was anticipating spending two whole days creating lots of Christmas Cards to send out to friends and family… I did manage to spend quite a lot of time painting, but a change in the weather and a change of watercolour paper made the results rather unpredictable.

Today we’ve celebrated our sixth day in a row of spectacular thunderstorms and thirty degree heat – I had forgotten how hard it is to paint when it gets hot over here, you have to be so much quicker! Despite many tries I’ve also really struggled to get a salt effect to work at all, probably due to the extra humidity. You can see here that the salt didn’t soak up the pigment to leave white starburst effects as you’d expect. Instead I’ve just got little dark blue dots… not exactly what I hoped for as a snow effect.

On top of that I started using some new watercolour paper for the first time: SAA’s own practice paper, 140lbs, rough. And I’m afraid I don’t like it very much – it ‘s a little less white than the Bockingford I’ve been using, and seems to carry less size as well, meaning that paint soaks in more readily and is harder to move around or lift off.

Despite all that this little guy is slowly coming along. His eye needs lots of work and a few other details need putting in, such as the branch, but it’s better than I expected after such a trial.

I also started to paint a gorgeous red cardinal but I didn’t get very far so I’ll have to share that with you next time 😉

 

Stormy Jacarandas: They Say a Problem Shared…

Jacaranda Storms (Watercolour)

Jacaranda Storms (Watercolour)

We had some interesting and quite diverse changes of weather yesterday…. after a crisp sunny morning it quickly got quite hot, reaching almost 30 degrees, then a change blew through at about 2pm bringing a rapid drop in temperature and very gusty winds. It looked like some serious thunder was on it’s way, and the lilac blue Jacaranda trees in a neighbour’s yard looked amazing against the stormy clouds.

I wanted to see if I could recreate the contrast of the grey clouds and blue flowers in watercolour and tried hard to get some photos for reference, but there are lots of rooftops in the way…

Painting wasn’t easy either…. here are the three attempts I’ve made so far, starting from the bottom. The first has some quite nice trees and blossom, but the sky is too similar in colour so they’re a bit lost, they don’t ‘pop’. The second worked much better colour wise, using a base of Pthalo Blue for the sky and Ultramarine Blue for the blossom, but all my painting skills fled when it came to painting the trunks and branches leaving me with a muddy mess. They’re not really the right overall shape for Jacarandas either.

Finally, today I began another trial… nice heavy clouds and a bright area still waiting for some blossom, but now I have this side by side with the first two it’s actually looking like the poor relation. I guess this is how practise works… and the title of today’s post? Well now I’ve shared my problems I can see the first two weren’t as bad as I first thought. I can also see that a combination of them all would possibly be a great solution and that I probably need to start again 🙂

 

Emerging Apple Blossom

Emerging Apple Blossom (Watercolour)

Emerging Apple Blossom (Watercolour)

It’s Friday again… my hasn’t this week gone quickly? I know! I’m beginning to sound like a broken record, but this year has flown by so far. The garden is changing faster than I can cope with as Summer gets closer and I think the grass has been taking lessons from Jack’s beanstalk, so I really had to find an hour today to cut it.

Later on I stood at my drawing board and wondered about continuing with the Alpaca, or putting a few more marks on the Plum Blossom, but something had caught my eye while I was outside… just three small clumps of leaves unfurling on the apple tree with little pink buds nestled in the middle of them. Too tempting!!

So I headed back out with a camera and here’s the start of a study… incidentally, the colours here are fairly true to life, they really are the most amazing pink!

Springtime Ornamental Plum Blossom, Pt. 3

Ornamental Plum Blossom (Watercolour)

Ornamental Plum Blossom (Watercolour)

 
Today is a public holiday in Australia and it’s been a great end to a wonderfully relaxing long weekend… a beautiful sunny day, just a bit cooler than yesterday, but still too hot to do much gardening while the sun was on my neck. After half an hour of weeding I gave up and tried adding some more detail to the Plum Blossom painting that I started last week.

I’m trying hard to keep it loose but it’s definitely tightening up. Not that it’s ruining the painting – I love the colours that are building in the background. I was worried that after adding some shadows to the flowers they were becoming too dark so I layered some more colours into the background – Indigo Blue, Indian Yellow, Sap Green and Alizarin Red – and it’s made the flowers leap out again.

I feel I still need to define, or should I say suggest, more petals on the blossom to make it a stronger focus. I hope I can do it without losing the luminosity… and the moment I put the branch in I realised it would have been better on more of an angle. Oh well, it’s all about learning 🙂 .

Two Colour Alpaca Sketch

Alpaca (Watercolour Sketch)

Alpaca (Watercolour Sketch)

It’s great to reach the weekend again, but it’s also a reminder of how quickly time moves these days – another three days without a blog update, sorry! I would write about how time is speeding up as I get older, it seems however that everyone I know has the same problem regardless of their age. I probably just need to plan better 😛

Today I’m sharing the first first stage of a watercolour sketch I started this afternoon from a photo on Paintmyphoto by Linniekins. Only two colours so far, Raw Sienna and Ultramarine Blue – I love how they blend and separate on the paper to give so many shades of brown, grey and purple. At the moment the proportions of this Alpaca are looking a bit odd, but I think they are actually more or less correct. Hopefully when I get a bit more detail around the nostrils and add a background to frame the face it will look better.

Unfortunately I picked a scrap of paper that barely fits the young guy’s head so some of his curly mop-top has been chopped off. As a practise it’s promising though… I’ve been having trouble with eyes lately so it’s a nice to get some that have blended well and still managed to keep the highlight.