Dramatic Skies and Granulated Washes

Evening Clouds (Watercolour)

Evening Clouds (Watercolour)

The ex-Committee of Project Gallery have been invited to exhibit beside the new Committee at the end of January… and today I suddenly realised that is effectively only about 10 days away! Shock, horror! I have nothing to show! So I’ve been looking for inspiration this afternoon and playing with some washes…

The title of the show is Transitions, to indicate the change of Committees… but I wondered whether I could find a subject that would fit the title too. After looking at seasons and deciding it would be too hard for such a tight deadline, I moved on to thinking about weather changes, or maybe time … and with some dramatic skies to illustrate the idea.

First trial wash today is the beginning of a sunset with rolling clouds – I think this is going to take some building up to get the richness, and I really would like some soft but heavily granulated effects. I haven’t managed this so far and think I’ll to have to do some research into which pigments (in the brown/pink spectrum) will allow me to achieve this.

You might notice I’m also using that awful paper still as well. If you enlarge the picture you can see how the brown in the lower right corner has soaked in to the paper unevenly and produced some quite pronounced patterns.

Springtime Ornamental Plum Blossom

Ornamental Plum Blossom (Watercolour)

Ornamental Plum Blossom (Watercolour)

The weather here has been lovely recently and last weekend I was able to spend hours in the garden tidying up after winter. Lots of weeding got done and I began pruning the citrus trees. The mandarin has worked so hard this year with such an enormous crop that it’s looking exhausted and has lots of bare branches and leaves dropping. I’m hoping that a bit of careful thinning will give it some extra energy… mind you, I’m no expert on fruit trees so I hope I’m doing the right thing! All the trees got a good feed as well 🙂 .

All the while I was outside there was a gentle humming of bees buzzing around on my neighbour’s Ornamental Plum trees, which are right along our fence line… and every now and then the breeze would send a confetti of pink petals floating across the garden. The blossom doesn’t last very long but it’s spectacular while it’s there and the bees love it.

I tried painting the blossom last year as well and was quite pleased with the result so I’ve been itching for Spring to come so I could have another go. Last year’s attempt was all pink but I’m keen to work on my darks at the moment so I’ve used several colours in the first wash, which I’ll build on to suggest the foliage of the garden behind the these trees. So far I’ve used Rose Madder, Sap Green, Indigo, Cobalt Blue and Indian Yellow.

I’m still uneasy building up background washes, especially trying to get deep colours, so it’ll be interesting to see how this works out. I think generally I try and get too much into the first wash and then end up with mud or something too heavy to build upon. But this one has started off nice and delicate, so thumbs up so far!

 

Messy, Loose Bluebells

Sketchy Bluebells (Watercolour Crayon)

Sketchy Bluebells (Watercolour Crayon)

 
I received some Pentel waterbrushes a couple of weeks ago and decided to try them out tonight (boo! to another birthday, but thank you Mum & Dad for the prezzie 🙂 ) . The Bluebells in the front garden came under attack again, and this time they get to be displayed for you. It was a totally experimental play, just a small sketchpad and a couple of watercolour crayons, plus the new brushes which hold water in the barrel. They’ll be really useful for travelling I think, when I can get the hang of them!

I tried a couple of techniques: drawing with the crayons and then wetting the paper with the brushes, touching the wet brush to the crayon to lift paint from it and then painting normally, using the crayon on still wet parts of the paper… there were some very interesting effects.

So far I’m not fully sold on the result, but it was quite difficult to judge how much pigment you were going to pick up, or how much water, so I do think it deserves more time and practise to see where it might lead.

Best Dress & Party Balloons

Best Dress & Party Balloons (Watercolour)

Best Dress & Party Balloons (Watercolour)

The sun is shining! The past two days have been lovely and warm (after a small morning shower) and suddenly I feel more energetic 🙂

Yesterday I cut the grass, which was up to my knees, and dispatched three loads of washing before laying down a light sketch and soft first wash of a new practise piece taken from a photo of Jim’s niece at his brother’s wedding in June this year. Today I added the rich dark background with a mix of Ultramarine Blue, Alizarin Crimson and Burnt Umber. You can still see the strokes of the one inch brush I used, unfortunately, so I’ll have to see if I can blend it a bit better at some stage.

Mind you, I must remember this was started as a practise, it’s on the back of another experiment (I’m trying hard to think of a better description than failure 😉 ) and isn’t supposed to be for keeps. Loving it so far though… the paper is a big factor in this, it’s a sheet of Arches rough 300gms and it holds the water in a totally different way to the Bockingford I have been using, giving soft rich colours which move about easily on the surface.

I’m looking forward to seeing what tomorrow will bring…

 

 

Snow & Ice… and a Muskrat?

Muskrat (Watercolour)

Muskrat (Watercolour)

As I add more depth to the snowy areas I’m more & more convinced I’ve overdone the colours with this painting… it’s looking very vibrant and maybe just a bit over powering, but it’s a little late to worry that I didn’t leave enough lighter areas 🙂 .

I’ve begun to add the muskrat this afternoon with a mix of Raw Sienna and Ultramarine Blue – and some of the Sap Green is still showing through from the first wash which makes for an interesting colour mix. It doesn’t look much like a Muskrat yet, though it has potential. I’ve also tried to deepen the blue background snow, so that I could try and generate some texture with salt while it was wet.