English Summer Poppies

Poppies (graphite)

Poppies (graphite)

 

Last week seems like a blur, trying to finish work up and get ready to come away… I can’t believe it’s already Wednesday and we’ve been in England for four days now. I’m sorry I haven’t managed to pick up a brush or pencil sooner.

The weather is being very kind to us and I even got sunburned today (I guess that’s not so kind, really), and I’m really enjoying being back. We’re soaking up the sun in such a lovely bit of the country, staying in North Norfolk, and our hosts have an amazing garden.

Today I sat for half an hour and sketched a few of the masses of purple poppies they have growing out in the back garden, and I may try painting them tomorrow too.

Day 298: Bushlike Landscape, Pt. 2

Sandstone Slopes (Watercolour)

Sandstone Slopes (Watercolour)

Today has been a headache of hope and experimentation, a bit of disappointment, and a certain amount of success (or resignation!)… and the painting has progressed a bit too.

All the lovely foreground washes of yesterday have been lost under messy, overworked grasses but I finally found some brushstrokes that worked quite well, and also discovered that I could scrape out stalks with a fingernail too. I also discovered that colour lifts very well from this paper after I painted the closest tree and then decided I didn’t like it, so I took out the bottom inch to push it further back. Once repainted you’ll never know there was a black trunk there at all.

In conclusion for today, I’m not overwhelmed with the results and I’m disappointed with some of what’s been lost, however I’ve learned a lot (if I can just remember it!) and I’m still looking forward to lifting out the tree trunk highlights and seeing how that works. It’s not over yet :-).

Day 297: Bushlike Landscape

Sandstone Slopes (Watercolour)

Sandstone Slopes (Watercolour)

Working on the same paper as yesterday, which is Bockingford, I thought I’d try something a bit more adventurous based on a photo I took earlier this year. Centennial Park is a cultivated parkland but some bits of it are quite unkempt and natural and this is one of my favourite dog walking spots with a wooded area on sandy bedrock. I think the trees are Spruce so it’s not real bush (it’s not wild for a start), but it feels very much like it.

Years ago I went on a painting course with Ron Ranson and I’ve been trying to recall the lessons I learnt then, but I’m struggling. Somehow we managed to get very strong, rich colours and lovely loose expressive brush strokes – mind you, this was after a solid weekend of practice and lots of tuition so I know I’m expecting a lot to sit down and remember it all after about twenty minutes! I keep reminding myself of this and also that the aim really is to try lifting out paint again, which will happen in the later stages of the painting with some foreground trees. So far I really like the colours in the foreground, except for that unfortunate bloom on the left… I’ll have to think of some way to use it, while trying not to totally lose the nice tones.

Day 296: The Day After Halloween

Spooky Hollow (Watercolour)

Spooky Hollow (Watercolour)

Yesterday I had a lovely gift arrive, a parcel of watercolour paper from Mum & Dad – they know I’m running low, especially after Mum accidentally packed one of my pads and took it back to England with her :-).

Apparently the paper they’ve bought is easy to lift pigment from, so I decided to do some experimenting and try it out today with a great image I picked up from the Watercolour Painting Club that ties in well with Halloween too. The artist is Valerianna Claff and she lives in the woods that she paints. This is a single colour, Indigo, and began with a wash of colour across the top running into clean water towards the bottom. While the paint was still wet I ran a damp brush though it to create the white trunks in the background.

Once this stage was dry I added the middle distance using similar techniques and then finally painted the darkest trees in the foreground. Although I think the first wash could have been darker and needed to dry more before making the white tree trunks, I’m very happy with the way the paper behaved and how the paint lifted.

Day 253: The Sprouting Grapevine

New Shoots (Watercolour)

New Shoots (Watercolour)

I tried my hand at a loose wash this afternoon, as a starting point for a painting of the grapevine we have in the garden. It’s bursting into life all over the place, and I wanted to capture it before it becomes too huge and impossible to paint.

Despite my best efforts the washes were drying before I could move the paint around and blend it, so unfortunately there are lots of hard edges. Mind you, I shouldn’t judge yet… I’m depicting an old cracked trunk, so those hard edges might come in handy once I’ve worked out how I’m going to do this :-).