Tag Archives: sketch

Refreshed and buzzing

Hello everyone. I’ve recently returned refreshed from a brilliant two week holiday in East Devon. The weather was phenomenal, sunny and dry with only one day being washed out. And we watched Bottlenose Dolphins for a whole 20 minutes as they swam in the looking- glass sea!! Sorry, just had to get that out now because, well, because… DOLPHINS! YAY!!

It’s been over six months now since my dad died, and given how I’ve been feeling I’d reined back any artistic expectations for the holiday. My life approach at the moment is to take each day as it comes. If I feel like painting or drawing I will, if I don’t, then I won’t. The muse will come back when it’s ready, and judging by this holiday that’s not going to be long.

Thumbox2
Guerrilla pochade box

To keep things simple I just took my 6” by 8” Guerrilla pochade box with a few basic acrylics and my trusty Saunders Waterford watercolour sketchbook and Herring compact palette. I surprised myself by how soon into the holiday I actually wanted to paint – I was positively itching on some days. By the end of the fortnight I’d knocked out four acrylics and a few watercolour sketches. Doesn’t sound like much, but believe me this has been a big step forward.

Carole painting
Carole painting on Monmouth beach

I’m most pleased with a couple of the watercolour sketches. My wife Carole was painting fossils on Monmouth beach in Lyme Regis in Dorset. The light around her head was wonderful, and I worked quickly to establish her in as few brushstrokes as possible. I think the sense of strong sunlight really comes through don’t you?

View toward Charmouth
View toward Charmouth

My second is a view from Lyme over the bay towards Charmouth, an iconic spot for wonderful Jurassic fossils. I’ve not got the tonal depth quite right to big up the sunlight falling on the cliffs, but it’s sparked a desire to work this into a larger piece. Fortunately I bought a bunch of panoramic canvases while I was in Sidmouth. My thought is to work it completely in oils or alykds. It’s been a while, but I do miss using them and want to start the switch back, at least for some paintings.

So, rather unexpectedly, I seem to have come back with my head full of ideas and with a generally creative buzz. All manner of projects and fancies are popping into my head, and not all are painting related. There’s the painting above of course, but I also rather fancy having a crack at making a moody painting of The Batman. I’m sure some people might raise an eyebrow or two – surely not a ‘proper’ subject for a painter? ‘Tish’ and ‘Phooey’ I say to that – in the nicest possible way of course. It’s the scope for creating a dark brooding atmosphere by playing with the light that attracts – so many levels of black; besides he’s such an iconic character.

I also fancy breaking out the Sculpey this winter to reconstruct another dinosaur, possibly a Scelidosaurus. I sculpted an Allosaurus fragilis a few years ago, something else which I’m determined to paint and finish it in the next month or two. Scelidosaurus is very much a ‘British’ dinosaur with many of its remains being found at Charmouth –now there’s a happy coincidence J

But above all these I’ve just accepted a commission! It’s going to be in alkyds, it will be big at 40″ by 30″ and will feature an Italian Spinone called Jo-Jo – a gorgeous, slobbery hairball of a dog; she’s so lovely.

My immediate issue with all this returning enthusiasm is limited time. I know I can only do so much, and I’ve been putting off clearing my dad’s house for sale, a huge, emotionally draining job. It contains the sole remaining physical traces of the lives of my dad, my mum, nan and grandad. Everything I throw away, recycle or sell dismantles a little more of the fabric of their lives, fraying their memory. It’s truly heart rending.

So, watch keep watching this space, ‘Follow’ me on Twitter or ‘Like’ my Facebook page. Progress may be sporadic, but bear with me.

Plein air sketches from East Devon and Dorset

So, here we’re back in what always feels like our second home, Seaton in East Devon and about to start the second week of our holiday.

Sadly, this year, we’re here following a very recent and very close family bereavement. Needless to say our thoughts have been mixed, and of all things our minds haven’t been focussed on making paintings.

However, there have been opportunities to sketch, and I think making the effort has been mentally beneficial for both of us. The weather has been very kind too.  So here is a collection of my plein air sketches in watercolour, gouache and pencil. Hope you like them. I’ll update this post with any new sketches after next week.

Plein air sketches from East Devon and Dorset

Goodbye Drawing August

And so the second year of Drawing August slips away. For me it really has been a challenge. Despite keeping strictly to my self-imposed time limit of 15 minutes per drawing, getting the time at weekends has still been whisker tight. Honestly, I think I’ve acquitted myself OK with my set of pen portraits of work colleagues. Admittedly there are one or two horrors in there, but by and large all have carried something of the sitter. I was tempted to leave some out of the succession, but that would defeat the object. This has been about exploring an area of drawing which is outside my comfort zone.  It’s simply not possible to turn out a corker each time; I’m wide of that goal by a very wide country mile at the moment. By and large I have stuck to my guns and produced only pen line drawings, although on Day 16 I went off piste a little with a set of Winsor and Newton watercolour markers. Well they were sitting in their shiny new box beckoning to me; would have been rude not to use them… Before I leave you with a gallery of all thirty one sketches here’s a summary of the key things I’ve learned:

  • Warm up first. Coming straight from an intense analytical mind set at work and expecting to produce a great sketch in 15 minutes was never going to be the best work practie. You may be able to spot the days when I was most agitated.
  • Line up other people to model at weekends. I got a little tired of knocking out selfies.
  • A thicker pen is both more impactful and encourages greater and more immediate expression.
  • Maybe a little variation wouldn’t have been a bad thing after all. By sticking rigidly to my brief – the drawings have taken on a similar quality and tend to merge one into the other.

Finally, a bonus side effect  of Drawing August is that now several of my sitters are very willing for me to continue beyond August, just to keep my hand in.  Thanks everyone for being such willing and accommodating sitters. Without you this page would be blank.

The Portraits

My personal favourites are Days 1, 2, 6, 7, 21 and 23, which are yours?

So that was Skymarch

Skymarch has been the latest of the monthly Twitter tagged ‘challenges’ which I’ve found so very helpful in driving my motivation since August last year. Now, with March coming to an end I’d like to gather together the items I’ve submitted for #skymarch.

All the challenges are informal, accepting submissions as and when.  Many artists have committed to post new material each day, but despite my best intentions for me this isn’t always practical. For one thing I seem to be falling asleep in the chair most evenings. What can I say? I need my beauty sleep. It takes a lot of effort to stay looking this good… *coughs*

With this practice I think my handling of acrylics is improving; the characteristics of the medium are starting to sink in.  I’ve deliberately tried to restrict myself to a few minutes for each sketch.  Many have only taken around 15 minutes.

I did submit a couple of finished paintings: Chun Quoit (from around ten years ago) and Charmouth from the west.  OK, I know, using an old painting is cheating I guess, but I know you’ll never tell…  All the rest are sketches, and here they are:

You can see a selection of other artists’ submissions gathered together by Ian Gordon Craig on his Pinterest page.