Good morning 2018

Good morning all!

There’s been a big sleep on this blog as i’ve been settling into my new location. The house is done and the sun is coming out and things are starting to get more exciting around here!

During my quiet time I’ve been thinking about what it is that causes me to keep coming back to art. I realise that alot of what drives my curiousity and creative practice is the experimenting and finding new techniques and tools to play with. I want to see how differnet people use the same tools for the same problem and create very different solutions. It’s fascinating!

I don’t chase after big exhibitions as a rule, when i’m thinking of doing my personal artwork, as they are not my end goal. It’s the discovery aspect of playing and experiencing new solutions to age old problems that I enjoy. Plus, with the new technology coming through, its making art appear more and more like magic!

I have been getting out drawing again and I have taken to using watercolours on location. You can see some of my work here.

As a focus, I am using Carlisle Cathedral as my subject to practice on. Everyday it has a different atmosphere and so many small details that i’m finding it very interesting. Listening to the bells, this daily practice has become like my own prayer, to centre myself and get back to me. I’m looking forward to seeing the results of this practice.

Colour play – Winsor and Newton designer gouache

Hi,
So as mentioned before, I get serious creative blocks ATM and end up procrastinating around them rather then trying to start a painting. HOWEVER! I have tried to make them useful for a future where I am painting more again and have been creating colour charts for my different paint sets. I currently have a selection of tubes and pans from the Winsor and Newton Cotman range, as well as the Winsor and Newton designer gouache set of 10 colours. I also have a 48 watercolour pan set from Sennelier which I needed to test out fully. It’s a beautiful set and I mainly went on colour instinct when I was choosing my colours from it, which seems like quite a waste. To better plan my paintings¬†I wanted to have a good overview of how the colours mixed with each other and doing a full colour chart looked like the best way to do this.

I am halfway through the watercolour charts but I have finished the gouache one which I’m posting here ( mistakes and all!)
I really like this set as you get such a vibrant range of colours but can easily tone them down. I used this set for my first attempts at plein air painting in 2016 and again at Gelts woods ( which you can see here. They were good as gouache can easily be layered and highlights can be added in later, which eased some of my nerves and allowed me to just have fun with sloshing paint around!)


Winsor and Newton designer gouache colour palette

Within this set you get

  • Zinc white
  • Primary yellow
  • Permanent yellow deep
  • Yellow ochre
  • Spectrum red
  • Primary red
  • Permanent green middle
  • Primary blue
  • Ultramarine
  • Ivory black

The primary colours they developed mixed nicely with each other greeting these beautiful clean colours. I have tried all the other combinations yet but you can see that mixing Ultramarine with primary red still makes a strong clean violet. You can create some nice olive greens with ivory black and primary yellow or Ultramarine blue. Mixing all the colours with the zinc white produces some lovely pastel colours as well. Using these on coloured paper would look beautiful.
I have also used this set to create a gift box for my niece and the colours painted beautifully onto a hobby craft cardboard gift box and dried nicely. As you can see, she’s rather fond of the trolls movie and anything colourful so these paints were perfect!

Preparing to go charcoal location sketching

I'm preparing to go into the Lake District again and try sketching with charcoal instead of watercolours. Limiting myself to just figuring out composition and tonal values will be good practice for me! The forecast is clouds, sunshine and rain so there should be some dramatic lighting for the day as the sun comes out and it's something the Lake District captures really nicely!
My main concern is that I rarely use charcoal as a medium and I tend to over to it and get muddy values as I try to building up textures…
So as it's the night before, I'm going to get some practice in and then just give it a go tomorrow. The worst case scenario is I don't like my pictures but it'll still be a good learning experience! Plus, messy techniques are always really satisfying!!

I used charcoal pencils, a range of rubbers and some blue pastel for these sketches. I also put a wash on a couple of pieces of cartridge paper and tried a few scenes on them which worked nice but I found it kill some of the highlights that would have made the pictures come alive.

Derwentwater plein air – First attempts

I've mentioned before that I recently moved to Cumbria in England. This has given my spirit an excellence burst of inspiration and energy and has allowed some of my creativity to come out. I'm still making lots of colour charts ( I'll show you my most recent one in another post shortly!) but I'm also getting outdoors while the weather permits and doing some sketching with watercolours.
I visited Derwentwater recently ( home to the Derwent sketching pencils, I did visit the museum and their shop but I didn't buy more pencils…I have to use the ones I've got already before I allow myself to buy even more!) and here are some of the sketches I managed on the day. I'm really pleased with the day's outcome and felt that I've taken a solid step forward to where I want to be as an artist with this.


This is the palette I put together for my outing

  • Lemon yellow
  • Cadmium yellow
  • Yellow ochre
  • Burnt sienna
  • Van Dyke Brown
  • French Ultramarine
  • Cerulean
  • Quinacridone magenta
  • Cadmium red
  • Sap green
  • Hookers green light
  • Payne grey
  • Ivory black

I felt that I mainly ended up using lemon yellow and yellow ochre mixed with all the combinations of the blues and greens to figure out the greens. Payne grey was my favourite for the clouds and water with cerulean for the sky. Having the readymade brown was handy to have, since I was using a very small mixing tray. I tested the colbalt turquoise but felt that cerulean and the Ultramarine were enough of a range for the palette

This is the colour range that I got from the set, I wanted a big range of greens from earthy to lush but not too many blue-greens as I know that I would mainly be trying to capture the forests and shrub land on the mountains. Very limited purples too which was fine as the heather isn't out yet. I also totally stopped round say greens name when I was labelling, oops!

On to the sketches! I warmed up with some pencil sketches before just sloshing paint about for the rest of the day.

I feel that I need more practice with my tonal values and compositions as I set up my sketches but I'm still really pleased with these ones and happy to share them with you all. If you've visited Derwentwater and did any sketches, post a like in the comments so I can see your stuff!

Getting out there

Turns out that working with Charcoal on large pieces of paper makes a lot of mess, which can be frowned upon when living with others.

So, my experiments didn’t last long but it was still good get my hand moving again and once I have a studio space set up again, I will continue my experimental mark making. In the meantime I have been getting out for walks in the Lake District and Northumberland.

I have included just a few sketches here. I mainly fell back to take photos as I explored new areas which was a lot quicker as I walked and gawped at things but didn’t help my practice that much. Plus my cameras pretty naff so the photos never do it justice.

Still I have managed a few blobby paintings as my first shaky steps back into things.

 

Gelts wood 13aug17

Rickerby Aug 2017

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Watercolour Architecture – Using digital software to plan a traditional painting

As an artist, i’m happy to use any tools that help me create my artistic vision. Over the centuries artists have been pretty amazing at creating simple tools to translate the incredibly complex world around them. The viewfinder is a perfect example of this, as is the plumbline: a rectangle with a hole in it and a piece of string with a weight on the end. Awesome.

preview4-kedleston-hall-laura-mossop

But, the user still needs to understand the proces of using these simplistic tools. If you don’t understand the idea of negative shapes or how to find a good composition, a viewfinder is not going to make you an artist. It’ll make you into someone looking at the world through the hole in a rectangle.

Digital tools come under this same class for me, although I appreciate they are more complicated to work at times then the trusty viewfinder. For my most recent paintings of Kedleston Hall I wanted to focus on the architecture and how light plays off the different planes of the building. I didn’t want to just draw a fancy house, I wanted to add my own creative flair and vision to what I saw.
So, I kept my colour palette simple. Like, really simple. Three colours in total to create each painting, which would keep things nice and harmonious so I could concentrate on the interesting compositions instead.

process1-kedleston-hall-laura-mossop

In photoshop I adjusted a reference photo to play with tonal contrast and composition, the best way I find to do this is when it’s in black and white. Then I go back to the original photo and play around with colour. This helps me visualise lots of different combinations. Doing it digitally like this is a lot faster then trying to do it with traditional mediums, plus I can tweak them cleanly. The last image above has been pixelated so its easier to focus purely on the range of colours and no the compositions details.

Once I have my colours sorted, I can then choose which colours to have in my palette. From there I do a small mock up to help me figure out the best way to apply them and to get me used to mixing the colours. Then, when I come to create the final painting, i’ve already done all my prep so a lot of the stress has been taken away and I can relax and enjoy the painting process.

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Derby Museums Exhibition: EVERYONE

Derby Museum and Gallery did a call out for artworks responding to the theme EVERYONE – Your place in the world. I have never responded to an artist call out before and I felt that this would be a lovely starter exhibition to enter.

As I want to develop my place to be outside painting, I chose an area of Derbyshire that I particularly liked, Dovedale in Ilam and created a design from a photo I recently took there. Obviously lots of deep thought going on for the idea behind this piece! Sometimes it’s nice just to paint your view of a place, which is what I set out to do here.

I sketched two designs first to give myself some practice and generate how I wanted the scene to look. The top once was too cold but quite cold to the actual colours, and the bottom one was a tad too psychadelic but I liked the idea of addng characters to the composition to give the view someone to connect to.¬† I then sketched the design onto canvas! I’ve included below my rouch sketchbook pages to see the process i went through. Nothing very complicated but it helped to get my thoughts in order and I could figure out what colours mixed well with others and how I could eliminate other colour options that would ruin the balance of the piece.

Derby-Museum-Exhibition-6-Laura-Mossop

Derby-Museum-Exhibition-7-Laura-Mossop

Derby-Museum-Exhibition-5-Laura-Mossop

Derby-Museum-Exhibition-2-Laura-Mossop

I used Gouache as my medium as i’m used to watercolours but I want to learn more about how to layer opaque paints, making Gouache the perfect middle ground. They were very easy to wipe off though at the beginning when I was adding new layers but eventually I got my under painting to how I wanted the colour structure to go.

Derby-Museum-Exhibition-3-Laura-Mossop

From there I just kept on refining the detail! I wish I had a good reference for a person in this kind of light but ended up having to work from memory and imagination ( dangerous combo when trying to get things looking realistic! ) and the final piece didn’t look too odd thankfully. I used some interactive acrylics for some colours I couldn’t make with my Gouache and for some of the whites.

Derby-Museum-Exhibition-4-Laura-Mossop

On Being scared to sketch

I think this predicament is common and that it’s something that many professional and hobby artists deal with and that yes, it does get easier in time but not with age (as we know when watching children sketch…They’re so darn carefree!). Something I have been dealing with for a long time is why, even though I love art and get inspired by nature and constantly look at other artworks and read various art books, I don’t draw and paint half as much as I should. Why all the procrastination? Why all the anxiety and fear at the beginning? What’s the deal brain, I thought this was what you wanted to do!

Silly brain…I think it’s just overwhlemed. By inadvertantly putting pressure on what i’m about to produce, my vision and thoughts that i’m going to capture by drawing, by judging it before i’ve even made a mark….I create a dream artwork before the real artwork even has a chance to begin to create itself and it will never match up to all the half formed ideas that are in my head, merging together.

I think the best thing to do when you’re scared to even start to sketch is to stop thinking of it as a finished piece of artwork and think of it as an exploratory journey. What am I looking at? What an interesting leaf! The way there is a rhythm going through all the branches is relaxing to look at, how does it look if I try to capture it with these kind of marks. Hm, not so good, i’ll make a note of that and remember it for the next sketch I do. How big are these leaves compared to the ones in the background? How will my mark-making change? How much space do they take up compared to the foreground leaves?

Knowing different drawing techniques is still a must, but sometimes we forget that they’re just advice to help us, things people have learnt in the past through trial and error and have passed along as a good way of achieving a particular task. As an artist, you’re allowed to have your own trial and errors and to find your own way of capturing things that you’ve discovered on your own exploratory journeys. The creative jumps and experiments that you make based on your own tastes and judgements help to create new processes.

So don’t be scared to start sketching, there isn’t a need for fear or anxiety here, just curiousity and a desire for discovery. Plus, you don’t have to show anyone if you don’t want to but it can fun to chat about your discoveries and errors with other artists. Share the journey you’re both on and laugh at things that didn’t go quite right but look kinda funny now…

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