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!

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!

My current Watercolour Palette

This is my current watercolour palette cheatsheet that I tuck into my sketchbook as I go painting. One side is the pure watercolours, the others is white gouache mixed into the colours. It does dull the colours and give them a chalky look but it I want to add some opache highlights, I thought it could be useful.

I use the Winsor and Newton set of:

  • Lemon Yellow
  • Cadmium Yellow
  • Yellow Ochre
  • Intense Blue
  • Cadmium Red
  • Burnt Sienna
  • Burnt Umber
  • Viridian
  • Ultramarine
  • Green ( It’s stuck and I can’t get it out to see the label so I just label it green…)
  • Ivory Black

August 2017 Palette

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

rickerby-notes-aug-2017.jpg

Watercolour : Learning to be a beginner again

I want to share with you an experience that might be familiar to you if you’re just starting to painting or coming back to it. I like drawing and painting because of what creatives call ‘the zone’ where their attention is solely focused on what they’re creating, not the outside world. So this may not really be a typical meditation but I think it’s a close relation and it’s something I want much more of in my routine to help combat anxiety.

To help clear my thoughts and calm myself after a day of work I wanted to do a simple exercise that would relax me.

Painting negative shapes with watercolour by tracing a photo of leaves I took, with a cup of tea, some fruit and nut dairy milk and listening to the sounds of a thunderstorm as my background music.

By calming my breathing, I lit my favourite smelling candle and just allowed myself to be, trying not to think about what needed doing in the house or other work I could be doing, figuring out ways I could possible multitask to get the maximum efficiency from the moment. Giving myself permission for the next 2 hours to experience something I really enjoyed felt really liberating, like I was treating myself. It reminded me of the feeling I go when I visited a city with no plans other then to be and just taking in the sights around me.

It was a really nice feeling to have on a Thursday evening.
————-
So now it’s been about an hour and I’m feeling very frustrated. My brain won’t take each step slowly, so I keep messing up the watercolour washes as I rush to get it finished. I’m trying to have that feeling of satisfaction when it’s all completed and looks awesome before it’s been finished. Currently it just looks like random splotches on some paper and i can’t see where I need to go next with it. I haven’t used watercolour like this for about 2 months and normally it’s just simple washes over pencil. I used to do complicated pieces but it looks like I’m no longer at that level…

It’s uncomfortable to see where my skills currently are with watercolour, it’s not what I had planned for this evening to be about but I will still accept it. If I want to improve, I need to see where I’m currently standing to know what needs improving!

So, my times up, it’s Thursday so I need to get a decent amount of sleep before work tomorrow. Inorder to ease my frustration I have gotten my watercolour books out and found one that focuses on layering washes. Tomorrow night I will work through the beginning exercises. I will breath, calm down and allow myself to be a beginner again.