Sunday, 19 November 2017

SketchingNow Foundations

Buy a Siren?
7 October 2017
Watercolour
Stillman & Birn Alpha Series Sketchbook
14.0cm x 20.3cm (5.5" x 8.0")

I’ve completed Liz Steel's SketchingNow Foundation course for the second time. This post contains my favourite sketches from lessons 6 to 12.

You can find sketches from lessons 1 to 5 in the post:


And some sketches from the first time I took the course in these posts:


The course contains 12 self-paced lessons - each of which explains a different concept and is made up of video demonstrations, downloadable content and exercises. An additional bonus of the course is you can learn a lot by watching how Liz uses her tools and materials.

I’ve enjoyed and benefited from the course. It has helped me to get back into the habit of drawing and painting. When I am short of inspiration, it is easy to just get on and do the exercises from a course or book. It removes the need to think about subjects or objectives.

The early lessons might be daunting for the complete beginner, but they cover a lot of the fundamentals. I would recommend a complete beginner follow the course twice in quick succession, but you may be better to start with a book like Keys to Drawing by Bert Dodson before taking Liz’s course.

The sketch at the top of the post was drawn as an exercise in balancing line and colour (Lesson 8). The phone rang at a critical point in the painting, so I let it go to voicemail. The call was from Elaine and I could hear her leaving a message. I was focused on the painting, but in the back of my mind I am sure she said something about going to buy a siren. It was only when I played the message back I realised she was coming home via Cirencester.

Mum's Bag
17 September 2017
Ink and Watercolour
Stillman & Birn Alpha Series Sketchbook
20.3cm x 14.0cm (8.0" x 5.5")

I drew Mum's Bag as an exercise in minimal setup (Lesson 6). Dad was keen to watch a sketch from beginning to end. It was strange to try and explain my thoughts as I went along.

Gloriously Sunny
8 October 2017
Ink and Watercolour
Stillman & Birn Alpha Series Sketchbook
14.0cm x 20.3cm (5.5" x 8.0")

This climbing plant was another exercise in balancing line and colour (Lesson 8).

Not a Bonsai
18 October 2017
Ink and Watercolour
Stillman & Birn Alpha Series Sketchbook
20.3cm x 14.0cm (8.0" x 5.5")

Elaine and I spent a few days at Ragdale Hall spa at the end of October. I found a relatively quiet place to sketch in one of the public rooms - looking out into the gardens. This little evergreen tree looked like a bonsai tree surrounded by the fallen leaves of its neighbours. I drew it as an exercise in creating a focus (Lesson 10). Not sure I achieved that, but I gave more thought to composition than I normally do when sketching.

Ragdale Hall - Thermal Spa Pavilion
18 October 2017
Ink and Watercolour
Stillman & Birn Alpha Series Sketchbook
20.3cm x 14.0cm (8.0" x 5.5")

I drew the spa pavilion from the same vantage point immediately after the previous sketch.

Painting Paraphernalia
6 November 2017
Ink and Watercolour
Stillman & Birn Alpha Series Sketchbook
20.3cm x 14.0cm (8.0" x 5.5")

This last sketch is a small selection from my extensive brush and water pot collection. This was drawn as an exercise in working from a focus (Lesson 11).

I’ve continued straight into Liz’s course about Edges, but the weather isn’t conducive to painting outdoors and isn't providing many strong shadows, so I may postpone it until the spring.

Sunday, 29 October 2017

Expressive Drawing – Conversations Between Orientations

Diagonal
Expressive Drawing - Chapter 3 - Build 2
Charcoal and Graphite on Paper
42.0cm x 59.4cm (16.5" x 23.4")

Conversations Between Orientation is the second “Build” exercise in Chapter 3 of Expressive Drawing by Steven Aimone. The objective of the exercise is to explore our responses to different line orientations.

The directions are:

  • Start 3 drawings using a mixture of horizontal, vertical and diagonal lines.
  • After drawing the initial lines, choose one of the drawings to emphasise horizontal orientation, a second to have a mainly vertical orientation and the third to focus on diagonals.
  • Develop the three drawings at the same time using the assert and obliterate approach from chapter 2 (see Expressive Drawing - The Drawing Process).

Horizontal
Expressive Drawing - Chapter 3 - Build 2
Charcoal, Graphite & Acrylic Paint on Paper
42.0cm x 59.4cm (16.5" x 23.4")

The Horizontal drawing is the only one in which I felt inclined to obliterate and reassert.

Vertical
Expressive Drawing - Chapter 3 - Build 2
Charcoal and Graphite on Paper
42.0cm x 59.4cm (16.5" x 23.4")

I probably strayed from a strict interpretation of the exercise because the chapter is all about lines and part of my focus was on suggesting shapes.

Sunday, 8 October 2017

Expressive Drawing – Conversations Between Line Weight

Elaine and I are settling in to our new home. Now the moving frenzy has died down I have more time for drawing and painting – I even have a studio.

I’ve returned to Expressive Drawing by Steven Aimone (see Expressive Drawing - The Drawing Process). Chapter 3 is about Line and Mark. There are some initial “Play” exercises involving the creation of samplers using different tools on different surfaces.

“Build” exercise 1 is Conversations Between Line Weight. The steps are:

  • Draw a simple line drawing using a ballpoint pen
  • Create 6 photocopies and stick them to the wall
  • Use a charcoal pencil and different line weights to create 6 variations of the original drawing (in my case scribble)

These are the results:







I enjoyed the exercise and am becoming a big fan of standing up to work. I’ve started tracing the drawings in ink (particularly the long flowing curves) as a technique for improving the quality of my lines. The results aren’t great, but they are improving.

Sunday, 17 September 2017

Welcome Back


Welcome Back
12 September 2017
Ink and Watercolour
Stillman & Birn Alpha Series Sketchbook
14.0cm x 20.3cm (5.5" x 8.0")

It took me 3 days to draw and paint our new front door. I started on Sunday and was rained off after a few minutes. I finished the drawing on Monday before getting rained on again and got up early on Tuesday to paint it before the rain started. I must have chilled on Wednesday or whatever Craig David did.

Mmm... Cookery Books
29 August 2017
Ink and Watercolour
Stillman & Birn Alpha Series Sketchbook
20.3cm x 14.0cm (8.0" x 5.5")

l am beginning to find time to draw and paint after a hectic period with moving and work.

Pot and Bowl with Shadow Shapes
27 August 2017
Ink and Watercolour
Stillman & Birn Alpha Series Sketchbook
20.3cm x 14.0cm (8.0" x 5.5")

Last year, I learnt a lot from Liz Steel’s Sketching Now - Foundations course, so I'm following it again to get back into the swing of regular sketching. The sketches on this post are my favourites from the first 5 lessons. They seem more confident and relaxed than last year.

In the Bathroom
4 September 2017
Ink and Watercolour
Stillman & Birn Alpha Series Sketchbook
20.3cm x 14.0cm (8.0" x 5.5")

I can never get this toothbrush right. I've drawn it 4 times and it always ends up too wide. This time I was intent on making it stick thin and it still ended up looking stocky. The pattern on the toiletry bag was fun because I didn't fuss about accuracy.

Modest Too
4 September 2017
Ink and Watercolour
Stillman & Birn Alpha Series Sketchbook
20.3cm x 14.0cm (8.0" x 5.5")

The pencil case was a gift from Elaine. I’m not quite big-headed enough to buy it for myself.

Sunday, 25 June 2017

St Peter's for Bob

St Peter's For Bob
Watercolour On Paper
26cm x 18cm (10" x 7")

It is over 2 years since Bob asked me to paint a view of East Bridgford church. Unfortunately, his request coincided with a shift in my interest towards sketching and away from creating "finished" works. The problem was compounded because Bob wanted the scene to include the copper beech – which became a compositional challenge. I tried a variety of ideas without finding anything that worked.

When Elaine and I sold our house, this gave me the extra impetus to finish. Especially when Bob and Angela invited us to lunch on the Sunday before we left the district. I was pleased (and extremely relieved) to be able to deliver the framed painting before joining them for our last meal in the village.

The Five-Value Monochrome Study and Two-Layer Geometric Sketch from Watercolor Painting by Tom Hoffmann helped to clarify what to include in the picture and what aspects of the painting were going to be the most challenging.

I’ve not found time for any other drawing and painting since we sold our house. It’s weeks since I’ve picked up a pencil or brush. The process of buying, selling and moving house seems to have taken for ever. Thankfully, we are now settling into our new home. In the next week or two, I am planning to restart where I left off with Expressive Drawing by Steven Aimone and to retake Liz Steel’s on-line sketching class - SketchingNow - Foundations.

Sunday, 21 May 2017

Expressive Drawing - The Drawing Process


Expressive Drawing - Chapter 2 - Build 1
Charcoal, Graphite & Acrylic Paint on Paper
84.1cm x 59.4cm (33.1" x 23.4")

I’ve started to study and follow the exercises from Expressive Drawing by Steven Aimone.

Expressive Drawing - Chapter 2 - Play 1
Acrylic Paint on Paper
84.1cm x 59.4cm (33.1" x 23.4")

The subtitle of the book is A Practical Guide to Freeing the Artist Within. It contains a stimulating mixture of theory, exploring the works of other artists and practice.

Steven has an expansive definition of drawing. It includes far more than the representational drawing I have focused on so far. He defines drawing as “the arrangement of line and mark in space, designed to serve a variety of expressive purposes.”

Expressive Drawing - Chapter 2 - Play 1 - Right Handed
Acrylic Paint on Paper
84.1cm x 59.4cm (33.1" x 23.4")

Part 1 is about the Drawing Process and begins with Automatic Drawing – drawing with no plan, no purpose and, no conscious control. The instructions are simple:

  • Work on big paper with a decorator’s brush and either artist’s acrylic paint or house paint.
  • Hold the brush by the end of the handle in the palm of your hand
  • Load the brush with paint.
  • Approach the drawing surface as if you were a fencer with one of your feet forward and the other back.
  • Stand far enough away that you need to lean forward to reach the paper.
  • Without thinking or planning, make a line, a squiggle, a doodle - capture your first impulse.
  • Step back and look at the line or lines you just made.
  • As soon as any urge to respond occurs, do it - make another mark.
  • Repeat. Keep going. Looking and responding until nothing more occurs to you, or until you like what you see. Then stop - the drawing is finished.

After Automatic Drawing the next concept is Working in Flux. You start with some Automatic Drawing and then obliterate part of the drawing with white paint and then repeat.

Expressive Drawing - Chapter 2 - Play 1 - Small
Ink on Paper
14.0cm x 20.3cm (5.5" x 8.0")

There are 3 exercises:

  • Play 1 - Automatic Drawing with some variations
  • Play 2- Working with Flux Non-Objectively
  • Build 1 - Working with Flux Narratively

Narratively - involves including symbols and text.

The exercises have been a satisfying change. I’ve particularly enjoyed the spontaneous attitude and the broken lines created when a brush is running out of thick paint.

Expressive Drawing - Chapter 2 - Play 2
Charcoal, Graphite & Acrylic Paint on Paper
84.1cm x 59.4cm (33.1" x 23.4")

Build 1 (at the top of the post) was an interesting experience. As the layers built up the drawing changed from having an angry atmosphere to the relatively calm end result.

Sunday, 9 April 2017

January and February 2017 Sketches

Valentine's Day Cufflinks
15 February 2017
Ink and Watercolour
Stillman & Birn Alpha Series Sketchbook
20.3cm x 14.0cm (8.0" x 5.5")

Elaine and I are busy looking for a new house, which is not leaving much time for sketching. Most of my recent sketches have been done quickly without a pencil under drawing. The cufflink and little brown jug sketches are the only exceptions. In both cases, I used some under drawing to better understand the shapes and perspective before committing to ink. The eye-catching Paul Smith cufflinks are a Valentine’s day gift from Elaine.

Ragdale Tree
11 February 2017
Ink and Watercolour
Daler Rowney A6 Ebony Sketchbook
10.5cm x 14.9cm (4.1" x 5.9")

We had a relaxing pre-Valentine long weekend at Ragdale Hall. I managed to squeeze in one sketch from our bedroom window.

Ivy Clad Tree
7 March 2017
Ink
Daler Rowney A6 Ebony Sketchbook
10.5cm x 14.9cm (4.1" x 5.9")

I’ve started using a grey Tombow dual brush pen to establish a mid-tone in quick sketches. The ink doesn’t seem to be waterproof, but if you give it a moment to dry and blot it, it doesn’t bleed too badly into a watercolour wash. This is a quicker alternative for creating tone in a coloured sketch than waiting for layers of watercolour to dry.

I’m experimenting with this technique, with the intention of it being my sketching approach of choice for the summer holidays.

Little Brown Jug
23 March 2017
Ink and Watercolour
Daler Rowney A6 Ebony Sketchbook
10.5cm x 14.9cm (4.1" x 5.9")

Elaine’s grandmother used to have 3 of these jugs, but this is the only survivor.

Driftwood House
28 March 2017
Ink and Watercolour
Daler Rowney A6 Ebony Sketchbook
14.9cm x 10.5cm (5.9 x 4.1")

This driftwood sculpture by Kirsty Elson is a great little subject.  It’s not the first time its appeared on this blog (see January 2015 Sketches).