Sunday, 29 January 2012

The Study of Drapery – Part 2

Long Study of Drapery - 2
29 January 2012
Graphite Pencil on Paper
39cm x 35.5cm (15.5" x 14")

This is the second long study of drapery from the Natural Way to Draw. It took 6 hours - split into 3 2-hour sessions.

I learnt from the first study (see The Study Of Drapery - Part 1) and this time I drew the outline of all the folds before starting the shading.

The result is slightly disappointing because the folds in the middle of the fabric don’t look as three dimensional as the examples in the book. This is because the examples are of more complex arrangements and are drawn from an angle rather than face on. The next time I draw a drapery study I will include both of these factors in my setup.

This is the end of Section 11. It has been a change from the previous sections. They were all about focusing on the subject. The shading of the drapery requires you to spend more time looking at the paper. I wonder what is coming next.

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Sky Wash 1

Sky Wash 1
(View from Gunthorpe Bridge)

Watercolour on Paper
28cm x 19cm (11" x 7.5")

Last year, I was inspired by the blog One Hundred Washes to start each painting session by experimenting with a watercolour wash. My intention was to loosen up before stating work on the main painting and to learn more about working with watercolour.

Some of the results were good - the picture on Happy Christmas 2011 started life as one of these experiments, but overall, I realised I have a lot to learn about painting with watercolour.

I've decided to go back to basics and practice some simple sky washes. I have picked 7 or 8 different washes from John Lovett’s Splashing Paint DVD and from programmes on the Painting and Drawing Channel.

This first sky is from Geoff Kersey's Top Tips for Watercolour Artists. The sky is painted using two wet in wet washes (wet in wet means paint is applied to paper that is already wet with water or paint. The paint spreads out and creates soft edges, adjacent colours merge into each other and the edges of the wash merge into the background).

The first wash is a pink wash, which I applied to the horizon and faded out toward the top of the paper. After this had dried, I gently rewet the paper (so as not to disturb the pink wash) and added areas of blue and grey, which merged and mixed together on the page.

After the sky was dry, I decided to  use it as the backdrop for a view of the Trent looking west from Gunthorpe Bridge. I wet the river and the area around the horizon before painting the trees. This gives the reflections and the trees in the distance nice soft edges.

At some point, I will try this again and leave more white in the sky. I will also think more about the foreground I am going to add. This time I left myself with a distinct horizon line at the bottom of the sky, which I didn't need and had to use as the bank of the Trent.

Sunday, 15 January 2012

Blakemere Moss

Blakemere Moss
Watercolour on Paper
24cm x 34cm (9.5" x 13.5")

Blakemere Moss is in Delamere Forrest near Chester. This is a view on a sunny but cold spring morning.

The Moss was originally wetland. It was drained in the 19th century, planted with trees and subsequently re-flooded in the late 1990s (see Wikipedia - Delamere Forest). It is an attractive area and a bit otherworldly because there are trees and the remains of trees emerging from the lake.

This picture is my second painting based on the design ideas from a John Lovett workshop. (see Studio Workshop). My objective for this picture was to create depth by using soft edges in the background and hard edges in the foreground. I stuck to my resolution to use thumbnail sketches to explore the subject and compose the picture.

Blakemere Moss - Thumbnail Sketches

My first decision was whether to use a landscape or a portrait format. I then experimented with the position of the horizon, the size of the far bank, the position and angle of the floating logs and the height and spacing of the foreground trees.

I’ve never got on with thumbnails in the past, but now I find them useful and enjoy drawing them. This is a beneficial side effect of the Daily Composition exercise from the Natural Way to Draw (see Daily Composition). I used to be too tentative with thumbnails, but now I dash them off quickly – 203 scribbly daily compositions have made all the difference.

As well as helping with the composition, the thumbnails serve as a rehearsal for the real drawing. By the time I start the painting I have already drawn the main elements half a dozen times, which makes starting the drawing less daunting.

Sunday, 8 January 2012

The Study of Drapery – Part 1

Long Study of Drapery - 1
6 January 2012
Graphite Pencil on Paper
46cm x 33cm (18" x 13")

I am two weeks into Section 11 of the Natural Way to Draw and on Friday, I finished the first long study of drapery - you are looking at 4 hours of drawing.

The instructions for the exercise result in a stylised representation. For each fold, you have to decide what is the top, what are the sides and what is the bottom. The top of each fold you leave white, the sides you shade light grey and the bottom you shade dark grey. Where one fold is underneath another, you shade the fabric a very dark grey where it emerges from under the other fold.

The objective of the exercise is to explore and understand the structures of the interacting folds – not to create an accurately rendered drawing. Without this understanding, it would be easy to fool yourself by creating a lovely shaded drawing that looks very attractive and detailed, but is really quite inaccurate.

I’m glad there are two long studies in Section 11. I’ve learnt a lot from this exercise and I am looking forward to starting a 6-hour drawing this week. The main change I will make to my approach is to spend more time drawing the shapes of the folds before starting to shade them. In the 4-hour drawing, I started shading too early because I was losing track of what was the top, side and bottom of the intricate folds at the top of the fabric. Next time I am going to fight the urge to shade and if necessary, write t, s and b on the drawing to help keep track of things. I am also going to take more care over shading the folds as they emerge from under each other.

The fabric I am using is probably too lightweight. Some of the folds it creates are very delicate – the tops are very thin.  Before I start the next exercise, I am going to try to obtain a heavier fabric, which should create more rounded folds.

The setup for the exercise provided a challenge for me. It might be a problem for anyone that doesn’t have a studio and doesn’t want to cover their house in holes. The instructions are to tack the fabric to the wall. There are two long studies and in parallel, you might do up to 50 short studies- that is a lot of tack holes. My solution is to use suction cup hooks and fold back clips. This works quite well as long as you stick the suction cups to glass. They only seem to stick for a couple of minutes on wood or plaster, but they stick like glue to glass - this arrangement in the window has been up for over two week.

My Drapery Setup

Sunday, 1 January 2012

Farewell Modelled Drawing in Water Color

Dirty Nelson
Modelled Drawing - 18 December 2011
Watercolour on Paper
43cm x 35.5cm (17" x 14")

Happy New Year.

On Christmas Eve, I finished Section 10 of the Natural Way to Draw and said farewell to modelled drawing in water color (see Modelled Drawing in Water Color and The Return of Modelled Drawing in Water Color). Sadly, I am not sorry to see it go.

The drawings on this post are my best  – the rest are never going to see the light of day. The picture at the top of the post is Nelson (see the photo at the bottom of The Return of Modelled Drawing in Water Color).  The second picture is a papier-mâché piggy bank made by Jeff, Jack, William and Christopher for Elaine.

Modelled drawing in water color is a difficult exercise. There are watercolour techniques that would give beautiful modelling effects, but Kimon Nicolides stresses the importance of not using them because the point of the exercise is to draw with the brush as though it was a crayon.

At times if felt like I had my hands tied behind my back. In the end, I accepted the drawings are not going to be as pleasing as the ink and crayon drawings. If the result looks solid and 3 dimensional, I judge the drawing to be a success. More important is the experience of creating the drawing - Did I learn something? Did I feel as though I touched the object? Did I learn something about the subject that I didn’t know before I started the exercise?

Oi Piggy
Modelled Drawing - 21 December 2011
Watercolour on Paper
35.5cm x 33cm (14" x 13")

Elaine eventually found the Marie Prett cats she wanted for her birthday (see Angel Cat Thing). Joan bought them for her from Baxters in Dartmouth. 

Angel and Devil Cat
Sculptures by Marie Prett