Sunday, 29 April 2012

Sky Wash 6

Sky Wash 6
(The Mill on Kneeton Road)
Watercolour on Paper
28cm x 19cm (11" x 7.5")

This sky is based on a Terry Harrison sky from his Improve Your Trees in Watercolour programme on the Painting and Drawing Channel.

Terry wet the paper, loaded the brush with French Ultramarine Blue and then created a graded wash by painting horizontal stripes from the top without adding any more pigment. The intensity of the wash faded as his brush ran out of paint.

When the sky was still wet, he added a grey mixture to suggest the shadows at the bottom of the clouds and then created the cloud shapes by blotting them with a paper towel.

The graded wash technique that Terry used is different to the technique I used in Wash Swatches.  I think the method from the swatches provides a better approach to get a smooth colour transition, but Terry's technique gives more time to work on the clouds before the sky dries.

The foreground is the mill on Kneeton Road seen from across the fields.

Saturday, 21 April 2012

On The Mud

On The Mud
Watercolour on Paper
34cm x 52cm (13.5" x 20.5")

Wells-Next-The-Sea is an attractive harbour and tourist resort on the North Norfolk coast.

The harbour is about a mile from the sea. The channel that connects them shrinks to a trickle at low tide. Boats that are moored along the channel sink on to the sand as the tide goes out and float again as the tide comes in.

The stimulus for the picture was another idea from John’s Lovett's Studio Workshop post.  The objective was to incorporate empty space into the picture and to confine details to one part of the image.

On The Mud - Thumbnail Sketches

The composition is taken almost directly from of one of my reference photos. I made most of the design decisions by drawing different framing options on the photograph. I drew a couple of thumbnail sketches to experiment with some variations, but did not discover any improvements. The main benefits of drawing the thumbnails were to improve my understanding of the composition and to practice drawing it before starting work on the watercolour paper.

One of the things that attracted me to this scene was the opportunity to paint a large graded wash (see Wash Swatches).  I knew there was a fair chance that I would not get a perfect graduation of colour in such a large wash, but I anticipated that any imperfections would add atmosphere rather than spoil the painting.

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Farm Boy Racer

Farm Boy Racer
Watercolour on Paper
38cm x 28cm (15" x 11")

A local farm owner or tractor enthusiast owns a couple of lovely old tractors. I’ve never seen them out in the fields, but Elaine and I have run into them speeding along the local tracks.

I painted this at the first meeting of the Shelford Group of Artists since the Easter exhibition. The theme for the day was “Drawing with the Brush and Big Brush Techniques”. Tony Slater was keen we painted with our biggest brushes and without any preliminary pencil drawing.

I started by trying to draw the tractor in as few strokes as possible and then decided to make a gesture drawing to convey the tractor's lumbering speed and the sunlight reflecting on its grill.

It not easy to make a painting look quick and spontaneous – this was my fifth attempt. It took a couple of tries to get the basic drawing right and then a few more to sort out the details (or lack of them).

Sunday, 8 April 2012

Section 13

Sustained Study 1 - Contour Drawing
18 March 2012
Graphite Pencil on Tracing Paper
42cm x 51cm (16.5" x 20")

Yesterday I finished Section 13 of the Natural Way to Draw.

Section 13 is a milestone:
  • It is the halfway point
  • It pulls some of the threads of the course together into a single exercise (the sustained study)
  • It introduces the first exercise (the extended gesture study) that puts an emphasis on accurately drawing the proportions of the subject

The extended gesture study is a half hour exercise. It beings with a normal gesture drawing (see Gesture Drawing). You then make the drawing more accurate by looking for alignments, measuring angles and relative dimensions. You can even erase lines if the drawing becomes confusing. The one stipulation is not to allow this analytical thinking to impose rigidity on to the drawing. You have to keep returning to the spirit of the gesture and draw what the subject is doing.

The sustained study is drawn in four 1-hour sessions. It starts with an extended gesture drawing. You then put a piece of tracing paper over the gesture drawing and make a contour drawing. The instructions for the contour drawing are the same as for the original exercise (see Contour Drawing) - you have to imagine a physical contact with the subject and only draw when you are looking at the subject. The difference is you can look at the paper more often and use the gesture drawing to help locate your position on the paper.

Sustained Study 1 - Extended Gesture Drawing
11 March 2012
Graphite Pencil on Paper
42cm x 51cm (16.5" x 20")

You then remove the gesture drawing, cover the contour drawing with another sheet of tracing paper and make a modelled drawing in pencil. The instructions are largely the same as for the earlier modelled drawings (see Modelled Drawing) with one important exception. In the original exercise, the lightest parts of the drawing are the parts of the subject that are closest to you. In the sustained study, the lightest parts of the drawing are the lightest parts of the subject.

Sustained Study 1 - Modelled Drawing
31 March 2012
Graphite Pencil on Tracing Paper
42cm x 51cm (16.5" x 20")

I am immensely grateful to Elaine for all the time she spends posing and for allowing me to post these pictures. The modelled drawing is particularly unflattering, but it is an important measure of my progress at the mid point of the course. I’ve come a long way, but there is still a long way to travel.

Sunday, 1 April 2012

Holiday Sketch

25 March 2012
Water-soluble Pencil, Ink and Watercolour on Paper
25.5cm x 13cm (10" x 5")

On Tuesday, Elaine and I returned from an incredible holiday in the Maldives. We took a week off from the Natural Way to Draw, which made the break even more relaxing.

I kept up with the Daily Composition exercise and somehow I found time to draw Elaine reclining on a sun lounger.

This drawing is loosely based on the Extended Gesture Study and the Sustained Study from Section 13 of the Natural Way to Draw.

The Sustained Study brings together gesture drawing, contour drawing and modelled drawing. It uses tracing paper to overlay the different techniques. In this picture, I have used all three techniques on a single piece of paper.

I started by drawing an extended gesture study in water-soluble pencil. I followed this up with a contour drawing in ink and then some modelling with the water-soluble pencils.

I used a wet paintbrush to blend and soften the pencil lines. When this was dry, I finished the sketch by adding some watercolour.

This was an interesting experiment and I plan to do some more sketching using this technique.

Next weekend, I will write a more detailed post about the Extended Gesture Study and the Sustained Study.