Sunday, 24 June 2012

Sky Wash 7

Sky Wash 7
(Geoff Kersey's Winter Barn)
Watercolour on Paper
25.5cm x 16.5cm (10" x 6.5")

Geoff Kersey is a master of the wet in to wet background. He uses the technique to create soft background shapes with colours that gently blend into each other. It is particularly effective for distant trees.

This is my version of the Winter Barn from his programme on the Painting and Drawing Channel.

Geoff wet the paper down to the barn and the horizon line. He painted the sky using the side of a large brush. He used angled strokes and made the sky darker towards the top and lighter towards the horizon to give a feeling of perspective.

While the sky was still wet, he applied a dark brown mix to create the soft edged shapes of the background trees. He spiced this up with a few warmer orangey brown patches and then finished by adding the fir trees and dark green bushes to the left of the barn. He did all this before the sky had time to dry.

Previously, I have had problems with this type of background. I have tended to add the trees while the sky is still too wet. The result is the paint spreads wildly and creates shapes that look more like horrible clouds than trees.

This time I was more careful and paid attention to Geoff’s advice. The crucial moment to add the trees is just as the shine starts to leave the wet paper. When you look for this, it is quite easy to spot. The other important factor is the paint you are adding has to be less watery than the paint already on the paper. This gives the desired effect - soft edged trees that don't crawl off the paper.

Saturday, 16 June 2012

Study of the Bones

Study of the Bones - 10 June 2012
Graphite Pencil on Paper
37cm x 53.5cm (14.5" x 21")

This is my first attempt at the Study of the Bones exercise from the Natural Way to Draw.

The exercise uses a contour drawing from the sustained study (see Section 13) as a starting point. You put a piece of tracing paper over the contour study and make a gesture drawing of the skeletal system using the contour drawing, the model and a few anatomical charts for reference.

I thought I had told Elaine about the exercise, but I hadn’t. As she posed, she wondered why I spent more time looking at a textbook than her and why I occasionally wandered over to squeeze an arm or a leg. She guessed I was doing a new exercise, but she wasn’t prepared for the results.

The study of the bones is the first exercise in the Natural Way to Draw that addresses the subject of anatomy. The instructions seemed straightforward, but trying to draw a skeleton for the first time is anything but simple.  Nicolaides stresses the importance of being light hearted about the study and not being disillusioned by the initial results. The aim is to assimilate knowledge gradually rather than being overwhelmed by a detailed crash course.

Sunday, 10 June 2012

A Year of Daily Compositions

Elaine Cooking Dinner
Daily Composition - May 2012
Graphite Pencil on Paper
13cm x 19cm (5" x 7.5")

Last Sunday (3 June 2012), I completed a year of the Daily Composition exercise from the Natural Way to Draw.

The daily composition is a scribbled gesture drawing of figures and their environment (see Daily Composition). It is drawn from memory and can be something you have seen in the last 24 hours, a memorable event from your past or even an imagined scene – at least half the drawings should be a scene from the last 24 hours.

Man at the Bar in the Black Horse
Daily Composition - May 2012
Graphite Pencil on Paper
20cm x 15cm (8" x 6")

As the name suggests, the daily composition is supposed to be a daily exercise. I managed to do a drawing on 339 of the 366 days.

Most of the days I missed were in the early part of the year. In the first few weeks, I worried about doing the exercise when I was tired and not giving it my best. This was until I realised the importance of the instruction to do the exercise every day. Nicolaides practically says quantity is as important as quality. If the choice is between doing the exercise badly and not doing the exercise, do the exercise. If you put in the effort, the quality will eventually take care of itself.

The exercise is about observation. It encourages you to take a moment each day to think - if I am going to draw this, what do I need to remember? It is also a daily statement of my intention to learn to draw.

Ladies in Baseball Caps Making Sandwiches Behind a Display Fridge
Daily Composition - May 2012
Graphite Pencil on Paper
20cm x 15cm (8" x 6")

Sunday, 3 June 2012

Peggy’s Neighbours

Peggy’s Neighbours
Watercolour on Paper
34cm x 24cm (13.5" x 9.5")

These are the buildings just to the right of the Peggy Guggenheim Collection (the Palazzo Venier dei Leoni) on the Grand Canal in Venice.

This is another picture in which I’ve used a design idea from John Lovett’s Studio Workshop post as a starting point.

The objective was to make a strong focal point from a uniform fa├žade.

I used thumbnail sketches to reorganise the elements of the picture to create a focal point around the boats and the base of the pink building.

Peggy’s Neighbours - Thumbnail Sketches

I wanted to paint the picture in a loose style. With this in mind, I applied the first few washes with a 1-inch bristle decorating brush.

I am quite accurate with a half-inch brush, but this 1-inch brush is just too big and bushy for me to apply paint precisely.

It may seem obvious, but I am only just realising that for a loosely painted picture to work, the background usually has to be the loosest part of the whole painting.

An additional benefit of the large brush is if the initial paint marks are unfussy, I am less inclined to paint the details in a rigid fashion.

When I started to write this post, I tried to remember the location of the buildings. I looked at the photo for clues and for the first time recognised the distinctive palazzo creeping in from the left. I’ve been working with the reference photo for weeks without really looking at its left hand edge because it is not in my picture.