Sunday, 25 May 2014

Outlines and Blind Contour Drawings

Another Angel Cat
25 May 2014
Graphite Pencil
Daler Rowney A6 Graduate Sketchbook
105mm x 149mm (4.1" x 5.9")

The sketches on this post are my two most recent sketches. The stranger looking drawings are blind contour drawings (see Contour Drawing) of the same subjects.

Another Angel Cat
Blind Contour Drawing  - 25 May 2014
Graphite Pencil on Paper
20cm x 30cm (8" x 12")

Both sketches are experiments using techniques suggested by Adebanji Alade on his Inspired to Sketch blog as Hot Shot 7, 8 - Practice Sketching the Outline and the Blind Contour and Hot Shot 9 - Practice Sketching the Outlines with Angles.

Following Adebanji’s suggestion, I dived straight in and started drawing outlines on blank pieces of paper. This isn't my favourite approach. I prefer to use an extended gesture study (see Section 13) to create a scaffold and to draw outlines and contours on top.

Buddha's Head
15 May 2014
Graphite Pencil
Daler Rowney A6 Graduate Sketchbook
105mm x 149mm (4.1" x 5.9")

I won’t change my approach based on these experiments, but I will use them as occasional training exercises to improve my ability to judge line lengths and relative angles. Adebanji stresses the importance of blind contour drawing as a tool to develop these skills, so I will also reintroduce this into my practice.

Buddha's Head
Blind Contour Drawing  - 14 May 2014
Graphite Pencil on Paper
27cm x 39.5cm (10.5" x 15.5")

The angel cat is a sculpture by Marie Prett. I posted a painting of another of her angel cats back in 2011 (see Angel Cat Thing).

Sunday, 18 May 2014

Into the Light

Into The Light
Watercolour on Paper
28cm x 14cm (11" x 5.5")

Yesterday was the Shelford Group of Artists’ painting day for May. Tony Slater's theme was Into the Light.

Painting “Into the Light” involves placing the subject directly in front of a strong light source, usually the early morning or late evening sun. The subject is silhouetted against the light which may seem to create a halo around it. Long shadows stretch towards the viewer. The results are often atmospheric and evocative of time and place.

Before the workshop, Tony suggested we look at the paintings of David Curtis who is a master of the this sort of lighting.

James Gurney also acknowledges David as an expert in the technique (see and supplies the posh term for the lighting effect - Contre-jour lighting. This is one of the topics that James discusses in his excellent book "Color and Light".

The only good source photograph I had was a scene of a graveyard on a sunny evening. When I started the picture, I realised I wasn't in the mood for such a complex subject. Instead I experimented with a view of some clouds with the sun behind them from a summer evening in Dartmouth.

I painted the same scene five times using different techniques: sometimes using gouache to create sunlight on the water, sometimes relying on just dry brush work and sometimes using wax as a resist. This is my favourite of the five - it was also the simplest and fastest to paint. I didn't create a finished painting, but I had fun, plenty of painting practice and learnt from my experiments.

Sunday, 11 May 2014

Sketching Again

New Shoes
7 May 2014
Graphite Pencil
Daler Rowney A6 Graduate Sketchbook
149 x 105mm (5.9 x 4.1 inches)

I've started drawing again after a 3 week break to try and recover from the RSI (repetitive strain injury) that has developed in my hands and forearms.

My first sketch was a couple of studies of some snapdragons (antirrhinums) in our back garden.

6 May 2014
Graphite Pencil
Daler Rowney A6 Graduate Sketchbook
105 x 149mm (4.1 x 5.9 inches)

For this first sketch, I drew a rough gesture study and then focused on Contour Drawing. The flower was out of direct sunlight, so there was no light and shade pattern. The shading on the flower is primarily to describe the form. I could have taken this modelling further and may try another flower study this week.

The drawing of the walking shoe was a different experience. This time my focus was on accurate proportions, angles and alignments. My goal was to draw a shoe in which all the elements were convincingly lined up and proportioned.  I was ready to spend the full 30 minutes working on this, but in the end, I had some time left over for some contour drawing and modelling.

For the next few weeks, I am going to reduce the amount of time I spend drawing, painting and blogging. The symptoms of the RSI are reducing, but the physiotherapist says it could take months to recover and there is always the danger of relapse. Drawing doesn't seem to cause problems, but I don’t think it is giving my hands and arms the rest they need after a day of working on a computer.  Until I am recovered, I am going to focus less on following exercises from books and more on drawing and painting for pure enjoyment.

Sunday, 4 May 2014

Experiments with Gouache

Bluebells in Oversley Wood
Acrylic Ink and Gouache on Paper
10cm x 10cm (4" x 4")

Ann Blockley's recently published book - Experimental Landscapes in Watercolour contains a subsection called  "the versatility of gouache".

Gouache contains the same basic ingredients as watercolour paint, but the recipe is changed to make it opaque. In some brands this opacity may be achieved by adding chalk, but Winsor and Newton say
It is widely misunderstood that Gouache is opaque as a result of adding chalk or other such materials. The opaque colours within the Winsor & Newton Designers Gouache range are opaque due to the exceptionally high levels of pigmentation in the formulation.
This opacity allows you to paint light colours on top of dark - which is not possible with transparent watercolours.

I've used gouache before - in the painting of  Smeaton's Pier (see Making Corrections with Gouache) I included some gouache in the background wash to create a slightly misty effect and then used gouache to obscure and alter parts of the picture.

In Bluebells in Oversley Wood, I've used gouache to add details to the acrylic ink wash I posted last weekend (see Experiments with Acrylic Ink).

Rangali Sunset
Watercolour and Gouache on Paper
12cm x 17cm (4.75" x 6.75")

In Rangali Sunset, the majority of the sea and sky is watercolour. The reflection of the setting sun is a strip of pink gouache added to the wash. The sun is a circle of pink gouache added once the sky and sea had dried. The trees are dark watercolours painted over the lighter sky. The beach and huts are gouache painted over the trees.

I could paint a similar painting in pure watercolour, but it would require more careful planning. I would either have to paint the dark trees around the lighter beach and huts or paint the trees and then lift off some of the colour.

The experiments on this post are the only drawing and painting I've done this week because I've been trying to rest my hands and arms. The severity of the RSI (repetitive strain injury) symptoms has reduced and I am planning to start drawing again on Tuesday. The improvement seems primarily due to physiotherapy, but rest and anti-inflammatory medicines are playing their part.