Wednesday, December 17, 2008

I've become obsessed with paper. I spent hours in Fred Aldous today looking at different types. But the type I want doesn't seem to exist. I want big paper - A2 at least or better still A1. I bought some M1 paper today, but it's white. You see, I really want coloured paper with dark, strong, mucky-looking colours. I want it to have quite a bit of tooth but not as textured as an Ingres paper for instance. When I was talking to the girl in the shop about this she suggested I make my own. Now that sounds like a very interesting idea. But to make such big sheets of paper I'd need a really big deckle and you probably can't buy them that size. So I'll have to make my own.

Is this what it comes to? It starts as an idle idea in London Zoo that I could buy some pencils and a sketchbook and make a few drawings. And just a few months later I'm seriously considering making a deckle and making my own paper?

Sunday, December 07, 2008

The portrait of Eleanor sort of stalled, but I have been sketching a lot. Opportunistic sketches in cafes for example (I keep a small sketchbook and pencil in my handbag at all times), and sketches in the margins of my music score, of the conductor, the pianist and other singers in my choir. Unfortunately I had to rub those out before I handed my music back in to the choir librarian. It's all good practice anyway.

However I have started another large pastel piece, of hands throwing a pot on a wheel. It is coming along nicely, and I shall do more work on it today. Much larger than life size, the fingers are over an inch wide - Steph would be proud of me for working large. I used the same method I have been developing, of a careful underdrawing based on a photo (not gridded up this time, just drawn by eye, with careful checking of relative proportions and much rubbing and re-drawing until I was happy with it). Then fill in areas of light, dark, and midtone, with silly colours but carefully picked values, covering every scrap of paper so no white is left. Fix. Then begin more detailed work of graded shadows and lines, using a limited palette with total disregard to colour but careful choice of value. For example the hands are purple, the pot is green. But oddly it doesn't look surreal, it looks quite natural and normal. Fascinating how the viewer's eye is able to accept this - as long as there is no doubt he is looking at a painting of hands, his eye "reads" the hands as "hand-coloured" although in fact it is purple.

EDIT - It's finished I think. I'm quite happy with it overall. My favourite bits are the bubbles.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Started a new portrait of Eleanor. It's from a photo of her at Lindsey and Andrew's wedding, dressed in a bridesmaid dress with butterfly wings and blowing bubbles, but with a very serious and pensive expression. I can hear Steph telling me I'm working too small, but its on A2 paper even if it is a full-length picture. It's not as intimate as the portrait of Tom, but I didn't want to do exactly the same sort of painting again. I was looking for something a little different.

So far I've got a fluorescent pink and yellow underpainting, just obliterating the white of the paper. I printed out and gridded-up the photo and transferred the outlines onto the A2 paper using a mid-blue pastel. I checked and re-checked until I was happy. Then I filled in the areas of deepest shadow and darkest hue and fixed it with spray fixative. Then I started filling in the background, which is darker in hue than the pale-coloured fairy bridesmaid. The background is going to be quite vague, just suggesting the flagged floor and stone wall in the photo. But since Eleanor is in front of the background, that has to be painted in first so she can go over the top of it.

Happy with how it's going so far. When Steph was here I shouted at her a lot for telling me exactly what pastel to pick up next and make exactly what type of mark exactly where on the paper ("Paint your own bloody picture, this is my picture!"). And yet it's very scary doing it all by myself and I wish she was still here so she could tell me what to do.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Tom. A2 pastel portrait.

Be stronger. Be braver. It was a great choice of subject. I want to do more portraits with subjects just like this. I love the wacky underpainting and background. Going to keep doing more of that. Get the lines right before you ever start. Check. Measure. Check again. I like using wacky colours even for stuff like skin and hair, as long as the value and the temperature of the colour is correct then it's more fun and more effective than doing the skin with pink, the hair with brown. Paint what you love.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Pastel study of a view near my house. The first image is the whole landscape as I drew it. Then I have cropped it a number of different ways to get different effects. The drawing is A3 size.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Dilapidated shed behind my house. In thick, medium and fine willow charcoal sticks on A2 fine-grain heavyweight paper. It's about tones and textures rather than lines. No-one is going to want thins hanging on their wall, or anything else I have produced yet, but they are steps on a journey that will end somewhere else.

I enojyed drawing the trees in charcoal this morning. I like working big, I like the soft textures of the charcoal and I like using my fingers to blend areas of tone, and using a putty rubber to lift tone off - it's all fun. So this afternoon I took the easel and the charcoal sticks outside and did another couple of drawings.

Two trees visible from my kitchen window, which I always think of as "Laurel and Hardy". Thick, medium and fine willow charcoal sticks on A2 fine-grain heavyweight paper.
I produced this in a different way than I have ever worked before (in my long career as an artist....), by looking at areas of different tone and blocking in the tone on the paper before working on any detail. I have no great regard for it as a finished work of art but I enjoyed doing it and I learned a great deal.

Butterfly. Work in progress. The idea was to sketch an outline then fill areas of colour wth watercolour, then overwork with coloured pencils to build up depth of colour. But the paper is wrong for this approach, it is too textured. The close-up image shows what I mean. So I intend to apply water over the coloured pencils, which are watercolour pencils after all, and complete it as a watercolour painting.

Ellie's Teddy. In 3B pencil on A5 NOT cold pressed fine grain watercolour paper. Like Ernest H. Shepherd on an "off" day.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

The lich gate of St George's church, Poynton. I deliberately included the street furniture, as I didn't like the saccharine Beatrix Potter look without it. In 2B pencil on A5 NOT cold pressed fine grain watercolour paper.

I bought a small sketchbook that fits in my handbag, a pencil, putty rubber and decent pencil sharpener, for sketching on-the-go. This is Lindsey reclining on a sofa. In 2B pencil on A5 NOT cold pressed fine grain watercolour paper.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Dad's jacket and cap

Thick, medium and fine willow charcoal sticks on A2 fine-grain heavyweight paper.

Lots of new stuff here - I've never drawn with charcoal before, never drawn on such a large scale. Never drawn with my paper on an easel upright in front of me (my arms ache!). It's not the most fascinating subject ever, but I learned a lot from doing it. If I did it again I'd move my chair (or the door) so the door was at an angle to me rather than straight on. I think that would have been a better composition. I'd also draw the cap larger - although I think I drew it faithfully to size, but I'd have preferred it to be more prominent in the composition as its jaunty checks are more interesting than the plain brown jacket. Still, charcoal is fun to draw with and making big drawings is fun too. I'm looking forwards to doing more like this.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Holiday train leaving Euston station for the North, on Christmas eve 1932. Pure graphite sticks on tracing paper.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Elephant, from a photograph in a children's book. Watercolour pencil on A4 NOT cold pressed aquaralle watercolour paper.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Feral pigeon in London zoo. Small basket by that lives by my fireplace. Both are very small sketches, 2" or 3" square, and both are executed in nasty cheap coloured pencils on nasty cheap paper.

Aloe vera plant. Pure graphite sticks on A5 medium cartridge pad.

Very O'level.

Sheep and hen sketches. Practicing making quick sketches rather than detailed drawings. 2B pure graphite stick on medium surface cartridge pad.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Joy of the Family

Sculpture entitled "Joy of the Family" by John Brown. Underdrawing in pure graphite pencil, watercolour pencil, on NOT cold pressed aquaralle watercolour paper. I worked from a photograph of the sculpture in a magazine.

Armchair and Quilt

Blue armchair with a quilt over the back. Watercolour pencil (actually wetted and used as watercolour, unlike the last drawing which just used them as pencils), underdrawing in pure graphite pencil, on medium surface cartridge paper

Wooden Cat

One of the red wooden cats that stand by my fireplace. In watercolour pencil on NOT cold pressed aquaralle watercolour paper

Sam Playing Video Games

It doesn't look like Sam, but it looks like a human being anyway, not a spastic monkey. Pure graphite pencil (same as yours) on NOT cold pressed aquarelle watercolour paper