A week ago I sat down to draw a Rose. I wanted to try and get some nice smooth blends so looked for the smoothest paper I have. What a mistake that was! I chose Extra Smooth Surface Bristol Board (250 gsm) thinking it would 'be the business'. I wanted to build up my tones gradually so started light with a hard (5H) pencil. All was well until I started to blend, and then I found the tortillons were leaving unpleasant streaks on the paper rather than giving a smooth graduation of tone. I switched to paper-based stumps but they were just as bad. I persevered, building up tones with more graphite, switching to a softer (H) pencil, and blending, blending, blending. The end result was very disappointing ... and I was disappointed in my own efforts because I've never been a workman who blames his tools.
To try and salvage the drawing, I went over it all again with softer (2B; 4B) pencils and eventually, after a very many hours and much toil, achieved a result that was 'passable'. But it was bothering me that I'd had so much trouble so I just had to try again. I was unsure if the problem was the paper, the pencils, the blenders or me, I didn't want to change everything or I'd never answer the question. I've always felt happy with the pencils, the blenders have always worked before, and I didn't want to change 'me' or I'd have missed the experience, so I looked for a different paper. This time I chose Daler Rowney Heavyweight (220gsm).
Apart from the change of paper, I approached the whole thing as I did first time around ... but what a difference. The tones built up gradually, as planned, and the blending was smooth and delicate. I felt in control again and things were happening the way I wanted them to.
I can only conclude that the Extra Smooth Bristol Board just doesn't have enough tooth for this sort of work ... and if I'm wrong please don't tell me 'cause I'm finally feeling happy again. ;-)
Wednesday, 29 August 2012
Saturday, 25 August 2012
This is the first time I've painted the same scene both indoors and out and it has proved a valuable lesson. I've learned that I must not expect 'studio' level results when painting in the field, yet I must somehow try and approach a painting outdoors in the same way as I do when I'm at my easel.
The journey continues. ;-)
Saturday, 18 August 2012
The good weather coupled with getting caught up with a few things, has allowed me to get out for another walk and some more plein air sketching. This time I went to some local lakes popular with the local angling community. The walk took me through woodland, along open paths alongside the lakes, past fields of hay so tall it must surely be ready for cropping, and past many families of ducks clearly not impressed at my ambling through their territory.
From a technical point of view, I really struggle sketching while standing. Both bridges were done this way. I could have set up my stool but I wanted to try again while standing as it's definitely something I'm going to have to work at. I found the painting easier than last time. Not that I did any better but I felt a little more at ease and a little more in control of what I was doing. I do find it hard to concentrate on colour mixing and tonal values while out 'in the field', but I had a general feeling of 'doing better'. While sketching the ornate bridge a couple appeared out of the woods and made their way across the bridge. I stood my ground and carried on sketching ... and that is progress indeed.
Can't wait for my next walk. :-)
Saturday, 4 August 2012
Last year, when on holiday in Yorkshire, we were based just a couple of miles from Robin Hoods Bay, which is a quaint little fishing village built into the side of the cliffs. The first record of the village was in the 16th century and there is no evidence whatsoever to link the village with Robin Hood of Sherwood Forest. In the 18th century it was reportedly the busiest smuggling village on the coast of Yorkshire due to it's natural isolation. Wandering through the narrow alleys between the cottages conjured up a great sense of smugglers and hidden contraband. By the middle of the 19th century a thriving fishing industry existed.
|King Street, Robin Hood's Bay - Graphite|
I chose Winsor & Newton Medium Surface Cartridge paper (130 gsm) because it has a strong grain when used with graphite and I thought that would help with the textures of the old buildings. It made it harder to get clean, sharp lines, but the tooth in the paper made the darks easier to achieve. I'm quite pleased with the effect as I think it really adds to the Olde Worlde scene.
Obviously I used artistic licence to omit various 21st century eye-sores such as Wheelie Bins, Television Aerials, roof lights and telephone cables. But one way in which 21st century did help was with one of the buildings which was badly obscured on my reference photo by a large "For Sale" sign. I was delighted to be able to use Google Street View to see what was there. lol.