Thursday, 3 November 2011

Perfect remedy

I'm told it happens to us all, but just lately I've been feeling quite low about my art, especially my painting. On top of that, my watercolours aren't coming out too well as I seem to make mud with every brush stroke and a busy period at work is leaving me too mentally drained to want to concentrate on a detailed pen or pencil drawing. I feel myself getting more and more discontent ....

.... so I had some fun!!!

Hat Shop - Robin Hoods Bay
I knocked out a quick pen sketch of this fabulous little Ladies Hat & Bag shop in Robin Hood Bay (I was quite fascinated by the way the window had been shaped to fit in between the two flights of stone steps). After sketching I applied a watery ink wash. This is the first time I've tried washing with ink and it didn't behave quite as I'd expected, although I'm not quite sure what I expected. lol. I found quite small changes to the ink/water ratio made quite noticeable changes to the tone of the wash, hence the darker-than-I wanted steps. Though I hope to do better next time, I really like the effect and will be doing a lot more of these. I've also decided I must get some Sepia ink ... that could be even more fun.

Boats at Staithes
After that I remembered some advice I'd been given about sketching against the clock to help loosen up, so I decided to have a go at that. I allowed myself no more than 2-minutes for the sketch and 8-minutes to apply the paint. I was amazed how quickly the clock ticked as there was barely no time to think about what colours to use. Compared to my usual 'tight' style, this was definitely a case of splashing it about!!. The subject is the small tidal estuary at Staithes in Yorkshire.

These may not be great art but they've certainly put the spring back in my step. Ah, that's better.  ;-)


  1. These may have been just for fun, but they are quite nice regardless of how much time you spent on them.

    I especially like the ink wash - I have inks, but have been reluctant to try them. Maybe this will give me the incentive.


  2. Hi John,

    Indeed, we all go through that creative black hole, and it's different each time. Good for you for taking the lemons life has dealt right now, and turning it into lemonade!

  3. Yippee! Glad they put the fun pack in painting for you! Its all about fun, not making a masterpiece each time. Sometimes the fun pieces have more life and zing in them. I adore your washed ink hat shop and the loose sketch too.. lots of light and life in that :) xx

  4. Hi Vicki, nice to see you here. Yes, have a go with those inks ... you'll love it.

    Thanks Kathryn.

    Pat, I have to admit that I do sometimes get bogged down trying my hardest to make a nice picture, and that's not what it's supposed to be like. Thanks for the enthusiastic comment ... and I'm glad you like the sketches.

  5. I have always liked your pen, ink, wash, although I never quite understand the process, Your very good at it and YOU HAD FUN!

  6. As Pat quite rightly says, it is all about fun. These are both super pieces John, but I especially like the shop with the steps. Not just the effect you have got with the ink washes but the underlying drawing too. Not an easy one to get right in terms of perspective but you certainly have :)

  7. Thank you BJ. My previous ink & washes have involved using a water soluble pen and brushing on clear water to make the ink bleed. On this occassion I used permanent ink to make sure it wouldn't bleed and then just brushed on a dilute ink/water wash. I tried a combination of soluble pen AND ink wash, and it just turned into a inky mess. LOL. Have-a-go ... you'll enjoy it. ;-)

    Michael, as always I very much appreciate your comment. When I started out on this one I hadn't considered the perspective of those steps. But it was supposed to be a free and easy sketch so I just went for it. The righthand flight leaves a bit to be desired, but it's good enough for a sketch of this kind. lol.

  8. Oh yes - we all go through that! And I don't think there is one blog I follow that hasn't posted similar feelings at one time or another. I love your sketches! A really like the pen and wash one which is very effective - and ten minutes for the lovely little boat sketch? Really? Hats off because I'd take that long panicing about the shortage of time!

  9. LOL. Sandra, I can't imagine you panicking about anything. Thanks for the lovely comment.

  10. Well done on doing something even if you are discouraged with your watercolours at the moment. These are great!

    Another variation from non-soluble/soluble pens & ink washes, is to use watercolour for the washes... try payne's grey with perm black line perhaps.

    btw I'm with Sandra and hate timed sketches especially short ones, which is normally what I do, but as soon as I watch the clock I panic & do nothing.

  11. Thank you very much Sue. The Payne's Grey is a good idea ... I give it a go.

  12. John, I love your work quick or slow doesn't really matter. Outstanding on all counts. Just ordered some new pen and inks, Have you heard of the Noodlers pen. Well thats for when I post next. Great work John,

    all the best to you,

  13. the hat shop sketch is charming john

  14. Hi Joan, it would seem that my last reply to you has been lost in the ether - I don't know when that happened. Thank you so much for your lovely comment - I appreciate it very much. And I'll be watching your blog for information on those Noodlers.

    Thank you very much Jane ... it was certainly a bit of fun.