Thursday, 26 January 2012

Shaping up!!

A busy time in the office and at home had already reduced my time for art but now things have gotten a whole lot worse. We are having our en suite bathroom completely remodelled. I have always tackled jobs like this myself and did the main bathroom on my own a few years ago however, this time we are having the work done for us by professionals. 

Having said that, I'm finding it next to impossible to sit back and do nothing so to satisfy my need to get involved I decided I'd take care of clearing the room of all the existing stuff in preparation for the plumbers to do the rebuild. So I'm lifting the flooring, removing the basin and toilet, dismantling the shower cubicle and chiselling tiles from the wall, all without water squirting everywhere .... we hope!!!

As an accountant, and therefore a pen-pusher, my hands aren't as tough as those of a labourer so for jobs like this I do like to use a pair of good quality leather work gloves. Apart from anything else, I have on occassion missed the head of the chisel with my hammer. I know you girls use Hand Cream to protect your hands. Call me a wimp if you must but for me cream just doesn't do it.

As good as the modern strong plastic toolboxes are, the old fashioned hesian Plumbers bag takes a lot of beating. It holds a huge number of tools yet it can be carried easily and as soon as it is laid on the floor it flops open and all the tools are instantly accessible.  I have two and wouldn't be without them.

Despite how it might seem, this post isn't about my bathroom project but is all about art. There was a time when I thought quick sketches, though great fun, were fairly pointless and served no useful purpose other than to occupy a few idle minutes here and there, but of late I have been changing that opinion. As you all know I've been doing much more sketching recently and I'm actually beginning to feel as if the pen is moving over the paper in a much more relaxed and easy fashion. Shapes seem to be coming together more naturally and the pen feels as if it is moving more freely.

I am really looking forward to when I can sit down and do a more serious painting or drawing but in the meantime these sketches are helping me feel really positive about my art.

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Boats at Scarborough

I've had very little time for myself since just before Xmas and 'art' just isn't getting a look in. Life does get in the way sometimes. I don't know about you guys but there comes a time when I just have to do something about it ... anything!!! This evening, in desperation, I scanned through some of my holiday photo's and came across this shot of some boats moored in the harbour at Scarborough. When I saw them last year I was immediately struck by their bright colours and just knew I had to paint them one day.

Anyway, with a little under an hour to play with (it usually takes me an hour to get all my stuff out and decide which pen to use) I decided on a quick pen & wash.  I attempted to work quickly with the pen to try and get some energy into the pen strokes but I'm still too cautious - but I'm getting there. I chose a brush about 37 sizes bigger than the one I normally use (or at least, that's how it felt). Working quickly without waiting for previous area's to dry has made this a bit messy but still, it's made a reasonable little picture and I'm certainly feeling a lot better for having done it.

Saturday, 7 January 2012

The first of many

Today was the day I had been promising myself for a long time. Well, it wasn't a day - in the end it turned out to be just 45 minutes - but they were gooooood!! For 3 months it has sat on my shelf teasing me seductively. Perched at eye-level I couldn't help but see it every time I sat at my desk. That black shiny Moleskine sketchbook was just pleading to be taken out for a stroll. I know it will sound very silly but I didn't want to use the Moleskine just as any other sketchbook. I wanted to save it for something special and not soil it's pages just by using it for any random scribblings. In the end, I decided it should be 'the' sketchbook that I take out with me when I start my plein air sketching, and that is what I did.

Wrapped up warm with overcoat, scarf and gloves, I put the Moleskine in my pocket along with a couple of fountain pens, Aquabrush and mechanical pencil. I left the house and walked off towards the village centre. Ten minutes later I found myself sitting on a bench across the road from the War Memorial, which was a big relief because I hadn't even realised I was missing!! I removed my gloves, fired off a reference shot with my compact camera, and took out the fountain pen loaded with Sepia ink. I started to sketch but nothing happened so I took out my Moleskine and opened it to a blank page. That wasn't difficult as they were all blank. 

The view before me was of the villages War Memorial. The local parish council make sure there are wreathes of Poppies on the ground all year round. As I sketched, a few couples walking dogs strolled past but after a casual  glance in my direction they paid me no heed and that is the 'fear' I need to conquer. I am a big fan of using water to bleed soluble ink to give tone so after I'd finished sketching with the pen I took out my Aquabrush to tease out some tone.

A few paces from the bench put me within sight of the village pub. This time I decided to sketch standing up, which is just as well as there was nowhere to sit. Because I was standing I chose the pencil. I haven't sketched like this before and found it challenging. For some reason I found perspective much harder to deal with than when working from a photograph. Around this time I was aware of how cold my hands were but I knew it was pointless attempting to draw with gloves on so hurried myself along as best I could. The sketch doesn't do justice to this fine old building but the exercise was about 'confidence' not 'art'.

On my way into the village I had noticed several 'emblems' carved in stone and set in walls, usually near a large gateway or entrance. They obviously tie all of the properties together in some way and I decided to sketch one on my way back home. They consist of a Snake or Serpent twisting around 5 arrows. A trip to the library is called for to find out their significance.

As I walked home I reflected on the Moleskine and confess to being a little disappointed. My 2B pencil took well but I find the paper a little too waxy for the fountain pen and waterbrush. It worked, but not as well as I would have hoped. Still, it's early days and my Moleskine has a lot more outing's in store for it, so we'll see how we get on. Today's brief 'sketching walk' was the first of many. ;-)