Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Plein aire sketching

For the first time in a long while I treated myself to a nice long walk. There is an interesting church in the next village. It is one of those buildings that catches my eye every time I drive past it, and each and every time I see it I tell myself that I must come back without the car to have a better look. So when I was thinking of where to walk, to the next village seemed like a good choice.

When I arrived at the church I spent a while sitting in the churchyard and strolling interestingly through the grave stones as I looked at the buildings architecture from every viewpoint. When I'd seen as much as I wanted to see I headed across the road and took up position leaning against a sandstone wall, which is typical for this area.

My previous attempts at painting en plein aire have not been good. I don't know whether it's the fear of being approached, or the lack of a comfortable chair and easel, but I always rush my paintings and splash paint around as if I've only got minutes to finish. So, on this occasion I decided to sketch the church with pen. Besides, I'm not painting at the moment and enjoying pen work, so I'd packed pens and aquabrushes into my backpack.

Unlike the 'panic' I feel when I'm painting, I felt quite comfortable leaning against the wall in the shade of an overgrowing tree. I soon became oblivious of the passing traffic, not that there's ever a great deal in the village, and carried on confidently sketching even when the occasional pedestrian ambled by. I found it awkward sketching while standing and wished I'd taken my small collapsible stool with me, but I managed okay and thoroughly enjoyed it.

It was a bright sunny day and I wanted to capture the shadows to give the church some solidity and dimension. In the first instance I tried hatching, but this is something I'm still not at ease with and I didn't like the effect. Thankfully my pen was of the non-permanent variety so I used my aquabrushes to add some tones. I have a couple of perspective issues but, all things considered, I'm not disappointed.

Oh ... yep ... the tower leans. I'm still working on those verticals. lol. ;-)

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

The joys of soluble ink

One of favourite mediums is Pen and soluble ink. Soluble (non-permanent) ink bleeds and runs when wet. It is useless (in my opinion) when used in conjunction with coloured washes .... but when used with plain water, the inky washes produced have a nice effect. Because I'm looking to find my comfort zone right now, it made sense to resort to a favourite way of sketching, so this is what I'll be doing for a while.

This first sketch is of Eilean Donan Castle in Scotland, one of the few places on my bucket list. I totally messed up quite soon into this sketch by placing one of the towers in the wrong place, but I decided to carry on since it was only for practice anyway. I also decided to try my hand at hatching .... something which I'm not very good at. I struggle to know which direction to hatch, and how heavily to hatch, but I'll get there. And I stupidly messed up the attempt to show some reflection on the water. I should have hatched horizontally, in wave-like short bursts. I'll do this one again properly sometime soon.

The second sketch is of the 17th Century Market Hall that stands in the centre of Chipping Cambden, a small market town in the Cotswolds. Built in 1627, this building is famous for it's particular type of roof structure. Having completed the pen sketch I then used a very wet brush of clean water and let the wash flow with the minimal interference and guidance from me. Great fun!! Oh, when I signed this one I dated it 05/13, which just goes to show where my head is right now. lol.

For my next task I need to do something about my verticals. My handwriting leans to the right and has done for the whole of my life and I wonder if this is why most of my verticals lean to the right. When I make a conscious effort to draw them correctly, they lean to the left. This can be seen very clearly in the Market Hall sketch. Any tips or tricks will be gratefully received. ;-)

Friday, 16 May 2014

Dipping my toe in

After a long period of having no time for my art or blogs, I now find myself slowly returning back to my normal way of life ... whatever that was. My elderly parents have now been safely moved 150 miles away to live with my sister, and they are settling in well. And so, after a few weeks of trying to catch up with a lot of outstanding matters of my own, I find myself with the time to start thinking about art again. Actually, it's not totally accurate to blame my recent lack of art only on a lack of time. There have been odd occasions when I DID have some time, but then I found that I had no real interest .... my heart just wasn't in it. So it was a combination of time and emotion that kept me from my brushes.

As normality gradually returns and I find myself beginning to think more about art again, I find myself wanting to paint yet strangely lack enthusiasm. I think it's just a case of taking the first steps and easing myself back into things gradually, so to that end I have decided to dip my toes back in the water and spend a while just sketching.

I have always found sketching with pen, without pencil guidelines, most challenging. Those first few defining lines require a brave and confident start and forcing myself to sketch this way will do more for my confidence than anything else I can think of. Whether the ink is then supplemented by colourful watercolour washes or fairly pale coloured pencil work doesn't matter at this stage. The objective is to re-learn the art of making useful marks on the paper, to re-discover some degree of confidence, and to once again enjoy picture making.

And I will of course be visiting all your blogs, which have always been such a wonderful source of inspiration for me. See you there. ;-)