Friday, 27 February 2015

Practice makes perfect?

Following my recent small Pen & Ink drawings I wanted to try something more ambitious and decided to attempt this Mill which sits on the River Avon at Tewkesbury. The Mill is mainly brick built but the centre structure on legs, the small attic rooms and the small building to the right (also on legs) are made of white painted timber. The roofs are tiled and the water is wet. Regrettably I messed it up within the first couple of pen strokes but I'd spent so long drawing it out in pencil I hadn't got the heart to scrap it and start again so decided to use it as a practice piece. I wanted to better understand how to using hatching to depict brickwork, timber, tiles, water and so on, so a few wonky roof lines and wobbly windows weren't going to make a lot of difference to my learning process. Apart from the bad bits I'm not displeased with it and it was certainly a fabulous piece to practice on. The hatching and shading disguised a multitude of sins and I learned a great deal from doing it.

My next piece was specifically done as a practice piece. One of my all time favourite places even though I haven't been there yet (it's on my bucket list) is Eilean Donan Castle in Scotland. I've decided that I'd like to draw it in Pen & Ink but to do justice to it, I think it needs to be a large drawing so as to allow for plenty of detail. To enable me to appreciate how best to hatch in the darks and shadows and to aid in the overall composition of the drawing, I decided to do a smaller (10" x  8") practice piece.

As usual, some of my verticals aren't vertical but that doesn't stop the practice piece from serving it's purpose very well. This particular composition is too wide. I don't like the way the bridge hangs out on it's own to the right, yet I feel the bridge is an important feature. I'll look at other options but I'm thinking artistic licence could bless me with a large Oak tree to the right of the castle. I'm pleased with the shading of the end gable of the building on the left but many other areas don't work as well as I'd hoped. I didn't want to overdo the diagonal hatching and I've achieved that, and I've also achieved a 'stone' appearance to the castle, however I think I need to have another practice run to try out some other effects.

They say "Practice makes perfect". It doesn't always ..... but it sure as heck helps. ;-)

Thursday, 19 February 2015

Exploring is Fun!!

After my first couple of efforts with pen & ink 'hatching' I was determined to find out more about types of hatch and how to hatch. It quickly became apparent that it's not just a case of laying down lots of parallel lines. The direction of hatch, the tightness of the hatch, whether or not the lines are straight or curved, and a score of other factors all contribute to whether the shaded area looks natural or not. So, to that end, I'm exploring 'hatching' in particular and pen and ink work in general.

I'd taken a photograph of this Castle Door when visiting York Castle many years ago and gave me a chance to show the different textures between the wooden door and the old worn stonework.


This is the Town Hall (and Museum) in Royal Wootton Basset. Built in 1690 it is in a mock Tudor style and stands on 15 stone pillars. No rough stone in this one but the roof provided a different texture for me to try.

For something completely different I attempted a flower. I don't think the delicacy of the Tulip shows through but I'm pleased with it's overall shape and form.

This old Yorkshire Lime Kiln provided an opportunity to just run riot with the hatching and was great fun. Back in 2011 I attempted this same drawing also in pen and ink but the results were very poor. My effort back then made it look as if the kiln had been painted with camouflage stripes. I'm much happier this time and very pleased that I've made some progress.

Exploring any new medium/method/technique is all about trying things out and taking note of what does work and what doesn't. There's no doubt that I'm really enjoying pen and ink right now, even the things that didn't work quite as I'd hoped.

Thursday, 12 February 2015

Pen & Ink

I love Pen & Ink studies but have never been very good at them myself. I think the main problem is the hatching. I'm never sure which way to hatch, when to cross-hatch, and which direction to hatch in. Some of my early attempts looked like camouflaged zebra's playing twister. Anyway, since my last 4 or 5 drawings have been detailed pencil work taking quite a long time I decided to let my hair down (what bit I have left) and have another go at Pen & Ink.

This first drawing is of a small building I came across in a farmers field in Wales. I have no idea what it is used for. The pallet leaning against it gives an idea of scale and there's barely enough headroom to stand up inside. I used a set of 5 Pilot DR drawing pens for this one.

Having heard good reports about Pigma Micron Fineliners I ordered a set of 6 in different sizes. They dropped onto my doormat with this mornings mail and I was keen to try them out. The subject I chose was this small dry-stone wall that I saw in the Snowdonia National Park in Wales. I can't say I noticed a great deal of difference between these pens and the ones I used for the previous drawing ... they seem equally as good.

I feel as if I'm beginning to make a little more sense of the hatching now and I guess it's like everything else .... practice makes perfect. I really need a lot more practice but these are so quick and enjoyable that shouldn't be a problem. lol.

Thursday, 5 February 2015

Famous Pair.

A couple of weeks ago I posted that I'd been working on something special as a gift and that I wouldn't post it online until it had been finished and delivered. Well I'm just back home from doing just that so now I can safely display the piece.

My brother-in-law is a keen model railway enthusiast and I decided I'd like to draw a train engine for him. I searched the net for railway engines that I know he's fond of and found two of his favourites. I happened to have a wide, narrow frame that I thought lent itself perfectly to a train, however, when I came to compare various pictures with the frame I couldn't find anything that I felt happy with. After a lot of hunting around and head scratching I had the idea of using BOTH trains in the same picture.

Since the picture is about the engines I chose not to include any background or foreground and, in my opinion, the wide, narrow format makes the images look more dramatic than they would have done individually and the backward sweeping smoke provides a sense of movement.

For any rail enthusiasts, the engine on the left is "6100 Royal Scot", the first of the 4-6-0 Royal Scot Class express passenger locomotives. Introduced in 1927, like many engines it has experienced many upgrades and rebuilds, and this is how it looked in the mid-1950's. The class was withdrawn from service in the early 1960's. The engine on the right is "4468 Mallard", a Class A4 4-6-2 Pacific steam locomotive. Built in 1938, Mallard holds the world speed record for steam locomotives of 125.88 mph. It was withdrawn in 1963 after almost 1.5 million miles of service. Mallard went through several redesigns and liveries which saw it with streamlined 'skirts' over it's wheels, twin tenders and double funnels. It is currently on display at the National Railway Museum in York.