We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.
"Little Gidding"
T S Eliot

Sunday, 28 February 2016

Who lives in a town like this?

Update on my watercolour adventures...

Following on from the tertiary chart I did a couple of weeks back, (see here), our next watercolour exercise was to produce a painting using tertiary colours (no surprise there!).

We were provided with a scene to draw, and have spent a couple of weeks completing it.

I've found my new brushes so much better, and really enjoyed doing this one, though I think watercolour is a most unforgiving medium.

This time I also used some crayons (Neocolor II) to finish and to add a little texture.

Looking at my finished piece (is a painting ever finished?), I thought - did I really do that!

Painting is easy when you don't know how
and very difficult when you do.
Edgar Degas

Tuesday, 23 February 2016

Feel the lovage ...

The next letter in the Craft Barn's Alpha Dictionary Challenge is L.  I decided to go for Lovage - an old English herb, not widely cultivated now. It is native to the Mediterranean region, growing wild in the mountainous districts of the south of France, northern Greece and the Balkans.

I wanted to practice quick sketching - with no faffing around! I found a reference photo and used watercolour paper. Decided to get out my (little used) Inktense pencils to sketch, then used my water pen.

Sometimes I don't know when to stop, and I felt this needed more - but - I stopped!

Welcome to new followers of my blog - hope you continue to enjoy my arty adventures!

Wednesday, 17 February 2016

Hearts and flowers

Alongside the Craft Barn's Alpha Dictionary Challenge is a random challenge, and the current one is hearts (but not red ones).

This is a card I came up with for a session with the craft group I run - a collaged heart.

I drew a heart on a double-sided sticky sheet. Cut that out, then peeled one covering off and started to stick paper shapes onto it - not worrying about any overhangs at this point - leaving gaps between all the pieces. Once the heart shape is covered I sprinkled some gold embossing on the still sticky gaps and heated it. I then trimmed all the overhangs, peeled off the back covering, and stuck it onto the card. I outlined the edge with a black pen.

Another version is to use micro beads in the gaps.

Had a fab day out yeterday at Kew Gardens, specifically to see the Orchids Festival, which this year celebrates Brazil. Perfect day, brilliant blue sky and sunshine - very cold, but I had my thermal socks and furry boots on!

Got some great photos to use as references for my watercolour practice.

Here are a few -

The orchids were spectacular ...

And the colours ,,,

The columns of orchids were stunning ...

Carnival ...

These were my favourites ...

Then we spent another couple of hours walking round the rest of Kew, and I got some more potential painting subjects. Including the Japanese garden.

And finally - seagulls sunbathing on the ice!

Thursday, 11 February 2016

Flitter ... flutter ...

The next letter in the Craft Barn's Alpha Dictionary Challenge is F - with a little twist of the addition of a heart somewhere.

A lot of Fs went through my mind, and reading the dictionary is quite enlightening - but eventually  I plumped for flitter.

I decided to use the whole dictionary page this time, which covered most of my 10 x 8 sheet. I also also used another page to produce a couple of die-cuts.

Stamps used - one of my favourite's from Designs by Ryn - the humming bird; and some floral and foliage stamps (another 2 Fs) from Unity Stamps and Paperartsy.

I used my Windsor & Newton pigment markers to do some colouring, and added a little heart. Did you know the humming bird's heart beats at more than 1000 times a minute. They also flap their wings at around 50 times a second!

I was inspired to write another haiku -

Little bird flitters
Drenched nectar flower beckons
Creates winged rainbow

Also entering into this Month's Craft Stamper Magazine challenge which is all about using background text.

Monday, 8 February 2016

Lady sings the blues ...

I wasn't going to write this post, but bin my latest watercolour exercise, which was an optional bit of homework. But I can only learn from my mistakes, nothing is perfect the first time (usually!), and a problem shared  ...

This extra piece of homework involved drawing a face, then painting it in one colour, in layers, to build up to five tonal values.

First mistake - I decided to use Cobalt Blue - and then discovered it is very grainy paint (some watercolours can be quite granular), but having spent a couple of hours drawing the face with all the tonal contour lines, I had to stick with that colour.

I also chose to do it in A3, and the paper I used was quite rough, so being grainy paint, it settled very quickly into all the dimples!

Granular paint + quite a rough watercolour paper = help!

Anyway, I persevered and finished it. I think she looks pretty upset about the whole thing - I know how she feels!

Another problem I encountered is lines within my washes - today, in class, I found out my synthetic brushes would be better swopped with real hair ones, which hold more water and release it slower onto the paper.

So, I've now ordered some (very expensive) new brushes!

Maybe when I've recovered from this little misadventure I'll repeat the exercise with a smoother paper and a non-grainy colour - with my new brushes!

Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.
Albert Einstein

Wednesday, 3 February 2016

What's your view?

I've finished my first watercolour landscape, which was spread over a couple of classes, with additional time at home!

This exercise was all about colour and distance, using a limited palette. Either a traditional palette of Ultramarine, Burnt Sienna and Yellow Ochre, or a modern palette which uses Indian Yellow instead of Yellow Ochre.

I decided to go for the traditional palette, which I have to say I struggled with; but I did learn that not all Yellow Ochres are the same - the one I was using had quite a lot of red in it!

We were provide with an outline drawing we had to copy onto watercolour paper; this is a very simplistic landscape, incorporating lots of distant trees and hills - but I'd quite like that view out of my window!

Our first sky was all about distant rain - we've had quite a lot of that recently!

Here it is finished - I think my mid distance trees look like they have had a camouflage net thrown over them - apart from that I'm quite pleased at my first attempt!

I also decided to do a smaller version in the modern palette, just to see the difference. This paper was torn off an A4 pad, so it had some glue on the edges. I did this one quite quickly, but you can see the greens are much fresher.

I've learned a lot about colour mixing (particular greens), and also that painting trees is very difficult!

This week we moved onto tertiary colours (colours that contain every primary colour in different proportions), using complementary colour pairs. A way to get subdued colours, or greys and browns. I finished this chart at home yesterday - 66 squares in all!

Now I've got to do an outline townscape in prepartion for the next class, when we will be using tertiary colours.

Then it's half term - phew! I need some time to catch up on stuff - like housework! At least the dust is reaching a level when its worth doing!

Snowdrops and crocuses are out - happy February!