Monday, 29 June 2015

A Trip to Leicestershire and My Thoughts on Paper Substrates

A couple of weeks ago hubby and I looked in our diaries and found that unusually we had a completely free week ahead of us.  So we decided to go on an adventure to explore Leicestershire.  Of course this meant packing my sketching gear.     

Birdwatching in Rutland Water

My favourite sketch from the trip.  This is a new ‘environmentally friendly’ watercolour sketchbook that I bought from Amazon.  Perhaps the results are not exactly what I look for in my finished watercolour paintings but it is adequate enough for my sketching purposes.  

First Day Sights
Graphite, pen and coloured pencil

Drawn in a non-art dedicated notebook with very thin paper that I found in a stationery shop.  It does buckle a little with watercolour but it is only a sketchbook where I record visual entries and ideas.  Perhaps sometimes it is so easy to waste resources on ‘the best’ when something much cheaper or environmentally friendly is adequate enough for the task.    

Many moons ago when I was a beginner with watercolour, I always used the best paper I could afford to learn how to gain the best results from my pigments.  Nowadays I am more relaxed about the paper I choose to use. I adjust the paper quality to suit the creative task I am tackling.  For all my finished paintings and watercolour pigment explorations I always use good quality artist grade paper and materials. 

I am not going to say which brands I prefer because I do not want to influence anyone reading this blog.  All watercolour materials are a matter of choice.  What works for me may not work for someone else and their style.  There is so much on the market and so much conflicting advice about it all.  My simple advice to anyone is to try it out for yourself with small samples over time and give it more than one chance.   We need to grow into a particular brand of paper, brush and pigment.  It is a matter of giving ourselves time to get used to each brand’s individual characteristics.  Then at that point, you can make a fairer judgement of whether that particular brand is right for you and your individual style. 

A pen and wash sketch from my ‘environmentally friendly’ sketchbook.  Drawn plein air in Foxton Village with colour added later in the hotel.  

On the left: Graphite, pen and coloured pencil sketch in my notebook.  Adequate for me to draw in for a few minutes whilst having lunch at Foxton Locks.  Colour was added later to explore more fully a dull, cloudy day and shadow tones.       

On the right:  A pen and wash of Market Harborough’s church in my notebook.  Painted from a photo I took on site. I collect sketches of architecture and scenes that interest me.  These are not scenes that I will eventually produce as finished paintings.  They are just fun daily exercises done to keep the skill and inspiration flowing.  


Tuesday, 16 June 2015

A Day in Hampstead with the Urban Sketchers London Group

My second arty adventure with the USK London Group was in Hampstead this week. Despite the cold it was a really enjoyable day with lovely new people to meet, new corners of London to explore and new art to create.

Graphite, ink and coloured pencils.  This was finished in the first sketching session before lunch.  For me buildings need something to soften down their linear tendencies.  So generally a bit of greenery, flowers or texture of some sort will always grab my attention. 

This is some of the USK London Hampstead Group at the end of the day.    I am the one in the middle in the blue holding up my artwork from the morning sketching session. 

The day ended with the group’s show and tell session on a green patch in Flask Walk. Of course this is not a compulsory part of the day.  In fact nothing is compulsory and the day runs quite freely for all with very little structure except for meeting up times and a map of the area to stick to.    

Anyone who wanted to join in the show and tell session placed their day’s work on the ground where it could be admired and photographed.  Some of these photos do eventually end up anywhere on the internet.  Here is an example: I found a photo that I appear in posted onto the USK London Facebook Group.  Photo taken by Chuck Stull.  This is a cropped version of it and I have his permission to use it here.  I am the one in the pale blue on the right and I have no idea who anyone else is, except that they were lovely friendly people who urban sketched on the day.  Being a veteran blogger and an exhibiting artist I am quite comfortable with having photos of me and my work appear on the internet but I can fully understand people who do not want to take part at this point of the day. 

Urban is a worldwide organisation and their aim is to show the world the sketches they create and the fun sketchcrawl days they organise.  They bring like minded people together with no frontiers or boundaries. Everyone is just an ordinary person with a common interest: the love of drawing and art.  As a newbie member of USK London I would thoroughly recommend anyone to have a go who has an interest in open air sketching and who likes meeting other creatives at every level of skill.

So next time you fly into London, Paris, New York, Seoul, Munich and many other places, why not see if there is an Urban Sketchers’ Sketchcrawl you can join for the day.  No booking required.  Just turn up to these free events held around the world and get inspired by others who urban sketch purely for the fun of it. 

Dates for Future USK London Sketchcrawls

Sunday, 7 June 2015

Blackberry Leaf Study in Watercolour

Blackberry Leaf Sketch
Pen and Wash

I am currently working on a new floral idea.  I have got as far as drawing out the floral parts but I felt I needed to study blackberry leaf structure in more detail.  Sketching is collecting useful information so that I can tackle a painting in a much freer, looser and more imaginative way.  In this case I needed to understand how the leaves grow, their structural shape and how the light and shadow affects colour, tone and form.