Archive for Mixed Media

Devon, Cornwall and Scilly – April May 2016

This is becoming a favourite round trip. Since we fell in love with Scilly it makes sense to visit Devon and Cornwall at the same time, and you have to start on the mainland and finish on Scilly because Scilly is so peaceful and quite that if you tried to do Cornwall and Devon on the way back it just wouldn’t cut it.

Actually you’ll notice from the notebook extracts that we actually started at a B&B in Somerset but it was only 1 night and the the 10 minute sketch was done, just to kick things off. It was a lovely evening but very windy with a severe wind chill and the evening meal at the Notley Arms was calling.

Starting off with a picture of the River Dart looking into the evening sun, this was done on the way back to Kinswear – we walked from Brixham and it’s a tough walk taking every opportunity to up and down the cliffs. Here we are looking up the River Dart into the evening sun towards Dartmouth and can see Kingswear Castle (completed in 1502) which was part of the costal defences.

River Dart, watercolour & ink. Pained immediately after visit. 3 hours watercolour and ink.

River Dart, watercolour & ink. Pained immediately after visit. 3 hours watercolour and ink.

 

Polreath has a similar situation to Kingswear, on the opposite side of the river to a larger place (in this case Fowey). I am always struck by the dockyard – which seems to be busy. The ships loom over the houses, having sketch this last year this time I did a more considered painting inside on a day when it rained, I had new material as well as last years sketches.

Study done immediately after visiting site. 3 hours, mixed media - watercolour, ink, wax crayon,

Study done immediately after visiting site. 3 hours, mixed media – watercolour, ink, wax crayon,

 

The next stop was near Looe, at Duloe. The HPB site is in the grounds of Duloe Manor which made a good subject and meant I didn’t need to lug gear very far. The building itself nestles in fold of the hills and has an extensive view towards the coast but I was taken with the building itself and the avenue of pollarded trees leading up to the main house echoing its gander past. Easy to imagine Lewis Carroll inventing fantasies here (and he was friends with the rector apparently so did stay).

 

En Plein Air, watercolour and ink, 2 hours

En Plein Air, watercolour and ink, 2 hours

 

En Plein Air watercolour, 3 hours

En Plein Air watercolour, 3 hours

 

And so on to Scilly. It started badly – we hit fog about 30 minutes out from Penzance and it stayed for the rest of the journey and all the following day. After that it was fine – and most afternoon’s when there was more sun than cloud.

Having tackled a maritime subject in Cornwall it seemed reasonable to use the adjacent Portloo boatyard for inspiration. This turned out to be a challenge because on the day I started the light was flat, so it was started en plain air but had several revisits and was finally completed this week.

Mixed media, 4 hours, 3 sessions. En Plein Air start, completed later. Mixed media, watercolour, ink, wax crayon.

Mixed media, 4 hours, 3 sessions. En Plein Air start, completed later. Mixed media, watercolour, ink, wax crayon.

 

I did have a great evening on the shore near our holiday flat, sun came out and cast long shadows, catching in the water and the sides of all the boats.

En Plein Air, watercolour and ink, 2 hours

En Plein Air, watercolour and ink, 2 hours

 

Carried a small 5×7 watercolour pad. Always a good compromise in terms og carrying and time to complete – most of these are 1-1.5 hours. I was particularly taken with the way the light played on the front in Hugh Town.

 

Watercolour Sketches Scilly

I have collected a lot of material to work on back home some of which is reflected in these notebook extracts.

Notebook Devon Notebook Cornwall 1Notebook Cornwall 2Notebook Scilly

Two views from Otley Chevin

I must admit to being a little intimidated by the challenges of mixed media and got into a bit of “painters block” blaming the weather and finding all sorts of displacement activities. My excuse is that light has been bad more often that it has been good – even with my large north facing skylight overcast often means gloom.

My monthly trip to the Chevin (of which I will blog about more later) raised the spirits and I decided to conduct an experiment. Using a loose style I’d lead with 2 different mediums. Both these pictures are mixed media. They are both the same view from Otley Chevin as it was in November from the sketches and photos I took then. In the view we are looking north-east from just below the rock outcrops near the Royalty car park (Great Dibb), the hill on the horizon is Almscliff Crag.

Both are attempts to become less literal and convey more of the emotion that comes from the weather and the view, perhaps the difference between the  start of a sunny spell and the of one. It is also down to the differences between the mediums, the treatment and the choice of colour, there are some faint memories of the warm autumn colours as the winter is coming on.

The first is predominantly watercolour but has ink and acrylic in the mix. It has a lighter feel and the alizarin/purple lake in the shadows adds warmth. The second is predominantly acrylic; it is colder and has a more lowering, even foreboding feel from the ultramarine/umber but I think the sunlight works.

Watercolour, Inks and Acrylic

1 Looking NE towards Almscliff Crag – Watercolour, Ink and Acrylic

 

Acrylic & Ink

2 Looking NE towards Almscliff Crag – Acrylic and Ink

How wet can it get?

So January was a disappointing start to the year from a painting perspective. It is always difficult, at this time of year, when the days are short but this year it has has just been wet, wet, wet and the light has mostly been poor. Nevertheless on the few occasions when the sun does shine and it is cold it is very invigorating. Long shadows create strong contrasts.

We had a week at Merlewood just outside Grange-over-Sands at the end of January and of course the weather was against us. When it wasn’t blowing so hard that even tying a rock to the tripod wouldn’t work, then it was steady (often heavy) rain.

I resorted to grabbing the few opportunities there were for sketching and working up the results back at the flat. This approach makes it easy to recapture the feeling and look of a place with fresh memories and reference material. Pretty much the traditional technique of landscape painters before easily portable paints and or cameras.

So here are a pair of studies with their accompanying notebook sketches. I have been experimenting with water-soluble crayons to get some colour without having to carry a lot of kit and I also used the opportunity to work up the studies in mixed media. Not entirely happy with the results yet but still progress on the journey to a looser personal style.

The first pair is from a spot on the road between from Allithwaite to Humphrey Head. We’d had a very wet and windy walk but on the way back some gaps in the clouds allows a bit of evening sunlight on the scene.

Evening near Humphrey Head Sketch Notebook Sketch

Evening near Humphrey Head Study

Mixed Media Study

This second pair is from a walk up onto Hampsfell (above Grange-over-Sands) which affords magnificent views. The sketching had to be done by seeking out shelter from the wind but there was strong sunlight and dramatic wether over Morecambe Bay.

Morecambe Bay from Hapsfell Sketch Notebook sketch

Mixed Media SketchMixed Media Study

Applying the lessons

These are my first attempts to practice what I learned from Chris Forsey. The first is a view of the Château Grounds which is based on source material from the course. The second is from a sketch made on the North Yorkshire Moors.

A mixed media (watercolour, pastel, crayon and ink) rendering of the grounds at L’Age Baston. Done whist the atmosphere and demonstrations were still fresh and able to be brought to mind easily

This view is looking up towards the studio and main house in the background from the side of the swimming pool

This view is looking up towards the studio and main house in the background from the side of the swimming pool

 

A mixed media (watercolour, ink and crayon) of the main street in Lastingham on the North Yorkshire Moors. The preparatory sketching was done after a walk up to Ana Cross when the sun was going down, and with the benefit of reinforcements from Kates Cafe!

This is the view looking up main street from the seats on the green. The sun was about to go down cast shadows of the chimneys on the end walls of the houses going up the hill.

This is the view looking up main street from the seats on the green. The sun was about to go down cast shadows of the chimneys on the end walls of the houses going up the hill.

Style challenge at L’Age Baston

A week at L’Age Baston with Chris Forsey as tutor was just the thing to shake up my style. We had a challenging week looking at mixed media and different colour pallets. The approach was to have an input of theory with demonstrations, then go out and about sketching and, after lunch, do studio work to consolidate and try to put the lessons into practice.

The chateau, which was the base for the week, is itself a great source of subjects for painting. It was also refreshing to be able to have all meals alfresco for a week.

Watercolour, crayon and ink sketch of one of the iconic features at the chateau.

Watercolour, crayon and ink sketch of one of the iconic features at the château.

 

Another view of the cistern . Materials used watercolour, pastel, crayon and ink.

Another view of the cistern . Materials used watercolour, pastel, crayon and ink.

 

This arch is a favorite, I have painted it more than once. Watercolour and ink.

This arch is a favourite, I have painted it more than once. Watercolour and ink.

 

The pigonierre - a somewhat moody interpretation (can you hear the helicopter gunships coming?). Limited pallet, acrylic and ink.

The pigonierre at the chateau; a somewhat moody interpretation (can you hear the helicopter gunships coming?). Limited pallet, acrylic and ink.

 

The market at Piégut-Pluviers, just inside the border of the Dordogne, is one of the busiest in the area. Markets always provide interest and are an exciting subject (if somewhat challenging). I decided to do a matched pair of studies to explore the differences between front and back lighting.

Backlit study of the market at Piégut-Pluviers

Backlit study of the market at Piégut-Pluviers

 

Front lit study of the market at Piégut-Pluviers

Front lit study of the market at Piégut-Pluviers

 

These are from other places in the area, pushing at the boundary of pure representational by adding inks and changing colours.

View from the ramparts taking in the river.

View from the ramparts of Angoulemme taking in the river.

 

The bridge at la Rochfoucald, the plants were striking although I managed to make them too stiff. Acrylic, limited pallete

The bridge at La Rochfoucald; the plants were striking although I managed to make them too stiff. Acrylic, limited palette

 

Feels like I made a lot of progress – the change to my usual style comes through will encourage me to take my work in a new direction.