Tag Archive for Pen and Wash

Isolation Pictures – April

So, in my last post I said that it was difficult to know what would come next and guessed that I’d be plundering old sketch books and photographs. I also noted that the garden could provide the opportunity for some close to home en plein air work. The weather has gone through a spell of bright sunny days and the its seemed daft to be painting in the studio when the spring flowers have been so vivid and cheering.

So far I have had most success and pleasure from zooming in and doing flower studies. These are not precise, like botanical studies, but I have striven for a level of detail that makes them recognisable. As well as the watercolour pans (which I refill fill from tubes) I have made liberal use of acrylic inks, pen and wax crayon.

I have largely dropped the use of masking fluid in my landscapes and figure work. My first attempt was of one of the flowerbeds in my developing mixed media style.

Flowerbed

Flowerbed

For me the close ups work much better, or rather I enjoy doing them more. I have, however had to adapt my approach.

I always do a preliminary sketch. These are essential, they enable an exploration of composition lighting – essentially a design process – and additionally they help one to understanding and internalise the subject. Its almost as though the hand eye links get established in advance.

I do a foundational sketch on the support, this needs to be enough to guide but light to be painted over.

I use a masking fluid to reserve the big shapes, which are the flowers. When that’s dry, and it dries fast in decent weather, I can apply a liberal amounts of wax, water colour and inks to the background. The background stays abstract; essentially what I’m doing is limiting the depth of field in the same one might with a close up using a camera.

Then I add in the flowers which are the main subjects and focal points. All of these were completed en plein air, alla prima. I may well attempt some more detailed studies in the studio using these sources if the weather takes a turn for the worse.

Tulips and Tulips II

We have Tulips in beds and in pots. These are both afternoon pictures. The first is at the end of the garden and was completed late in the afternoon. The second is near the house, earlier as the wall shadow v=creates full shade by 4-00pm.

14×10 140lb Rough Paper, Watercolour and Inks. 1 hour and 2 hour en plein air, alla prima studies.

Tulips

Tulips II

Clematis

Early afternoon. We have a Montana that goes berserk at this time of year. Unfortunately most of the flowers have migrated next door.

14x 10 140lb Rough Paper, Watercolour, Wax Crayon, Inks. 2 hour en plein air, alla prima study.

Clematis

Wallflowers

The wallflowers are a morning glory. Our garden faces due south and the wall casts a shadow that grows in size as the day moves on past noon.

14x 10 140lb Rough Paper, Watercolour, Wax Crayon, Inks. 1.5 hour en plein air, alla prima study.

Wallflowers

Forrest Flame

This old friend has been guarding the entrance to the patio for many years and never fails to look splendid at this time of year.

14x 10 140lb Rough Paper, Watercolour, Wax Crayon, Inks. 1.5 hour en plein air, alla prima study.

Forrest Flame

Cherry Blossom

The columnar cherry was one of our first plantings. Its been pruned hard 2 times in 30 years but maintains its shape and always delivers a huge amout of blossom. Morning.

14x 10 140lb Rough Paper, Watercolour, Wax Crayon, Inks. 1.5 hour en plein air, alla prima study.

Cherry Blossom

Bluebells 

Ok they are Spanish bluebells, paler blue and waxy compared to our native ones. I like them in a garden setting and since we inherited them they have spread. These is some evidence of hybridisation in the remoter patches where there are some smaller and darker flowers.

14x 10 140lb Rough Paper, Watercolour, Wax Crayon, Inks. 2 hour en plein air, alla prima study.

 

Bluebells

 

Bush Anemone

At the bottom of the garden a Bush Anemone comes over the wall from next door. It doesn’t smell like the mock orange behind it but is does look lovely.

14x 10 140lb Rough Paper, Watercolour, Wax Crayon, Inks. 2 hour en plein air, alla prima study.

Bush Anemone wm

And just to prove the point

The garden has been a real boon and the good weather couldn’t be ignored so all these studies were done from life.

April Flowers WIP

 

Askrigg 2017

An autumn trip to Askrigg has now become a regular event. The weather was mixed, sometimes too wet for using watercolour outside. However the three pictures presented here were all done, at least in part, en plein air. The degree of finish reflects the time I had available (and how cold I got before I gave in).

First up, two views of the village

Askrigg 1 – Above the village looking south

Mixed media, watercolour, inks, pastel, 14×10, plein air foundation, finished inside (5 hours in total).

Askrigg 1 - Looking South

I love the backdrop provided by Addleborough, this was a very windy day. I set out about 4-00pm using the field wall as shelter and was able to get the long evening shadows and the iridescent light when the almost vertical sunlight contrasts with and comes through gaps in the dark cloud. I captured the foundations of the scene and took some photographs for the light. The painting was completed in the flat next day (so I didn’t mind that it rained).

Askrigg 2 – Below the village looking North West

Mixed media, watercolour, inks, pastel, 14×10, plein air foundation, finished inside (3 hours in total).

Askrigg 2 - Looking North West

This was a struggle. I particularly wanted evening light and it was a lovely sunny morning, as you can see from the action shot (see notebook extracts) although the sun stayed visible it was filtered through high cirrus and it became dull and quite cold with the wind chill. I managed 1 hours work outside but had to up sticks when it started damping. I was able to do a further 2 hours work inside. This was an almost continuous process because our flat is only 5 minutes walk away from this spot.

Middleham Castle

Pen and Wash Sketch, en plain air, ala prima, 1 ½ hours

Middleham Castle

Out of the town square a path runs alongside the castle and opens out into a large field, it makes a great vantage point. I deliberately completed this pen and wash fast to keep it fresh.

Notebook Extracts

Here are extracts from my notebook and some work-in-progress shots.

Notebook Extracts

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.

July and August – a mixed bag

July and August have been challenging because there has been so much rain (I know we don’t remember the weather accurately but that’s how it seems to me). Its also been time constrained because of our Ruby Wedding celebrations, which we squeezed as much as possible out off.

Anyway I have managed to do some work.

The first picture here is an A3 studio Acrylic based on sketches from out trip Scilly in May. The watercolour I did at the time was a challenge because of the strong wind (see May blog) so it was a pleasure to take some time over this piece without having my brushes blow on the easel. Its interesting that there are so few clues in the picture to how blowy it was – there are some white horses but they are very far away and the grasses are very spiky.

Such a natural composition - looking west to Tean and St Martins

Old Grimsby, Tresco. Such a natural composition – this is looking west to Tean and St Martins. The Echium flowers were spectacular.

 

Now for the various plein air sketches and watercolours I have managed to gather together over the last couple of months on hiking expeditions and outings.

The first is in Wharfedale – its the second time I have painted this; the first time I was rained off. The walk from Buckden to Yokenthwaite and then back across the valley top to Cray and then across the flank of Buckden Pike to return via the Lead Mine is set to become a favourite (though its quite long).

Warfdale from Todds Wood - wm

This is looking south from the limestone escarpment above but not quite at Todds wood. The farm in the view is Grange Farm.

The second is a quick pen & wash done in the Howardian Hills near Slingsby.

Near Sligsby wm

Near Sligsby wmThe view north from Slingsby Banks Wood in the Howardian Hills

The following pictures are captured from the notebooks I carry on hiking expeditions I continue to work on the watercolur style to get that elusive loose/tight balance.

7x5 Watercolours - July-August 2015 wm

Notebook 1 July-August 2015

Notebook 2 July-August 2015

 

Lake District Sketches

We have been to the Lake District several times in June and July. The weather has been mixed to say the least and I have been rained off on more than one occasion. As a result I have been working fast – with more and less success; lots of really rough notebook sketches and unfinished pieces which will provide me material to return to in the studio.

Nevertheless here are the better plein air, alla prima sketches. First off a couple of pen and wash studies.

This was a welcome break in the rain about 4-00pm that allowed me to get out with the Indian ink and create a quick impression;

Lorton Valley

Lorton Valley – looking south towards Scale Hill and Loweswater from the road by High Swinside.

 

This was done one morning in between showers over a 2 hour period but eventually rained off about.

Towards Thackthwaite wm

The view across the Lorton Valley looking towards Thackthwaite.

I think the interruptions show in the above compared to the first work which, looking back at the work seems to have more spontaneity.

An afternoon of sun & cloud allowed me to get back to a longer watercolour sketch (about 3 hours). This is a favourite view across Derwent Water.

Brandlehow Bay w-m

The view of Brandelhow Bay straight over Abbotts Bay and across Derwent Water to the Ladore Hotel. The fells in the background are Bleaberry Fell and High Seat

 

Lastly a most absorbing and enjoyable afternoons work on Scout Scar which is near Kendal. This is a favourite spot for a last look on the journey back to Leeds.

From Scout Scar wm

The view south from Scout Scar at a point above and just north of Brigsteer. The view is really expansive taking in the Lyth Valley, Foulshaw Moss and the River Kent running into Morecambe Bay.

Scout Scarr in Progress

Work in progress shot – stand in front of the view and paint what what you see – bliss.