It seems we are in for a cold snap this week so I thought I'd share a reminder of summer. They are small scale, about 10x25cm done in watercolour.
I love poppies and we have grown a few different varieties, I dry out the seedpods to draw every year and then in spring scatter the seeds back out in the garden borders. I particularly like the Californian poppies with their vibrating orange petals that always catch my eye.
Listening to the bees as they dive into the flowers always makes me laugh, the sound seems to amplify and they sound so excited. Sometimes their legs seem so coated in pollen that they can't fly straight and they look like their drunk. The yellow/orange splodge on the page of the yellow poppy sketch was a bee landing on the book. (He left behind a sketch of pollen.) I hope everyone is keeping warm this week.
It was such a lovely day yesterday at Hoburne, lots of people came for the Christmas fair. (I think people were queueing up outside before the doors opened as there seemed to be a big surge of people at the start) There was such a great atmosphere and it was really nice to see such a good turn out. A huge thank you to all those who worked so hard to organise and advertise the event and make it such a great success you really do deserve a big cheer!
At the CADarts stand there was a display of the calendar organised by Linda to raise money for the new Druitt Hall these were selling like hot cakes. There are still some copies available and if you click here it will take you to the website for more details. The artwork is of a really high standard and the quality of the calendar is so good, I think they make a lovely Christmas gift.
I love these small formats. This one was an experiment in breaking the rule of never having the horizon dead centre of the picture plane. I'm hoping the diagonals and all the detail in the lower half detract enough from the horizon line and that it's not immediately apparent. Do you think it works?
Three little cloud sketches of the skies from the studio window over the last week. The weather has been changeable and so there have been lots of visual treats. The last one believe it or not was from around 2.30 yesterday. I was busying priming canvas and starting the under painting for a new piece when it suddenly got very dark. I only realised when my nose was virtually resting on the canvas, I was so absorbed in what I was doing, just how dark it had got. Glancing out of the window I saw these beautiful colours and had to grab my pastels to get it down on paper. They only lasted for about twenty minutes and then the sunshine returned.
We woke up this morning to another cold and heavy mist. It reminded me of the above painting I had done in Perranporth, Cornwall. It had been a lovely hot summers day and we'd grabbed our books and sketching things and headed to the beach. After about five minutes we stopped and watched as huge banks of mist crept their way up the beach - just like a spooky horror film. It was amazing to watch as it was so thick the rocks you'd been looking at a few seconds before vanished into the thick, damp blanket. It lasted for probably about half an hour and as it started to lift it disappeared in horizontal bands so that at one point we could see a pair of legs striding towards us that were unattached to a person. Soon a ball landed in my lap, closely followed by a friendly dog who in turn was followed by his owner, who I'm glad to say now had a body attached to her legs.
This painting is now in the Frost Fair exhibition at the Hayloft Gallery, Christchurch, which runs until 21st December.
I've been experimenting with colour and tone in watercolour today. These are two of the small studies they are 10x20cm. The one on the left is on cartridge paper and blue one in my watercolour sketchbook - I like the granulations of the blues and enjoy the cartridge paper for the puddles it makes as the paper ruckles, lots of happy accidents. It has made me think that perhaps I should get my watercolours out more often. Sometimes it's lovely to play with puddles of paint.
The weather has been foul so far today and it doesn't look like it will get any better. There's not enough light to paint so I have been doing a bit of drawing. I thought I'd share a little sketch (from photos - they're too quick for me to draw from life) of two little characters that have been visiting the garden lately. Apparently there's been a huge drop in the numbers of sparrows over the last few years, I think it might be because they're all visiting our garden as we seem to have a lot.
This is one of the paintings that I'm taking tomorrow to the Hayloft exhibition which opens on Saturday. Much softer and paler colours than I've been using lately and it's painted on rough Arches paper, I enjoyed the change of texture. The references for this one came from an evening in the summer spent out sketching when the tourists had all gone for tea and the beach was empty.
I've spent an hour today just drawing, mixing media and attempting to capture the mesh of tree reflections from the surface of the river. At first glance I felt a little overwhelmed as to how I was going to get all those complicated shapes tones and colours. (The autumnal colours there are so vibrant and beautiful.) I feel like I'm in the getting to know you stage with this stretch of water and so I'll take baby steps focusing on one bit at a time.
The swatch above was made by laying a watercolour wash and drawing into the wet paint first with watercolour pencils and watching the pigment melt into the surface. Next came acrylic ink, china graph pencil and felt tip pen. Once it had all dried I scratched back into it with a stanley knife taking the surface off the painting to reveal some bright whites. Whilst it was a whole heap of fun to do I'm not sure if it reads as a reflective and moving surface. Maybe if I'd added the line of trees and river bank to show a static contrast the movement of the water would have read better.
The next two swatches are just acrylic. To begin with I put thick paint at the top and using a piece of mount board as a squeegee dragged the paint down. The branches were suggested using a rigger and then it was back to the mount board to 'print' the highlights on the water. I know most people would have probably used a palette knife but I've never really got on with them. I like the colouring although I don't think either of them are very successful. As I knew I was just playing today I used some colours that I've had in the drawer for ages and don't normally use, you know the ones that tempt you at the shop and seem a good idea at the time. The cadmiums are those colours for me I've got a tube of cadmium red that I'm sure I got in 1995 and have only opened once. Cadmium yellow light and cadmium orange are what I used here.
It has been a very busy few days.... so much to do. I've been catching up on framing, mount cutting and card making. This week I've got a hand-in and hang for an exhibition, a meeting about a possible pop up gallery (more on this later, it's very exciting), a submission for an exhibition, and also an art fair at the weekend. Funny how deadlines all come at once and it is nice to be busy. Although the art work is done it's all the little bits that still need to be sorted and this is taking soooo much time which has left no time for painting.
I did take a couple of hours off for a lovely walk down at the river and guess what I saw.....a kingfisher!
I was so excited, I'd never seen one before. I thought at first it was a dragonfly that I'd seen out of the corner of my eye, it's colouring was amazingly vibrant. He was darting about so fast and only stopped for a minute or two where I tried to photograph him but being that he was so small and I was quite far away this was the best photo I got. I watched him/her for about twenty minutes and on the way home I had the biggest dopiest grin on my face. Magic!
I've started to try and learn the vocabulary of the river, it's a whole new terrain for me with very distinctive characteristics. The reflections and the way the light catches the river surface seems very different from the sea. So far only a few small sketches but I'm very excited about learning this new language. I think this will be a new series, same subject - the effects of light - but on new (for me) surfaces of river and foliage.