Monday, 28 February 2011

From the depths

 Last night I was sorting through my bag and found these in the front pocket. I'd forgotten that I'd picked them up. There was also some pebbles and sea glass, a large seed that looks kind of like a tightly closed pine cone, some driftwood and some broken ceramic that had also been picked up at the beach. I had been thinking my bag had been getting heavy was all the treasure waiting to be rediscovered.

 The sketches are done in watercolour, pencil and ink (sepia Edding profipen) In the large drawing I was playing with line, pattern and shape.
I've not really drawn shells for a long time, they were the subject of my degree exhibition and a major project. I painted small sections of them up to a metre square in oils focusing on the surface patterns and textures with heavy mark making. I made the paintings on really thick, heavy MDF panels and was trying to communicate how heavy, protective and tough these tiny, delicate (to us) objects were to the animals that had previously lived in them. I was influenced by Georgia O'Keeffe and  Therese Oulton whose work I admire greatly.

I recall many discussions as to whether the paintings were abstract pieces or not. I didn't see them as abstractions - more as observations. Below is a photo of two drawings around A1 in size that I did at college, in charcoal, chalk and ink,  they were exhibited at the Millais Gallery in Southampton in 1997. The photo is a digital photo of an old style photo (-no digital camera back then) so apologies if it isn't very sharp.

I've been thinking a lot about mark making and feel I should take time out to do these kind of exercises. Exhibitions are coming up and the dilemma is how much time can I afford to take out from painting for those, on the other hand can I afford not too? I've a feeling I'm having one of those days....

Friday, 25 February 2011

Head in the clouds

©2011 Lisa Le Quelenec

A couple of sky studies from my sketchbook done in pastel. It was strange to see the sun turn golden inbetween two banks of cloud - like it was trying to barge it's way through.

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

More still life..

I've been carrying on with the still life painting and have been playing around in photo editing software with it. I quite like changing the colours using the negative filter, it sometimes throws up palettes that I wouldn't think of using. The purple, pink, gold below is different and I think completely changes the mood.

The one that feels more like me is the palette in the square cropped version. The siennaish colour is a lot more subdued and subtle than I would normally paint with - I think thats why I like it. In this crop I changed it using either the coloured pencil or pastel feature. (I forget which now, I made quite a few variations.) I like the softened edges and this might be a possibility to explore in the next painting.

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Old Harry Blues

Old Harry Blues
acrylic on board
©2011 Lisa Le Quelenec
 Another painting from memory, the sun was very bright but with dense clouds so the contrasts were heightened. A very bright strip of light at the horizon made the stacks look as though they were underlined and sparkles danced along the edges of the cliffs.

Monday, 21 February 2011


I've been looking at Giorgio Morandi for the way he used the same vessels in many images whilst still keeping each painting fresh, Lyonel Feinenger - for structure and movement, Henri Matisse mostly his cut outs - exciting edges/shapes and Paul Klee I love the way he manipulates watercolour and his colour harmonies.

Pattern, design and lots of fluid paint. How much fun can one person have? There's a lot more painting to be done but I thought I'd show you the underpainting in watercolour using green gold, transparent turquoise and a touch of indanthrene blue.

Friday, 18 February 2011

A tiny seed

A little, tiny sketch (the photo of it here is pretty much life size) - just the seed of an idea....

Thursday, 17 February 2011

Still life continued..

This was the stage that I got to late yesterday. I added more bottle shapes, repeating the same shape painting it in and painting around to get some contrast in positive and negative. That big circle still needed to be resolved and I thought that one way to do it would be to repeat it elsewhere in the composition but changing the scale and tone. I also wanted to repeat the stripes of the central green vessel, so I've combined these elements.

For colour contrast I've used tiny lines of chrome orange watercolour pencil, you can hardly see them but they vibrate so well next to the lime and turquoise that they are making a big difference overall. On the lower right corner I built up another layer in the pencil pigment shaving.

mixed media on board 24x28cm
©2011 Lisa Le Quelenec
 So this is the final painting. I can see this becoming an unexpected project as there are ideas coming that I would like to explore and develop.

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Exploring Still Life

I belong to an art group that meet once a month for critiques of our work by visiting artists. Each meeting has a theme that is decided on at the beginning of the year and this month is Still Life. Often I find whatever I'm working on at the time can fit the theme of the meeting but this month I thought I'd use it as a springboard for some experiments.

Back in September I reviewed a book called Vibrant Watercolours by Shirley Trevena. On the left is a sketchbook page inspired by the ideas I read about in this book. I thought I would continue developing the ideas for one of my art group pieces.

I started by laying very loose watercolour washes onto a piece of mountboard, just basic divisions of space, letting the paint pool and puddle. Whilst the paint was wet I scraped colour pencil pigment into a couple of areas for some subtle mottled colour. I'm going to enjoy using my favourite colours of turquoise and lime green with just a dash of spicy orange in this one, simply because they're not a combination I get to use that often.

Once this was dry I drew out a rough plan and started to paint in the main shapes, switching between watercolour, acrylic and watercolour pencil. Some of the lines are extended out from the object to make more interesting negative shapes and objects meld into one another so that it's not clear when one starts and another begins.
I made a couple of errors and the large circle was too dark and far too dominant. As it is mountboard that I'm painting on (which is made up of lots of layers sandwiched together) I carefully cut away a layer to expose clear board underneath. The inbetween layers of mountboard have a furry texture that ball up when it gets wet (lovely in collographs) and makes me think I should exploit texture more. 

Vivien at Painting, Prints & Stuff is working on still life in a non traditional way. She's doing some very interesting things using coloured pencil then manipulating the drawing digitally and making a series of work.

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Old Harry Rocks

Harry Rocks
acrylic on paper 30x10cm
©2011 Lisa Le Quelenec

One legend says that the Devil (traditionally known as "Old Harry") slept on the rocks, another local legend says that the rocks were named after Harry Paye, an infamous Poole pirate.

....I might just have to watch The Goonies (again.....) now.

Friday, 11 February 2011

Memory paintings at Loriann's and a trip to Jersey

At the end of yesterday's post I wrote about the challenge Loriann had set about painting from memory. Well today she's posted paintings by artists that took up the challenge. There's a beautiful mix of work and it's interesting to see how everyone reacted to the challenge. Pop on over and take a peek.

Below is the memory sketch I sent Loriann, it's in pastel pencil just under A5 in size and is of one of my favourite places in the world. It's St. Ouens Bay in Jersey (Channel Islands - 14 miles off the coast of France although part of Great Britain) it's the island where I was born and raised. In the bay is a martello tower called La Rocco Tower, of which there are a number around the island that were used as defences.

The reflections of the tower in the wet sand are something that I've sketched and painted many times. This particular day stands out in my mind it was December and was really cold, all the colour had washed out and the beach was empty. Even though this is a place that I feel very connected to and a place that I have experienced a large number of times it was still very challenging to attempt to capture it with no references - not even a sketch.

Thank you Loriann for starting this challenge it's been really good fun.

Thursday, 10 February 2011

Handfast Point

Handfast Point
acrylic on paper 14x37cm
©2011 Lisa Le Quelenec

Thank you for the advice on this one, I think I'm done. To stop myself from fiddling any more with it I'm going to frame it straight away. I love painting the coast. The river made a nice change but I think I will always come back to the sea. Maybe it has something to do with being an islander, I was born in Jersey in the Channel Islands and lived there until I went to college in Cornwall.

I think my next painting will be a 180 degree turn (more or less) and a view of Old Harry Rocks. I've sketched from the cliff top there but to really appreciate the shapes I think it's best seen from the water. For this one I'll need to rely more on memory and reference photos taken from a boat trip going around the headland. We went past Old Harry pretty quick and I found it a bit of a challenge sketching on the water.

Loriann has been posting the most amazing memory paintings over on her blog and is inspiring me to take up the challenge. She's not using any physical reference at all, the results are fantastic.

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Peacock Feathers
watercolour sketch 10x5cm
©2011 Lisa Le Quelenec

Peacock feather
watercolour sketch 7x5cm
©2011 Lisa Le Quelenec
After fighting yesterday with the Handfast Point painting I needed to do something completely different. A complete change of texture from cliffs to feathers seemed like an idea at the time. I picked these discarded feathers whilst out at Lulworth Castle last summer, sometimes it's nice to concentrate on tiny details.

Today I'll be back to the cliffs..... 

Saturday, 5 February 2011

Handfast Point, still in progress..

Nearly there....I think.....

lighten and grey down the colour on the stacks,
emphasis on the light and make it warmer,
more depth to the water with highlights and shadows
resolve the headland that is on the horizon which I think needs to darken a shade?

Hmmm ok.... so maybe it'll be a while yet. Any thoughts?

Thursday, 3 February 2011

Handfast Point, a work in progress

I'm working on a painting of Handfast Point on the Dorset coast using sketches and photos that I did last summer. It's a really gorgeous part of the coastline right next to Old Harry Rocks, which are a group of chalk stacks that jut out into the sea. I love the shapes of these stacks and their shadows and reflections.

One of the things I want to capture is the contrast between the surface ripples of the water and the hard texture of the chalk. The chalk cliffs are beautiful to paint, at first glance they are just dirty white but the more you look the more colour you see. There's lots of blues, soft lavender, violet and a lot of colourful grey in chalk.

Standing on the cliff top to make these sketches I was well back from the edge and getting giddy just thinking about moving closer. ( I'm not very good at heights.) For the painting though I wanted to show more of the water to give a more elevated viewpoint and the feeling of looking down as well as across and so I have exaggerated how much water could be seen from where I stood. I'm also planning on changing the light source too, I'd like to have the two stacks back lit and with glowing edges, and the ripples picking up highlights. That's the plan anyway so far I've just blocked in.

All the experimenting that I've done over the last couple of months I'm hoping will feed into this painting and the mark making will be looser. I don't want any hard edges - it must be all about the light.

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

The moon is bright tonight II

The Moon Is Bright Tonight II
acrylic on paper 20x20cm
©2011 Lisa Le Quelenec

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Signs of Spring

Signs of Spring
29x50cm mixed media
©2011 Lisa Le Quelenec
I think I may need to do another version of this at some point. I really wanted to have more negative shapes behind the daffodils but I got a little too dark a little too quick. I think if I keep at it with the acrylic I'll lose some of the sparkle that I've got at the moment. Those drippy marks toward the bottom were fun to do though, the white is unpainted paper.