Friday 29 April 2011

Reeds and reflections WIP

These are the plans for the painting that I started working on today. The more developed sketch on the left is a mixture of watercolour, watercolour pencil, acrylic and ink. I enjoyed mixing up the media but I completely overworked the sketch. I want to keep the painting lighter and softer so will have to remember to stop myself from fiddling as the painting progresses.

This painting is a little bigger than the others that I've been doing of late. I'm using naples yellow, raw sienna, burnt umber and azure blue. I started by blocking in with very dilute paint on a board that had been primed in very rough strokes of acrylic gesso.

I've built up the tonal/colour graduation of the water and reed reflections. Soon I will start on the feathery reeds.

It wasn't so hot today so I'd dragged everything out into the garden and painted under the apple tree. After a short time I had the feeling that I was being watched and when I looked up I saw this inquisitive little chap. He kept coming back and forth inspecting my progress.

I've done quite a lot of scratching into the reflections in the top right section, as the layers have built up there has been more texture so I've started to dry brush to soften sections. However when I started to fiddle with the sparkles on the water surface I thought I'd better call it a day and start afresh tomorrow.

Tuesday 19 April 2011

Monday 18 April 2011

Pondering and painting

 I've been doing a lot of thinking about the workshop... I have lots of questions that I'm trying to answer. They include;
   How can I make sure that whilst I'm using Jane's techniques I don't become a 'poor imitation'?

The techniques are very different to the way in which I have been working lately and their 'newness' makes them very exciting. However I need (and want) to paint with my own voice and not make poor imitations of someone else's work. I hope that doesn't come across as arrogant as it sounds I'm struggling with the words. I think what I'm trying to say is that I don't want to paint a subject and be thinking 'how would she do that?'.  

   What can I take from the techniques that will inform my work and help me to grow?

This is an easier question to answer, mark making and surface quality. I have been feeling for a while that I have been getting stuck in a rut by relying on colour blends and glazing on smooth textures. It's a habit that I need to break. The workshop has thrown up ideas for experiments, what's not so easy is the next question...

   How can I adapt the techniques and materials to use what I already have without getting more?

...hmmmm..... I have a range of pastels but if I was to embrace this technique I would need to have a lot more, not to mention the medium. I'm hoping that by using what I have creatively I can adapt. I already have a selection of texture pastes and mediums which I'm sure with a little tweaking I can use. The proof will be in the pudding.

 With this is mind I started to work. Using very thick, half dry acrylic I started to make marks on the paper to indicate water and an area of reeds. With a sharp stick I drew into the paint almost carving into it. I wanted to get texture somewhat in the manner of the acrylic medium that I'd used in the workshop. I used a 300lb watercolour paper that would be able to stand up to all the gouging in texture. The photo is a little fuzzy and was taken at an angle to try and show the peaks and troughs of the paint.
Once that was dry I painted in the darkest tones using a burnt umber and indanthrene mix following the raised areas and lightened the thinnest areas in the water. Dry brushing over the reed areas where the indentations were thinnest meant the paint only rested on the proud areas of the paper leaving the indentations light. 

Now for some colour... using more dry brushing than anything else letting the brush whisper against the texture in much the same way as pastel would brush against the pastel ground medium.

Building up colour and tones slowly and adding in details this is where I have got to. Next I will work more on the reflections and light in the water. I think I need to bring back some of the warmth and colour.

Saturday 16 April 2011

Workshop fun with Jane Puckering

Phew! What a day...the workshop that I went to run by Jane Puckering was sooooo good, one of the best ones I've ever been to. Her enthusiasm and energy were infectious, making you feel like anything is possible. Using acrylic with pastel is a whole new ball game to me and I was intrigued to find out more about the technique. 

 Jane began painting a very wet and very loose under painting in really fluid acrylic, there were lots of beautiful runs and dribbles in the paint. Once this was dry she showed us a medium called 'acrylic ground for pastels' which is made by a company called Golden. She uses it diluted 40% with water and paints it on top of the acrylic under painting in broad directional strokes. You can also use this medium on top of a watercolour under painting as it dries clear without disturbing it and then pastel on top.

All fired up we made our own under paintings, some people using acrylic and some working with watercolour.  I was working on a pre-primed piece of MDF and I really enjoyed this bit, lots of flinging paint and letting the liquid do the work.

I'd decided to stay with the same palette that I've been working with lately of indanthrene blue, quinacridone burnt orange, golden yellow and azure blue. I was working from my sketches of Kimmeridge and wanted to really explore the marks that I could make. In the under painting you can see where I've dribbled water through the wet paint, diluting areas and letting it run.

Whilst our under paintings were drying Jane then showed us how pastel could be applied on top. She showed us how you could use the marks in the under painting to draw out areas and cover over any passages that weren't conducive to the final painting.
At the end of stage 2 with pastel applied but lots of under painting showing through I really should have stopped. However I carried on adding in the suggestion of the headland and completely overworking the rest. Jane explained that one of the beauties of this techniques is that as the medium used is acrylic based I can just wash off any offending parts (for me in this case the flat bed of rock) to take it back to the under painting and then I can just start again. I'm going to live with the mistakes for a few days and analyse how I will take my second shot.

There was still some time to go of the workshop so I thought I'd have another go on a second composition. This time the MDF wasn't primed and I went straight in with the acrylic under painting letting alot of the buff of the board show through. Once it was dry I added the medium and began the pastel stage. I was halfway through when the call went out that we'd be finishing in twenty minutes for a critique to finish the afternoon. Yikes! I had to get my skates on..

I was much happier with this piece as there are still passages of the under painting showing through and the marks are more dominant. I'm thinking that I need to work against the clock more often - no time to fiddle. Looking at it on screen I can see I need to crop about a 6th from the sky for a better composition and maybe darken the lower 6th.

Yesterday was such a great day, it's always so good to learn new techniques and it's certainly given me a lot to ponder. I'm sure I will play with the technique again but more importantly, for me, it's shown me a way of loosening up and exploring the painted mark. Jane regularly runs workshops in Sway, there's a list on her website, so if you feel like treating yourself I'd thoroughly recommend taking one.

Wednesday 13 April 2011

My grab and go sketch kit

I thought I'd share my grab and go sketch kit for anyone interested. This is what I take at the moment although it's always a work in progress (*note to self add a white oil pastel). Depending on where I'm going I will normally have all or part of this with me, if I'm going out to specifically sketch for a day or half day there's a whole lot more that fits snugly into a rucksack, weighs a ton and has enough materials in to last a week. This is the pared down version that's a lot more portable and for now, works for me.

  • Small watercolour moleskine sketchbook (moleskine is a new one for me but I was seduced by the tiny size and so far so good)
  • Winsor Newton Cotman mini plus watercolour box with my own artists quality paint - naples yellow, gamboge genuine, quinacridone gold, burnt sienna, thio violet (which I bought by mistake but quite like), manganese blue, indanthrene blue and sepia
  • small and medium pental waterbrush pens
  • 4 caran d'ache watercolour pencils in ochre, hazel, umber and burnt sienna
  • a disposable propelling pencil
  • my special ladybird pencil sharpener - just because it's silly, fun and leaves no mess behind ;o) It's also a bit of a conversation starter when people are watching.

When I was deciding on the colours for the paintbox I made a chart and colour no. 8 I couldn't decide on for ages but I think sepia is such a useful colour that it'll probably be the one to get used up first. Apologies for the fuzziness of the photo of the chart but it's really tiny and was hard to focus.

I'd love to know what other people take out sketching.

Tuesday 12 April 2011

River sketch

A tiny sketch from my walk this morning in my shiny new tiny (9x14cm) watercolour sketchbook. Initially I was just going to sketch the reflections and patterns in the ripples but added in the reeds and grasses at the last minute which is why the white line of the binding is showing. I used watercolour and watercolour pencil in both wet paint and on top of dry washes. I must remember to take a white oil pastel with me next time to use as a resist to get a bit more sparkle in the water. My handy grab and go sketching kit will be getting bigger it seems ;o)

Whilst I was sketching a swan glided past, he would have seemed most elegant if it wasn't for the long piece of weed trailing from his beak like spaghetti.

Monday 11 April 2011

Counting down the days..

I'm counting down the days at the moment, on Friday I'm attending a workshop by Jane Puckering, there's a link to her website here . I went to a critique that Jane did last year and it was so helpful and interesting that when the opportunity of a workshop came up I jumped at the chance.

Whilst Jane draws on similar subject matter in her work her style is much looser and more about the mark making than mine, I'm hoping this will rub off on me as an aim of mine this year is to embrace colour and texture more in my work. We will be using soft pastels over acrylic which is something that I haven't done before but I am very intrigued to learn about. This weekend I've been working with the sketches that I did at Kimmeridge and building a plan to use at the workshop.


The sketch on the right is pastel and charcoal (I still haven't gotten to grips with the rock surface which in reality is really flat in between the cracks, the bottom half is looking much too bowed for my liking.

For another artist's view of Kimmeridge pop over to Roger Seddon's blog here and here where he share's two beautiful paintings that he's recently done.

Friday 8 April 2011

Priory Moon, Christchurch

Priory Moon, Christchurch
acrylic on paper 12x12cm
©2011 Lisa Le Quelenec

I've painted this view of Christchurch Priory from the reed beds many times but I've used a higher viewpoint before, looking more across rather than up and personal with the reeds, which are a joy to paint . In this one I wanted to concentrate on the mark making, there's some really thick and grungy paint making up these marks and I've tried to keep it loose and more impressionistic.