Without planning it, these experiments have turned into a series. As it is raining constantly outside, I have to dine my subjects inside. I started off with clementines(see post here) and today I grabbed the bunch of dried Espelette chillies hanging next to the stove.
…Espelette chillies in charcoal and sanguine, 50x 65cm…
The completed drawing. Using white conté stick, I added the last highlights/ details.
…Close- up 1…
Continuing my experimentation with large formats, different mediums and free strokes. Still sticking with charcoal, which is an unforgiving medium, but exactly that fact gives me the freedom to “play” freely. You can”t start over every time you make a mistake; so you are forced to work with the mistakes, which can either lead to great discoveries, or total mess ups – not to be seen as a bad thing. I also prefer working with the dark charcoal, and one can see in the images below the really dark black it gives. I don’t use fixatives.. I have the impression it doesn’t work in any case..
…radishes in charcoal, watercolor and watercolor pencils, 42x60cm..
I chose radishes, cut off most of the leaves to expose mostly the stems, thew them out on the table and chose a composition with only a few radishes.
..the start – in charcoal lines and watercolor washes, using lot of water and allowing it to run…
After finishing, I stood back and the watercolor looked too washed out against the dark charcoal, so I added watercolor pencil, washed it to blend and give darker color, and here and there I left some pencil marks to echo the charcoal lines.
…radishes – close up 1..
Far from being a perfect piece and it won’t end up in an exhibition, this was another good exercise in getting rid of “fear”.
….radishes – close up 2…
…radishes – close up 3…
Onto some some more work!!!
Thankfully there is always an end to yesterday. And to whining. Once I got tired of my own whining about this not working and that not good enough(see the previous post), I had the clarity to see that the only way to change what I don’t like in my art, is to work at it.
..Clementines in charcoal on paper, 43X60cm..
So here is what I went for:
- I worked only charcoal and white conté sticks.
- Large format. I will go bigger still, bit for the time being 43x60cm is plenty.
- I put the drawing on my easel and work with the whole arm and not the wrist, standing back often to get distance.
- No details.
- Large and free strokes.
- No erasing.
- No planning ahead, trusting impulse.
- Still worked from life..whatever is around, but no photos.
- No direct copying, put marks and lines as I felt and wanted, whether it is correct or not.
- Stopped early enough, while I still had the urge to continue.
I enjoyed this process todayeven though it still has my typical mark making, I feel happy about it. Will continue experimenting.
The paper is bending on the easel as I didn’t add a big enough support behind it, so the colour and focus are not perfect all over the paper.
Some close ups below to see the marks and smudges.
Close up 1
Some of the close-ups actuall make for nice pieces on their own..so the piece of work can be torn or cut into sections and reworked..maybe collaged as part of another work…?
Close up 2
Close up 3
Close up 4
Stay tuned for loads of work in the next few weeks..and if you feel like joining in..please do so.
I believe in drawing as a basis for all mediums of art. Whether doing aquarelle or oil painting, statues of abstraction..it all comes down to understanding an object/subject and nothing else than good old drawing can get one to that point. Not forgetting doing it on large format. Just my personal opinion. I don’t draw enough. There was a time when I was much better at drawing than I am now. Doing life model drawing saw to that. I have to get back to live drawing sessions with a model. Perfect for drawing skills.
rotring Tikky graphic pen on drawing paper, 21×29.7cm
I actually enjoy doing urns, bowls, jugs…they are a good mixture of simple shapes put together in a complex way…ellipses, round shapes, triangles, rectangles, value shapes, light shapes, depth.. good practice for seeing shapes rather than lines, even though I do like line work.
Charcoal on drawing paper, 29.7×42 cm
Aargh…so many booboos in these 2 drawings, but it is OK. At least I didn’t ‘feather’ my drawings into correctness, like I see so often and I find it terrible. Rather a sure, continuously wrong line than a hesitantly feathered correct “line”. Once again, only my personal opinion.
Busy with my people’s project, I just wanted to do something different. Something completely free and unrestrained. Taking large formats of paper and canvas, I put down the brushes and used only my hands and rolled towel paper. even though it feels a bit like first grade finger painting, there is a liberating feeling that results from “playful” and experimenting occasions like these.
1.Tilleul tree in gouache on paper. For the first tree, I shaped the thick trunk with a large brush and for the leaves, added gouache pigment with my fingers, sometimes very wet so the color runs and sometimes I dotted only dry splotches. Not a very significant result, but it did loosen me up, like all these free, expressive exercises always do. this one really looks like a first grader “picture”!
1…tilleul tree in gouache on paper, 65x50cm…
2. Prune tree in oil on canvas. For the second tree, I used a large canvas, primed it with a layer of thin gesso, “shaped” the tree trunks and branches with modelling paste and painting knifes, and finished off with a last coat of thinned gesso. After leaving it to dry overnight, I built up the tree trunk with layers of oil pigment, using a rag to wipe and build up up the layers. The leaves were all added with crumpled toweling paper and lastly spatters of oil pigment with a large brush.
2…prune tree in oil on linen, 92x73cm…
3…apple tree in charcoal on paper, 65x50cml…
To do excercises like this:
- Use large sheets of paper or canvas or cartons. Off cuts from boxes can work as well
- Wear old clothes.
- Work where you have enough room/space…even outside on the lawn, or go to the park.
- Choose something around you like large shrubs, trees, flowerbeds.
- Use only big tools…big brushes, pieces of rag, knifes, twigs, and of course, hands(You can treat them afterwards with some good creams!)
- Work on the WHOLE paper, even if you run off the page.
- Stand back, up often and look at your creation from a distance. Don’t consider right or wrong or any painting rules.
- Consider only marks, color, texture, shapes.
- When finished with one, put it aside and immediately start another…with another bush another scene.. don’t go back to a previous painting, rather start another one.
- Don’t think, just do.
February was a busy month and I didsn’t get around to doing much art. I did succeed on doing a garden sketch and a drawing of Tartelette ad Omelette, on a reasonably nice February afternoon.
I feel happy with the drawing, which was first done as a sketch and then developed further into a drawing. The cloches were done afterwards, rather lazily and not much effort or desire went into this sketch.
…Tartelette et Omelette…
…sanguine and charcoal drawing on paper, 24×20 cm…
..Two garden cloches…
…charcoal sketch on paper, 24x20cm…
I finally completed one koi painting in oil. But before that, I did some more studies in different mediums. I didn’t really enjoy these koi studies as I should have. I felt a bit like ” eating strawberries in the mid winter” and so I feel out of season with the koi paintings and it influenced the “taste”. But I’m happy that I stuck to it and completed at least one painting. I definitely plan to go to the koi farm in summer, where I can seat myself for a day and really get to work on some series.
..koi, oil on linen, 61x37cm
In step 1, using terpentineI put down thin washes of burnt sienna for the fish shapes and a thin wash of paynes gray and french ultramarine for the background/water.
In step 2 I added some colour to the fish, cadmium red and yellow to the fish in the foreground and prussian blue to the back fish, to form the shadows. I started using liquin as a medium to have the oi dry quicker, but still have an oil shine.
In step 3 I darkened the water with a mixture of paynes gray and french ultramarine and softened the shadow marks I made on the yellow fish. this was my first mistake, because I made mud. I left it to dry completely, so I could rework it…the oil was still thin enough to redo without removing the paint.
the last stages was all about adding colour and depth to the fish bodies and depth to the water , while using the same colours I’ve used in the previous steps, with the addition of ochre, raw umber and white.
When doing the studies for this koi project, I worked mostly from photographs, using about 20 different photos, building my own scenes. I really found it difficult to render the koi in an interesting way. I feel I can do better, which is why I will patiently wait for the koi season to open and I can go and study them in real life.
I also felt that they ask for something a little more abstract or expressive than mere realistic rendering. In the following studies I tried to present them on the page in a little more interesting way. I found it quite exciting and I think I can even push the envelope even further in the expressive domain, which makes me more excited about the series of koi than I was when I started out.
In the meantime, I have a lobster and crab and mussels and oysters and several other shellfish in my freezer, waiting to be sketched and painted and studied. Maybe a new series of sea creatures? So hang around if you’re interested in seeing what will surface – it will be a surprise for me too.
…koi study in charcoal on paper, 22x15cm…
…koi study in graphite on paper, 22x15cm…
…koi study in oil pastel on paper, 22x15cm…
Also posted on Watermarks.
Work is still continuing here at Coin Perdu. I made a sketch of my future kitchen window from the outside in. It will be one of my most favorite places in our mountain home, that is for sure. From the inside it has the most stunning view and I can already imagine the inspiration on my cooking!
On a late afternoon, while the fire was crackling for our dinner, I stood at a little table with watercolor, black Indian ink and a charcoal stick and just scribbled down an apple tree down below. The paper was far too small for such an exercise but it was the only ones I have here. I’d like to do this again, but with large pieces of paper. the exercise was good though, bringing a bit of freedom to a stiff wrist.
The bottom sketch (to the right, apple tree 2) is upside down. I put down the tree trunk in ink with a big brush, left it to dry, took off to see to the salad and when I came back, the wind took it from the table. I picked it up and watercolored int he foliage, only to realize after a while I did it upside down. Well, it still served the purpose, not needing to be good art.
All sketches done in Indian ink with Japanese brushes, watercolor and charcoal sticks on CP watercolor paper, 29,7x42cm (11 3/4″x16 1/2″)
I am filled with nostalgia lately. I’ve already put up my Christmas tree, I remember people from long ago, I recall precious moments, I miss family and friends, I long for the smell of the African bush, I dream of jeeps and khaki hats, I listen to the sounds of the wildlife on CD, I walk around in the house snorting like the rhino, growling in the voice of the lion at nighttime … I feel savage.
Maybe it started when I had to draw my pages in Robyn’s Different strokes in our FPP, and I thought of all the different strokes our lives produce in one lifetime. So I gave her one of my strokes…one of my dreams, one of my loves, one of my yearnings…
Done in charcoal, coloured pencils, watercolour pencils, white conté and a wash here and there.
I haven’t had time to post my drawings from the afternoons with Casey the last two weeks, so here follows…
The first drawing was done at her house and she set up some beautiful statues. I had fun with this. I always have fun doing statues. I find they can hold long poses…
This drawing was done in graphite 9b, on drawing block, 50×35 cm.
…hold it, hold it..
This second drawing was last week and I set up some bottles, thinking I could at the same time play around with “different strokes”, which is the theme of Robyn’s book in our international sketchbook exhange. I enjoyed all the themes of the books and it revealed a little of each book’s owner, which made every book so unique. In this case, I can picture Robyn as someone with a whole variety of “different strokes”, making her interesting, lively with a great sense of humour and strong personality. So to come up with something for her book, “Different strokes”, I played around with this next drawing, which isn’t going into her book, but it did lead me down the path to the eventual pages I am busy adding to her book. And following the advice of her wise bee, I am also having fun doing it!
Drawing done in graphite, watercolour pencils, charcoal pencil, white conté, coffee, chocolate cake…ah…no, that was for eating..
…in search of different strokes…
I had a great drawing afternoon with Casey yesterday. It was the first drawing I’ve done in a very long time and Casey said the same for her. As you’ll see over at Casey’s, her drawing is beautiful, as usual. She has always been so good at drawing. Our first afternoon of drawing years ago was a bowl of eggs in her dining room…maybe we should dig those up one day…
Because she is so quick at drawing and sketching, I set up two subjects to keep her busy for the afternoon, but helas, Casey enjoys talking just as much as drawing…, so you’ll see my attempt here and hers will be the other set up.
…effort number 1…
The first drawing is the one I did yesterday afternoon and I really struggled. The minute I take a drawing tool like a pencil or charcoal in my hand, I tighten up and it turns out a compact, heavy little business. So last night I attempted another one, number two. Unfortunately we’ve had the figs for dinner, so the set up is a little different and my angle changed a little too. This drawing is probably messy and sloppy and quirky, but I’m much happier. Still not what I’m after, but at least it has less “rendering” and more movement and energy. (And yes, the trophy at the back is quite skew, it is bent at the bottom)
…effort number 2…
Both drawings done on in charcoal on drawing block, 50x35cm(19,6×13.7″)
*I’ve once realized how important it is to draw regularly and how different drawing actually is from sketching. Or maybe it isn’t so different after all. If I have to sketch this same scene, it probably wouldn’t look that different!
I’ve also realized the importance of knowing the tools you’re using. I felt very insecure with this charcoal in my hand yesterday, didn’t know where to start, finally started off way too dark, worked with a tight little wrist, smearing all over until everything was one grey value. So, “draw Ronell, draw!”
I used pencil 2B and 6B on large format paper, 42×59,4 cm (16,5×23,4″).
2. A previous class: This second drawing was extremely difficult, but it sure openend up the mind. The model would move forward into another position, while one “axe” remained in the previous position. It was sort of like motion drawing. Hard, hard, hard! I consumed a whole baguette when I got home after this class…
Graphite and sanguine on paper, large format
3. A previous class: The slim model with the dog that we’ve had on previous occasions and he lost even more weight, making it very hard to see something to draw.
Graphite on paper, large format
4. A portrait of the model and his dog. I did this when we had 5 minutes left of class. Graphite on paper, large format
5. This is the same model as the first pencil drawing, but on a different occasion where we did a draining million(well almost) quick sketches for two hours. And again I consumed a whole baguette afterwards..
Charcoal on paper, large format.