Is there any gift bigger for a birthday than a sunny day in august and a large bunch of bright yellow sunflowers? so was my birthday yesterday.
And as sketches…my sunflowers captured lazily today as I think I had too much birthday yesterday…
birthday sunflowers 1
watercolor and pen in Daler and rowney sketchbook
birthday sunflowers 2
watercolor and pen in Daler and rowney sketchbook
I have a tendency to become tight the more I work. It is just one of those inevitable things. So I often have to change mediums and styles and experiment in other ways to loosen up again. I have notice with my sketching that I have become tight again. Normally I would change to oils and go do some plein air which helps, but with the bad weather, I had to divert to other options. As I was watching the horses walking all over our well the other day, I saw a contrast of grey sky and a line of white lace flowers and the green fields and it stirred the desire to put that onto paper by using the opaque gouache, a medium I quite like, exactly for its “experimental” qualities. It opens up possibilities to take it further into oils.
The following gouache experiments were all done in sketchbooks
After sitting outside, I moved in, bringing in some of the woildflowers now in seaspon and trying to create the broad bands of colour..the greens, the blues and of course the shapes, not worrying too much about authenticity. It was all just about colour and application with a loose wrist and finally some line squiggles, which I always love. For the dark lines I initially used inks, but it didn’t work too well on top of the gouche, so I used a dark mixture(which I alwyas use in oils for black) of Burnt unber, alizarin crimson and french ultramarine which always gives a rich dark black.
with this experiment, I used the gouache much more diluted to get more “wispy” horizons as a back drop for the lace flowers. Well, I don’t know what those funny linework at the bottom is all about, but at the time I felt in the mood for it.
This was a lot of fun and really something I will explore deeper, maybe on much lager scale with oils..and added animals…Many options in fact.
I did a lot of experimenting today..playing around with inks and rigger brushes, gouache paints and aquarelles. I finally played with a kitchen vignette in aquarelle and Herbin inks. Not totally happy with the results, so a lot of work waiting with the inks . the drawing was actually so much better before I added the aquarelle..should’ve stopped there.
We were in Tolouse, visiting out children and I had unfortunately only time for one quick catch of a fleuriste when we sat down for a coffee. A figure was standing just in front of us and the fleuriste was across the street…don’t now if that depth and perspective come across on the sketch… and of course the beautiful red brick of Toulouse…la ville rose.
..fleuriste à toulouse, in Stillman & birn Alpha sketchbook, vellum, 22.9×15.2cm
The rain came down by the buckets today. Beautiful of course, the rain, but not when you are on a roll and want to be in plein air, sketching or painting. I drank a cafe at out local café, waited for the rain to stop. Went home, waited for the skies to clear; Had another coffee. Starred out my back door, my only door…and looked into the old worn porcherie, or old pighouse if you will. It will be fixed up one day, but for the moment its dilapidated charm will be immortalized on paper. Not the best sketch ever, but the goal wasn’t a great sketch today, it was all about the paper..so there we have it. Just half of a porcherie. And three cows.
..Stillman and Birn Alpha series, vellum surface, 22.9×15.2cm..
..Close-up of the watercolor on the paper..
I went for the Alpha Stillman & birn sketchbook today, a real charmer! Much happier than yesterday with the Epsilon. It has a Vellum texture which is satiny an beautiful to work with in watercolors…like the HP of Arches and Fabriano. I like the color and yes…beautiful granulation…see the blue sky in the close-up above. (Even though it was a grey rainy day, I wanted to see what the paper does with cerulean blue which is known for having lovely granulation..on the right paper). The book opens nice and flat and I am surprised at how much water it can actually take, because I worked with even more water today than usual, really giving this little book a challenge. The buckling is present, but as already said, buckling in a sketchbook doesn’t bother me. All in all, a nice book for watercolor sketches and saying that only after one try, says a lot for me. I am an Arches and Fabriano HP fan and it takes a lot to convince me of something else better…or as good! Snob!!
Le Pescher is a quaint little village not far from us…when our daughter got married there in 2012, we all walked to our cars through the little village from the church, past the bassin, filled with enormous fish! My sketching for today was the church where they got married(well, only the tower, since I ran out of paper for the rest!) and a house opposite the pond on the route we walked.
..a house across the large pond, bassin..
I received 2 sketchbooks from Stillman & Birn and did my first watercolor in the Epsilon S&B sketchbook, 150gms. It is really too lightweight for my watercolor, but then it isn’t really meant for watercolor, only for drawing with ink and pen. It is very very smooth with no tooth at all, and I don’t even like it for drawing, for that reason. I like a bit of tooth which grabs a medium, whether it is watercolor or pencil or charcoal or whatever. But it is still early days and I only got started with the book, so there is still time to get used to the paper.
One can see the buckling of the paper, which doesn’t bother me too much, but the watercolor makes hard edges and there is no granulation, something I love in watercolor. It is all very flat and smooth. A sketchbook not fit for watercolor, even though I read comments on internet which convinced me to get it for watercolor sketching.
What is nice about these books is that it folds open without the spiral in the middle, allowing one to paint across two pages if you want to. But if I compare this book to my Daler Rowney, (satin finish, 160gms) that I have been doing the latest sketches in, it totally falls short. I personally prefer the Daler Rowney even with the spiral in the middle.
.. The S&B sketchbook and my brass palette with its 16 colours..
Today was a tired day, even though the sky was blue and bright. Can’t explain it. It is just how it is some days.
..Typical houses around here…shops down below and the living is done upstairs, with volets(shutters), not my favorite thing to paint!
..done with rotring art pen in contour quick lines, while waiting for my lunch of duck and salad to show up. Added a light wash over some of the lines, and there you have it. a sketch..
I love old things. Things worn with time and loaded with stories. Old cups, old jugs, tins, doilies from Maman, teaspoons…And so today I sat by my table and sketched all these old things.
..Watercolor and pen in large Daler and Rowney sketchbook, 21x29cm..
While we are in the barn, I don’t have an art atelier, so in fact the whole barn is my atelier! I have a large table just behind our little sitting corner where I work when doing watercolors or drawings etc. All the brushes and pencils and pens are at hand in copper containers. Behind me(not seen on photo)is the large easel for when I do painting and all the oil pants are stored on a trolley which I store under the table. So, in fact, it works! One doesn’t need a fancy art atelier to do art! A little corner will do. I hope you too have your little corner, even if it is a corner of the kitchen table!
..my art corner..
Sundays we spend either at a brocante or at the market in St. Cér2..and coffee and croissant of course! Today was market day in St. Céré with coffee. It was a crazy rainy day with the sun coming out every hour for 10 minutes before it came pouring down again. We sat at the corner café and while I sketched, mon chéri worked(played chess, I think!!) on his computer. I was happy with the sketch I did in pencil. I should’ve only added pen and be done with it, but I couldn’t resist adding watercolour and it all changed…pity.
..pen and watercolor in Derwent artist’s sketchbook, 140x210cm..
The scene from our table over the heads of other coffee drinkers…
It is only day 2 but boy, I am having so much fun! I feel inspired, enthusiastic creative and just in the zone…how many of you can say that this evening? I hope it will last the entire 31 day of August…and beyond. Of course it won’t, but even just a little bit of it will be good enough.
Starting off with my café, which helps get me in the “zone”, I sketches the géraniums just opposite. It was raining, the tourists took up all the other covered spots in our small village, so I didn’t have much choice of going out. In the end I am happy I stayed, it turned out not too bad, after initially starting off a bit slow…
- I used yellow on the walls with touches of burnt sienna.
- The roofs were done with ivory black and raw umber and blue.
- The shadows on the canopies were done with a light wash of cerulean blue.
- The geraniums done in cadmuim red and the greens in golden green, darkened with phtalo blue.
- In the shade of the canopy in the background, behind the people dining in the foreground, a touch of light black ivory was applied for shadows.
- In the foreground the people and tables just behind the stone wall, closest to me were done in bright burnt umber.
- And lastly some yellow ochre touches here and there when the sun came out…
It is a good idea to test the same colour of different brands, because they do sometimes differ. In the above sample at the bottom left I have compared the raw umber of W&N with that of Sennelier. I prefer the Sennelier raw umber which is cooler than that of the W&N.
From top left anticlockwise to bottom: warm grey, naples yellow, burnt umber, raw umber, burnt sienna, raw sienna, yellow ochre, cadmium yellow, cadmium yellow deep, lemon yellow.
My little pocket brushes are one from Arches…le petit gris nr 6, which broke at some time and I fixed it with tape and now it still works perfectly. The other is a Kolinsky that I have no idea where it is from. all I know is that I have used it for years, so much so that I have lost its cover and now use a piece of plastic that I found which fits over the brush. (See photos down below). So you can see, I am a bit like the mechanic whose car is always in pieces…But look ate those lovely brush points…hold as much or as little water as I want them to!
A new sketchbook from Daler & Rowney which I just discovered and am quite impressed with. The paper is not that heavy, only 160g, but it takes watercolor quite well and I don’t mind a little buckling in a sketchbook. The pocket brushes from top my precious Kolinsky nr 8 with its “unbecoming” plastic cover and the “repaired”petit gris nr 6 below.
..Kolinsky pocket brush 8..
..”taped” petit gris pocket brush 6
I am a lazy person. There you have it. My biggest secret revealed. If I don’t have deadlines and projects and goals, I fall in a slumber of doing less and less and less until I start enjoying doing less. In summer that can happen very easily with the holidays and lazy summer days, lingering by the pool…. So I decided to do some regular August sketching and get back to those sketches I haven’t done for months, years even. No summer laziness for me then, but pens and inks and aquarelle en all these new sketchbooks I’ve ordered and papers waiting to be turned into sketchbooks.
I use the rotring art pen quite a bit, and the ink allows me to add a little water(not too much) to bleed the lines. See the little sketch of the ink bottle below which was done with a rotring artpen.
I also love drawing with inks and especially J. Herbin and Sennelier inks. They are good inks, easy to find and much cheaper than ordering inks from other countries, just for the sake of having inks.
…See, the pens are waiting!…pen and J .Herbin ink, “Café des isles”
My palettes are organized and ready in waiting, mostly comprised of Sennelier and Winsor & Newton watercolor in tubes and pans. The palettes still need more cleaning, but you will never see perfectly clean around my art table..it confuses me completely and I can’t work…too afraid I’ll make mess!
Color chart of all the colors in my palettes. Sometimes I get confused and start using one color thinking it is another, especially if they are close in hue, so it is good to arrange and make sure the right colors are in their right places.
I use about 40 – 45 colors in the larger palette. .which stays at home. Not that I use all the colors every time of course. My tiny travel kit, which I have been using for years now, take about 16 colors which is just perfect.
Colors for my smaller palette…still deciding between some blues and yellows, but I’ll get there. I feel like change sometimes..
In a later post I will cover my use of color and palettes, the inks I love, the pens, pencils…all very simple. I am by far not so prolific and efficient as the urban sketchers or other daily sketchers out there. But more later in the month…this is just to get me started for the month of August.
So until tomorrow…sleep well!
I haven’t done urban sketching for quite some time. Since we have arrived here at our farm, Coin Perdu, I have mainly been doing plein air painting in the countryside or food sketches, which go with my foodblog, Myfrenchkitchen. I also mainly work on watercolor blocks, because I use a lot of water and pigment which mix directly on the paper and with a sketchbook, I have to wait quite a while before I can turn the page to do a new sketch. With the watercolor block I just ear off the paper, set it aside to dry and start a new sketch. Later I bind the sketches together. Funny thing is, people are more interested in buying the quick sketches than completed paintings, so in that sense a block works much better ( except for me, because being the total useless business person I am, I just give them away for free, thinking I can’t possibly charge money for a sketch? Well, as long as it brings that person joy, then it is OK. But…somewhere I have to draw the line though…)
So, I will get back to making my own proper sketchbooks with Arches HP paper. I have also ordered a few new sketchbooks.
The sketch below was done this morning (on Arches watercolor block, HP) in the company of friends at the market, which I found quite distracting, not being used to sketching with all that buzz around me anymore. The old buildings in France are wonky by default and below my faulty perspective makes it even worse…but for the most part, I am quite happy with this sketch after such a long dry spell.
..centre ville Beaulieu s/D..
aquarelle on Arches wartercolor block, HP, 18x26cm
We have a humid summer this year…hot and humid which isn’t normal for us. One can clearly see the effect on us humans. Our energy gets sapped by the humidity and many a day I , who adores heat, feel like a limp fish on these mucky days. The Mediterranean plants even more so. These Dipladenias enjoy heat and dry summers , so too they struggle with the heavy humidity. With not their usual abundance of flowers, they still bloom and show off beautifully, quite different from me, who struggled to stay focused on my sketching with no blooming and showing off in sight.
..watercolour and pen on Arches watercolor block, HP, 18x26cm..
When life trips me, I head to the perfume shelves. To indulge and forget for a while about the hardships of life. And I never leave without a tiny bottle of perfume. That is my biggest sin in life and I will gladly carry my punishment one day, should there be. I use a spritz of perfume every day everywhere…to town and to the opera, to do the washing to weed the garden, after my shower and before I drop my head on my pillow.
there is a secret to good spritzing. Do you remember the way Malan and Mamy used to dab their eau de cologne behind the ears, on the wrists…well, those were the old days. The French way to do it, is to spray a cloud of perfume in front of you in the air and then walk through it. No harsh , overwhelming, nose itching smells, but rather a gentle caress on the skin, interacting gently with the oils of the skin to bring forth the subtle underlying notes of the perfume.
..l’eau d’Issey by Issey Miake – light and soft for summer..
..Intense, by Dolce & Ganbbana- for those times I feel passionate and ..intense….
..baiser volé by Cartier – reminds me of Arabian nights…
..Coco by Chanel -my favorite perfume which always make me feel elegant , and brings out my French side!
So, come on ladies, spritz your perfume, time is too short not to!
In summer we don’t eat apples. We munch on peaches and nectarines. Except the horses. They have their apples throughout the year. An apple is one of the most delicious subjects to draw and paint. For the experts it is a challenge to capture its real beauty and succulent appearance and for the beginner it is easy enough to start off with and be inspired to keep going.
pen and aquarelle on watercolor block
..six apples close-up..
Just for some lazy fun, I splashed some greens for a sucrine salad…using blues and yellows, purple and payes gray for darker shadows. Salad is always difficult to draw and paint, so many lines and squigles…definitely not a favorute subkect of mine. The greens are a great challenge though!
pen and aquarelle on waterclor block
..sucrine salad close-up..
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 dug this sketch out of the bin. It ended there along with many others I’m lately not happy with. I feel in an awful slump and nothing seems to work..everything is either too “pretty”, or too perfect or it is just plain bad art. I struggle to find that exciting stroke, or that exciting subject, or even the right medium. I work on small tiny papers and do small tiny challenges. I am in need of freedom and uninhibited expression. I know what I want and what I don’t want..or do I?
I wonder if art can go through menopause…in which case, that is where I would say my art is right now. Going through menopause. I hope it passes soon.
the first one is just pencil contour lines and then of course I didn’t like it and thought colour and pen would make it look better…
watercolor, pencil and pen on watercolor block, HP, 18x26cm
With this first post on Africantapestry, I wish you all a great year!
Yesterday I gave my art students some feathers to draw. They are beginners in drawing and I was highly impressed by the result. This afternoon I thought I should do a sketch of the same feathers. My geese and chickens aren’t shedding feathers at the moment and I dug into the chicken coop to find some decent ones..well, with some imagination they could come close to decent…But it actually made for an interesting challenge. We always think of a feather being perfect and pretty and soft..these were torn and scruffy and quite dirty and they smelled like chicken..
Pen and aquarelle in watercolour sketchbook, HP, 18x26cm
OK. Now that the ice is broken for 2014..let’s get out and (do) and see art, like my friend Theresa Andreas O’leary at Andreas art studio likes to say!
It is very very hot and humid. Everybody is moving around like limp fish. The horses are in permanent rest under the apple tree, the cats don’t lift an eyebrow when I walk past the them and even the chickens lay motionless in the shade of the hibiscus bush. I was busy, or trying to be. I took down washing, hung the next basket full, every time walking past the chickens. When they didn’t move when by the third pass, I thought they might just keep that pose for another 30 minutes. Et voilà, indeed they did, or almost. This was fun.
oil on board, 30x30cm
When I drive on the narrow country roads, I love staring at all the country houses…their gardens, their latest activity, the latest changes, their potagers (vegetable gardens). Life is never quiet and static at a country home. Sometimes the houses are nestled on top of the grass hills, entouré (surrounded) by trees for shade and coolness during hot summers. Sometimes they are sunken deep in the valleys and their presence is betrayed only by their roofs or a trail of smoke in winter. How I love the country side!
..the house on the hill..
oil on linen, 38×46 cm
The opainting below was done earlier today and I spent only about 20-25 minutes on it before I packed up. Today is very humid and hot and the clouds are moving in and pretty soon the thunder will be rolling. I worked almost carelessly, tired and not really wanting to put in the effort. But it is actually starting to grow on me and is not as bad as I initially thought. Maybe I should do more 15 minute plein air paintings.
oil on linen,
Two plein air paintings for these two days. With the wonderful weather we are having this week, it would be shameful not to paint out.
..the old ruin..
oil on linen, 33×46 cm
With the past rains we had, the fields have exploded into greens and wildflowers, especially wild pink heather. It is not for nothing that fall is called second spring. There are also beautiful patches of lilac crocus all over. Of course, everybody is out hunting for mushrooms and a couple was doing just that while I painted “Pink heather”. The tree next to the little “cabane” is an old oak and home to the ever popular bolet, or cèpe and the hunting couple was all around the tree, all around the cabane, to and fro, while Madame lifted the bottom seam of her dress to carry their treasure. Fortunately I was far enough to avoid seeing the detail.
oil on linen, 27×40 cm
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.