Watercolour

Sea Shell Watercolours

Over the past week I’ve been gathering a modest collection of sea shells from the beach in the Scottish Highlands of the UK. Yesterday I made time to sit down and paint a selection of them…

Sea Shell Watercolour Sketches

I painted my sea shell selection on a sheet of Bokingford paper, by St Cuthberts Mill. The paper measured 14″ x 10″, 140 lb NOT. Great paper for water colour practice. Here’s a better view of the watercolour painting setup I use whilst travelling…

My travelling watercolour setup…

You can see above I had my sea shells laid out in front of me on a sheet of paper. I have two custom built paint boxes I use – one Daniel Smith (on the left) and one Windsor & Newton (on the right). Both are perfect for travelling and fit neatly in my art bag. In the bottom right corner you can just see my brush case -I just bring the essentials. On the table you can also see that I have kitchen roll to hand and a plastic container for water.

Watercolours are so easy to travel with. I really had fun painting these. Maybe some plein air sketching on the beach might be in order next…

Watercolour

It’s Time…

It’s Time….

“It’s Time” is a small watercolour interpretation of one of my own images. It measures 19 cm x 17 cm and was painted on Arches rough paper. I used Daniel Smith watercolours. Just 4 colours were used, namely, Quinacridone Gold, Transparent Red Oxide, Lunar Black and Cobalt Teal Blue. No preliminary pencil sketch was used.

This watercolour nearly ended up in the bin. I was working on one particular section and as soon as I’d done it I knew instantly that it was wrong. It wouldn’t lift off. I’m stuck with it. My heart sank. I’ve ruined it… and it was going so well. It was at this point I spent a couple of minutes seriously considering whether or not I should just bin it and start again. I decided not to bin it. I simply left it on the desk in my studio and walked away. I shut the studio door and didn’t return to it till the next morning. Looking at it with fresh eyes I could see that maybe there was a way to recover the situation. I’m glad I didn’t throw it away now and I like how it finished up.

“It’s Time…” is an appropriate title for this watercolour as I’ve decided it’s time I knuckled down to some more intensive watercolour practice… !

Watercolour

Lavender Whispers

Lavender Whispers

Whispers of lavender in watercolour. Simple, loose watercolour sketches. I picked some lavender from my garden and took it to my studio. I selected what I felt were the right watercolour pigments from my collection. I chose Daniel Smith’s Lavender, Carbazole Violet and Cascade Green – they were just right for the paler shade of lavender in my garden. Just simple sketches but much fun to do…

Watercolour

A Beach Adventure

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A Beach Adventure

This watercolour painting evokes many happy childhood memories of holidays at the seaside with my brother and sister.  We were very fortunate children really, as many of my friends at school never had any holidays at the sea at all and we went every year at least two or three times.

We loved building sandcastles, paddling in the sea, finding shells and searching rock pools for fish and crabs. It clearly left a lasting impression on me as I still love being by the sea today.

My watercolour above measres 19 cm x 29 cm and was painted on Fabriano Artistico extra white rough paper, 100% cotton & 140 lb. I used a limited palette, just five colours – Cobalt Blue, Winsor Blue Red Shade, Quinacridone Coral, Raw Umber and Buff Titanium. The photograph doesn’t really do the painting justice, the reality is much better. It is worth clicking on the image to view it larger.

I enjoyed painting this and as always it has been a learning curve. If I painted this scene again there are things I would do differently.  But I like this watercolour – it puts a smile on my face…

Drawing & Sketching · Sketchbooks · Watercolour

Coastal Explorations

I have just recently returned from a 2 day workshop hosted by artist Debbie Lyddon at her Whelk Shed studio in Wells-Next-The-Sea. The theme of the workshop was Coastal Explorations. But before I tell you more about this exciting, creative workshop I must tell you a little about Debbie’s art and where you can find her work on the internet. Debbie has a website – debbielyddon.co.uk, she also blogs at debbielyddon.wordpress.com and you can find her on Instagram – debbie.lyddon. Please, please DO have a long look at her stunning, original and inspiring art work – she creates beautiful textile art, she also draws, sketches, paints with watercolours and creates with a whole host of other mediums too. You wont regret losing an hour or two exploring her work…

The workshop theme was Coastal Explorations. It was a 2 day workshop on the 11th & 12th of May (Saturday and Sunday). There were only 5 spaces on this workshop which were occupied by myself, my sister Carolyn and three other lovely ladies. The workshop sold out super quickly, so I was really pleased that Carolyn wasted no time in getting us booked up.

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Debbie’s Studio

This is Debbie’s studio. It’s a lovely large, bright work space along the quay at the water’s edge in Wells-Next-The-Sea. We arrived just after 9 am for a 9.30 am start. The workshop ran till 4.30 pm each day. This is actually my first ever proper art workshop.

Once everyone had arrived we began by having to introduce ourselves to everyone, saying a little about ourselves. Then it was straight down to creative endeavors. Saturday morning was to begin with a SIGHT WALK but as it was raining we improvised and began by painting a large sheet of paper (about quarter imperial size) with watercolour paint – just totally random splashes of paint and mark making. This only took about 20 minutes or so and we left them to dry.

It had now stopped raining so we began our SIGHT WALK. Debbie had made us all a small sketchbook from drawing paper – neatly hand stitched. Armed with the sketchbook, along with a pencil and graphite stick, out we went for a walk along the marshes. We had to observe our surroundings, near and far,  and then make quick drawings and notes about what we saw. We were encouraged to FILL our sketchbooks! We also collected interesting things we found along the way – shells, rusty objects, pebbles etc.

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A SIGHT WALK along the marshes

This is where we walked, picked up interesting things from the shores of the quay and farther along we ventured up onto the dyke (the grass bank on the right of the photo).

Back in the studio we got down to creating things inspired by our sight walk. The painted sheet of paper we did at the outset we turned into a concertina book. We had to write notes from our sight walk into the book.

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How to cut and fold the paper to make the concertina book can be found in this book…Making Books - NB

Debbie highly recommended this book. I bought mine from Ebay for the princely sum of £1.50 and it’s as new. It is a brilliant book full of creative book ideas.

We also made plaster prints inspired by our sight walk. I’m not going into all the ins and outs of how to make plaster prints but if you ever get the opportunity to do it I highly recommend it. Here are my plaster prints…

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Plaster Prints

We used objects we found on our sight walk to make impressions in clay first then the plaster is used to make a print from the clay. I really like how my plaster prints turned out and this is something I would love to do again sometime.

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Plaster prints in progress in Debbie’s Studio

Above is a view of our working space in Debbie’s studio. On the tables you can see our plaster prints in progress, paint trays, drawing materials etc.

As well as the plaster prints we also started to make a pocket for our concertina book (pictured earlier) to go in. We started by painting a piece of our chosen fabric with acrylic paint. If you look at Debbie’s work you will see that she creates lots of lovely rusty eyelets in her work. She showed us how she does this and we incorporated an eyelet in our fabric, which was left overnight in the studio to dry and hopefully go rusty…

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Our painted fabrics with eyelets, hanging to dry and rust in the studio…

I think this brings us to an end of the first day of the workshop. It was a full day but very productive and fun.

Day two of the workshop (Sunday) began at 9.30 am again. We began by making our own hand made sketchbook to take outside for a SOUND WALK. I absolutely loved making my own sketchbook. Debbie gave us all a standard bookbinding needle, which we took home with us. We used the correct linen thread for book binding too. This is something I’ve wanted to do for a long time but never really knew how to go about it.

Debbie showed us a Powerpoint presentation about seeing sound and translating sounds into art – very interesting. Then we went outside, like the previous day, with the sketchbooks we made ourselves for a SOUND WALK. For the sound walk it was all about what we can hear and not what we can see. We had to just listen to everything around us, near and far and document it in words and drawing/mark making in our sketchbooks.

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My Sight and Sound Sketchbooks from the workshop

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My hand made sketchbook made for the SOUND WALK

Above and below are images of my sound sketchbooks – just writing and drawing what I hear…

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Have you ever tried to draw sounds?  You don’t draw what’s making the sound – you have to draw the sound itself. Try it – you may find it quite tricky… !

Back in the studio we had to create a piece of art inspired by what we’d heard on our sound walk. We were given a really wide but short piece of watercolour paper to paint on and then fold into a concertina book. Here’s my sound inspired concertina book…

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An abstract watercolour in book form inspired by sound

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Above and below are two closer views of my sound inspired concertina book…

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Abstract swooshes of watercolour paint and and marks from a graphite stick…

Remember the painted fabrics we left to dry in the studio from the previous day? Today we waxed the fabric and then stitched them up by hand to create a pocket for the concertina book we made the previous day…

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My hand stitched pocket with a watercolour concertina book inside

Stitch is really not my thing. But I embraced it and did it. I was just about as far out of my comfort zone as I could be doing this and my hand stitching is not great. I like the eyelet and it has a little rust on it. I quite like how the pocket turned out.

Sunday afternoon we also made a little box for one of our plaster prints to go in…

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It was made from felt dipped in wax and then tied up with wire. This was lovely to do and something I will definitely do again. This now sits on the windowsill in my home studio.

I think that pretty much brings us to an end of the two day workshop. It was a full two days – Debbie packed a lot into each day. We all had a lot of fun and learnt new things.

In between all the creativity each day, we had a tea break in the mornings with lovely cookies, lovely lunches each day of home made quiche, salads, cheese and fresh bread and tea break with home made cake in the afternoons! What more could you want? Also, I may not have documented everything we did in the exact order that we did it, but I think you’ve got a very good idea of how the workshop progressed.

What have I taken away from this workshop? Several things…

  • I love making my own sketchbooks/books and will continue to make lots more
  • I will try to increase my awareness of my surroundings via all of my senses
  • I will do more drawing, sketching, painting outside in inspiring locations using my own hand made sketchbooks
  • I will try to create new and unique art from the drawings, sketches and notes in my  handmade sketchbooks

The workshop has given me a valuable glimpse into Debbie’s thought process and work practice as an artist. She was very generous with her knowledge and resources. She also very kindly let us photograph the numerous pieces of art on display in her studio. But those photos I will not post – it’s up to you to make the effort to visit her website, blog or Instagram account. It’s a very inspiring way to spend an hour or two…

Photography

Wells’ Textures

I have just returned from a lovely weeks holiday with family in Wells-Next-The-Sea, North Norfolk. This is a part of Britain’s coast we’ve never been to before. The main purpose for coming here for a holiday was so that Carolyn and I could attend a two day art workshop hosted by artist Debbie Lyddon in her Whelk Shed Studio.  There will be more about the art workshop in a separate post.

Wells is a small town and quite old fashioned, which I love. Wells has a quay in the town with lots of boats. There are lovely seaside smells of sea salt and crabs as you walk along the quay. The quay divides into lots of different channels separated by the marshes. It’s a very interesting landscape.

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The Quay at Wells-Next-The-Sea

Wells does have a “proper” beach about a 10 minute walk from the quay but to be honest, from an artist’s point of view, the quay is a lot more interesting. Carolyn and I had a walk along the quay a few days after the art workshop had finished. Here are some of the lovely textures and colours that can be found along the quay….

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Soft neutral colours and lovely texture from the rope and textiles…

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A whelk shed window

Lovely textures and patterns in the windows of an unused whelk shed…

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A whelk shed window

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ropes in varying shades of blue…

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Soft grey colours and patterns in the mud

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Oyster Shell in black and white

Oyster shells can be found along the pebbly shores of the quay…

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Inside an Oyster Shell

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Rust and canvas

There’s an abundance of rust to be found in Wells – a by product of the salty sea air…

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Rich ochre and sienna colours in the rust

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Ropes and rust

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Peeling paint in shades of soft green and blue

The soft paler green in the above image Carolyn and I have named “Wells Green” – you see a lot of it here…

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Notice the aubergine/purple tones in the rust – they’re just beautiful…

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Beautiful vintage blues and yellows

Wells-Next-The-Sea is texture heaven. Colour and texture is everywhere throughout the town. My next task will be to use these awesome colours and textures to inspire some abstract watercolour sketches and paintings…

Watercolour

Daffodils

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Bunch of Daffodils

Painting daffodils was on the agenda this morning, making the most of them while they’re still blooming…

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Single Daffodil Study

I practiced painting this single daffodil first before painting the bunch above…

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Daffodil Colours

My daffodil colours are Winsor Lemon, Indian Yellow and Permanent Sap Green, all by Winsor & Newton. Paper used is Arches rough 140lb. It wasn’t till I started painting daffodils that I noticed what a lovely sweet smell they have and I enjoyed painting them…

Watercolour

Tulips

 

Tulips - NBTulip Test Colours - NB

 

Above are two tulips, painted loosely in watercolour, inspired by Jean Haines Atmospheric Flowers in Watercolour book. Paper used was Fabriano Artistico Extra White Rough paper, 100% cotton & 140 lb.  No preliminary pencil sketch was made on the watercolour paper.

On the left is a scrap of watercolour paper I used to test out some colours on before painting my tulips.  The yellow is Winsor Lemon – a good choice for the slightly delicate yellow of my tulips. The greens are Green Gold (DS),  Olive Green (W & N), Prussian Green (DS) and Prussian Green mixed with Green Gold. The grey shades at the bottom were mixed from Indigo and Buff Titanium.

This was my first ever attempt at painting tulips. Painting the glass jar the tulips are in was tricky – I need to work on that…

I enjoyed painting these tulips – they’re bright and cheerful and much fun to paint…

 

Watercolour

Just Opening

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Just Opening – a daffodil study in watercolour

I don’t have any daffodils in my garden so I had to buy some from my local supermarket. They were all tightly in bud when I bought them but very soon started to open. I decided to paint some watercolour studies of them in bud first and then I will do some more of them open. I did some quick pencil sketches first in my sketchbook before committing brush to watercolour paper.

Inspiration came from Jean Haines Atmospheric Flowers book. Of course, no pencil sketch was made on the watercolour paper before painting. This is my first ever attempt at painting daffodils and I’m quite pleased with them. But of course there’s always plenty of room for improvement…

Paper used is Fabriano Artistico extra white rough, 140 lb cotton and watercolour paints are by Daniel Smith.

Watercolour

Colour Play

Some watercolour play is on the agenda today…

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Colour Play 1

In this first colour experiment I have some beautiful Daniel Smith pigments painted on beautiful Fabriano Artistico Extra White Rough paper. The rough texture of the paper really exaggerates the granulating characteristic of the paint – I love that. Colours used are: Raw Sienna Light, Cobalt Teal Blue, Yellow Ochre, Quinacridone Gold, Cerulean Blue Chromium and Cascade Green. The Cascade Green, Cerulean Blue Chromium and Cobalt Teal Blue complement each other superbly…

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Colour Play – Green Envy

In my second colour play sample I have used just six different shades of green. From the left the colours are: Phthalo Green Blue Shade, Viridian, Prussian Green, Cascade Green, Rich Green Gold (all by Daniel Smith) and Olive Green (Windsor & Newton). I just painted the colours on the paper randomly – no over thinking it. Straight away I notice that the Prussian Green and Cascade Green work together beautifully. And I like how the Rich Green Gold and Olive Green contrast and complement each other really well. This is what these colour experiments are all about – discovering how pigments react and mix together, discovering what I like, what works well and what doesn’t….

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Colour Play 2

My third set of colour play samples were painted on Arches cold pressed paper. Slightly softer colours this time. Colours used, from the left, are: Manganese Blue Hue, Buff Titanium. French Ultramarine, Naples Yellow, Cascade Green, Cerulean Blue Chromium and Paynes Blue Gray, all from Daniel Smith. I like the Naples Yellow and the Cascade Green together – they’re lovely! And I also particularly like the Manganese Blue Hue and Buff Titanium together.

Three successful colour experiments accomplished. I think it’s important to allow yourself time to just play with colour – with no pressure to paint “a masterpiece” or to be successful. If you don’t like the colours you’ve chosen you just put it down to experience, turn the paper over and start again… ! This is the way to learn about colour and discover wonderful colour combinations…