Drawing & Sketching · Watercolour

The Lady In Grey

The Lady In Grey - NB
The Lady In Grey

This is today’s watercolour offering – The Lady In Grey. This is probably the closest I will ever get to life drawing! It measures  19 cm x 28 cm and was painted on Saunders Waterford high white paper, 140 lb NOT. It was painted loosely without a preliminary sketch. But I did do a pencil sketch on a separate sheet of paper first just to get a feel for the shapes and lines. Here’s my pencil sketch:

The Lady In Grey Sketch - NB

I’m hoping that practicing my drawing with a pencil in a separate sketchbook will help me to draw better with my paintbrush. The colours for the skin tones were: Buff Titanium, Naples Yellow, Quinacridone Coral and Burnt Sienna. The grey shawl was painted with a mix of Cobalt Blue and Buff Titanium to make a lovely soft blue/grey.

I like sketching with pencil in a sketchbook but when it comes to watercolour painting I much prefer to paint without a pencil sketch ~ something I’ve learnt from Jean Haines and it has well and truly stuck! However it is a challenge and I need lots of practice.

Looking forward now to what tomorrow’s watercolour offering might be…

 

Watercolour

Simple Seascape

Seascape - NB

Well, it’s been a little while since my last post. I’m not going to bore you with a list of excuses but I decided it’s high time I got back in my little home studio and got painting again!

Here we have a simple seascape practice piece to get myself back into the swing of things. It’s just loose layers of colour and a little bit of splatter for some pebbles on the beach. I like how the sea gently blends into the sky, just how it does when it’s misty on the horizon.

It measures 28 cm x 19 cm and was painted on Saunders Waterford High White paper, 100% cotton and 140 lb NOT. I used an assortment of colours – Manganese Blue Hue, Cobalt Teal Blue, Ultramarine Turquoise, Prussian Green for the sea. French Ultramarine and Indigo for the sky. Naples yellow for the sand and  earth colours for the  splattered pebbles. Paynes Gray and Paynes Blue Gray for the land and rocks.

Whilst I haven’t painted much lately, I have have been gathering lots of lovely inspiration for future watercolours and I’ve also been practicing my drawing as well. It’s lovely to be painting again. I wont leave it so long till my next post…

Drawing & Sketching

Simple Sketches

Trying to improve my drawing skills is an ongoing project of mine. The theory is that the better my basic drawing skills are, ultimately the better my watercolour painting will be. Everything has shape/form, perspective, light/shade etc. and being able to capture that reasonably accurately on paper (with any medium) is going be of enormous help to me.

So here’s a couple of simple pencil sketches done whilst watching TV in the evenings…

ballerina - nb
Bellerina
dancing - nb
Dancing

With these sketches I simply tried to capture the basic shape and form. I wasn’t concerned with huge amounts of detail but just enough to recognize what it is. I find getting the proportions (the size of one thing in relation to another) right is a challenge but very important for me to learn.

I did these sketches with a Derwent Precision mechanical pencil, 0.7 mm. It’s not expensive. And I had my trusty putty rubber handy too… !

Drawing is something I can do anywhere, any time. I keep a small, thin sketchbook in my handbag. But most of all… I like drawing – it’s fun…

Watercolour

The Blue Ballet Shoes

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The Blue Ballet Shoes ~ watercolour sketch

The Blue Ballet Shoes – a watercolour sketch. This is the same basic composition as my previous ballet shoe sketch but this one is a looser version, done without any pencil sketch. I did the “drawing” with my paint brush! I deliberately chose soft colours – almost ethereal colours.

Paints used were by Daniel Smith and Winsor & Newton. Buff Titanium, Naples yellow, Quinacridone Coral, Burnt Sienna were used for the skin tones. Winsor Blue Red Shade mixed with white gouache was used for the ballet shoes. A little Yellow Ochre was mixed with the blue for the shadow. The paper used was Saunders Waterford High White, 140 lb cold pressed. I used Just two brushes – a #6 pointed round brush and a 1/2″ flat brush. My sketch measures 19 cm x 21 cm.

I much prefer working without a pencil sketch if possible but it is a challenge. And I did do a few practice sketches before this final version. Watercolour painting is a wonderful way to start the day…

Watercolour

Watercolour Trees

I don’t know why but painting trees is something I’ve struggled with a little. So  some tree studies in watercolour were on the painting agenda yesterday…

Tree Practice 1 - NB
Tree studies on Khadi paper

I found a piece of left over Khadi paper (300 lb) and divided it up into 6 roughly equal squares. Just for the record it measured 21 cm x 23 cm.  I made each square different. For 4 of the 6 small studies I used a Terry Harrison Deerfoot Stippler brush for the foliage on the trees. This is a great inexpensive brush and perfect for the job.

For 90% of these tree studies I used ready made greens – Olive Green, Prussian Green, Rich Green Gold, Sap Green, Cascade Green (Daniel Smith watercolours). I did mix a little green from Winsor Lemon and Ultramarine Blue. Other colours used were New Gamboge, Quinacridone Gold, Quinacridone Burnt Scarlet, Burnt Sienna, Sepia, Lamp Black and some blues for the sky and water in the bottom right study.

This is the first time I’ve been reasonably happy with my watercolour trees. I will continue to practice of course – there are endless possibilities to explore…

Well, a new year has begun. I’m looking forward to new watercolour adventures and opportunities, new challenges… speaking of which – I have accepted my first watercolour commission… ! My watercolour work is currently not for sale but I have accepted this commission as a one off for someone close to me. More details about this in the months ahead…

Watercolour

Dance…

Dance - NB
Dance…

A watercolour sketch on Saunders Waterford, 140 lb, cold pressed watercolour paper. Drawing and painting practice. Daniel Smith watercolours were used. It was a challenge for me. But still much fun to do…

I am pleased to say my recent arm/shoulder injury is steadily improving. I have a way to go still but significant improvement has been made. I find painting easier now which pleases me enormously…

Watercolour

Some Fun With Colour

I will begin this post with my custom built Winsor & Newton Professional watercolour paint box:

My W & N Paint Box - NB
My custom built Winsor & Newton professional paint box

This paint box started life as a 45 half pan set of Winsor & Newton Cotman watercolours. Over many months I have gradually replaced the Cotman pans with Winsor & Newton Professional pans of my choice. The colours in this paint box have also been carefully selected to complement the colours in my Daniel Smith custom built paint box. The two paint boxes will constitute my sketching palette when I’m travelling.

There are 32 colours in my Winsor & Newton paint box…

Colours in my W & N Paint Box - NB

Going from left to right and starting with the top row, the colours are:

Naples Yellow, Winsor Lemon, Indian Yellow, Winsor Red, Permanent Rose, Rose Madder Genuine, Ultramarine Violet, Winsor Violet, Indanthrene Blue, Ultramarine Blue (Green Shade), Winsor Blue (Green Shade), Winsor Blue (Red Shade), Cobalt Blue, Cerulean Blue, Manganese Blue Hue, Cobalt Turquoise, Cobalt Turquoise Light, Phthalo Turquoise, Winsor Green Blue Shade, olive Green, Permanent Sap Green, Green Gold, Yellow Ochre, New Gamboge, Raw Sienna, Burnt Sienna, Raw Umber, Burnt Umber, Van Dyke Brown, Paynes Grey, Lamp Black and Neutral Tint.

There are also 32 colours in my Daniel Smith paint box too. So that makes a total of 64 easily transportable colours at my disposal when I’m travelling. Happy days!

I picked 3 primary colours from my W & N paint box – Permanent Rose, Winsor Lemon and Winsor Blue (Red Shade) – and created a colour chart to see how many different colours I could create from them. I started with a sheet of A4 Khadi paper and drew with pencil as many boxes as I could fit on the page. When I finished I had 83 boxes, including 3 for my original primaries. That’s a lot of boxes – could I fill them all… ?? A tiny amount of doubt crept in…

Winsor & Newton Primary Colours - nb
W & N primary colour chart : Permanent Rose, Winsor Lemon, Winsor Blue (Red Shade)

First lesson learnt is to never doubt myself – of course I can fill all those boxes! I’ve done a few of these charts now and it never ceases to amaze me how many different colours/shades you can create from just a red, a yellow and a blue (and water of course)! It’s a great way to learn about colour theory and colour mixing. I highly recommend giving it a go, it doesn’t matter what red yellow or blue you use and it’s FUN !!

My next colour experiment involved Daniel Smith’s Monte Amiata Natural Sienna (MANS). I mixed it with a variety of different blues:

DS MANS With Blues - NB
Mixing Daniel Smith Monte Amiata Natural Sienna with Blues

Firstly I love the lovely soft greys you get when you mix MANS with French Ultramarine. When mixed with other blues you get some lovely earthy greens and wonderful soft turquoise greens.

My final colour experiment for this post is about mixing greys. The ready made grey colours available to the watercolourist are quite limited so learning to mix them is pretty much essential:

Twelve Shades Of Grey - NB
12 Shades Of Grey

Above are 12 shades of grey – 3 are ready made and 9 are mixed. Just in case you can’t read my handwriting, the grey shades are:

Top Row: Raw Sienna + Ultramarine Blue (W & N), Burnt Sienna + Ultramarine Blue (W & N), Paynes Grey (W & N), Paynes Blue Gray (DS), Neutral Tint (W & N)

Bottom Row: Permanent Alizarin Crimson + Viridian (DS), French Ultramarine + Yellow Ochre (DS), Carbazole Violet +Yellow Ochre +Viridian (DS), Raw Umber + Ultramarine Blue (W & N), Indigo + Yellow Ochre (DS), Winsor Green (BS) + Winsor Red (W & N).

Time spent playing with colour is always time well spent – there’s so much to be learnt from it. When I don’t feel like painting something “serious” or specific, some colour experiments are just the right thing and they are so much fun to do!

Watercolour

Ocean Inspiration

A little more seascape practice was on the agenda for me…

The Power Of Thge Ocean - NB
The Power Of The Ocean

I’ve been trying out yet more different techniques for painting the ocean. I’m slowly but surely grasping how important it is to reserve the white paper where necessary. Yes I can add highlights with white gouache but the original white of the paper is much better. The majority of the white in this seascape is the white of the paper. I have also used a spray bottle to add water in specific areas to help create the waves and sea spray. I’m happy with some areas of this seascape and not so happy with others. But I guess that’s all part of the learning process, as long as I understand why I don’t like certain areas and have an idea of what I would do different next time…

Ocean Inspiration Mosaic - NB
Ocean Inspiration

Above is the remnants of a seascape that went wrong! So I decided to cut it up into abstract squares and glued them to a piece of cartridge paper. Carefully arranged, these abstract squares look lovely together and I find them inspirational. Straight away I noticed how lovely the colours are that I used – Daniel Smith’s Ultramarine Turquoise, Prussian Blue and touches of Indigo. So as a complete seascape this didn’t make the grade but as small abstract pieces of inspirational art they work really well!

Watercolour

Pear Shaped!

Pear Shaped 1 - NB
Pear

I spent some time a couple days ago doing some simple still life watercolours of some pears. Not too much detail, just simple shapes and shading. The painting above and below were painted on Saunders Waterford High White paper, which was 100% cotton and 140 lb cold pressed…

Pear Shaped 2 - NB
A Pair Of Pears

These watercolours were quite appropriate really as life has gone a little “pear shaped” for me at the moment. I have a painful and debilitating arm injury at the moment which has required numerous trips to the hospital and still more trips to come. It’s my right arm and of course I am right handed… ! So whilst I have managed to paint, it has been a challenge and I can’t spend as long painting as I would like to. My arm is improving but progress is a bit slower than I initially thought it would be…

Pear Shaped 3 - NB
Practice sketch for “A Pair Of Pears”

Above is a practice sketch for “A Pair Of Pears” above. It was done on a small scrap of paper (acrylic paper actually…) just so I could practice getting the shapes, composition and colours right…

Very simple watercolour work – within my current limitations and very much fun to do!

Watercolour

Loose Rock Pile

Loose Rock Pile - NB
Rock Pile – a loose, impressionistic watercolour sketch

A watercolour sketch of a rock pile someone built on the beach…

This is the same rock pile as in my previous post but painted with a completely different interpretation of my original photo. This version was created using techniques I’ve learnt from Jean Haines books. This version is much looser, lighter and ethereal and I didn’t use a pencil sketch first…

Interestingly I used the same two Daniel Smith watercolours for this as in the previous rock pile – Monte Amiata Natural Sienna and French Ultramarine – only in more diluted mixes. This one too was painted on Saunders Waterford High White paper, 140 lb cold pressed and 100% cotton and also measures 19 cm x 29 cm. I did wonder whether to add more detail to this version but decided to leave it just as it is.

So which one of my two rock piles do I prefer? I like both versions but… this loose version has a little bit more of the “wow factor” for me personally. I prefer this one. This loose version appeals more to my creative nature.

So what do I learn from this? Everybody has to find their own style of painting. This teaches me that my natural style of watercolour painting is meant to be loose, more impressionistic than realistic – painting this way brings me much more excitement and happiness…