Watercolour

One Of Your Five A Day?

We all know that we’re supposed to try and eat at least portions of fruit and veg a day but how about painting them instead… ?

Cherry Tomatoes - NB
Cherry Tomatoes

This was a really fun way of getting “one of your 5 a day”.  This watercolour is only small – 14cm x 17cm. It was painted on Arches Aquarelle NOT paper, 140lb. Paints used were Aussie Red Gold, Perylene Red, Green Gold and Undersea Green – all by Daniel Smith. I used two sable brushes by Rosemary & Co for the tomatoes and a Silver Black Velvet Script Liner for the green stuff.

The colour of the tomatoes was built up gradually in about 3 layers, letting each layer of colour dry before applying the next. Letting areas of a painting dry before continuing is a lesson that’s taken time for me to learn. Watercolour painting requires patience and I have to work at it continually!

Also, red is a colour I don’t often use in my watercolour painting so it made a nice change to paint these vibrant red cherry tomatoes. Why not see what veggies you’ve got and have a go at painting them – just for fun… !

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.

Debbie's Studio - NB
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.

Wells Quay 4
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.

Concertina Book 1 - NBConcertina Book 2 - NBConcertina Book 3 - NB

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…

Plaster Prints - NB
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.

Work In Progress - NB
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…

Painted Fabrics Drying - NB
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.

Sight & Sound Sketchbooks - NB
My Sight and Sound Sketchbooks from the workshop
Sound Walk Sketchbook 1 - NB
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…

Sound Walk Sketchbook 2 - NB

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…

Concertina Book 4 - NB
An abstract watercolour in book form inspired by sound

Concertina Book 5 - NB

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

Concertina Book 6 - NB

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…

Bag For Concertina Book - NB
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…

Plaster Print In Box - NB

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…

Watercolour

Daffodils

Daffodils - NB
Bunch of Daffodils

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

Daffodil Study - NB
Single Daffodil Study

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

Daffodil Colours - NB
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

A Posh Frock

A Posh Frock - NB
A Posh Frock

“A Posh Frock” is my watercolour sketch for today. Frock is an old fashioned  word for a woman’s or girl’s dress and a word not really used much today. But being an old fashioned word it is perfect for my old fashioned, vintage watercolour dress.

The dress was painted with Daniel Smith’s Buff Titanium mixed with a little Naples Yellow. No other colours were used for the dress. The coat hanger was painted with a little Paynes Gray and the necklace was painted with Rose Madder. The paper used was Fabriano Artistico Extra White Rough, 140 lb and 100% cotton. I LOVE this paper! “A Posh Frock” measures 19 cm x 28 cm.

This was painted without a preliminary sketch – it was drawn with my paint brush…

Practicing my drawing in a separate sketchbook is really helping me with my watercolour painting. It’s helping me to be more confident when I put paint brush to paper. Straight away I can hear someone out there saying “but I’m no good at drawing…”. Well, the fact of the matter is this:

Anyone can learn to draw

True, some people are more naturally gifted than others but every single one of us can learn to draw. It just takes persistent practice and time. The main sketchbook I use for drawing at the moment is an A4 sketchbook I bought from Poundlands (a UK discount shop) for £1 – it’s brilliant. And I use a Derwent Mechanical Precision Pencil which costs £4.99 with a putty rubber costing £1.50. Drawing is cheap and cheerful and something I can do anywhere any time…

Painting without a preliminary sketch (drawing with a paint brush) is a whole lot harder, I have to admit, than just drawing with a pencil on paper. But, as with all things, it gets easier with practice…

“A Posh Frock” may just get put on the wall in my studio….

Watercolour

Garden Ewer

Garden Ewer - NB
Garden Ewer

A fairly simple watercolour offering for today – a garden ewer. Naturally, I painted this without a pencil sketch first. I picked this subject to paint to practice getting the shapes and lines of the ewer correct without pencil lines to guide me. The shape and form of the ewer is nice and simple. If some of the lines are a little wobbly on close inspection, for me, that is perfectly ok. Imperfection is perfection. Painting without a pencil sketch first, or “drawing with a paint brush” as I like to call it, is going to make my watercolour paintings unique. I’m personally not interested in painting realistic photographic quality copies of a subject, replicating every detail – I would much rather paint just the essence or a personal impression of a subject.

In her book Atmospheric Watercolours Jean Haines likens the preliminary pencil sketch to the bars of a cage that restrict you and fence you in when you are painting. That had a profound effect on me when I read it – I’d never thought of it like that before. And you know what? She’s right !! I think up till then I’d had a preconceived idea of how I thought watercolour painting was supposed to be and I was trying to fit in with that preconceived idea. When I read this section of Jean’s book those preconceived ideas vanished in a “puff of smoke”. They are gone forever. It hit home that I don’t need to conform to traditional watercolour painting philosophies ~ watercolour painting can be whatever I want it to be…

For this watercolour sketch I used a paper I’ve not tried before – Fabriano Artistico Extra White, 140 lb Rough and 100% cotton. This the first time I’ve actually used proper rough watercolour paper – up till now I’ve only bought NOT or cold pressed paper. So what do I think of this paper?? I love it… ! I love how the paint settles into the dips and troughs of the paper – it’s just beautiful. Why have I never tried rough paper before! I love rough paper so much I may never go back to using NOT/cold pressed paper ever again… (although, I will need to use up what NOT paper I already have left!)

Well I think I’ve waffled on enough for now! If you’ve read this far – thank you for sticking with me! I do realize that others may have a completely different view to watercolour painting to me and that’s completely okay too. At the end of the day, we’re all different and have to find our own path to follow that’s right for us personally…

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…

Watercolour

The Blue Ballet Shoes

the blue ballet shoes - nb
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

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

An Atlantic View

An Atlantic View - NB
An Atlantic View

A watercolour seascape sketch ~ large waves rolling in on to the sea shore on Cornwall’s Atlantic coastline…

In this seascape I was practicing painting waves assisted by carefully created back-runs. It was partially successful – I need to practice it more. The tricky bit is to make sure I reserve white enough paper for the waves first and then create the back-runs by adding the just right amount of clean water with a clean brush in just the right places at the right time and tilt the paper if necessary to ensure the water runs in the right direction.

The sky was painted using Ultramarine Blue and Raw Sienna. The grey was created by mixing the two colours in the palette first. The ocean was painted mostly with Prussian Blue along with Manganese Blue Hue, Cobalt Teal Blue and Cascade Green. The little bit of sand at the bottom was painted with Buff Titanium. The horizon is a little wonky but then it is only a practice sketch so I’m not going to worry about that…

My seascape measures 19 cm x 29 cm and was painted on Arches 140 lb cold pressed paper (100% cotton). This was some very enjoyable watercolour practice…

Watercolour

A Door Leading To…

Adventure…

A Door Leading To Adventure - NB
A Door Leading To Adventure…

I spent an hour or so in my studio yesterday evening painting with my watercolours, even though I was exhausted after a very hard day at “The Office”. Once I get absorbed in watercolour painting I very quickly forget how tired I am – it relaxes me.

I didn’t have any idea what to paint, I just started to move some colours across the paper. I added water with a clean brush, let it run down the paper and watched the colours mix. An image started to form – a door was appearing… ! Then I decided it needed some flowers round the door… and a door step…

I pretty much made this up as I went along… and it was nice to paint with absolutely no agenda, no pressure or expectations – just enjoying the act of painting with watercolours. I like how it turned out – to me it almost looks like something out of a fairy tale. I love it’s looseness and how it has just enough detail to know what it is…

I decided it was a door leading to adventure – for me, a door leading to lots of exciting watercolour adventures! Where would this door leading to adventure take you… ?

Technical info: Saunders Waterford High White watercolour paper – 100% cotton, 140 lb NOT, Daniel Smith Watercolours, measures 14 cm x 17 cm