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…

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…

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…

Drawing & Sketching

Doors and Windows

I’ve spent a little time sketching some doors and windows today. Any time spent drawing/sketching is time well spent, whatever the outcome. Architecture interests me – I like doors, windows, old buildings, Mediterranean style buildings and unusual shaped architectural features. Here’s today’s sketching efforts…

Mediterranean Door Sketch - NB
A Mediterranean Door

My first sketching effort, above, is a Mediterranean door. I liked the little narrow window and the old  cracked stonework underneath. The heavy wooden door was set into the wall with a couple of very worn steps leading up to it. It’s a building that has character. I deliberately didn’t sketch every last detail – I just concentrated on drawing just enough to tell the story…

Mediterranean Window Sketch - NB
A Mediterranean Window

The Mediterranean window above caught my eye. I liked how the shutters were just slightly open and I liked the nearby lamp on the wall. Drawing the angle of the shutters correctly was a bit tricky. I have to keep telling myself “just draw what you see” and not what you think you see…

Quirky Cornish Door - NB
A Quirky Cornish Door

I liked the unusual shape of this Cornish door – the sloping angle of the lintel and door. It  was very quirky and had lots of character…

I like drawing. As I’ve already said, drawing every last detail isn’t important to me – I just want to concentrate on drawing just enough detail to tell the story. I’m trying to get the shapes, angles right and perspective right. These were all drawn with pencils from a WHSmith sketching pencils set – nothing fancy. They all measure about 15 cm x 20 cm.

What I also need to do now is translate these pencil sketches into watercolour sketches…

Watercolour

Sailing

Sailing - NB

At the weekend I spent some time watching all the different sailng boats coming and going in the bay. I took some photographs and then sat outside to do some watercolour sketches of a few of them.

The photos I took were backlit so the boats were silhouetted. Therefore I painted them with just black watercolour paint – Lamp Black to be exact. The purpose of this exercise was for me to practice getting the shapes of the boats right – not with too much detail, but just enough to identify each sailing boat. I did start off with some very light pencil sketches first.

I enjoyed painting these and it was some much needed sketching practice for me…

#WorldWatercolorMonth

Watercolour

Start Painting!

Start Painting - NB
Start Painting!

A watercolour sketch in my khadi paper sketchbook.  No prizes for guessing which brand of paint these are… ! These tubes of paint were on my desk in my little home studio, they made a great subject to paint. The colours of these paint tubes are Prussian Blue and Buff Titanium.

I enjoyed painting these tubes of paint and I like how my sketch turned out, in spite of it’s imperfections. But I also got some much needed practice at drawing with my paint brush… I’ve learnt and grown from just doing a simple painting like this. Now, what else can I paint… ?

Watercolour

Cornish Roof Top Sketches

When I visited my sister in Cornwall a few weeks ago I spent a little time doing some sketching outside the front of her house. As the house is quite high up on a hill you get a nice view of the Cornish roof tops. So I decided to sketch a few.

Cornish Rooftops Pencil Sketches - NB

I used a HB pencil on A4 sketchbook paper. This was good practice for me – I need lots of practice at drawing! Reasonably happy with my basic sketches I started to think about painting them….

Cornish Rooftop Colours - NB

My sketches were going to be painted with watercolours but first I needed to decide on what colours to use. After doing several tests on some spare paper, the colours above are what I chose to use. Cornish roof tops are predominantly grey with lots of yellow lichen growing on them. The chimney pots are lovely – very old fashioned terracotta pots in lots of lovely different shapes and styles…

Cornish Rooftop Painted 1a - NB

You can click on the images to see larger views. I did make a classic beginners mistake when painting these – I diluted my paint slightly too much. Hence the colours aren’t quite as strong as I would like. But I’ll put that down to experience and try to improve on that in the future! On the whole though, I like how my Cornish roof tops turned out. Here’s some closer views…

Cornish Rooftop Painted 2 - NB

Cornish Rooftop Painted 3 - NB

Lots more sketching is on the agenda in the future to hopefully improve my drawing and painting skills…..