Monday, 22 September 2014

Workshops and Coffee Breaks

Had a great workshop at Denmark Farm Conservation Centre teaching painting realistic autumn produce. The students were lovely and enthusiastic and it made for a really enjoyable day.

 I have another workshop at Elan valley coming up next month;it still has a couple of spaces left on it.

Talking of autumn produce, I've finished my blackberries now.

I've been experimenting with aging paper for that old vintage and antique look . It looks great especially with pen drawings on top. Its not the first time I've tried this technique, I keep coming back to it and then leaving it again, a bit like I do with my pastels and landscapes. 
Here's an old picture I did a couple of years ago which I've dug out again!

I stained some old Saunders Waterford paper I had that I don't use for watercolours. First I brewed some teabags and then soaked a couple of sheets in the tea on a large tray, pouring off the excess liquid when well soaked. Then I sprinkled coffee grounds onto the damp paper. Its fascinating watching the sepia and umber colours running out and bleeding into the wash. I then let it dry naturally.The paper now has the lovely aroma of coffee which I love so it's all good! If you hate the smell of coffee then you can just use tea or use burnt and raw umber watercolour mixes to make a wash and paint the background in, splattering and flicking some stronger paint afterwards to bleed into the damp paper. The painting above was done this way using Fabriano paper and then pen drawn on top.

Here's a couple I've done today of Nigella seedpods in pen using coffee and salt crystals aswell as watercolours to create patterns. I was thinking of adding them to my friend's sketchbooks in the exchange that I'm on, maybe they would like them.
 It's fun to experiment with different techniques and have a break from the white backgrounds of botanicals.

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Indian Summer

It's been a while since I wrote a blog post so after my break, it's time to catch up.  I couldn't resist painting these plump blackberries just picked from the hedge in my local woods. The colours are changing from green to red,carmine,purple and then to black. The blacks are painted using neutral tint and indanthrene or permanent carmine with under washes of cobalt blue. Here's the progression so far after about 18 hours work.

I've been away to Cornwall visiting the Eden project and the Lost gardens of Heligan, both are a great day out and I thoroughly enjoyed going. I also visited Tintagel castle, a historic ruin steeped in myth and legend. I am a great fan of the Arthurian legend and this is the place where King Arthur was conceived according to Geoffery of Monmouth's (d.1154/5) account of the legend. 

Here's my sketch of part of the ruin using a pen and watercolour wash.

While out walking recently at home I went on a route I had not ventured before and stumbled on an amazing place; a gorge with raging white waters and lined with steep fern and moss covered rocks. I couldn't believe I'd never found this place before or even heard of it. I have now called it the 'lost valley'! The photos don't do it justice really. They are taken on the edge of a steep drop, quite precarious and high up overlooking the river valley. I used a tripod and slowed down the shutter speed. This blurs the waters slightly and lets more light into the aperture, it was quite dim down there as it was taken at 7.30 in the evening.

There is also a lot of fungi springing up after the recent rains, lots of Russulas, Boletes and large parasols. The woods are filled with all sorts of berries, hips and nuts ripening, aswell as beautiful heather flushed purple; so many subjects to paint. High pressure is dominating the UK now so a great time to go out on forays and walks, make the most of the warm summer days.

I have a workshop coming up this month at Denmark Farm Conservation Center, so all the fruits of the forest will be our subjects, my favourite time of year.