“Orient your shading lines such that they show the path that a raindrop on the rock would take across the surface (down) and horizontal for a flat surface. If the plane is not facing straight toward the viewer, down will not be vertical but at an angle.”
— John Muir Laws, How to Draw Rocks
Another one I know, though I can’t remember from where, is it visualise how your fingers curve if you pick up an object, and make your lines/brushmarks follow that.
“Make lots of drawings. The more you have under your belt, the less ego is wrapped up in each one. The volume of work creates a buffer, making it safer to make mistakes.”
— John Muir Laws, Constructive Critique
Most of the I-don’t-know-how-many words I read a day disappear into the ether, somewhere between memory and forgotten. Some get saved on my computer for possible Monday Motivators. A few get written down, and chanced upon when I look through a sketchbook.
“The sea makes a tired sound
That’s always stopping though it never stops.”
Always stopping but never stops sounds like painting and drawing and writing and living to me. Driven compulsively by the pull of [mental/inspiration/ muse] gravity, always stopping but never stopping until the final, irreversible stop.
The response to my “The One That Won’t Swim Away” little goldfish painting inspired me to have a go at creating a few more for the Fish Exhibition at Skyeworks Gallery. Not quite a repeat of what I’d done because “my fish” has some texture on the surface, and also strongly motivated to do “without hesitation” because there wasn’t much time.
These four little goldfish were the result, and I was delighted that one sold on the opening day of the exhibition.
Here they are in Skyeworks, plus my other three fish paintings done on canvas:
Don’t be misled by how neat and tidy they look lined up. This photo of them on my desk while I was waiting for the varnish to dry is more representative of the organized chaos they were created in.
For those curious about what else is in this photo:
The goldfish in the frame is painted on a page from a tiny dictionary I found languishing in a secondhand bookshop in York, on the page with the entry for “fish”. It was done the same time as “my goldfish” and is now also in Skyeworks.
The little circle with the fish on still needs to get a dimensional glaze over it and will probably become a piece of wearable art as either a brooch or necklace.
The ink in the glass jars labelled “ink” is shellac-based rather than acrylic ink, I’ve been playing with it on a strip watercolour paper testing out a workshop activity idea.
The pink sunset on the right is the new photo-reference booklet for my Captureing Skye workshop coming up at Higham Hall. (I’ll have copies at Patchings Art Festival.)
The mug with my brushes in is from Cath Ball of Stitched Ceramics (and is a “seconds” with a small crack on the handle, so it’s not sacrilegious to use like this).
The little bit of black cloth is for cleaning my specs.
The black tin on the left is my every-colour-I-have watercolour set that the in-house critic bought for me (as an empty tin).
A few more photos of completely March word prompt charts, to inspire and encourage you into picking up a pencil to do April’s chart. The aim is “more days than not” and, even if you spend a morning at the end of the month filling in the gaps (as I did), it still counts because ultimately the aim is to be drawing.
From Tessa, who said: “I missed a few days in the second half of the month but enjoyed catching up. I have used a mix of watercolour, coloured pencils, ink pens, my trusty white Posca pen and kids coloured markers.” Love the studio cat getting in on the action too Tessa!
From Margaret, who said: “Here’s my efforts for March although I do have to admit to doing a few days together knowing that towards the end of the month I was going to be busy. I’m enjoying the challenge of thinking up pictures for the descriptive words – e.g. pointy.”
From Gail: “So much fun!”
From Vanessa: “I really enjoyed doing these drawings. Some came quite easy others were a bit of a struggle. Cheers for this fantastic challenge.”
From Jerry: “This was fun — I had to do a little catch-up!”
Here’s mine. I did the first 10 days of the month daily, but then it got neglected and I did the rest on Sunday (I know, I know, that was April already, but being April Fools I say it still counts) using a HB pencil and watercolour.
I wished I had my coloured pencils with me or a better watercolour brush, because the waterbrush I did have no longer has a good tip to it. It’s not as considered nor detailed nor careful nor [add another critical word] as I’d like, but fuelled by coffee and cake, I did get something into every block.
Block 28 Picnic was intended to be a checked picnic blanket, but ended up a grassy-muddy mess as I didn’t wait long enough for the first paint to dry. The red splodge on 23 Pointy came from when I did 16 Red and White, and then I couldn’t think past cutting a finger on the sharp point of a knife, so that’s why both 23 and 24 are knives. Overall I’d rate it as “a few points for effort but needs a lot more work if you’re going to lead by example”.
“The creative journey is not one in which at the end you wake up in some mythical, happy, foreign land. The creative journey is one in which you wake up every day, like Phil*, with more work to do.” — Austin Kleon, Want to be an artist? Watch Groundhog Day, 13 July 2017
[*in the film “Groundhog Day”]
It’s not that you get a report card on yesterday that says “could do better/could try harder/not living up to potential/not applying yourself fully” but more like a reset button, a “have another go” card. We can’t change what we did or didn’t do yesterday, but we haven’t yet done or not done what we will today.
My thanks to everyone who’s shared a photo of their March word prompt charts. Once again it’s been so interesting looking at them all, the interpretations, the differences and the similarities. I find myself thinking “that’s my favourite block, no that one, no that one”. Very inspiring!
From Lynn, who’s in the process of moving and said: “I really enjoy these prompts, though this month has been a little crazy.” Hope you’re soon settled in your new home Lynn, with an inspiring art space!
From Eddie, who said: “Lots of interesting words as usual.” Delighted you enjoyed it Eddie, and I look forward to seeing what you do with April’s.
From Erika, who said: “Cheat, cheat — and repeat! It was so much fun going through my collage-material-box that I couldn’t stop…so this is what came out of it.” Collage is definitely not cheating as far as I’m concerned, Erika, because you’ve still got to decide and select and cut, it’s just another option.
From Jenny, who said: “Some of these were challenging! My first attempt at wolf rather resembled a pig.” Perhaps it was the wolf who tormented the three little pigs?
From Issie, who said: “Enjoy the monthly project…from New Zealand.” From one side of the world to the other! Glad to hear you enjoyed it Issie.
From Esther: “It was a lot of fun. I had planned to use watercolour but as the grid was printed on printer paper I used mostly coloured pencils.” I’m pleased you enjoyed doing it Esther. Depending on your printer, you might be able to run a sheet of thin card or watercolour paper through it.
As to where the photo is of my own chart … urm, well, urm, but, urm… would you believe a sheepdog ate my homework?
My thanks to my patrons who are helping me have time to write more each month, including time to create the monthly word prompts. Will you be my next $2 patron (or via PayPal)? It works on the 1,000 steps principle, each small contribution helps keep me on an artistic journey we can share. Thank you.
End of a month means it’s time for a new drawing word prompt chart! Download April’s here….
Also, don’t forget to send me a photo of your March chart. (Confession: I need to ‘cheat’ and quickly do something in the last two weeks on my own chart before I take a photo. )
Copies of my 365 word prompts books have just arrived from the printers, and when I get a moment after the Easter weekend I’ll be update my webshop with photos of it. Until then you can still order it at the special pre-publication price. Thank you again to everyone who preordered a copy, I’ll be posting yours after Easter (and I’ll do it before I update my webshop).
I haven’t started on my copy yet, but artist friend Liza Hawthorne (who owns Skyeworks) has been working with pen in hers. If you’re on Skye, copies are available from Skyeworks Gallery, where I’m on gallery duty today and tomorrow.