Not Worrying, Really (Another Seashore Painting Story)

Watercolour and ink drawing seashore

The story has a familiar start: “Once upon a time there was a blank sheet of watercolour paper and a stretch of rocky seashore.”

All the potential in that pristine page waiting for the first mark. What would I choose?

Not worrying, really, because I have additional sheets.

Watercolour and ink drawing seashore

Out with Payne’s grey acrylic ink, using the ink dropper itself to draw plus a rigger brush and a flat brush. It got me to a “don’t mess it up now” stage.

Not worrying, really, because I could always try again.

Watercolour and ink drawing seashore

Watercolour added to the sea, using the flat brush. It got me past the previous “don’t mess it up” stage, to a new “don’t mess it up” stage.

Not worrying, really, because I could always start again and aim for this point again.

Watercolour and ink drawing seashore

Two colours of acrylic ink added to the shore, to represent the seaweed. A little water sprayed to disperse the colour.

Watercolour and ink drawing seashore

Not worrying, because I got there, I felt.

There being understated and minimal. The equivalent of a short poem about staring at a rocky shore rather than a field-guide to shorelines.

Related: The ‘Secret’ was the Previous Painting
The 5 Stages of Making a Painting

Logo Marion Boddy-Evans Isle of Skye Art Studio ScotlandMy thanks to my patrons who are helping me have time to write more each month, including the monthly word prompts. Will you be my next patron (or via PayPal) for the price of a cup of coffee a month? Thank you!

Monday Motivator: Do the Verb to Be the Noun

Monsieur P Artiste Monday Motivator from Marion Boddy-Evans Isle of Skye art Studio

Monsieur P Artiste Monday Motivator from Marion Boddy-Evans Isle of Skye art Studio

“Let go of the thing that you’re trying to be (the noun), and focus on the actual work you need to be doing (the verb).”
— Austin Kleon, The Noun and the Verb

This is a quote that’s a strong motivator for me. It’s similar to another long-time favourite: “You can’t cross the sea merely by standing and staring at the water” (poet Rabindranath Tagore).

If you want to be a artist, you have to draw and paint and make, not merely be in love with the idea of being creative.

Do I paint and draw every single day? No, I don’t. Some days days I even have lazy or lazy-ish days, what others might call “weekend”.

But this can lead to guilt of not “being productive”, so I often keep my fingers busy with something, most often wire. Yesterday I made this fish (necklace) while watching the first part of the Lord of the Rings (for the umpteenth time). It’ll join the shaol I am creating for Skyeworks Gallery‘s Fish exhibition opening just before Easter. For some reason I keep hearing Gandalf shouting “swim” when I look at it.

Wirework Fish with Orange Eye Necklace

Those Are Meant to be Goldfish?

If at first you don’t succeed, try again, and again, and again. I know this. You know this. But sometimes a painting can be rather far away from where we want to be.

My first attempt at wet-into-wet goldfish resulted in this “urm, those are meant to be goldfish?” painting:

Unsuccessful Gold Fish Painting on paper

Let me try on a smaller scale, I thought. And my second attempt result in this dubious school of fish. Though, I reassured myself, at least some are looking a little less like post-nuclear-apocalypse mutants:

Gold Fish Painting on paper

I can do this, I told myself, and on trying yet again, I got to this, which to me falls into the “getting there” category :

Gold Fish Painting on paper

Which then left me with the “will I be able to do this on a larger scale, on canvas?” question.  I’d previously painted the background, with tube acrylics, and now the task was “add goldfish”. Three acrylic inks: white, orange, and Payne’s grey (not quite as harsh as black). I had the not-goldfish to the side to remind me what not to do.

Gold Fish Painting

After the fish had dried, I added more layers to the water using acrylic ink blues.

It’s one of those paintings that is tricky to photograph because the more light there is the lighter blue the water appears. In subdued light, the water is quite dark. But at least these fish looking more like fish than not. And next time I’m staying with the friend who has goldfish, I’ll be looking at them more closely.

Related: The ‘Secret’ was the Previous Painting

Monday Motivator: The Look

Quote: The Look Poem by Carol Ann Duffy

Monsieur P Artiste Monday Motivator from Marion Boddy-Evans Isle of Skye art Studio

“The moon’s the look of the night.
The sky’s the look of forever.”

— Carol Ann Duffy, The Look

A smudge’s the look of a soft edge in a pastel drawing.
A drip’s the look of an expressive watercolour.

10 colour-speckled fingers are the look of the end of the day.

Complete this thought:
The [insert here] is [insert here].
And share it as a blog comment here.

Quote: The Look Poem by Carol Ann Duffy

The ‘Secret’ was the Previous Painting

Two Ink Seascapes One Successful and One Not

A comment about the painting I shared on Friday reminded me how paintings I regard as successful are frequently built on ones I regard as lacking.

“Such movement, yet so simple, and not overworked. How you do it is a marvel.” — L.

My response was:

“What you don’t see is the previous overworked one that taught me to do this one.”

And here’s a photo of it for everyone to see. Of course I had intended for the first drawing, the one on the left, to be successful too. But I ruined it by being heavy-handed with the ink.

Two Ink Seascapes One Successful and One Not

The damage started with an inadvertent splodge of Payne’s grey on the headland, where there should be vertical columns of rock with only some of it in shade. Being on dry paper the ink wasn’t keen to lift off, and then much of it was wind-dried before I’d decided what to do, and, and, and I can keep making excuses but the truth if I messed it up at this point.

If I’d had opaque white with me I could have mixed it with my inks and worked over the top, but I didn’t. Instead I tried to keep going with it, make the other areas more solid, but it didn’t help.

Time to put it aside, and try again. Instead of repeating the composition, trying to include the whole bay, I allowed myself to focus on the bit I was really enjoying, the pattern on the shore. Faced with a beautiful location, I tend to have a compulsion to “include it all”, but of course we needn’t. Slices of it are beautiful too.

Two Ink Seascapes One Successful and One Not

Second time lucky. Or practice makes perfect.

Now I’m sure that at least one person is going to prefer the painting on the left to the more abstracted one on the right. So let me pre-empt and say I do like bits of it, but it’s not close to what I was wanting to achieve on that particular occasion. When I look at it weeks from now I might like it more or make a plan to take it further. And that’s why I don’t tear things up on the same day I paint them.

Ink Meets Shore

Lines Shore Black and Orange Ink Drawing Finished

On the ‘other’ side of the waterbreak large bands of waves were crashing in, the result of the previous day’s strong north wind. (Larger than they look in this photo because I’m looking down on a steep shore.)

Waves North Wind

Moving to a favourite picnic table, overlooking the shore, the large boulders exposed, only small waves lapping through bands of seaweed. I’ve been here many times in the nearly 10 years we’ve been on Skye, but I think this was the lowest I’ve ever seen the tide.

I realised that for once I wasn’t staring into the distance, but was being mesmerized by the pattern on the shore. So out came the black ink, followed by a pot of an opaque fluid-acrylic orange that I grabbed as I headed out my studio from where it’s been sitting waiting to be tried for the first time.

Yes, I am applying it with a stick. It gives a randomness to the marks. And, yes, this stick does live in my pencil box because sticks can be hard to find in some locations.

Then, some “sea colours”, in acrylic inks. Payne’s grey, marine blue. A splash of acid yellow-green. Watercolour paper, 350gsm, A3 size.

It’s abstract, but I like it. For me it’s got a sense of location (though seashore, not necessarily Camus Mor) and the breeze in my hair. What others will see and feel, I can only guess.

Are You Creating Worried Lines?

Lines Shore Black and Orange Ink Drawing

A worried line is a line that’s created by drawing lots of short back-and-forth sections to make a line because you’re too hesitant and worried to draw the line along its entire length in one go. A hedge-your-bets line. An “if I get this little bit right then I might get the next little bit right too and maybe then it’ll all be right” line. You worry the whole way through its creation, worrying it into existence.

It feels reassuring, but it’s counter-productive. Hesitation isn’t your drawing friend; willingness to risk not getting it right but doing it anyway is.

It’s a form of assessing and editing what we’ve done before we’ve even finished it. It’s a step in relearning as an adult the unquestioning confidence we had in our lines as a child. The sooner you can get through this step the better, but at the same time don’t beat yourself up about it.

Talking to another artist about this yesterday, she mentioned how one of her college art tutors had said something about the quality of lines that had stuck with her but only truly made sense later on. How a line must reflect what it contains. How a line drawn in a circle to represent an orange needs to hold all of the inside of the orange. How an outline for an apple will be different.

So the idiom about apples and oranges applies to lines too.

Worry (think) about the differences, but before and after, not while you’re putting pencil on paper to create the line. Worry a line only after it exists.

Lines Shore Black and Orange Ink Drawing

Monday Motivator: Quietly Digest Influences

Monsieur P Artiste Monday Motivator from Marion Boddy-Evans Isle of Skye art Studio

Monsieur P Artiste Monday Motivator from Marion Boddy-Evans Isle of Skye art Studio

“One has to be receptive but instead of giving in and being a slave to all kinds of influences, one should digest them quietly and sift them, and then, I think, they come out as a new strength in the work.”
— Barbara Hepworth, in “Writing and Conversations“*

For something to have an influence, you must have have noticed it, seen things you like and/or wish you’d done, been intrigued enough to look longer or more closely, and to remember it. Filter, digest, and transform to make it your own.

Remain as curious as a studio cat, perpetually looking and poking at things, interspersed by spells of sleeping on it.

Books on Studio Cat's Reading List

Quote source: ‘Ideas and the Artist: An Interview with Barbara hepworth’, Ideas of To-Day, London, Nov/Dec 1952, vol 2 no 4, quoted on page 73 of “Barbara Hepworth: Writing and Conversations edited by Sophie Bowness

2 More January Word Prompt Charts

January Word Prompts by Eddie New

Thanks to Eddie and Wendy for sharing their January charts! I really am enjoying looking at what each word has prompted, and the differences even with something like a carrot. It made me realise I’d included the greens, even though can’t remember when I saw an untrimmed carrot in a supermarket. And a witch for flying did make me chuckle (and wish I’d thought of that!).

This is Wendy’s, who said: “A frustrating month time wise and found this helped the ‘guilt’ of not doing more!”

January Word Prompts by Wendy
By Wendy

This is Eddie’s, who said: “As you can see I managed every day (though I’m not sure how long that will continue) and really enjoyed coming up with a response to the word of the day.”

January Word Prompts by Eddie New
By Eddie New

Did you notice what book’s being read at #5?

See Also: Photos: January Word Prompt Drawings
28 Word Prompts for Drawing in February

Additional photo submissions are welcome! Just email it to me at art(a) with a note as to how you want it credited or if you want it shared anonymously.

Photos: January Word Prompt Drawings

Word Prompts January 2018 Tessa

I’ve really enjoyed looking at the photos of completed January Word Prompt charts sent in. Ideas that would never have occurred to me, the way everyone’s done something that’s uniquely their own, sometimes ideas vastly different and sometimes more similar, all from the same starting point. Thank you!

This is Erika’s, who said: “I truly did one-a-day except for 22/23/24, those I filled all on the 24.

Word Prompts January 2018 Erika
January 2018: Erika
Word Prompts January 2018 Tessa
By Tessa

This is Tessa’s, who says: “Sometimes I stuck to one a day, often I wanted to do more than one, sometimes did which balanced out days when I didn’t. I liked that it was on ordinary paper and for me an ideas thing rather than serious drawing.”

This is by a Skye-based creative friend, working at a slightly larger scale on her own grid, in inks.

Word Prompts for January
by Skye Seasons Studio
by Skye Seasons Studio

As I said yesterday, my January word prompt chart had more gaps (18) than completed blocks (13). It was also done in pencil only (until yesterday). There’s no reason it couldn’t be done only in pencil or monochrome, but overall Studio Cat Ghost wasn’t at all impressed by my performance. Something about not leading by example, nor starting the year as I meant to continue.
Word Prompts January 2018 Marion

I tried telling him he should cut me some slack as I’d been away in Glasgow at Scotland’s Trade Fair, but apparently that was no excuse as all I needed was a pencil. So, rather than beat myself up about what I should have done, the gap between what I’d intended and what I actually done, I decided to spend a little more time on it, sat down with my watercolours and started adding some colour. Studio Cat supervised.

Word Prompts January 2018 Marion Studio Cat

I confess, once I started adding colour I liked it a whole lot more — the result and the doing of it. It’s still got a bunch of white blocks, and most of it I would rate “could do better” (I know, I know, I’m not supposed to say this sort of thing about this activity) but that was squashed under the enjoyment I had with the watercolours and the knowledge that I ended the month with more blocks completed than not.
Word Prompts January 2018 Marion

My blue (#23) was done with a new-to-me Daniel Smith watercolour made from genuine lapis lazuli, which has been used to create ultramarine since the 13th century for ultramarine, though these days we nearly always use French ultramarine, a synthetic, cheaper version created in the 19th century.

Studio Cat’s verdict as I tidied up: he still wants me to do a drawing of him for #28.