June 2021 Painting Project: Palette of a Place

This painting project is about the colours of a specific place, whether it’s a landscape or an interior, a favourite stretch of beach, path, or corner of a city or room. It’s about observation and recording what we’ve noticed, using this to create a “Palette of a Place”.

Think of it as creating a visual dictionary or colours swatches for a place, which might be large or small. Building a palette of colours that could be used for a studio painting at a later date, but the focus right now is about slowing down and paying attention to individual elements in a place, colour mixing and note-taking rather than painting ‘the big picture’.

What to include: The colours you see, with information of what they’re found in and the paint colours you used to create a match, then anything else you feel led to include. Start with the most obvious, and work your way in to as narrowly specific as you feel inclined. For instance, I’d start with a warm yellow for a dandelion flower when viewed at arm’s length, but then looking closer I could start depicting the differences between the top and bottom of a petal. You might do it entirely as painted colour, or you might stick in ‘bits, or you might see if something will give you a colour or mark (eg ‘draw’ with a stone or soil).

There’s no set or “right” way to do this. Depending on your personality, you might draw a grid on a sheet of paper or in a sketchbook and fill in each, or you might do it scattered across the page letting each element or thing dictate its own size. You might do a little on multiple days or spend a day at it.

If you’re stuck for where to start, you might choose a photo from one of the previous painting projects, but ideally do it from life. It was an Instagram post of Weymouth-based artist Frances Hatch that got me started on this; she describes herself as a “site responsive plein air artist”. So the aim is to respond to a place by more than picking up pebbles.

As always, you’re invited to share your results with me for inclusion in the project’s photo gallery and a reminder that Project Subscribers via Patreon get 1:1 feedback. Don’t forget to include a few sentences about why you chose what you did, and how you feel about the results.

My Place Palette: I’ve made a start on the colours of the walk from my studio to the post box down the road. There are multiple yellows, including a dandelion and gorse (and the inside of the little daisy), the textures of a bit of sheep wool and the feather. There’ll also be the dark greys of the tar road and the bright red of the post box.

This is what I had in my hand when I got back from walking to the post box.
Here I’d arranged them by colour and texture, and started to draw/paint.

My Stormy Camus Mor Painting

I took these painting-in-progress photos whilst having a go at this month’s painting project: Stormy Camus Mor. It’s on a sheet of A1 watercolour paper, 350gsm, using acrylic inks, tube acrylics, and oil pastel. I have been thinking about this painting since I wrote up the project, it’s just taken me a while to settle down to do it.

Starting point: Payne’s grey acrylic ink. It was hot in my studio so the ink was drying quite quickly — on the right-hand side you can see some dried lines beneath the ink that I’ve spread with a wet brush. It becomes a fun juggle with speed of painting and speed of drying.
Enter some lemon yellow, using the same brush. It’s not really that big a brush if you consider how large the sheet of paper is.
Looking back through my photos, part of me wishes I’d stuck with using only the grey and yellow. Being able to see a photo of it at this point and ponder it is a good reason to take quick snaps as I paint. While I was doing it, I didn’t think about stopping at this point at all as I was already adding the other colours in my head.
Some of the paint is applied by brush, some by splattering. The latter technique means I can add colour to the surface without disturbing what’s already there, whereas applying it with a brush will mix the new and existing together. As I’m painting vertically, gravity gets involved too, pulling down fluid paint and mixing things as it happens. Spraying with some water encourages this, as you can see bottom right in the next photo.
Adding transparent orange
Adding blue to the sea, and then the sky
A bit of magenta added to the sky, to mix with the blues and create purples. Then I mixed what was on the brush with the leftovers on my palette and added this “murky dark” to the shore. Sprayed with water to encourage it to run and drip, propping the board the paper is taped to up at an angle so the drips happen at an angle. Yes, that is the tub of magenta paint that I’m using for this.
Looking at a painting from the side so it catches the light shows me where areas are still wet. Sometimes it’s really obvious, other times less so.
Sometimes it’ll only be a small area, or single drip, that’s still wet. Dabbing a finger into the paint will, of course, also tell me, but it does irreparable damage to a drip.
After everything had dried for a bit, I added some white to the sea. I’m using Schmincke’s SupaWhite acrylic ink, which is fabulously opaque.
If you’re thinking “that’s not a Schmincke dropper”, you’re be right, it’s a Daler-Rowney FW one, which I prefer as it’s got a sharper point
I’ve sprayed some of the white acrylic with water to encourage it to spread.
Need to keep an eye out for unwanted drips and effects; it’s a dance with the unpredictable, unwanted and desired, chaos and control.
Letting colours run together on the painting can create beautiful “happy accidents” with an organic feel. Painting water by literally letting the water run.
Too much can be a bad thing though! Here drips from the sky have run into the sea contradicting the direction of movement in that area. Something to be fixed before it’s dried. Responding to what’s happening is all part of the excitement of this approach to the painting.
It’s time for a two-jar propping of the board, with pthalo turquoise joining the magenta.
One thing about this approach to painting is that I can’t be too protective of any area, no matter how much I love it. If I am desperate to preserve it, then it’s time to swap to more controllable technique.
To change the direction of the drips of paint in the sea, I turned the board 90 degrees, then sprayed it with some water.
In the bottom left corner of the painting (when it’s vertical!), the drips weren’t co-operating, so I intervened with a brush to get them to go in the direction I wanted.
This is the painting vertical again, left for a bit to ensure the paint dried. When I came back to it, I decided it wasn’t where I wanted it to be yet and that I would add some oil pastel to it. Swapping mediums is a change of pace, as well as type of mark.
Detail showing how the oil pastel catches on the ‘bumpy’ texture of the watercolour paper.
I had started questioning the half sky to half land/sea composition, so only added oil pastel to the lower part of the sky, to where I thought I would crop the painting.
This is the stage the painting was at when I took it to show the in-house art critic.
At Alistair’s suggestion, I brought the rain down further, using white oil pastel. I may still work on the rain a bit more, possibly seeing if some acrylic paint will stick between the streaks of oil pastel, or maybe with some oil paint. I have cut off the top of the sheet just above the masking tape in this photo, so that composition change is decided.

Seaweed Painting Project Gallery

As was my hope, a closer consideration of seaweed for April’s painting project has led to some joyful discoveries and delightful paintings.

By Bee: “Watercolour and water soluble pen. I enjoyed this more than I expected.”

From Marion: The water-soluble ink works so well for this subject, giving that sense of dampness and water.
By Bee: “Acrylic on a piece of cardboard, just the thing to do on a cold day.”

From Marion: Such a contrast to your first with its more opaque colours. I love that it’s on that tipping point between realism and abstract, that with the word “seaweed” in mind, I instantly read it as such, but someone looking at it without this keyword might see it as grasses, twigs.
By Bee: “I have had a third go at the seaweed , this time combining our art club challenge which is a painting using only 3 colours and only mixing on the paper, I used cobalt blue , vermillion and golden yellow.”

From Marion: Only three colours? Shows how much potential there is with a limited palette, and how harmonious colour can be across a composition with this. I am enjoying the transparency and layering, the sense of one piece of seaweed lying on another and over rocks, of seeing it with softened edges as though viewed through shallow water.
By Eddie: “I decided to try taking some of the seaweed forms and try to make an abstract with this result. It’s approximately 9×13” in soft pastels on black velour paper. I don’t love it but, after working on it for a while, don’t absolutely hate it either.”

From Marion: I’m enjoying the limited, gentle range of colours that’s calm and harmonious, whilst having an energy and vibrance from the wide tonal from extreme dark to white. I find my eye tracing the strong lines, and adding faces to the three “wigs” of long hair at the bottom as imagination overtakes what I’m actually seeing.
By Sarah: “I am enjoying working on Vellum, calf skin, with watercolour for this project. I am only partway through, it is my first time and it is a slow process.”

From Marion: I’ve seen this “in real life” and it’s even more beautiful than in the photo. The colour of the piece of vellum chosen adds a beautiful “background”, and the layers of watercolour you’ve built up are rich and luminous.

Also this month, paintings inspired by the shoreline and pebbles projects:

By Helen: A mixed media “Dark Beach”
By Erika: This was an interesting exercise: rather than painting the items ON to a canvas, I extracted them by using a not very successful painting of earlier days. It reminded me of focusing on “negative spaces” which I haven’t done very often. I can almost watch my mind trying real hard to switch to that mode of looking at things differently, from the “other” side, from inside-out.

From Marion: You’ve made my fingers itch to try this approach, which I’d forgotten about.

I haven’t yet managed to get my seaweed on wood painting working to my satisfaction, and it hasn’t moved on much from where it is in this video. Of my attempts at this month’s painting project, this is the one I like best.

Acrylic ink on A3 watercolour paper

My thanks to everyone who’s shared their project paintings, here and on the Community section of my Patreon page. It’s so intriguing and inspiring to see what comes from the same starting point. I look forward to seeing what’ll be done with the Stormy Bay project.

May’s Painting Project: Stormy Camus Mor Bay

Camus Mor on the northwestern tip of the Trotternish Peninsula is one of my favourite spots for painting and sketching as well as simply sitting to listen to and watch the sea. In stormy weather it’s quite different, with waves thundering onto the shore and crashing up against the cliffs, beneath dark skies. The starting point for this month’s painting project is a photo I took on a day the wind was so strong I had trouble standing still enough to get an in-focus photo.

Here’s a closer view of the waves, which lend themselves to vigorous brushmarks and texture paste.

Here’s the photograph lightened and with the colour saturation turned way up. It gives colours we might use to create a foreground that’s colourful, for working with exaggerated or emphasised colours rather than more muted. I could see these used as underpainting colours or for final layers. I can also see them being used in a mostly black-and-white painting as tiny touches of colour.

I think it’s a landscape/seascape that lends itself to any medium, and could be done with a muted palette and lots of strong darks, with exaggerated/emphasised colour in the foreground where there’s a jumble of vegetation, with texture paste to literally give depth to the turbulent sea, with inks or watercolours wet-into-wet for expressive clouds and sea.

You might edit out the houses to eliminate the human prescence in the landscape (even if you don’t, I’d leave out the bit of caravan on the right). You might change the format of your composition from the horizontal of the reference photo to a vertical, or to a square. Watch out for the size of the gap between the distant headland and the edge of the canvas. I think it’s a bit too close to the edge in my photo and wants a bit more breathing space; alternatively, take it definitely off the edge.

As always, you’re invited to submit your painting(s) to me by email or on social media, for sharing in the project’s photo gallery. And reminded that there’s no time limit on doing any of the projects; simply share what you’ve done and I’ll add it to the next gallery.

I haven’t painted this myself yet, but here’s a painting done in my very first workshop at Higham Hall by Margaret, working from my very first photo reference book. If you look closely you’ll see it was done on an orange ground, and how this adds a pop to the colours in the sea in particular. Artistic licence was used to change the foreground to rocks:

Higham Hall Workshop: Student Work on Orange Ground

If the location seems familiar, it may be because another part of it was the subject of a previous project: see Camus Mor Rocks Project Instructions and the Project Photo Gallery.

A quick search in my website’s engine-room tells me I’ve nearly 20 blogs about being at Camus Mor. These are some of my favourites:

Video Demo: Painting a Pebble

Before you watch this, let me point out that the ‘action’ is speeded up five times actual speed and has the bits where nothing was happening edited out, which is a roundabout way of saying: I don’t paint this fast in real life and I don’t think you’d be interested in watching paint dry.

If you don’t see the video above, click here to see it on my Vimeo channel.

I painted this after I’d painted “Nine Pebbles” so I already knew exactly what I was going to use and a strong sense of where I wanted to go with it.

SOLD Nine Pebbles, 30x30cm, acrylic on wood panel

See Also: Pebbles Project Photo Gallery

Pebbles Project Photo Gallery

I’m delighted that so much enjoyment has been had looking closely at pebbles, seeing them as individuals rather than merely a tiny part of the foreground of a seascape. Thank you to everyone who’s shared their paintings this month. I’m sure you’re going to enjoy looking at the results as much as I have.

By Claire: “It was great fun emptying drawers and finding materials and paints I haven’t used for years. I think I should have put masking fluid around the stones first as the tape tended to lift, allowing pastel dust to escape. I used watercolours, watercolour and acrylic inks, oil and soft pastels, white charcoal and a few touches of gold cerne relief on Bockingford Not 140 lbs p;aper.”

From Marion: It feels like I’m looking at a display at a geological museum, and that if I looked off to the side there’d be a little notice explaining the links between the different pebbles. I’d be hard pressed to pick a favourite.
By Cathi: “This is pure watercolour — no pen, no pencil just paint — to give it a simpler, cleaner feeling. The pink wanted to run everywhere, but hey-ho that’s what paint does.. The sandstone pebbles, although having clear patterns, have quite a texture so I hope I have been able to capture that.”

From Marion: The pink running adds a sense of the pebble sitting in wet sand. And you’ve definitely got the sense of textures as well as colours.
By Eddie: “I was excited to start this and decided to do a grid with a different medium in each box. One source of trepidation was that I only had one sheet of A2 watercolour paper so if I got it wrong I would have to wait while I ordered more. I decided just to go for it and think it went well.”

From Marion: It’s beautiful, as a collection of stones, and mesmerising for the differences in appearance and mediums.
By Eddie: “A little pile of pebbles. Some years ago, when I was more into pen and ink, I got, as a present, an electronic dots pen by Cuttlelola. It’s a nifty little device that really speeds up stippling. It’s been languishing for a while so I thought I would give it a try for pebbles. I tried hard to concentrate more on the process than the result and not care that some of my pebbles looked rather like cream cakes and, mostly, succeeded. The added media are, from top to bottom; coloured pencil; watercolour pencil; watercolour; Graphitint; gouache; XL charcoal; XL graphite; and Elegant Writer all washed in with a water brush pen. All great fun added to by the fact that they were on a wobbly desk and kept falling over as I tried to draw and paint them.”

From Marion: My favourite pebbles are the second lowest one and the fourth from the top, the nature of which I think stippling suits, giving a lovely sense of their layered, weathered, slab structure.
By Sarah: “Had lots of fun with this. Using walnut ink and a dipping pen, watercolour, Uniball Signo white pen and Coliro M600 (bling). I added my own rock and seaweed from the coast picked up last year. I have thoroughly enjoyed this process and outcome.”

From Marion: Another beautiful painting on that grey paper; starting from a mid-tone rather than white really works for you. I like your composition with the bottom pebble (which was being problematic) cropped, giving the feeling of the scene continuing beyond the edg. My eye is lead up whilst the single pebbles and grouped change the pace.

This was my first painting arranging the pebbles in a grid, done in my sketchbook:

By Marion. Mixed media, 30x30cm.

And my second, done with acrylics on wood panel.

By Marion. 30x30cm, acrylic on wood panel

The extra content I created this month for Project Subscribers on my Patreon page included a three-part explanation of how I painted this: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3.

Remember, it’s never too late to tackle any of the painting projects, or share photos of your paintings. You’ll find a list all the projects here.

April’s Painting Project: Seaweed

This month’s painting project continues the seashore theme of March, focusing in on a detail on a beach rather than a wider view (as in February, August 2020 and June 2019). The reference photo is of some seaweed lying on the mixed black/white sand found on Skye, full of pattern and texture as well as “interesting greys“.

What appeals to me are the different textures, the deep darks in the seaweed, and the muted colours. I think it lends itself to exploring various things:

Transparent/opaque colours: being deliberate about choosing transparent colours to start building up layers of colours to get the sense of the depth and texture in the seaweed, then swapping to opaque colours for the topmost layers such as the grey stems. Use the white of the paper or canvas in the transparent layers rather than mixing in white. Use a thin glaze of opaque white as a layer to give a sense of water over elements.

Mixing colours: aim to mix every single colour, to not use any colour straight from the tube. To desaturate (mute) a colour, mix in a little of its complementary, so for yellows mix in purple. To get “interesting greys”, mixing complementaries together and explore the region of colour space where you’re in greys and browns. (I particularly enjoyed using dioxine purple acrylic inkwith yellows and oranges in my attempts at painting this.)

Granulating watercolour: The sand lends itself to granulating watercolour, where the pigment particles in the watercolour separate out rather and dry as specks of colour rather than smooth colour. Daniel Smith Lunar Black would be my starting point; mixed with any other watercolours it retains its strong granulating properties.

Texture paste: The sand could also be done with some texture paste, and here I’m thinking something with small granules, such as glass beads, or black lava texture paste flooded with fluid colour which will sink inbetween the granules.

Exaggerated colour: As well as working with desaturated colours, explore how far you can push (exaggerate or emphasise) a colour and still have it read as real. Getting the tone right will help this. So if something is a blue-grey, push the blue. If it’s a purple-pink grey, push the purple.

Collage: Using different papers for the seaweeds, torn edges and cut. The ribbon seaweed in particular I think could work well as a cut piece of thin paper.

Abstraction: Move away from representation and realism into abstract, focusing on the shapes and working these into your own patterns. Perhaps using shapes of flat opaque colour in the style of Matisse (see example).

To share your painting of this month’s project, or any previous project (it’s never too late to do any ) in the project photo gallery, simply email it to me on art(a)marion.scot or share it with me on social media. I look forward to seeing the results. For extra project-related content and personal help with your painting, become a project subscriber on Patreon here.

I took the photo on the beach at Staffin; see my blog Shoreline Abstracts for some more photos. For my first attempts at paintings inspired by this reference photo, see Shorelines: Seaweed Video Painting Demo. The photo below was my second attempt, acrylic ink on watercolour paper.

Not a Painting Project for 1st April

I had been thinking about writing up a painting project called “50 Shades of White” for an April Fools, using a photo of Ghost sleeping on the shelf in my studio. I’d put the ‘bubble paper’, which an order of paint/ink had been wrapped in, on the shelf, thinking it could be useful for collage. Next thing he’s on the shelf and fast asleep.

With the whites of Ghost, the roll of paper, the tub of primer (Michael Harding’s non-absorbent acrylic primer, for those curious) and its reflection in my watercolour set, and the whites of the pages of the closed book (volume two of the Matisse biography by Hilary Spurling), and the blacks of the shadows, it could be an interesting challenge. But not one I’m in the mood for right now, hence the thought of doing it as an April Fools’ project.

Then over breakfast this morning, reading various things as I do through an RSS Reader, I came across a long illustrated article on the use of white in art by Vinciane Lacroix titled “Challenge #9 White“, which I thought was far more fun. Even if you’re not in the mood for a long read, I think it’s worth taking a look at the photos of the paintings to refresh our thoughts on white as a colour. And let’s try, as Vinciane says, to “not pass by a white without observing the shades that dress it.

Project Photo Gallery: Shoreline in the Style of Van Gogh

Looking at the drawings and painting and reading the comments, it’s clear a great deal of creative fun and energy was found channelling our inner Van Gogh! (You’ll find the project instructions here and the list of all the projects here.) Also that using the drawing to guide your mark making in the painting can work well, like a roadmap for brushstrokes. Thank you to everyone who’s shared their pieces. Enjoy!

By Caryl D: “The first ink drawing was done with a dip pen and ink. Then I added chalk, gouache and watercolor to the drawing surprising myself when the ink let loose, thinking somehow I was using permanent ink. I had seen a drawing of Van Gogh’s where he used those mediums over his ink sketch.”
By Caryl D
By Caryl D: “Acrylic on canvas board. The paint is a little thin and I don’t like my composition especially how it goes off the left corner in such a straight line. But I like the textural effect. Great exercise and I enjoyed the challenge.”

From Marion: It’d involve a lot of repainting to fix the composition heading into the corner, but you could cut the canvas board before framing to fix it, or possibly peel off the canvas and restick it once the board’s cut. I particularly like the sense of texture on the “hairy rocks”.

By Cathi: Pencil study on A4 mixed media paper
By Cathi: Acrylic on A3. I have had fun trying to simplify impressionistic colours.

From Marion: The blue and yellows feels very Van Gogh to me, not to mention your brushwork in the sky that echoes his famous Starry Night. The swirls in the foreground echo the sky, creating a unity across the composition. I think you should channel your inner Van Gogh more often, especially when you’re thinking you’re working too tightly.

By Gail: “I did this sketch with the idea that I would work from it alone to create the painting since Van Gogh would probably have worked the same way if he could not go back to the beach to complete the work but would have to rely on memory and notes.”
By Gail: “The finished painting doesn’t much resemble the photo but is done from my memory of the photo. It is done in acrylic since I don’t generally work in oil. I laid the paint on thickly as Van Gogh might have done and used black outline in areas. I used directional strokes on the sea weed on the rocks and in the ocean and added the clouds to give the painting a sense of distance as many of Van Gogh’s landscape paintings have a “sky” in them. I really enjoyed this work and it made me appreciate how quickly Van Gogh worked as I did this painting as quickly as I could and had it done within about three hours all together with interruptions and so forth.”

From Marion: I think the drawing serves as a roadmap for a painting, the first stage in translating a scene into paint, getting what’s interesting about a subject. I think it makes painting for more fun too, because we’re not being restrained by consulting the reference photo. That said, I think your painting feels true to the location.

By Karen
By Karen: “I couldn’t find anywhere to slot in a cheeky crow or two but I really enjoyed this project. Nothing like I would normally do but I loved the freedom to throw a bit of paint around! I found the rocky beach difficult but I found a use for the lava paste and liked how it ran when I sprayed water on it.”

From Marion: Delighted you enjoyed yourself! I think working in thicker paint is fun, the way it moves under the brush, the creation of strong brushmarks. You’ve retained a freshness to your colours, rather than moving it all around so much you end up with murky mixtures, which is one of the dangers. There’s a distinctness to the various elements in the composition, which is what I was hoping this project would generate.

By Eddie, ink: “I like to paint in gouache, pastel and oils. I have tended to paint in one medium for several weeks or months then change. I have found that doing this requires a learning curve with each change. From the new year I have done things differently by painting the same picture in each of the media on consecutive days. So far it’s going well and this is what I have done with February’s challenge. The oil might have been easier if I painted in layers but I am also trying to increase what I can do alla prima.”

From Marion: Don’t forget to count ink amongst the mediums you used for February’s project! I have really enjoyed looking at the versions in the different mediums, how each has its own characteristics and types of marks. I’d be hard pushed to pick as favourite as each has something I particularly like.
By Eddie,gouache
By Eddie, pastel
By Eddie, oils

By Sarah: “Interesting morning. I started with the Ink drawing, which I thoroughly enjoyed. Then added the acrylic Ink , not so great . So ended up cutting it apart and put it back together again. Still happier with the Ink drawing.”

From Marion: I think that, much as we’d like to be always on a forwards growth with our art, it’s more circular, that we regularly go backwards and around, gradually going forward. Some pieces won’t work to our satisfaction, but once we let go of the fristration at this (easier said than done), we do learn from it. In this case, how much you enjoy a drawing with just ink.
By Sarah

By Bee: Ink on paper

From Marion: I think I’d crop in tighter to reduce the amount of negative space, which I feel unbalances the composition, in from the left to where the rocks start, and in from the top to beneath the ink lines in the sea. Try it with a piece of card first, before you cut it.

By Julie: “I was deliberately tight in this drawing as I plan to try to use it as a basis of a print. It is controlled and each mark consciously made, and with an attempt to use different marks to represent various textures and shapes. I used a pen with a nib, dipping it into undiluted and diluted sepia ink. I tried to vary the shapes of the marks by varying the pressure and angle on the nib.”
By Julie, dry-point print: “I did three prints of the Van Gogh-style shoreline drawing I completed earlier. I have done very little print making, but It was a fun exercise, and much learned. They are dry point prints made by using a plastic etching plate, so I was able to see my drawing underneath. I would have liked to have controlled the plate tone a little better, as well as making more marks to create darker areas.”

From Marion: I think there’s a greater fluidity in the lines in your print than your drawing, a freedom that’s come from having already decided what’s important in the reference photo and where what kind of mark is to go. Printmaking has a magic all of its own, not least that moment you lift up the sheet of paper to see the result!
By Julie, dry-point print
By Julie, dry-point print

And because it’s never too late to submit photos for any of the projects, here’s one for January 2021 Eggshells project.

By Barbara H: As a novice, I tried to keep it simple. I used watercolors, charcoal, and a dab of acrylic. I enjoyed the process of studying the cracked shells and getting them on paper.  I call this “Eggshell road”.

From Marion: I did several versions, both ink drawings and paintings, some more successful than others. I’m not sharing the total dud, though I haven’t ripped it up just yet.

Black ink. I like this drawing most because I’ve got varied mark making but also lighter and darker marks created by changing the angle of the pen.
Marion Boddy-Evans, mixed media on A3 watercolour paper. This was the loosest of my paintings. I like it because it’s verging towards abstract, leaving a lot to your imagination to fill in.
Marion Boddy-Evans Oil paint over Payne’s grey acrylic ink on wood panel (A1 size, or 594x841mm). These two were the last ones I did, developed out of all the previous attempts, and I am very pleased with them. I like the combination of line and colour, and that I managed to retain the colour and grain in the wood in areas. Also that I did decide to not include a horizon line (to eliminate the sky), so it’s a composition about what I see when I’m looking down.

Drawing with Dots

I have been thinking about the patterns in the sand on the beach (see my blog Photos: Seashore Abstracts) which led to thoughts about what a pattern transfer wheel might do, how it might give a line of dots in a painting on paper. These photos are from my first experiments with this idea, starting in my sketchbook and then on 350gsm watercolour paper.

Pricking holes in a drawing is a very old technique used to transfer a drawing onto another surface by making tiny holes in it and then dusting chalk or charcoal through the holes. In artspeak it’s called pouncing. (And another bit of art trivia: a full-sized drawing used for pouncing is called a cartoon. ) You can do it with a pin, but that’ll test my patience.

I tried running the wheel across the paper before I painted and while the watercolour was wet. The latter was more successful, possibly because the damp paper indented more. It “works” by the pigment collecting in the holes, making them darker in colour. (If you don’t see the short video below, click here to see it on my Vimeo page.)

Going back and forth, whilst rotating to the side, created a pattern that fanned out. Perhaps a little regular, but that would be easy to resolve by lifting the tool and repositioning it slightly.

Pressing hard resulted in holes in the paper in my sketchbook. Well, it is what the tool’s designed to do! This wasn’t unexpected, and opens up different possibilities (think: drawing with holes rather than dots).

After playing in my sketchbook for a bit, I decided to have a go at a ‘real picture’ and got out a piece of 350gsm paper. Being quite a thick paper, I was able to press quite hard without making holes through the paper.

I used it both before and after I applied the watercolour, and it definitely works better afterwards. The colour I’m using for the sand is a granulating watercolour, so it’ll dry ‘dotty’ anyway. What the pattern wheel has done is introduce pattern into it that I can control.

Watersoluble ink and watercolour
Studio cat helped, but fortunately his paws were dry!

The above was done on a piece I cut from an A3 sheet of watercolour. Last year the in-house art critic bought me a fabulous safety ruler that eliminates the worry of the knife slipping and my cutting my fingers. (When we were living in London many moons ago, the in-house art critic once offered to cut a cardboard mount for me which ended up with a trip to ER on the bus, and stitches.) He also bought me a beautiful orange craft knife, because being in love with your tools makes them easier to use, and a sharp blade is safer than a blunt one.