Drawing (Neist Point) with One Ink Colour

Is it a drawing, is it a painting? Did it start as a drawing and become a painting when I added water to the ink? I don’t know, and don’t believe it matters. What’s of more interest to me was that this afternoon, after days of exploring new watercolour colours, I felt like using “black” ink only. Maybe it was a side effect of a grey-skies day.

It’s not black though, it’s Payne’s grey*, a dark blue-grey that I find has got more rich depth than straight black.

The subject is Neist Point, the westerly most point of Skye, punctuated with a lighthouse. I was working from memory with one of my reference photos (in the booklet of photos I use for my workshops) to hand to remind me of shapes. I’m using acrylic ink, and the dropper as a drawing tool.

You can’t easily make it out in the photo but there are some composition lines I drew using a non-photo blue pencil before picking up the ink. It meant I could concentrate on getting the ink drawing done fast enough that some would still be wet enough to spread into the sea area when I dampened this. (If I were to do composition and ink simultaneously, it would split my attention and lengthen the drawing time.)

Line only at this stage, on dry paper (350gsm Not watercolour paper).

And here’s where I got so caught up in what I was doing that I forgot to take photos. So between the previous photo and the next the caption reads “Draw the rest of the #@&%! owl”**

Once I’d worked my way down to the foreground (it’s a cliff edge from which you can see the lighthouse), I made my way back across the drawing with line a little. Then I wet the sea area with clean water, taking care not to touch any of the ink yet.

I needed the sea area to all be damp so I wouldn’t get any hard dry edges (except on the horizon) when I started spreading the ink into the sea. I then carefully ran a damp brush along the edge of the ink line to connect it to the damp paper. Areas of still-wet ink spread out, and I brushed it outwards too.

Where there wasn’t enough ink, I used the brush to ‘borrow’ some from other areas. Where there was too much, I dabbed at it with paper towel. Brush wiped and dunked in clean water periodically too. At full strength this ink colour is very dark; thinned it’s a beautiful blue-grey.

I could add colour, such as the greens of the grass, but I won’t. That’s a different painting.

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*Payne’s Grey is named after a British watercolourist and art lecturer, William Payne (1760–1830), who recommended the mixture to students as a more subtle alternative to a gray mixed from black and white. Payne’s grey originally was “a mixture of lake, raw sienna and indigo” according to “Artist’s Pigments: c.1600-1835” (by RD Harley, Archetype Publications, 2001, page 163). What’s in it these days varies between manufacturers, typically a blue and a black together, sometimes a touch of red is added.

**A meme from a few years ago on how to draw an owl in two steps, the first being two circles and the second a detailed owl drawing.

The Social Media Studio Photo vs Reality

Organised and uncluttered, everything in its place, plenty of white space, surface area to my heart’s content. Judicious cropping of photos can make my studio seem this way.

Like this photo of new-to-me Daniel Smith watercolour colours bought at Patchings Art Festival just put into a tin:

Or this slightly wider shot showing the painting I’ve been doing with mostly these colours, based on a shot of the Trotternish Ridge in my reference-photo booklet.

A photo of where I’ve left the painting to dry so I can add another layer to it, gently hints of things happening beyond the edges:

In reality I inevitably clutter up my work surface as I play with different materials and pieces, and end up squeezing a sheet of paper in. Multiple options to hand allow me to swap between watercolour, coloured pencil and acrylic ink at whim, feeding my current mixed media enjoyment. White surface space will reappear next Blue Moon tidy up.

What about you? Tidy or chaotic or a bit of both?

Was it Sepia or Payne’s? (Plus Another Word Prompt Chart)

icy seascape

A key moment in this little seascape, which I finished yesterday and an very pleased with, was through happenstance.
icy seascape

I had a bit of dark acrylic ink on a brush from another painting I was working on that I didn’t want to waste, so impulsively applied it to the texture paste of base the mountains and foreground, then put it aside again. Next day I noticed and loved the result. (I later added some lighter tones on top.)

But I can’t remember now if it were sepia or Payne’s grey, and so will have to try both. Maybe it was a bit of both? I know these two colours are the only possibilities because these ink bottles were on the table next to my palette — I tend to have only those colours I’m using on the top. It’s not a problem, but an excuse to play with colour to figure out how to do it again. It was also a reminder of the joys of glazing vs opaque paint.

And here’s another June Word Prompts Chart, from Tessa who says: “I like the way one idea generates another and I find links between the boxes. I quite like doing a catch-up batch. I enjoy doing them in pen with dashes of colour.”

Word Prompts Tessa June
by Tessa

I particularly like the way you’ve combined 5 Snake and 6 Danger Tessa!

Location Sketching Influencing My Studio Painting

A question that came up with the group of pleinair painters from the US who were on an art retreat on Skye last week was how I thought my on-location painting would relate to or influence my studio work. My answer was (paraphrasing) that I had no idea but I imagined it would be roundabout not directly connected.

Wrong! Sunday was my first “normal” studio day for a fortnight, and when I picked up a little painting to complete it, I found myself reaching for the Payne’s grey acrylic ink I’ve had so much fun using for location sketching. The painting ended up quite different to where it was — more intense colour and strong black (or rather, Payne’s grey).

Dabbing off areas with excessive ink
Red earth ink added
Iridescent green and yellow inks added. (Iridescent simply because I had them to hand.)
Adding white ink with a rigger brush in the sea. I also added blue to the sea, and raised the horizon line slightly so I could include some sea to the left of the sea stack.
As it was when I left it to dry overnight. I was liking where it was.

I still liked it in the morning, and have found myself continuing to reach almost entirely for my acrylic ink.

Photos: Being a Troll (aka Painting Under the Slig Bridge)

Painted on location at Sligachan with a group of painters on an art retreat today. When we arrived, the peaks were hiding behind cloud, but they revealed themselves in the afternoon. The river was really low after all this dry weather, so I started at a spot under the modern bridge out of the breeze. The view of the underneath of the bridge and its reflection was tempting, but I decided to save that geometric abstract for another day and stick with my intended focus, the old bridge. Later I moved upstream to amongst beautiful water-polished rocks. (Materials: Payne’s grey and a yellow acrylic ink, watercolour, on 350g paper.)

Artist Michael Chelsey Johnson

A Bit More Than a Month of ‘Thinking Time’ (Plus an Afternoon) to Finish a Painting

Part of the reason it’s hard to answer the “how long did it take to paint” question is because of ‘thinking time’. When I’m thinking about a painting, about what I need to do or might do (or wish I hadn’t done!), but not standing brush in hand and paint on palette in front of it.

It came to mind today when I finished this painting which had been waiting more than five weeks for me to feel brave enough to tackle a few small changes and additions as well as add more glazes to finish the sky. My main hesitation point was my doubts about matching the blue in the stream, but in the end I was right with my first guess, cerulean.

For a bit I used the excuse of getting ready for my workshop at Higham Hall to not finish this painting, then the excuse of a bit of R&R after teaching the workshop, then I got sidetracked by an idea, and then today I suddenly felt up to it.

Being hot meant things dried quickly (acrylics at 21°C is quite different to it at 10°C!) and I had to just get on with it. I think I have finished it, besides varnishing, and choosing a title, and stringing, and photographing properly. But those can wait a bit still.

Diptych. 120x80cm.

Move the Moon or the Reflection?

I tried painting my way through a Category Four headache today, but looking at the results I definitely lost the plot. That moon is not sitting on top of its reflection. Oops.

Here’s a photo showing today’s starting and ending points:

So do I move the reflection (by repainting sea blues) or move the Moon (which will entail repainting the sky as it’s layered colour not solid)? Or, as the in-house critic’s suggested, enlarge the Moon to the left (which means just repainting the Moon).

On My Easel: The Two Sheep Without a Name

Strictly speaking, just off my easel rather than still on, lying on a shelf to dry out of “I’ll just tweak it” reach, is this new sheep painting that still needs a title. Any suggestions? (It’s 70x60cm in case you’re wondering.)

Here it is as it was when I downed brushes yesterday, along with another work-in-progress that’s texture-paste sheep added to a seascape that had gone awry and needed a drastic change (I put them together like this so I would see both on re-entering my studio):

And here it is when the first round was finished, with fluid paint running down still-wet texture paste.

Apologies, there are no other in-between photos as I forgot to take any! Needless to say, there were several layers of paint between the start and finish.

Fake Cloud (or why you need to leave things out of a landscape painting)

Picturesque cloud stretching high above, a sea of calm grey-blue rhythms, and parts of the band of islands that is the Outer Hebrides. As paintable as it comes.

Except for one thing. And I don’t mean the patch of pines poking in on the left.

It’s that improbable bit of sun-light cloud on top of the island.

Solutions:
1. Leave it out if you know the shape of the island.
2. Omit the sunshine on it if you don’t.

Four More Little Goldfish

Four little goldfish paintings

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.

Four little goldfish paintings

Here they are in Skyeworks, plus my other three fish paintings done on canvas:
Paintings at Fish Exhibition at Skyeworks by Marion Boddy-Evans

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.

Little goldfish paintings

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).