“Painting, is just getting one spot of colour in relation to another spot … Let colour make form, do not make form and colour it.”
Charles Hawthorne, “On Painting”
Just join the dots.
Boats and architecture are not something I sketch. All that perspective and stuff … which I can do it if I spend a lot of time but for me that’s not a recipe for relaxed drawing at the seaside. But I so want to pull the ideas that include these subjects out of my head and onto paper, and sketching would be the starting point. So I didn’t bother trying to get it right, but focused instead on enjoying the patterns of walls, roofs, chimneys and, at Cullen, the viaduct. I consider these as fear-conquering sketches, first steps on a journey.
The two sketchbooks I used were an A4 size with 350gsm watercolour paper from Seawhite, and A3-width Derwent panoramic with 160gsm smooth drawing paper that didn’t like rain drops at all but does has a useful elastic to hold down pages.
“When you paint, don’t just pay attention to the subject before you but expand your awareness to include the thoughts that drive your brush.”
Michael Chelsey Johnson
One of the myriad reasons I love painting is that it’s mind filling: it has the ability to occupy every part of my mind, stimulating and stilling simultaneously. It’s the combination of tactile and mental, the comfort of familiar and the discomfort of a fresh challenge against myself.
Happiness is … three new rigger brushes, each with different hairs, plus one that’s like a rigger with the belly of a round brush. Don’t imagine the brush handles will stay as pristine as this for very long, but what I do know is that the brushes will keep their points for a good while. The riggers they’re replacing have been worn down a bit through use, and will now permanently live in my “workshop brushes” box rather than going in and out each time. The fourth one is a treat*.
According to Rosemary & Co’s website, the extended point was created for watercolourist Sandra Strohschein to “act a rigger but with a reservoir ‘belly’ to enable the retention of a good volume of liquid thus allowing painting for a long time without the need to ‘re-load’ the brush.” I went for the smallest one, because I want fine lines and because the bigger ones cost a fair bit.
After playing a bit with the three different rigger brushes (the spirals to the right in the photo above), seeing what differences there were between the hairs (stiffest is Ivory, softest Everygreen, the Shiraz hairs keep together best), I then played with my new potbelly brush. It certainly makes beautifully fine lines, and if the paint is fluid and loaded in the belly the line does go on and on and on beautifully.
But I’ll need to be using a different watercolour palette with this brush, as trying to load it from my half-pans is not exactly kind to the brush.
Painting below was done with this new brush and a small flat one (lying on the table).
Pulling the brush through still-wet paint … just the kind of mark I’m after for the sense of winter trees with bare branches. There’s a short video of my doing it here.
* A big thank you to you-know-who-you-are for you-know-what that brought me these.
Sunday morning, studio cat Ghost and I are sitting in the chair listening to Beethoven’s ninth and the birdsong, reading a ‘new’ book that arrived from a secondhand bookshop in the States.
I like these older books because they tend to have more in them, more thoughts and less how-to broken down to the nth. While the photos may be black and white, they’re full of gems that require “reading with a pencil”. Like this:
Sitting in the sunshine at the shore looking out across the bay towards the Shiant Isles, that’s the inspiration behind this painting. It’s somewhere I often sketch, but haven’t done as a painting on a large canvas for some time.
If you’re wondering about the colour differences between these two photos, one was taken on my phone camera and the other on my SLR (“proper”) camera. In terms of which colour is truer to the original, it’s the first, but neither is perfect. What you see in a painting done with texture and multiple layers of paint changes with the light conditions too.
Here are a few work-in-progress photos from this painting:
As well as Uig Pier (see photos), I also wandered through Uig woodland and went up to the slipway at Camus Mor with my “proper camera”. These are my favourite photos from there:
I wandered around a bit with my camera yesterday, at one point along Uig Pier. Looking through my photos to pick favourite, I definitely seem to have been in an abstract/details mood.
“…solitude is a ‘state of mind,’ a spiritual condition, not necessarily a physical one.”
Austin Kleon On solitude, and being who you are
We share a journey, a destination, provide one other with help, encouragement, motivation, direction, rest, but in every workshop I’ve taught or been on there are moments of intense silence when we’re all alone with our painting. Call it “in the zone”, call it “the muse whispering in your ear”, it’s a state of mind that can bring results that suprise and delight.