Sketching at Cullen & Gardenstown (On the North Sea Coast Part 3)

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.

Photos: On the North Sea Coast (Part 1)
Sketching at Bow Fiddle Rock (On the North Sea Coast Part 2)

Monday Motivator: Mindful and Mindfilling Painting

Monday motivator art quotes

“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.

New Sharp Pointy Ends

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*.

Right to left: Evergreen, Shiraz, Ivory, and an Extended Point, which doesn’t come as a long handle.

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.

Happiness is.

* A big thank you to you-know-who-you-are for you-know-what that brought me these.

Check a Composition by the Painting’s Title

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:

Go North: A Painting Looking Towards the Shiant Islands

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.

“Go North”. 100x100cm (39×39″). In my studio £795.
Go North Shiant Islands Seascape

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:

wip shiant painting detail 2
wip shiant painting detail 3
wip shiant painting

Photos: Spring Greens

uig woodland backlit leaves

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:

spring blossom
primrose
uig woodland backlit leaves
uig woodland spring pine growth
uig woodland ferns
tree lichen
tree tall and cut
(This is a managed woodland; when the sections of this tree were still lying on the ground you could see how how the trunk was disintegrating.)
uig woodland crag tree from below
uig woodland gate
reflected trees in stream
river rapid
river ripples
uig woodland backlit leaves
Just an ordinary day, taking a sheep skull for a walk.
sheep skull
Where I found the sheep’s skull. What you can’t see is that it’s on the other side of the stream. The water wasn’t as cold as I feared and I somehow managed not to fall in.
river rha falls spring19
uig river rha colours green water
What colour is water in a stream?
river rha green bank colours
How many shades of green do we need?
tree gorse uig
spot the tractor
Spot the tractor. Clue: it’s one with a canopy and mirrors. Full disclosure: I saw it only when it came around the corner towards me, after I’d taken this photo.
gorse church ruin
rocks green camus mor
hole yellow lichen
yellow lichen sea wall
yellow lichen seashore
uig woodland stream hole wall
uig pier through reeds
Uig pier through the reeds
rope anchor rust
Rope on a huge anchor that washed up on the shore at the Uig woodland and has been pulled further up.

Photos: Uig Pier

uig pier pair buoys

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.

uig pier yellow rust
uig pier detail
uig pier ladder
boat rail detail
uig pier pile nets yellow buoy
uig pier chain
creel rope txtures
buoy creels uig pier 2
creel rope buoy uig pier
creel shadows
uig pier creels jetty
uig pier three buoys
uig pier pair buoys

Monday Motivator: Finding Solitude

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

“…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.