Yesterday I caught the ferry from Uig to Tarbert to deliver a painting, being met at the terminal because the ferry turns around rapidly, 20 minutes between scheduled arrival and departure. It was a nary-a-cloud-in-the-sky day with glorious sunshine, albeit wish-I’d-remembered-my-gloves cold.
“In traditional water-ink [Chinese] painting, the artist often uses a shifting perspective so that the eye travels from one place to another and the viewer feels like a traveller moving through the painting. — Sungsook Hong Setton, “The Spirit of the Brush“*, page 68
If you struggle with perspective and are fedup with bumping your head against it, have you considered using a perspective tradition from a different style of painting? Earlier styles of European painting, pre-Renaissance, didn’t do vanishing points and horizon lines and vantage points aka linear perspective. 20th century modern art abandoned it. Chinese and Japanese art traditionally never used it. Between all the options lies your truth.
I heard today from Higham Hall that my April workshop is fully booked! I’m looking forward to it and am sure we’re going to have as much fun as last year. If you missed a spot on that, the good news is that I’ve a new workshop at Skyeworks Gallery in April (and in September), part of the gallery’s new Art Retreats, which gives the option of a price including tuition, accommodation, breakfast and lunch at The Isle of Skye Baking Company.
Sketch to Studio on Skye
2 to 6 April 2018
17 to 21 September 2018
Exploring ways to gather reference material on location (including sketching and photography) which we will then use to develop paintings in the studio at Skyeworks.
Skyeworks Art Retreat prices: including tuition, accommodation (shared house within short walking distance), breakfast, lunch and welcome dinner, basic materials £795. Art Retreat including tuition and basic materials only £450. Email me on art(a)marion.scot if you’re interested and I’ll put you in touch with the gallery.
I’m also doing another “Capturing Skye” workshop at Higham Hall in November, which isn’t up on their website yet but you can contact them to register an interest and be amongst the first to get the details. This one is mixed media, so an excuse to dig out all those supplies you don’t often use or have been too intimidated to try.
This word prompt chart for February comes from Issie. Once again, fun to look across the squares, noticing all sorts of things, such as the apple (12 apple core) being a green apple rather than red. I think my favourite blocks are 22 Cheese and 26 Spoon.
Now to the surprise: I’ve decided to create a a printed book version of 365 word prompts, on paper that would take pencil, coloured pencil, or not-too-wet paint. It will be A5 size, 56 pages, and wirobound so it opens flat. The paper will be 170gsm uncoated, the same as in my updated Pocket Muse. My thought is that this way you have a journal of your drawings all in one place. It should be ready early April, but you can pre-order a copy, for a special pre-publication price, here.
And one from Tessa, who says: “I have attached my Feb word prompts. Stella my dog (sadly no longer with us) appeared several times. Studio cat and some of the words were the prompts. I found myself extending ideas out of the box and linking ideas between boxes. Again fun to do.”
I love that your sandwich has a bite out of the middle Stacey, and the ball Stella’s chasing being outside the grid Tessa. Once again, it’s fun seeing what each block/word has prompted. My thanks to you both for sharing!
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:
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:
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 :
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.
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.
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.)
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.
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.