Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Another Hahnemuhle experiment

Our art group's Monday evening theme was "Time".  We've had a few days of exceptionally hot weather here and only a handful of us turned up.  As it happened, the temperature in the village hall was very pleasant, with all the windows and doors open, a welcome breeze keeping us cool and the gentle lowing of the cattle in the adjacent field.

I was a bit stumped for a subject - not wanting to use the theme of clocks.  In the end I decided to try a different version of the plein air drawing I did at the beginning of this month - The Mechanics Institute, which has fallen into disrepair and has a very uncertain future.

On the Hahnemuhle Britannia watercolour paper, I applied a background of well diluted acrylic inks (red earth and purple lake).  The drawing was transferred using an Edding Profipen, then the surface was randomly lino printed with white gesso - I wanted texture, but it needed to be more subtle than my previous attempt (above).  Several layers of watercolour were added, then I resorted to some Anilinky paints by Koh-i-Nor which I have had hanging around for ages - these produce strong colours, but I am not sure of their permanence.  The foreground foliage wasn't working and in my impatience I scribbled over it with a black Posca pen making it even worse!  An off-white Posca pen helped to cover up the black, topped by some white Anilinky paint before re-colouring the area.

The Hahnemuhle paper didn't buckle at all, and the surface stood up excellently, despite the amount of over-working I subjected it to.

Approx. 9" x 7"

Thursday, 15 June 2017

Hidcote Manor Gardens

A glorious day out visiting this National Trust property in Gloucestershire - an Arts and Crafts garden comprising over 20 different garden "rooms", borders and lawns.

It was a riot of colour and there was so much to see, but I did manage a couple of quick pen sketches to which I added watercolour later at home.

One of two small pavilions at the end of the Red Borders
Access to these little buildings was not possible as they were undergoing conservation work, (I left out the workmen's bags of cement, buckets etc.).

Thatched barn in the courtyard

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Hahnemuhle watercolour paper

Hahnemuhle 140 lbs rough watercolour paper
A few of weeks ago, I made a start on testing out this watercolour paper, but other things got in the way and I completely forgot about it until yesterday.

Watercolour trials
I didn't like the way my background turned out on the small composition on the right, so I had  covered the original colours with white gesso, just retaining the flower heads - awaiting inspiration on how to continue.  Rediscovering it last night, I thought I might as well "go for broke" and see if anything could be done with it.  I started to rework the background with more watercolour washes, painting negatively around the leaf shapes.

Water splashed and blotted in the background washes to add texture,
I also tried out some gel pens and watercolour markers

I think this is as far as I am going to go with this experiment
(or should I try some pastel on top of it next??)
Despite a rather messy outcome, I really enjoyed using this Hahnemuhle paper.  The watercolours retained their brilliance, the paper stood up well to the various media used and the rough texture in no way overpowered the subject matter.  A "thumbs up" from me!

Monday, 5 June 2017

June Sketch Outing

This month we met up at the Glue Pot pub in Swindon's historic Railway Village.  The village was built 170 years ago to house the families of the employees of Brunel's famous Swindon Railway Works.  We were able to sit outside in the sun and sketch some of the surrounding buildings.

A warm-up sketch of The Platform

The Platform is currently used as a Youth Centre and community venue, but was originally called The Barracks and provided lodging for single male railway workers in Brunel's day.  However, in the late 1800's it was converted into a Wesleyan Chapel, and in more recent years served as a museum.

The Mechanics Institute - pen on gesso printed background
A while ago I had randomly printed some foam stamps on a page of my Hahnemuhle Grey Book - I thought this might provide an interesting background for this sketch.  I used a fine pen which doesn't show up very well on the page, so later at home I added further penwork and some watercolour washes in an attempt to bring out the subject.

Further penwork and light watercolour washes
This building has been derelict for quite some years, with windows broken and boarded up, so I took the liberty of re-instating these after researching old photos.  There is much local interest in restoring this building to its former glory, but it is all a question of finding the necessary money.

Sunday, 4 June 2017

Paper flowers

Playing around with card, paper and paint and following some Youtube instructions on making paper flowers - just for fun.

The two flowers on the left were made from thin card, the central four from copy paper and the one on the right from painted tissue. All the leaves were cut from my scraps of painted papers.

Sunday, 28 May 2017

Mini Collage Book

I have finally completed my mini collage book. I didn't start off with any particular theme in mind, except that I used pages from a paperback printed in a Far Eastern language as the base for each collage.

To recap: the book measures 4” x 5”, using black paper with a glued spine. The covers have been collaged with book pages, teabag paper, leaves, printed tissue, gesso and a postage stamp. A printed paper band acts as a closure.

The 17 collages measure 3” x 4” and utilise the small sample pads of paper sent to me by Hahnemuhle. These were coated with gesso on both sides then collaged with book pages, printed tissue, teabag paper, stamps and tiny sketches, with varying additions of paint, ink, pencil, texture paste, fabric and thread. Instead of gluing the collages into the book, I used transparent photo corners which worked quite well.

The final four collages

The completed book

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Print workshop

At our local art group meeting last night, six of us set up tables around the hall with materials and examples of our individual printing techniques, with colleagues able to browse, watch mini demonstrations and ask questions.  We had lino printing, gelli printing for collage, Japanese woodblock, pastel painting with handcut stencils, inkjet and laser print transfers. It was a very successful and interesting evening, but unfortunately I was so busy with my display, in addition to trying to get a quick glimpse of what everyone else was doing, I completely forgot to take photos for our website write up.  I am hoping those participating will send me some notes and photos so I can rectify the matter. (Additional notes and images have been added here.)

My set-up included lino and Softcut, as well as handmade foam stamps, paste grain papers, printed tissue, mulberry and drawing paper which I use for cards, artists books and collage.

Sample papers, printing blocks and tools
Booklets and cards using handmade printed papers

Saturday, 6 May 2017

May sketch outing

This Saturday, nine of the Swindon Sketch Group met at the town's Queen's Park with most of us working around the pond area in front of the cafe. After completing my quick sketch of the bridge and surrounds I wandered off to find another subject.

The Secret Garden (originally the Rose Garden), is now a community run garden with raised beds for both vegetables and flowering plants. It was sheltered and warm and I found a clump of creamy white aquilegia* to sketch. I was approached by a lady who was gardening in one of the areas and she commented - “I saw you with a notebook and thought you were from Britain in Bloom”!

*According to Wikipedia, the genus name Aquilegia is derived from the Latin word for eagle (aquila), the flower petals resembling an eagle's claw; the common name “columbine” (Latin for “dove”) is due to the resemblance of the inverted flower to five doves clustered together.

Both these sketches were done in the Hahnemuhle Grey Book, hence the need to use white gouache to highlight lighter areas.

The Bridge over the Pond - pen and wash plus white gouache

Aquilegia studies - pencil and watercolour plus white gouache

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Mini collage book

Four more mini collages to add to the collection:

I have made a small glued spine book for these and, rather than stick the collages to the pages, I have used photo corners. The book measures approx. 4" x 5" and due to the thickness of the inserts I made a paper band to keep it closed.  To date there 13 collages and I still have four more pages to fill.

Collaged front and back covers  
Front cover and paper band closure

Inside view

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Pen and wash sketches on Hahnemuhle paper

With the theme of this month's art group evening meeting being "pen and wash" I took the opportunity to try out the Hahnemuhle Britannia hot pressed watercolour paper.  Rather than attempt a detailed painting, I decided to use slightly different media with three different sketches.

I used very wet washes of watercolour and the paper relaxed a little, but soon flattened as it dried.  I was able to add several subsequent washes in places, as well as lift colour easily without any adverse affect on the paper, and the colours stayed bright.

These three sketches are approximately 6" x 4", the images were from plein air sketches I had completed quite some years ago.

This is pencil and wash, rather than pen and wash
Black Pentel brush pen and watercolour

Rotring Art Pen (with water soluble sepia ink),
brown Graphik Line Painter and watercolour

Monday, 17 April 2017

Weird Wiltshire

We visited a small local museum last week to see an exhibition entitled "Weird Wiltshire" - a very interesting variety of work by local artists, including paintings, sculpture, mosaics, jewellery etc. There were certainly plenty of themes to explore as the county is noted for its ancient burial mounds,  the stone circles at Avebury and Stonehenge, huge figures of white horses cut into chalk hillsides and an abundance of crop circles appearing during the summer months.

I was intrigued by the impressive 6 metre tall figure of St. George which towered above the
museum gardens - a must for a quick photo and a sketch to be added to my journal later in the day.

Pencil and watercolour

Sunday, 9 April 2017

More mini collages

A few more mini collages on the Hahnemuhle 3" x 4" sample paper.  These are great to make when I only have a limited amount of time in my art space or have no larger art project on the go.  Again, scraps of hand printed tissue, book pages, lino prints, odd sketchbook drawings, postage stamps, fabric oddments, texture paste, gesso, acrylic paint, coloured pencil, gel pens.  Anything goes!

Another sample sheet from Hahnemuhle - Akademie watercolour paper "Britannia" - on which I have tried out watercolour paints, watercolour markers and a couple of small ink and gouache resist images. These all worked well and I was particularly pleased that the latter came out so well - I have tried this technique on Bockingford paper, but when I washed off the gouache all the ink went as well and I was left with almost blank piece of paper - all that work down the drain!

Tuesday, 4 April 2017

April Sketch Outing

The forecast was "cloudy with rain later", but we had beautiful sunshine for this month's outing in Old Town Gardens.  The bandstand was surrounded with a glorious display of white magnolias and there were plenty of seats from which to work.  The nearby kiosk kept us supplied with hot drinks, "bacon butties" or sweet snacks - a perfect sketching location.

I worked in the Hahnemuhle grey sketchbook for my attempt at the bandstand, using a black (nearly dry) Pentel brush pen, watercolour markers in blue and burnt sienna with a light touch of watercolour. Later at home, I did some more work on it, adding white highlights with gel pen and gouache.

The Bandstand, Old Town Gardens

I only managed to complete the kiosk on site, the background was added later from my photograph.

The Kiosk, Old Town Gardens
Pen and wash on watercolour paper

A couple of us finished off the day by visiting Swindon Museum and Art Gallery to view an exhibition of paintings donated in the mid-1900's by a local landowner - these included works by Graham Sutherland, Ben Nicholson, LS Lowry and Henry Moore.  

Monday, 27 March 2017

Peony fold book

Another fold book recently made as a birthday card.  In my haste to get this ready for the next morning's post, I photographed the finished booklet under artificial light so the result was not very successful.  I will have to construct a small light box in order to get better pictures of 3D items.

Black paper printed using foam stamps, gesso and acrylic

The flowers over-painted with fluid acrylics

The final 4" x 6" booklet 

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Hahnemuhle Bristol card

Another quick test on an off-cut of the Hahnemuhle Bristol card.  This is really nice to work on with pencil, ink, pens and the watercolour markers.  I also tried out a variety of coloured pencils - I don't think it is really intended for these as the paper is so smooth and it was difficult to get any depth of colour, but some of the softer makes could be used.

I also used a soft eraser to remove some of the graphite marks and this was achieved quite cleanly, with no visible adverse affect on the appearance or surface texture of the paper.

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Mini collages

Included in my parcels from Hahnemuhle were several small 3" x 4" sample paper pads.  There is no indication of which type of paper, but it is not very thick - I imagine a drawing paper.  Having recently watched a Youtube video by Caterina Giglio I thought I would follow her example and play around with some my art scraps to make some tiny collages.

The materials used include gesso, texture paste, handpainted and printed papers, teabag paper, lino and foam stamp prints, crayon rubbings, book pages, acrylic paint and ink, watercolour pencil, postage stamps, sketched images and fabric scraps.

It is quite addictive - not sure what I am going to do with them, but they might end up in some form of book.

Thursday, 9 March 2017

Hahnemuhle Bristol card

Time to test out another of Hahnemuhle's products.  The Bristol A4 pad I have contains 20 sheets of 120 lbs card and indicates it is "Suitable for pencil, Indian ink, pen fineliner, airbrush and acrylic marker.  Bright white, smooth surface, high opacity.  Resistant to erasure, exceptional cutting and printing properties."  I believe its main function is intended for graphic design and illustration.

I decided to start by using some of my handmade stamps, printing with gesso tinted with fluid acrylics.  Once dry, I tried out a combination of dip pen with acrylic ink, a Pitt artist pen and a metallic gel pen for additional line work.  These all worked very well on the smooth surface.  My intention was to make a small fold book, but I hadn't made allowance for the thickness of the card which didn't lend itself to a multi-fold structure - however, it would be ideal for a single fold or concertina style card.

Tuesday, 7 March 2017

March sketch outing

With the weather still unpredictable, the Swindon sketching group met last Saturday in the Brunel shopping centre which was very crowded.  We decided to try the upper floor, which was a bit quieter, but security banned us from any photography or sketching people, so we had to content ourselves with shop window displays or architecture.  In addition, seating was limited (and no sitting on the floor allowed!) so most of us had to work standing up.

I took the opportunity to practice my figure drawing using the mannequins in the window displays - at least they didn't move.

Luckily, we were able to end the morning with all ten of us seated together for a coffee/lunch break - a chance to exchange ideas and share our work.

Pitt Pen drawings in A5 sketchbook
A few more contributions from the rest of the group (photos taken by organiser Jo Beal):