Thursday, 17 August 2017

Sketch Outing to Kelmscott Manor

At last, a promising weather forecast for our sketch outing yesterday.  Eight of us met up for coffee and then set off down narrow country lanes to find Kelmscott Manor, a 17th century house situated in The Cotswolds near the upper reaches of the Thames.  Purchased in 1871, this was the summer home for the Arts and Crafts Movement textile designer, artist and writer, William Morris, and his family.

We made the most of the sun and spent all our time outside, but the interior is well worth a visit as it is decorated with William Morris wallpapers, furnishing fabrics and embroideries (by his wife and daughters), together with examples of the paintings and drawings of Dante Gabriel Rossetti who shared the house with them for some years.

Both images in the grey Hahnemuhle sketchbook - pen
watercolour and gouache

Saturday, 12 August 2017

A visit to Bowood

After a very wet start to the week, we were lucky to have good weather for our visit to the Bowood estate on Thursday.  This is a National Trust property with the spectacular grounds and lake, covering some 100 acres, designed by Lancelot "Capability" Brown in the late 1700's.

We were enjoying the sun so much, we didn't have enough time to take a tour of the house, so I missed out on the opportunity to view a famed collection of early English watercolours.

My journal sketch of the boathouse on the lake was done later at home from one of my photos.

Pen and wash (approx 3" x 3")

Saturday, 5 August 2017

Station sketch outing

One of our urban sketching members organised a morning at Swindon Railway Station. We were limited to ten members, given visitor passes and made very welcome by all staff.

The building on the north platform was particularly interesting, despite the fact that it was partially obscured by scaffolding, and a few of us chose to draw this.  I have since found out that the exterior has remained more or less intact since it was built to Brunel's design in the early 1800s, with the original decorative cast-iron columns still supporting an old-style wooden canopy.  Now designated a Grade II listed building, I suppose the scaffolding was evidence that some much needed restoration work was being undertaken.

Swindon Station - platform building - pen and wash
over mixed media background in Hahnemuhle Grey Book
 I chose to ignore the scaffolding and building paraphernalia - too confusing!

Train guard - pen and wash

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

Rainy day sketch outing

With the forecast of heavy rain for most of the day, our Wednesday group met up in the cafe of a local garden centre. We enjoyed a morning of arty chat over coffee, sharing past sketchbook drawings and, rather than all of us obviously turning our attention to the customers around us, we sketched each other.  Good practice.

Sunday, 30 July 2017

Norwegian Fisherman's Hut

This is an Indian ink and gouache resist painting I did after a trip to Norway some time ago.  On this occasion my reference was one of my photos - we were on a guided tour, so there was little time to stop and sketch.  Although it was a fairly grey day, the red painted hut with its turf roof captured my attention as we headed towards the Saltstraumen, one of the world's strongest tidal currents.  Here the incoming tide from the sea, clashes with the water in a narrow channel of the Skerstad Fjord, forming a whirlpool which can be as much as 1 metre below the level of the surrounding water.  The current wasn't too ferocious on the day we were there, but I wouldn't have wanted to be one of the group of tourists being driven through it on a rather flimsy looking inflatable craft.

Fisherman's Hut, Norway
You can see more of my ink resist paintings on my Gallery page.

Thursday, 20 July 2017

Sketch outing - TWIGS

Another plein air sketch outing on Wednesday with a group from the Royal WoottonBassett Art Society. The venue was TWIGS, a community garden formed about 20 years ago by a local resident who realised the therapeutic benefits that working with nature could bring to those experiencing mental health problems. A surprising oasis of wildlife and luxuriant plantings in the midst of a busy town.

A couple more sketches done in this garden can be seen in a previous post.

Both my sketches were done in the Hahnemuhle Grey sketchbook.

Pen and watercolour over a light acrylic wash and random gesso print  

Pen and watercolour plus white gel pen

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Portrait sketch

Last week I spent a great day out with a friend from Australia, she was over here visiting family and catching up with old acquaintances.  We had glorious weather, although the afternoon proved a little too hot for both of us! We made the most of shaded walks through our local arboretum, but with so much news to catch up with there was no time for sketching.  Needing an image to add to my journal entry for the day, I decided to attempt a portrait of my friend from one of the few photos I took.

People drawing is not my forte, so I played safe and started the pencil sketch on drawing paper rather than directly in my journal.  To seal the pencil sketch I sponged over it with a light wash of liquid acrylic plus glazing liquid, then added some watercolour washes and gel pen. I am not sure anyone would recognise the "sitter", but it was good practice for drawing faces.

Pencil, acrylic, watercolour, gel pen
(approx. 2" x 3")

Sunday, 2 July 2017

July sketch outing

We had reasonable weather for our sketch meeting in Faringdon Road Park on Saturday, with eight of us turning up with our art supplies. This fairly small park in the middle of town is mostly laid to grass, but around its perimeter are a few mature trees, a children's play area and a colourful flower border in one corner.  Most of us chose to concentrate on the buildings seen outside the park.

I am getting more attuned to using the Hahnemuhle Grey Book - this time I had previously lightly toned one of my pages with some blue/green acrylic paint, cleaning off my roller after using it for another project.  It worked quite well with my chosen view of a Victorian house, glimpsed above a flower bed of deep yellow lilies, rich red crocosmia and bright blue sea holly.

Park House (built 1876)
Pen and watercolour on acrylic toned background

Sketching in this historic area of Swindon has encouraged me to find out a bit more about its history.  Apparently, this land adjacent to the Railway Village was bought in 1844 by the Great Western Railway to provide a cricket field for the use of the local residents, as well as a general leisure area and the venue for annual fetes.  At one time it boasted a cricket pavilion, an entrance lodge, glasshouses and ornamental borders with fountains - all since disappeared.

Friday, 30 June 2017

Anilinky watercolour paints

Having recently rediscovered these paints in amongst my old art supplies, it was time to re-acquaint myself with their properties.  I used them for a couple of rough sketches in the Hahnemuhle Grey Book.  They are very intense and I found it difficult to get the subtle shades I am used to with my usual Winsor & Newton watercolours; they felt more like a cross between gouache and watercolour. I probably just need a bit more practice with them.

Anilinky watercolours overlaid with a few strokes of white oil pastel at the top of the image

Watercolour marker sketch in Burnt Umber, Anilinky watercolours,
highlights added with cream Posca pen
The twelve colours in the paint box
I will paint another colour chart and put it on my windowsill for a couple of months just to see how permanent the pigments are.

I have had these paints for quite some years, but I see they are still available on the internet and very inexpensively priced - in some adverts they are called "watercolour dyes" and there is a suggestion that they can be used on fabric!

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