Ripples

2016-01-31 ford and old mill

This sketch was done during an evening cycle one evening last weekend.  The mill chase had flooded the road.  I drew from the foot bridge.  By accident I have captured the ripples of the flowing water in the foreground, perhaps by dragging the side of a crayon over wet ink on textured paper.

This reminded me.  Only a few miles from me is Sarehole Mill, known to Tolkien in childhood.  The urban area in which I now live was once the rural inspiration for Hobbiton.  Perhaps we are the invading orcs of his imagination.  I must go to Sarehole Mill to draw one day.

Winter trees

These are three exercises in capturing the sky and bare trees of winter.

2016-01-01 Siden Hill Woods (2)

It was very lightly raining.  The conte crayons marked unevenly, speckling on the textured paper and giving deeper tones where they chanced to hit rain drops.  The trees were drawn in using a black ink brush pen.  The paper was by then sufficiently wet that the ink bled, softening the marks.

2016-01-01 Siden Hill Woods (1)

I had emerged from the woods and skirted a field.  The point of this sketch was to show texture and tone in what appeared a heavy white/grey sky and its reflection in standing water on the grass.  In the field, I blocked this in crayon, covering the colours with a heavy layer of white.  Once home, I completed the sky by covering it with wet gouache so the tones still showed through.

2016-01-01 Siden Hill Woods (3)

Here, I was once again inside the wood looking through the trees and low lying holly to the grey sky beyond.  Once again the sky and interlacing twigs were built in layers of crayon and the sense of filtering light rescued with subsequent dabs of gouache

 

Re-purposing II

2015-10-25 St Abbs head July 2014 (4)

This is how this picture now sits after working into the distant moor and cliff faces with sandpaper, knife, pumice, washes of sepia ink and a dusting of conte crayon.  I have accentuated the highlights of the water and brought the tide further inland.  The next challenge is the foreground which needs more respect.  I like the textures that arose from the netting but want to wash over the white and bright green, and shape the near slopes more.  I need to unite foreground and background into one image and that means, in part, stripping off the clean white sea I seem now to have painted.  I have a photo showing grass heads – but how much now should I follow the photo?

Here is a gallery of images of this one scene on St Abbs Head in the Scottish coast, drawn originally in July 2013, some original field sketches and some in various stages of re-purposing.

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Rectangles

24-10-2015 Ravenshaw Lane (1)

Ravenshaw Lane is on a regular short cycle route for me, one I usually take when light is failing but I need to get out for an hour or so.  At one end is an industrial unit, set in parkland, making large metal waste tankers called whales.  The lane is tarmacked at either end but in the middle dwindles to a footpath and a narrow wooden bridge across the river.  Standing on the bridge, I watched the fading sunlight filter through hanging rusted foliage in a garden above the brook.  I managed only to get the bones of this sketch onto paper before darkness fell.  I finished it at home from memory.  Initially, I drew in the fence posts and plants scrambling up the bank and fence in high key, but muted them as the what light there was came from behind the fence: I wanted to emphasise the backlit curtain of brown foliage.

This was drawn in conte crayon then watercolour laid over this.

The next day, I went to Liverpool.  I have been privileged to be the person who has taken an exciting piece of science into the clinic.  The whole project, from its inception long before I was involved through to the current trials, was recognised with a prize.

Autumn evening light

2015-10-04 Siden Hill Woods (6)

The path within the wood runs close to the edge where the trees meet the open field and the foliage is backlit by the westering sun.

This sketch was made first in conte crayon, highlighting the sunlit leaves in cool yellow and those starting to brown in warmer greens.  Scanty layers of watercolour were dragged across this resist for the ploughed earth, distant trees, sky and shadowed leaves, trunk and twigs.

I later adjusted the balance within the field sketch to give more substance to the turned clods in the field, with crayon and purple paint.

Resistance

2015-08-29 16.19.16 4

This is the remaining sketch from our holiday in August.  I took a long walk past the expensive marina, along the coast path and then inland up steep wooded hills.  It was hot.

This sketch began with a layer of conte crayon, then  water colour scattering over the layer of resist.  This is shown below.  It’s photographed under different lighting I notice (intense sunlight), showing more dramatically the blue of sea and sky.

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After a couple more layers of crayon and paint, I blocked in deep shadows with the black brush pen.

September has been a thin month for drawing, limited to a charcoal sketch of Jeremy Corbyn when he won the Labour leadership and some desultory drawings of birds in the nature reserve.  I tried to mix conte crayon and watercolour again as well as drawing in ink, but could not find the technique that day.

2015-10-04 22.03.55  2015-10-04 22.04.07-1

2015-10-04 22.02.31-1  2015-10-04 22.02.46

2015-10-04 22.04.21

The less often I draw, the harder it becomes to do it.

 

Layers

My field kit had become slimmed down to fountain pen and water. Over this year, walking through the local fields, and, shown here, on holiday in Italy, I have expanded it once again.

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Tuscany: view from the marsh to the hills. Layers of watercolour and conte crayon.

I now use watercolour and conte crayon in varying order, lastly using a black brush pen to accentuate shadows.

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Tuscany: view from the marsh to the hills. Watercolour background over conte crayon resist showing seed heads in foreground, with strong shadows drawn in black brushpen.

One objective is to create contrasts between opaque and transparent layers.  Another is to play with the crayon as a resist – the watercolour falls off it or collects in fractal shapes on its surface making interesting textures.  Conversely, grinding the crayon into wet colour builds deep interesting opaque patterns, sometimes lifting the paper to leave white highlights with adjacent ridges that catch subsequent strokes of deeper pigment.

2015-08-29 11.42.16-1

Water, reeds, hill terraces and distant wooded uplands composed in layers and drawn in layers of conte crayon and watercolour.

Sometimes this works, often not.

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View through the telescope: egret and distant flamingos with water, sand, woods and hills in horizontal stripes.

In doing this, I have noticed that my compositions are often built of flat layers; rectangles of fore, mid and background like a sponge sandwich cake seen from the side.

 

 

recording notes

Some sketches are little more than jottings – quick notes on colour or line or shape.

2015-08-29 16.19.35-1

I hung back behind my family along the path between overhanging trees and the stone foundations of Etruscan temples, and looked back across the valley to the medieval fortress of Populonia, with the sea behind.  This sketch comprised some fairly random swipes with conte crayon with lines and shadow drawn on top with a black ink brush pen.

2015-08-29 17.27.29-1

Here I had wandered along a raised bank out into a marsh in the hope of seeing some wildlife.  I had to step over a dead fox which smelt pretty wild and some way further on penned this note on the diagonal  barring made by the leaves of the reeds.

Light, tone, colour

As an artist, I have been trying to express myself through line, tone and colour.  In a similar way, the Pope is a Catholic and bears are ardently exploring the fundamental nature of their being by crapping in the woods.

2015-08-08 Siden Hill Wood watercolour (2)

Talking of woods, I walked on Saturday for several hours around a small copse, part of the nature reserve, which appears is visited rarely by birders (or by bears exploring their spirituality).  I can draw undisturbed.  Buzzards were roosting in the northern edge and periodically sweeping out across a recently cut field and back up over the trees, voicing their decrescendo cries.

On both the last two weekends, at one particular point, I could hear above me in the high foliage a duet, each a sequence of sharp calls of slightly over a quarter note in each of four or five bars.  Then a rest before a repeat sequence.   These moved through the canopy but only once did I glimpse a brown barred body.  The closest I can come to identifying these is as sparrowhawks.  This is based on the RSPB website, though many other recordings show sparrowhawks to make a more rapid staccato sound.

The picture above was an exercise to get myself drawing.  This comprised a quick pen sketch in fast ink then watercolour over this.  I stopped myself short of obscuring all the white paper.

This was the second sketch of the same composition, with photos on site of its first steps shown below.  Watercolour was spread on wet then lifted with damp tissue.  I drew into this in a mixture of paint and conte crayon.  The most essential colour is the pink which sits between and behind the greens and yellows.

2015-08-08 Siden Hill Woods watercolour conte crayon (4)

2015-08-08 Siden Hill Woods watercolour conte crayon (3)  2015-08-08 Siden Hill Woods watercolour conte crayon (6)

This last was intended simply as a tonal study of the sunlight slanting down onto the trunk and leaves, in charcoal and white on warm-grey paper.  However, I found it hard to resist overlaying this in the greens and browns, thus losing the point of the exercise.

2015-08-08 Siden Hill Wood conte crayon charcoal 1

 

 

spilled ink

Last weekend I only managed to find time for this unsatisfactory sketch, done in the late afternoon in the local wood.

2015-08-01 ink not yet spilled on conte crayon field sketch

It is done in conte crayon on heavy white textured paper (Stillman and Birn beta sketchbook).  I was trying for a composition that showed the depth of the layers of foliage through changes in light and tone.

Irritated with this field sketch, I later poured water on it.  It beaded and scattered across the crayon resist, carrying some of the pigment in swirls of floating dust.  I threw on sepia, yellow and green ink.  This was now spilling over the sides.  I put thick card under the page to isolate it from the rest of the sketchbook.  The inks threatened to leave the water repellent surface so I trapped them under a crumpled acrylic sheet and left this to dry.

2015-08-01 ink spilled on conte crayon field sketch (2)

The next day, the paper was lifted from the card by sharp dissection.  I had to glue it to a new sheet to effect repairs where cuts and rips had penetrated to the surface.  Now looking at it, I wonder whether to work back over this surface.