Thinking about Drawing

The Old Church

Last Friday I went to a brilliant exhibition at the Millennium Gallery in Sheffield. ‘ Lines of Beauty ‘ and this got me thinking about drawing. I saw some fabulous Old Master Drawings from the Chatsworth House collection like this one by Van Dyck.

A beautiful charcoal drawing of two friars by Van Dyck. A thinking about drawing example.
The Two Friars

In addition to these works of art, there was also interesting information about the artist’s materials available back in the day . And I was very taken by the drawings on toned paper made with black or brown ink, and , then coloured with watercolour wash . Finally, highlights were added in white chalk . Amazingly, these materials were often made by the artist and his or her assistant. To be honest, it made me feel very grateful for how easy it it is nowadays to buy chalk, ink, charcoal and paint ! If you want to see more pictures of the exhibition, have a look at the latest post on our Art Society Facebook page here .

On the shore

Reserving the White Paper

However, to get back to thinking about drawing, I did the drawing above last year. And, I think it shows very clearly how when you draw on white paper, you add the medium tones first. Then you strengthen some of them up to create dark areas . And, all the time you are quite cleverly ‘reserving’ the white paper for the light tones and the highlights. This means, plan the drawing carefully and leave the paper white in all the right places! To be honest, it took me a while to manage to do this properly.

Toned Paper Thinking about Drawing

Now comes the difficult bit – for me anyway. You see, when you use toned paper( that is, not white ) you can leave the paper showing for the mid tones. And this works well with beige or stone coloured paper. Then you can use darker pastel pencil or watercolour wash for the darks. Of course, you can then add white pastel or chalk for highlights. Obviously, this sounds straightforward but it took me a while to get my head around it . However, with the guidance of a good tutor , I managed to produce this drawing at art class.

A portrait of a man. On stone coloured paper with brown and black pastel and chalk. A thinking about drawing exercise.
A Portrait on Toned Paper

The Old Church

This was another exercise we did in class , thinking about drawing on grey toned paper.

As you can see, I had to be very disciplined about the different shades of grey. Because I wanted to show the shapes of the building and landscape as the light fell on them . Actually, all this at the same time as looking at a colour photo of the scene , which can be confusing. In truth, it’s a real workout for the brain !

Drawing from Life

Finally, I would suggest that when you are thinking about drawing, the very best thing you can do is to draw from life . So, here’s some of our pumpkin harvest , drawn very quickly at my allotment yesterday. Just think of all that roasted pumpkin ( with garlic ) that we shall enjoy all winter !

A simple pencil drawing of three pumpkins - a thinking about drawing exercise.
Three Crown Prince Pumpkins

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Drylands – Art for Sale

Picture of the Month

Drylands

I just finished this acrylic painting today , and I wanted to show it to you straight away ! This painting – Drylands – Art for Sale – needs to be featured all by itself, I think . To be honest, I am quite pleased with it . You see, it’s another experiment with a restricted palette of colour. And this time, I used soft browns, vibrant orange and a touch of gold. In fact, I mixed the shades of brown from blue and a ready made orange. Surprisingly, this combination includes the three primary colours red , yellow and blue. Because, of course, the orange is a mixture of red and yellow. ( In actual fact, it took me a while to figure this out ) . And I had never tried to mix browns before, always using the brown umber straight from the tube. But, I must say, I really prefer the DIY mixtures. And, that’s what I like about these experiments – I always learn something!

Drylands – Art for Sale -The Dead Trees

A detail from ‘Drylands’

Clearly, when I painted this parched landscape with its swathes of dusty foliage, I must have been thinking of the climatic changes taking place in the world. For example, it seems that dry, hot regions seem to be getting hotter and drier. If you would like to see another surreal landscape painting, look at this post here .

A close up of the sky

I’m including this shot in order to try to show the intense and rich colour of the sky . There are also passages of interesting textures, as there are on most of my paintings. Unfortunately, these details don’t show up so well on a screen.

Well, I hope you like my painting ‘Drylands’ . As I said earlier , it is a work in acrylic on paper, 16 by 20 inches, unframed and without a mount. And , it’s priced at £60 plus shipping ( I’m based in the UK ). So you can pay by PayPal and I’ll package it up and send it off to you without delay ! Just go to the Contact Me page here and send me an email for further details. Then you can frame it to suit your taste and enjoy soaking up the evocative atmosphere it seems to create.

Drylands – Art for Sale

Painting Water – How to Do It

Painting water -  pen and watercolour sketch of water cascading down a little fall in a park.
The Waterfall in the Rockery

When I went out plein air sketching last week at Clifton Park, I chose to sit in the rockery. And I tried to capture the movement of the waterfall over the limestone rocks. Painting water. Well, I tried ! To be honest, this is well-known as a particularly difficult subject for artists. Actually, I am fairly satisfied with this as a quick watercolour sketch ( 20 minutes ). Although I am well aware of all the faults, for example the lack of deep shadows in the water. But the drawing is a record of the scene and my response to it. And, most importantly, it was really enjoyable. Finally, believe it or not, it does help you to improve your drawing skills!

More Watercolour Water

Ducks at Cannon Hall Park
Worsbrough Country Park

These two sketches were completed recently . Again in about 25 minutes. If you look carefully, you’ll see that I used the same trick in both. So, when painting water, try adding ducks or any waterbirds, in fact. Only joking . But I do also try to add ripples, splashes or a touch of blue reflected sky . Really, it’s just to help to create the illusion of water.

Painting Water in Acrylic

Painting water- a moody, misty acrylic of huge waves crashing into the seawall at Scarbrough.
Scarborough in the Mist

I must admit, this acrylic painting is one of my favourites. Mainly because it’s Scarborough in North Yorkshire where we often go on holiday. And the weather is sometimes really misty when the sea fret comes over. But, the fascination for me is trying to show the movement of the waves, crashing into the bay And, this took considerably longer than 20 minutes ! By the way, the huge building looming over the town really does exist. It’s the Grand Hotel. If you like sea paintings, have a look in my Gallery here .

All my paintings are for sale at affordable prices . So, if you really like any of the seascapes in my Gallery, just go to the Contact Me page . And send me an email using the form on the page to find out more details.

Magazine Article about my paintings

Bluebell Wood

At last – I’m famous ! (Well , nearly ). Because there is now a magazine article showing my artworks. To explain, I am a member of the Barnsley U3A group. And this is a great , world wide organisation which is run entirely by volunteers of retirement age . In fact, we are called the University of the 3rd Age . Perhaps you have heard of us – our aim is learning, companionship and fun ! The group in my home town is fantastic . So when Derek , editor of our branch’s magazine asked permission to publish some of my paintings I quickly agreed !

The magazine article

To be honest, Derek had seen my work on this website, which is nice. Hopefully, you can read the text as it is a bit small. There are just over a thousand members in the group now , I think. And our magazine ‘ The Buzz ‘ is also published on our website see here .

More Paintings from the Magazine Article

A soft dreamy painting of a street in the south of France on a hot afternoon- featured in the magazine article
Somewhere in France
A semi abstracted scene of jungle vegetation  - Paradise. Featured in my magazine article
Paradise

These two images above were also featured in the magazine article. In addition to some details about the artist groups I belong to including Northern Fringe. Have a look at this post here to see our latest exhibition ‘Inspired ‘at the Ridings Centre, Wakefield. It’s about the third exhibition down.

To be honest, I did also promote Barnsley Art Society too. Although we are not very active at the moment, obviously. But you might be interested to have a look at our Facebook page here . Who knows , if you are nearby , you may like to take part in our arty activities when we start up again.

Of course, I didn’t forget to say some nice things about the U3A group too ! And they were all quite sincere. Actually . I belong to the painting group which we attend each week. And I also really enjoy the drawing group which inspires me to practise drawing skills . In actual fact , I really do need the practice ! Finally, I’d like to say a big Thank You to Derek for putting together a great Autumn issue during Lockdown ( especially the bit with my feature! )

Watercolour Flowers from my Allotment

A bright bunch of watercolour flowers in a small, glass vase
Watercolour Flowers from my Allotment

When I want to do a quick painting I will often sit down at my dining table to work . Of course, if I have a large chunk of spare time, I go into my ‘ studio ‘ . To be honest, this is also known as the spare bedroom and it’s where my easel is set up. And , this is where the acrylic paints live. So it’s all a tiny bit more serious ! Anyway , I had half an hour – so I gave myself a little treat and just painted. I chose watercolour flowers from my allotment. Actually, I had noticed last Thursday that I wasn’t achieving the results I wanted with watercolour . I was out urban sketching with art buddies in the park – see here . And when I looked at my friend’s lovely delicate sketch of the mansion, I realised I could do better !

Trying different watercolour paper

You see, I always use the same brand of paper in different , handy sized sketchbooks when I’m out plein air painting. In effect, I was well satisfied with the quality. But, things had changed and the paper was now quite poor. And , it took me a while to notice ! So, out came some better watercolour paper from the stash. And , now I could try laying down pools of colour and wet in wet technique without fighting to drag the paint over the paper !

More Watercolour Flowers

Sweetpeas and other watercolour flowers in a pretty china cup.
Allotment Bunch
Another Allotment Bunch

As you can see , I did manage to find some decent paper for these two paintings of watercolour flowers. These are from a little while ago and , quite by chance it would seem, the paper was better ! Well, now I know and I won’t make that mistake again !

Watercolour Flowers from my Allotment

For those who like to know , here we have cosmos, sweetpeas, marigold, cerinthe and sweet Williams. A real cottage garden bunch. For lots more flowers in all kinds of media , see my gallery here .

Urban Sketching Art in Rotherham

A quick watercolour sketch of Clifton Park Museum -  a  beautiful sandstone mansion. Urban sketching art in Rotherham.
Clifton Park Museum, Rotherham

We had a great day out yesterday , making urban sketching art in Clifton Park Museum . To be honest, we didn’t really go inside the museum this time . Although it is very interesting and full of inspiring things to draw . No, we stayed outside and drew the beautiful sandstone building. Actually, this is the view at the back of the mansion where the modern extension is built. And this lower building on the left is the cafe . Well, you’ve got to get your morning caffeine somewhere !

Watercolour Urban Sketching Art

Perhaps, the way I see it, urban sketching art includes any quick sketching that I do when I’m out and about. Another way to put it would be ‘ en plein air ‘ . Or simply, outside sketching from life. Also , I have to say that I personally sketch mainly in watercolour. For example, I didn’t draw out the shapes with a pencil or pen on this one . Sometimes I do . Obviously, this is not the world’s most accurate, well finished drawing of the big house. But , for a 40 minute piece, it has some of the freshness and life I was aiming for.

If you want to see more plein air sketching adventures, see here and here .

The Front Entrance

Of course , the front entrance of the mansion is very grand . But, the whole building is well proportioned and pleasing to the eye . And it is set in an elegant Victorian park.

The Art Cafe Exhibition.

In the afternoon, we went down into the town centre to Fitzwilliam and Hughes cafe. Or, as I call it, the Art Cafe. If you look at my post here you’ll see that I had two paintings displayed with them earlier this year . And then in March I changed the paintings round a little bit . But I hadn’t had chance to see them due to Lockdown. So it was great to sit with a coffee and a slice of banana and chocolate cake and admire my handiwork! All-in-all , a great day out in Rotherham .

The paintings on the wall.
The cosy Fitzwilliam and Hughes cafe
Rest in Peace - my acrylic painting on display in the art cafe. Developed from urban sketching art done on the spot.
Rest in Peace
Somewhere in France

Flash – an Acrylic Painting

Three red zigzag lines flash on a soft blue sky  over a strange ochre coloured wave
Flash

This is just a quick post today, to keep you up to date with what I have been painting- Flash. So have a look at my latest 16 by 20 inch acrylic composition. To be honest, I am getting really comfortable with this size of paper. To explain ,it’s not so small as to cramp my gestural style of painting. And also, it’s not so large that it seems a bit of a chore to cover all the canvas with paint. Hopefully, you can see what I mean . In addition, the paintings are done more quickly. And I do enjoy finishing off a piece in roughly three sessions. But sometimes I like to take my time and develop a piece gradually. Perhaps, it’s a sign of the times that I am too restless to commit to anything that will take more time and concentration. I wonder if anyone else has felt that the Covid situation has altered their art practice?

Artist’s Inspiration for Flash

The idea for this piece literally came to me ‘ in a flash ‘ ! Suddenly , I saw some red, zigzag flashes on a beautiful, blue sky. Apparently, there was also some kind of ocean wave or strange sort of rolling landscape underneath it all . So , I just picked up my paintbrushes and started ! I must make it clear that I don’t create all my abstracts in this way. Actually, I might write a post all about it soon – so stay tuned ! Click here to see more abstracts, intuitive or otherwise !

Flash

Please don’t forget, all of my art is for sale at reasonable prices. This painting is acrylic on paper, 16 by 20 inches . It’s unframed and without a mount. I’m selling it at £60 plus shipping. And I’m based in the UK. If you feel like treating yourself . So, go to the Contact Me page and send me an email for more details.

Sculpture Exhibition at the Park

A huge rooster in the sculpture exhibition.
Pop Rooster by Joana Vasconcelos

As you may remember, I promised to post another more detailed report on the Joana Vasconcelos sculpture exhibition at Yorkshire Sculpture Park. See post here for the short version and my quick sketch of this cheeky chicken !

A huge soft sculpture  covered in appliqued,  embroidered fabric in the shape of a female figure  - one of the installations in the sculpture exhibition
Valkyrie

The Sculptures in the Underground Gallery

The sculptures in the park were fabulous. But the ones in the famous Underground Gallery were just as impressive. To explain, the image above shows a huge soft sculpture, sumptuous fabrics covered in embroidery and collage. Actually, it represents a mythical female warrior you may have heard of – a Valkyrie.

Shoes made of Saucepans

As you can see, the massive stiletto shoes above were made out of saucepans! You’ve probably worked out that the overall theme of the exhibition is female identity

The Beretta made of Telephones

In contrast, the chilling Beretta handgun sculpture in the image above is put together using old , black telephones!

To be honest, this is just a small snapshot of the glorious sculpture exhibition by Joana Vasconcelos. And, if you are in the area ( West Yorkshire, UK ) , it really is not to be missed. If you want to see more just click here

Artist’s Inspiration at Yorkshire Sculpture Park from the Sculpture Exhibition

To tell you the truth, I visit the park quite often. And I have lots of sketches of the grounds and the exhibitions in my sketchbooks . So, to finish off with, I would like to show you some of them

The Iron Tree

It’s a permanent installation by Ai Weiwei. And if you look closely, you can see the rusty metal structure bolted together.

A pink and white pencil drawing of a figure part human and part rabbit - one of the works in the KAWS sculpture exhibition a couple of years ago
From the KAWS exhibition

One of the strange creatures from the KAWS exhibition – about 10 foot high and painted in pastel pink and white.

And, finally, a view over the park to the Longside Gallery, which also belongs to the sculpture park. I did all of these sketches in place and fairly quickly!

I hope that this report whets your appetite a little for the spectacular sculptures on display at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park

The Tower – Plein Air Sketching

A watercolour sketch of the tower - golden sandstone against a brilliant blue sky.
The Tower at Wentworth Old Church

We spent a glorious morning sketching at Wentworth village yesterday. And I wanted to concentrate on the tower of the Old Church. As you can see , the sky was a brilliant blue and cloudless for a couple of hours. However, I don’t think I captured the full effect of the brightness of the colour with a quick watercolour sketch. ( about 20 minutes ) . But I was pleased with my attempt at painting the soft, glowing sandstone. In fact , you can see a more detailed description of a sketchcrawl at the old church here . That’s when I sat in the shady churchyard and painted the gravestones and a monument. It’s great to be going out plein air sketching with some of my art buddies again .

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