Another Muted Abstract in Gouache

Waves

Good morning everyone. Just a short post today, I’m very busy sorting out my new solo exhibition due to open next week. Actually, there always seems to be a lot more work to do than you plan for! Anyway I did manage to finish this muted abstract, the fourth in my series in the online course I’m following. To tell the truth, I did struggle with getting it right. But, at the same time I did seem to know a bit better where I was going!

Waves- a draft

Well, this is one of the earlier stages of the painting. Perhaps it’s not as easy for you to see these details on the screen, but I studied it long and hard. Then I toned down the little dots and dashes and brightened the white areas. Finally, I was satisfied and called it finished. Now I must learn how to use the wax medium I bought, in order to give it a protective coat. Because it’s painted in gouache and I learned the hard way that this is really necessary (don’t ask!). If you want to see the other paintings in the muted abstract series, look here and here.

Here’s a sneaky peek at my exhibition poster – more of this later!

Still Life in the Kitchen

Old Kitchen Scales

Good morning everyone. I really enjoyed painting this gouache portrait of old kitchen scales at art group last week. One of our members brought in loads of fascinating old objects to inspire us to do a still life. And I decided to paint quickly, like I do when I’m out urban sketching. First I did a very quick pencil sketch to set the general shape. Then I drew with the brush, something I love to do. Also, I tried to show the grime and wear and tear on this well used weight scale. Which wasn’t all that easy , actually! And it felt good to paint from life – photos obviously have their place in my art practice. But, I feel that observing and recording an object sharpens up my drawing skills.

Old Saucepan

If I remember correctly, I painted this in the Victorian kitchen of our local stately home . Back in the day when sketching groups were encouraged to linger and draw ( about two years ago!) Anyway, I used pen and watercolour and chose this little group of utensils on the old shelf near the big, black range. By the way, one of the best days to visit is when they fire up the range and demonstrate baking for the big house.

Still life in my Kitchen

Finally, here’s a painting of a fish, caught at sea by a friend of a friend and being prepared for cooking. Acrylic on box canvas, I put it on my kitchen wall! And here’s another food still life you might like to see, this time fruit.

Fish

In fact, making this post reminded me that it’s high time I updated my Still Life and Flowers section in my gallery. Oh well, that will have to be something for another day- I’m far too busy painting today!

More Abstract Experiments in Gouache

Moving On

Good morning everyone. As I promised, here is the next one of my abstract experiments in gouache. And, you wouldn’t believe how many different versions I painted until I arrived at this final one!

To begin at the beginning, our tutor asked us to sketch potential compositions using shapes. I chose rectangles and a spiral and I painted in some of the soft colours suggested. And this is how it went.

Moving On – version 1

Well, this was ok but it didn’t look all that different from my usual type of abstract. Also, I thought it looked too busy. And so I decided to make more of the painting a restful creamy white.

Moving On – version 2

Now, I thought this looked better, but it still wasn’t right. So I added some gold – this is the part I love!

Moving On – version 3

Actually, I was quite pleased with this result of my abstract experiments. However, meanwhile, I had read the next lesson in the course. And I had begun to think about areas of colour forming the composition, as well as shapes. Honestly, I put down so many layers of gouache paint that I thought it might crack. Nonetheless, I struggled on and gradually eliminated the spiral, bit by bit. Until I arrived at the final version.

The Final Version of my Abstract Experiments

Moving On – the end result

Now I’m happy! Perhaps you’ve noticed that I also rotated it to find the best view. Immediately after that, I started painting two more! Of course I will show you these later. But I must point out that the moral of this story is: don’t change direction midway into a painting! Because it costs an awful lot of paint and also, it makes your brain hurt! Ah, let’s go back to the carefree days of quick, intuitive abstract painting like this here ! Only joking, I love it really.

Two New Style Abstract Paintings

Waves

Good morning everyone. Well, as I promised, I’d like to show you the first abstract composition I painted from Painting with Yvette. And it’s a new style abstract painting, for me, that is! Actually I found out about this course by chance, just at the very time I was feeling that I needed a change of direction. To be honest, as you might have noticed, the shapes and composition are not all that different from the ones I often use in my paintings. But, first of all, the colours are very different, or, in different combinations – see this post here. Secondly, there is a lot more empty space between the elements. As you might say, a bit more breathing space. Lastly, there are more definite calligraphic marks. In fact, our tutor Yvette St Amant is very generous with her advice and guidance. So I try not to reproduce her work, but to use the ideas and develop them into my own style.

However, I find it quite difficult to achieve and, I spend a few hours on each painting, but I do feel that I am learning. Indeed, I think this is the only way to achieve progress, to spend time practising.

Another New Style Abstract

Pink and Gold

Actually, have a look at the image this way round, I’ve just this minute noticedthat in this view, a totally different idea springs to mind. To me it suggests new things on the horizon.

A New Horizon

I think I like it better this way! And, putting gold paint on a painting and having it make sense in an abstract way is a first for me! So, I’m working on a couple more of these new direction abstract compositions at the moment. But quite slowly. And I will show you when they are ready. (By the way, these are gouache not acrylic)

Try Zentangle Patterns in Animals

My Zentangle Monster

Good morning everyone. I hope you like my monster filled with Zentangle patterns. Incidentally, have you heard of Zentangle drawing? Actually, it’s been very popular for a few years now. Of course, my drawing is only inspired by this style. Because I haven’t got the hand control or the patience to do the beautiful, intricate patterns that people do. Although I do admire them very much. In fact, I heard about this style of drawing a couple of years ago at my drawing group. And we decided to use animal outlines as a template. Have a look at what I did then.

The Ink Fish ( !)
A Decorated Penguin

Anyway, the main point of these exercises is to enjoy yourself and to create a feeling of calm as you draw. And, it really does work – I feel it myself and I have seen the soothing effect on my art buddies. In fact, it doesn’t seem to matter whether you are creating something original or following along someone else’s design. Because, the result is the same – a calm, quiet room full of contented people! I drew my zentangle patterns at our art society meeting recently and I sketched a made up monster outline. Then, I amused myself drawing the lines of pattern design so that they followed the contours of the body. When I was looking through my picture gallery I found another recent attempt at the style. And, this time it was for one of last year’s Inktober prompts – tick.

Zentangle Patterns for Inktober

Tick

To be honest, I think it’s a good idea to try something completely different from your usual art practice. Certainly it refreshes your ideas, and that’s always a good thing. For myself, these new ideas seem to find their way into my quick abstracts like the fruit one in this post here. And I do believe that they can take your art into new directions that might even surprise you! But, also, it’s fun to do work that’s a bit less serious from time to time.

Painting Houses for our Street

John Knox House

Good morning everyone. On Tuesday evening at our art society meeting we started a new project – painting houses for ‘our’ street. In fact, we are each taking a sheet of paper and painting or drawing a house or building. Then we will make a folding, concertina book of our street. Actually, we do a group project like this once or twice a year. And, it feels very good to be involved in something together. Especially a book which we can enjoy looking at and showing off afterwards.

Anyway, I chose this scene as my contribution – I’m guessing it’s in Edinburgh, Scotland (image from Unsplash). If you’ve got very good eyesight, the placard reads John Knox House. And now the original dwelling serves as a museum, no doubt telling the story of this religious leader in the 1500’s.

John Knox House – a closeup

As you can see in this image, I applied the paint lightly and delicately in a watercolour technique, but it was actually gouache paint. Usually with gouache I layer it on thickly and use lots of white paint to achieve that gorgeous chalky look. Instead, I painted wet on wet and encouraged the paint to be more transparent. And here are some houses in gouache, using the thicker technique.

Painting Houses in Gouache

Harbour in Norway

As I was looking at all the photos of my paintings, I realised I had actually painted loads of houses and other buildings. So, that gave me the idea to make a section for them in my gallery here – I let you know when it’s ready. Meanwhile, there are more houses here and here.

Two More Nice Bright Abstracts

Sunshine and Rain

Good morning everyone. I did this one of my nice bright abstracts before Christmas and I’m quite pleased with the way if turned out. Again, I had no plan beforehand, except perhaps to incorporate lots of lovely, juicy colour! And, on this one I particularly enjoyed splashing the flashes of white across the gold and bronze.

Sunshine and Rain – a closeup

In fact, I noticed that I have been featuring a lot of round, globe shaped objects in my abstracts lately. Of course, if you paint them yellow your mind interprets them as the sun. And dark clouds creeping up in the background can then suggest imminent rain. So, that’s how I found the title! Anyway, I suppose this led me to thinking that it was time for a bit more development of my abstract work. However, more of that in later posts. Meanwhile, here is another of my nice, bright abstracts, completely intuitive and in a watercolour sketch book.

Afternoon in the Garden

Now, this was a lovely art therapy exercise – a quick watercolour sketch in a few spare moments. And then, some flourishes with oil pastel, ink and white gel pen. I wonder if you can see anything in it? I wonder if you see the same as me? There’s another intuitive abstract in this post here for you to puzzle out!

If you like my abstracts, I just updated my abstracts page in the gallery here. And, don’t forget, I shall be showing you some new style compositions soon.

Best Trees I Ever Painted

Tree Study 1

Good morning everyone. Actually, I’m really quite pleased with these watercolour studies – they’re my best trees ever! As it happens, I do paint trees often, either in landscapes or in urban sketching. And, I don’t think I paint them all that well. So, I decided to invest in a short online course by Watercolours Made Simple . To be honest, I’ve only looked at a lesson or two but I have been pleased with what I’ve learned so far. Otherwise, I might have continued to make it up as go along, a particular drawback of watercolour for me, I find. In fact, I think it’s really necessary to study techniques to improve. More so than in acrylic, for example. But, that’s just my opinion and I can’t claim to be particularly gifted at watercolour painting.

Learning how to paint your best trees

Anyway, this learning was good fun too, so it wasn’t a chore. Simply explained, the tutor taught us to start with the foliage first. (Who knew?). So I painted three or four irregular ovals with a watery mid green mix, leaving little patches of paper white. Then use a mix of a darker shade of the colour and a lighter one too. And, describe the shapes of the clumps of foliage, not individual leaves, with lighter colour in the sun . And, darker colour in the shade. It does help to look at a tree or a photo when doing this. After that, put in the trunks and branches, using a watery mix of lightish brown and add patches of darker shade.

Tree Study 2

Here I practised mixing lots of tree greens using yellows, blues, brown and red – see top row. Then we stayed with the greens to paint conifers and another deciduous tree. I really liked doing a row of trees on the horizon, something I always botched before. Finally, I attempted to show how some trees recede into the background when you paint a forest, mainly using the paler shade of the original green. Now, I do hope I can remember that when I’m sketching en plein air!

Big Tree in my Garden

Or in my back garden for that matter, as I did here last summer. And , even though this one was in acrylic, some of these principles would help with other kinds of paint. If you want to see some of my winter trees, see here.

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