Painting with Pen and Wash

First Snow

Good morning everyone. I painted this scene in a pen and wash workshop last week. And we invited Gary, one of our favourite tutors, to art society to work with us. Also to show us some pen and watercolour techniques. Actually, it was a very enjoyable evening and everyone was pleased with their own version of this snow scene. After a quick pencil sketch of the main shapes, we tried to ink the lines in, using sketchy, gestural marks. Then, for me, the difficult part, using two colours only and being very restrained with the paint brush! Honestly, I was dying to pile on more and more texture and detail. But, I’m really glad I followed Gary’s instructions.

And, I took away from this workshop the idea that sometimes less is definitely more! However, as our tutor explained, this is really a basic scene – you can add more style to your liking. Preferably after learning the method. By the way, we also added more pen marks at this point if we felt we needed them. Plus a few dabs of white gouache for snow on the trees.

The Cottage

Perhaps you might be interested to see this pen and wash painting I did a few years ago. In fact, I did this after another of Gary’s workshops on pen and wash, I felt so inspired that I painted a few more. Incidentally, in this picture, the pencil sketch and watercolour come first. Then detail is added later in pen, again trying not to overdo things. And, here is a post showing how I use this technique when I’m painting in plein air.

This Week’s Art Therapy Paintings

Cells

Good morning everyone. This is just a quick catchup post of my art therapy paintings this week. Well. that’s what my art sometimes feels like, when my life is busy and demanding. But, I’m really glad that I can turn to creating art to calm my nerves. Honestly, I wouldn’t be without it! Anyway, this painting is probably a portrait of all the different thoughts taking up space in my head. And, this time, instead of editing out some of the busyness and explosions of colour, I left everything in. Normally, I keep an eye on the design and overall shape of the composition. And prune back quite a lot to streamline it. So, here is the un- edited version and it means more to me now, but I might feel differently tomorrow.

Halloween Date Night

And, just for a bit of fun, here is my Halloween painting, a bit late, I know. However, this is it, I tried hard to make it look scary. But me and my art buddies have decided to call it ‘Halloween Date Night’. (Not really one of my art therapy paintings, but, a great pleasure to paint)

New Paintings, Finished at Last

On the Beach

Good morning everyone. I’d like to show you these two new paintings, finished at last! Firstly, this beautiful Mediterranean scene, based on a photo from Landscape Reference Photos for Artists, here , by Penny Wohler – Stone. And this was such a pleasure to paint! In addition, gouache paint seems made for a scene which cries out for delicious textures and vibrant colours. Of course, this painting also fits in with my theme of hot, dry landscape and Australian scenes. (See here ) In fact, it’s turning into a collection now! To be honest, I couldn’t really see the point of doing a series before. But this one seems to have grown itself! Now I’ll have to think about displaying it together somewhere. Anyway, I’ll just paint a few more first.

Encounter

Secondly, a completely different intuitive abstract in watercolour, pencil and marker pens. Actually, I found this little painting when I was tidying up some sketchbooks. And, I remember trying out a tip about keeping watercolours moist – I think I proved here that it does work. Because, as you can see, the paint didn’t need much encouragement to wander across the paper nicely. So, I was pleased with it, and when it was dry, I stashed it away.

Anyway, I looked at it from all angles and embellished it with patterns and markings. Then I noticed something in it that suggested a face to face composition – I wonder if you can see it too?

Encounter – a close up

So, there you have it – two new paintings, finished at last.

On the beach – a close up

My New Silver Birch Painting

Silver Birch Wood

Good morning everyone. This is my new silver birch painting in gouache. Well, I thought it was about time I created my version of the silver birch woodland scene. Of course, I wanted to make mine a little bit different from the many excellent dark, atmospheric paintings I have seen. So I went for a feeling of slender tree trunks, shimmering in the hazy light. And, the colour of the grass is sharp and bright, just like it is after a shower. As for the sky, I exaggerated the mauve tones, to please myself actually! But, it really makes me want to step into the picture and see what is round the bend in the path!

Silver Birch Wood – a closeup

By the way, I am starting to feel a little bit more confident with gouache paint now, at long last! In fact, I do like painting with it very much. And, I am getting used to the way it moves around on the page and how the colours settle after a while. But, it can still surprise me when one colour can ‘merge’ into another over night! And that’s what happened to these silver birches with the white highlighting. As regards the shift in colour as they dry, I suppose it is becoming a little more instinctive. And, I must have gone through this when learning how to handle acrylic paint. However, I probably forgot about the learning stage as soon as I was through it. But, I must say I am now trying a different type of paper, a more smooth finish. And I’ll show you the first painting when I’ve finished it.

Painting Trees

Finally, you must have noticed how much I love painting trees, see this post here . So here are one or two examples. Firstly in watercolour and pen and then in oil pastel and watercolour.

A Tree in Outline
The Big Tree in my Garden

Look at this Small Abstract

Big Brain

Hi everyone. This is a very short post indeed, all about a small abstract. To be honest, I’m so busy at the moment, gardening and arty business. Not to mention just running my life! Anyway, I just couldn’t stand missing my art fix another day. So I found my small drawing pad, watercolour kit and a few pencils, oil pastels etc. And then let a few colours run into each other. Next I added some small, precise marks and accents. And all this without a single conscious thought, a small abstract. Afterwards, I found out which way up I preferred it. Only then did I notice a head in profile and I had a strong idea come into my head! Namely, we need someone with a brain this big to get us out of the mess we are all in. Well, on that cheerful note, I’ll sign off and hope to write a longer, more optimistic post soon. (There is a more cheery abstract here !)

New Techniques in Floral Abstract

Blue with Flowers

Good morning everyone. This is just a quick catchup post, to show you what I’ve been enjoying painting, a floral abstract. Actually, I’m working my way through a course by Suzanne Allard, see here. In fact, I have experimented with loose floral abstracts before, as you may have noticed on this blog. And, I’ve used other media over the paint. But I never felt like I knew what I was doing. So I’m very pleased that I found Suzanne’s tuition on line. Because she guides me through the myriad possibilities of adding crayon, oil pastel, ink and so on. And in a way that I can understand.

Blue with Flowers – a closeup

To be honest, I created the background for this painting a while ago, for a different project. However, I thought that it would work well. And I muted the intense colour of the acrylic paint with oil pastel in places where it needed it. As can perhaps see in this close up. You can see another loose floral abstract in my own style in this post here.

One More Quick Watercolour Abstract

Golden

Good morning everyone. I’m very busy at the moment, arranging exhibitions, visiting galleries and so on. So I don’t seem to have had much time to do any bigger painting projects. And I have also been finishing art society projects. Not to mention planting things at the allotment garden. But I did complete this quick watercolour abstract, thank goodness. As you may know, I hate leaving work unfinished. Anyway, this is quick abstract number 8. Actually, for this one I had a picture in my mind beforehand of hexagonal shapes. And, that along with the golden colour made me think of the shape of honeycomb. However, that was as far as the similarity went. As I painted, I got more interested in blending the gold and mauve together harmoniously. Of course, these two produce a range of soft browns. Therefore, brown was my third colour – I prefer to restrict myself to a few colours in abstract work now.

Areas of soft blending in my quick abstract

Then I decided to do the surface pattern over the soft background. On another day, in a ten minute slot of free time. Perhaps you can see that I used oil pastel, coloured pencil and markers for this stage. Frankly, the problem is knowing when to stop! Well, I added an accent of red and scribbled in some small pattern with black ink. Incidentally, I don’t think I am quite finished with this idea, so I may visit it again. Possibly with acrylic paint this time. As you may have seen on this post here, I am quite fond of the yellow and purple combination!

Finally, I can’t sign off without a mention that our Northern Fringe Gallery exhibition ‘Yorkshire Makers Inspired by Yorkshire Writers ‘ opens tomorrow at Skelmanthorpe Library Gallery. And it’s presented by Village Art. To be honest, this is the third venue on our tour! And this is one of my pieces – Top Withens, the ruined farmhouse near Haworth. Widely agreed to be the inspiration for Wuthering Heights, the famous novel by Emily Bronte.

Top Withens

See my Small Watercolour Abstracts

Doodle 3

Good morning everyone. This is a quick catchup post, just to show you more of my small watercolour abstracts. Well, I’m still producing quite a few of these. And I’ve noticed that they definitely reflect my painting interests and colour choices at the time. But I don’t notice this till afterwards! For example, in this one above I’m exploring more restrained and sparse patterns, as a contrast to the busier designs of the previous little abstracts seen here.

Doodle 4

On the other hand, I noticed after I had completed this one above that it was connected to my current large acrylic. And also, the softer colours and bold black calligraphic marks are in the style on my online course. Who knew? Actually, my subconscious painting brain surprises me more every day, especially in my small watercolour abstracts!

Doodle 4 – a closeup

See my Spare Time Abstracts

Doodle 1

Good morning everyone. I think the title says it all, really, because I’m very busy at the moment. And, this is all the art I can manage to fit in at present – spare time abstracts! Actually, I saw a few things online about doodling, which seems to be very popular just now. But, to be honest, I’ve been scribbling little designs and patterns all my life. So, it seems to be quite natural to me. However, I noticed lots of ideas suggesting doing these small drawings over a background of watercolour marks. So, nothing could be easier, I use my little travel set of colours and it dries fast. Then, a little bundle of markers to choose from, and off I go!

Although, I must say the notion of using lots of surface pattern over paint is still new to me. But, that’s the fun part. And, as most of my marker pens are waterproof, it seems natural to add a bit more emphasis on top with thicker paint. Next, I have a look at the design for any ugly bits and correct them. And now I’ve done another spare time abstract! Right, back to the allotment gardening! There is some more fun doodling in this post here, using a slightly different technique.

Doodle 2

Look at my Framed Abstracts

Up

Good morning everyone. I finished this small watercolour painting yesterday and, with a bit of magic, it’s now one of my new framed abstracts. Isn’t science wonderful? Only a few minutes work, and there it is , in a frame and on the wall of a virtual room!

Up in the Dining Room

Not only does it boost my confidence to see my work displayed on the wall. But also I can then easily assess the work and make mental notes how to progress in the next one.

Perhaps you might not be aware, but I can see quite a lot of influence here from the Painting with Yvette course I am following. For example, the general movement of the colour red across the paper. Also, I have used both thin, washy paint and more thickly applied coats in this composition. In addition, I have applied patches of fine surface pattern on the top layer. Obviously, this might not be all that easy to see in these images of one of my framed abstracts. But, close up it is more effective and I learned all this from this excellent course.

In the Shadows

Finally, I couldn’t resist ‘hanging’ this little abstract on the wall. And I like the way the dark, moody colour of the background complements the mysterious feeling of the painting. In fact, when I look at it now, I think of a passage back into the light from a dark place, perhaps a cave? However, it was an intuitive composition, with no planning beforehand. If you would like to see more of my abstract work, see here.

Drawing the Figure in Movement

Figure in Movement

Good morning everyone. This is another page in the art journaling course Sketchbook Revival by Karen Abend. And I really enjoyed this tutorial by Barbara Baumann all about the gestural method of sketching the figure. That is, concentrating on the figure in movement. Basically, you sketch out the direction of the limbs, the torso and the head. Most importantly you study the angles of the tilt of the head and torso. Also, the direction of the outstretched arms and legs. Obviously the photo reference for this sketch was ideal – the pose was quite extreme. Also, unbelievably high off the ground!

The Proportions of the Body

After that, the really hard part! To be honest, I already knew about planning out the shoulders, elbows and knees as circles. But in the lesson I learned about the shapes of the upper and lower torso. And that is new to me and extremely helpful. In addition, I appreciated the tips about creating a background of dynamic lines and splodges. In my opinion is does suggest the figure in movement, which is not easy.

Ballerina in Flight

As you may know if you follow my blog, I have attended life drawing classes for a few years now. And I’ll finish up with one of my favourite drawings, done from life when we were also thinking about Matisse. In fact, a lot of his later cut- out work is very gestural. So, here’s my tribute to that great French artist. Actually, you could see more of my paintings of the figure in People, a section of my gallery.

Model in Blue

Two Paintings from my Archive

The Road to the Mountains

Good morning everyone. As part of my grand tidy-up, I looked through this old sketchbook to check for any empty pages. And I found these two paintings from my archive. Admittedly, I am not very organised, I have several sketchbooks on the go at once, with no particular plan! But the time comes when I must fill them up and put them away. Actually, I found that I had filled up this book and, in the process, I discovered these two mixed media pieces.

Over the Bay

Although I love them both, I must confess that I can barely remember doing them! Except, I do recall that it was round about the time that I was busy experimenting with coloured pencils. Perhaps six or seven years ago, possibly. And, me being me, I also couldn’t refrain from using watercolour pencil, oil pastel and marker pen too! Anyway, I am certain that I drew them from postcards or magazine cut-outs, not plein air. However, when I examine them now, I can clearly see bits that remind me of places I love to draw from life. For example, Over the Bay is definitely influenced by the hours I have spent looking and sketching at the Bay at Scarbrough on the north east coast of Yorkshire.

As for the mountain one, I can see in it the vegetation that grows on the moorland around where I live. So, I do remember happy days when I look at these paintings from my archive after all! You could see some more evocative landscape paintings in my gallery here.

Discover Shapes in Paint Doodles

Flight

Good morning everyone. This is a fun exercise I did in the tutorial by Charlie O’Shields in the Sketchbook Revival course by Karen Abend. And I tried to discover shapes in simple paint doodles, following the method described by Charlie. To be honest, it was easy to follow. First, scribble some marks with clean water on your brush, on watercolour paper. Most importantly, leave some blank spaces and don’t cover all the sheet. Next, quickly drop in some very wet paint and allow it to mingle. As you can probably tell, my paint blotches did start to dry a little. So I added more and ‘grew’ a few cauliflowers! But, it didn’t matter and just added to the design. When it’s thoroughly dry, take a bit of time to study it. Then pick out the outlines of anything you see in pen or fine marker. Just let your imagination go wild!

Actually, I did enjoy this playing with paint and ideas, and I felt it was a good antidote to worrying about all the sad things I hear on the news. So, if you want a little chuckle, have a look at the other daft doodles I produced.

In the Depths of the Sea
Night Time
Puppy

Finally, here’s an example of a ten minute doodle (done last night). And this shows my usual method of doodling abstracts and how to discover shapes. In fact, I draw or paint colours and shapes at random and then develop it from there. In this case, first, chop courgettes for the dinner, then sit down with marker pens, oil pastels, a biro and tiny notebook!

Courgettes for Dinner

Trying New Approaches with Flowers

The Tulips on the Table

Good morning everyone. Lately I have been working my way through the excellent tutorials in the free Sketchbook Revival course with Karen Abend. Actually, it’s finished now, but I will certainly look out for it next year. In particular I have enjoyed the sections on painting flowers. And I have been trying the new approaches introduced by several of the tutors. For example, using a looser painting technique when observing flowers from life.

Bouquet with Roses

To be honest, this was quite difficult to do, as I have always observed each flower carefully before. And then attempted to paint all details on each bloom separately. But here I observed closely first. And then tried to paint the different elements and shapes into flowers that were pleasing in the overall design. Anyway, this was my first attempt and things can only get better! In fact, this exercise ‘Mixed Media Floral Study’ was led by Joy Ting.

Trying New Approaches in Design

Flower Design 1

This was another exercise that I enjoyed, a simple flower design by Viddhi Saschit. And the tutor broke it down into easy steps, so that I created this reasonably attractive design. Afterwards I felt that I could try to paint another little pattern by myself.

Finally, I just wanted to show you The Tulips on the Table, which I did quite spontaneously in watercolour and oil pastel. And, I like to think that I put into practice some of the new ideas that I learnt. You could see more of my flower pictures here.

New Exhibition at the Market

Neurons

Good morning everyone. As promised, here is a review of our new exhibition at the market in Rotherham. By ‘our’ I mean ROAR – Rotherham Open Arts Renaissance, an artist’s group that I am a member of. And, we have displayed our art on a glass wall in the covered market building in the town centre.

Our New Exhibition at the Market

As you can see, this space was a bit of a challenge to use, but I think we have done well. The windows were actually different dimensions and all landscape orientation. So I could not show two nice life drawings, because they were portrait. And, obviously, framed paintings were not possible. However I think the display is excellent, including prints and some originals. Here are the other three of my paintings on show.

Clematis at Dusk
Daffs at the Allotment
In the Wood

Actually, our work is quite varied, comprising acrylic paintings, contemporary watercolour portraits, prints and mixed media collage.

Matt’s Portraits
Ken’s pencil drawing
Kevan’s print
Mixed media collage
Acrylic painting

Because of the pandemic, we have not been able to meet up so much. So it felt really good to be involved in a project together. And, also to show off our new exhibition at the market. Have a look at this post here when we went out sketching at the Steel Henge.

Work for our New Exhibition

Ready to Go On

Good morning everyone. Well, I have been quite busy again doing “art” business. In fact, I’ve realised that I’ve made myself just a bit too busy. But, in my own defence, it’s probably a natural reaction to the situation. First, no art activity for a long time. Then, say yes to every opportunity that comes along! Anyway, what could be nicer than taking part in Rotherham Roar artists’ group exhibition? Because it’s the first one we’ve had for quite a while. And so, I took these two pencil and watercolour sketches I did at life drawing class ages ago , for our new exhibition.

Ready to Go On
Thinking

In fact, the space we are exhibiting in at Rotherham Market Hall is like a wall of glass. So, works on paper and unframed are the way to go. Therefore I choose these two prints.

Working in my Allotment
Clematis at Dusk

As I recall, the flower painting was part of a project at my art society to capture the colours of flowers as the light faded. See here for more of my flower paintings.

And, finally, these last two made the final choice for our new exhibition. Up first is my version of a microscope photo of a neuron (one of those things in your brain that makes everything possible).

Neurons

And, finally, one of my favourites, a mixed media piece I call a semi abstracted memory of a walk in the woods.

A Walk in the Woods

To be honest, I’ve probably got enough work to fill the whole wall, not that I’m an excessive painter or anything! But, for now, six is enough!

New Intuitive Abstract in Acrylic

Flight

Good morning everyone. This is the first intuitive abstract in acrylic that I’ve painted in a long time. That is, apart from a few doodles. But I do know why I didn’t – I was trying to concentrate on landscapes for a couple of months. Actually, I was following the advice of my online tutor, Rod Moore and I think it’s sound. Apparently, studying and practicing one subject and medium leads to more progress. And I think it’s true. But, I was having too many withdrawal symptoms and missing creating abstract composition. So I had to paint this one!

A Closeup of my Abstract in Acrylic

Flight – a closeup

In fact, I had been getting ideas all along for combinations of colours and shapes for an abstract in acrylic. So, I retrieved this idea of interlocking gears from my memory archive. And combined it with a soft colour scheme of misty blues, greens and pinks. Although I followed my usual method of painting from all four angles, the pink figure emerged, and is determined to make its way out of the picture. I’m sure this is another example of art therapy!

A Doodle Abstract in Mixed Media

A mixed media abstract

Finally, here’s one of the aforementioned doodles, this time in biro and pastels. And, I definitely felt better when I’d done it! See more abstracts in this post here.

As you may know, all my artwork is for sale at reasonable prices. Just go to the Contact Me page and email me for more details. ‘Flight’ is acrylic on canvas board, 12 by 15.5 inches, unframed, and I’m letting it go at £50 plus shipping. Affordable art!

Big Tree in my Garden

The Big Tree

Good morning everyone. Well, it’s finished at last! And, to be honest, I don’t really know why I didn’t complete the Big tree in my Garden earlier. Actually, I started this big painting back in the spring, after doing at least two other studies. In fact, you may remember these mixed media versions, because I think I did post them.

Study 1 for The Big Tree

As I remember, I painted the twisting shapes of the branches, still really visible in spring, before the leaves grew thicker. And I found these fascinating, at the same time realising that we had created them ourselves. Simply by hacking the growth back every year in a vain attempt to keep the tree small for our modestly sized town garden. Anyway, I sketched first in charcoal and then I worked in oil pastel.

Study 2 for The Big Tree

Now, this is the second version that I sketched in charcoal and then added watercolour and pen for finishing touches. By the way, I sketched both of these through the living room window. And, as you can see,the season is moving on!

The Big Tree

But, to get back to the bigger painting, I decided to paint the tree quite simply and make sure that it dominates the space. But I also wanted to give emphasis to the rather fine building on the other side of my garden wall. At present it is used as offices, but, using my artistic licence, I show it as the grand family home that it once was.

And, I daydream about the people who live there, do they watch my house from their windows? And, what is there over the hill that the house sits on top of? So, as you have realised, I have created an imaginary scene from the reality I live in. Because, there’s always more than meets the eye, in my imagination anyway!

The Big Tree – a closeup

Finally, this acrylic painting on paper is 16 by 20 inches and the price is £80 plus postage, free in UK. Just email me on my Contact Me page here. And, if you want to see more of my trees, see here.

Drawing Small Animals from Life

The Billy Goat

Good morning everyone. Last week I went with my art group to Silkstone, a picturesque village nearby. We wanted to spend some time drawing small animals. And one of the attractions for us was the opportunity to observe farm animals and birds up close. I used all my powers of persuasion on my artbuddies to encourage them to draw living creatures. As you probably know, it’s quite a difficult task, because they won’t keep still! Actually, the sheep did doze off quite nicely in the shade, convenient for us sketchers.

Anyway, I sketched hens, sheep, goats and a peacock. For the most part, these were quick sketches, trying to capture the shape of the body. Also attempting to show the posture and perhaps some of the attitude.

Drawing Small Animals

Sheep and Goats

Then I spent a bit of time observing this mature male goat, pacing around his own field. Speaking of attitude, he was clearly in charge of all his family, even though they were the other side of the fence. And most impressive of all was his beard, long and luxuriant, sweeping down to the ground.

The Billy Goat

Finally, I’d like to show you a mixed media painting I did en plein air at Wigfield Farm. This was a couple of years ago when our sketch group visited this teaching farm, with some beautifully cared for animals. Luckily for me, this rabbit stayed still every minute or so. Sometimes it wandered around, investigating all the corners, and snacking. As I recall, I was using pen and oil pastel – these are rather unforgiving media, so expect a few mistakes I couldn’t correct. Even when I tried watercolour on top! Anyway, it was great fun and I’m sure we will go again. After all, practice makes perfect ( so they say!)

And if you want to see some paintings of dogs, you’ll find them here.

The Black Rabbit

A Charcoal and Pastel Sketch

The View through the Window

Good morning everyone. I have literally just finished this sketch. (And wiped all the pastel chalk dust off the table! ) As you can see, I made a charcoal and pastel sketch of the view through my window. Well, I have distorted the perspective slightly. But, your eye should travel down the garden, over the fence and the lovely, old brick wall. Then you get a glimpse of the rather fine sandstone office building to the left. And one of the small trees in my crowded shrubbery garden is featured, dominating the space. Actually, it’s an overgrown pyracantha, very hacked about over the years, in an effort to keep it in its place!

To be honest, I sketched this rather impetuously , and I don’t claim to have any skill with pastel painting. You see, I had been browsing the net and I found a great post by kestrelart, all about sketching quickly outdoors. The artist very generously described trying charcoal for capturing the scene and then adding colour with pastel. Or, watercolour and also spraying the paper in some places and leaving others dry. What fun! In fact, I couldn’t wait to try it out. By the way, does any one else use these materials together?

You can see how well the artist uses this technique if you look at his latest post here. As for me, I’ll keep on practising and I’ll definitely take charcoal and pastel out with me next time I go out plein air sketching.

A Charcoal and Pastel Sketch of the Camelia Bush

The View through the Window – a closeup

Here I have attempted to paint the camelia bush – it flowered really well this year. However, we’ve been having some late frosts recently and, at the moment, the blooms are partly brown and crispy! But, this is all part of the trials of life as a gardener, as some of you will know!

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