Saturday 30 July 2011

Sketching in Town

Decided to do a bit of sketching in town yesterday. I was meeting pals in the Abbotsford early evening, so it seemed like a good idea. I started off in St Andrew Square which I think is so lovely now it's opened up - a real piece of planning achievement! Anyway, this is the pencil sketch I did while sitting on the grass, looking west towards George Street.
St Andrew Square Sketch
I thought I might have done a sketch from the top of Princes Mall (the old Waverley Market site), but there was a scaffolding up - the Waverley Steps are being upgraded. So I abandoned that idea, and instead trotted over to the Old Town. It was so busy, it was difficult to find a sketching spot, but the Mound was a bit quieter, and I found a seat at the old Bank of Scotland HQ - now the money museum - where I got a view over to Lady Stair's Close. I did this charcoal sketch.
I think this was probably my best sketch of the day, and there may be enough for a painting in this - but I'm not sure. Anyway, I walked around a bit more and found myself climbing up the Scotsman Steps. They have been beautifully restored and I could prop my sketchbook on one of the ledges. So I did a sketch looking down under the North Bridge, another charcoal.
I really loved that lamp-post - they don't make them like that any more. It is a beautiful cast iron lamp-post, and I know that my ex-colleagues in Edinburgh Cty Council work hard with Historic Scotland to preserve these. Coming back to the sketch, I think it is a bit indistinct which is a shame because I do think this scene has potential for a painting. Maybe I need to go back and do a colour sketch/study. Or I might be able to take it a little further from the photos I took.
Anyway, I enjoyed my skecthing session. Whether or not it will give me a good start for some new paintings remains to be seen. 

Monday 25 July 2011

A Couple of Coos

We were out walking in the Ochils yesterday - trying to get fit again. Went up Dollar Glen then on up Kingseat. It was a beautiful day. Didn't do any sketching until a crowd of black cows caught my eye on the way down. They were truly beautiful, shiny black, so I did a quick sketch. I've never tried drawing a cow before!
Charcoal sketch of a black cow copyright Aileen Grant
Today I thought I'd try a composition with cows. I had taken some photos yesterday as well as sketching. Being experimental, I thought I'd try drawing with highlighter pens as well as charcoal to see where that might take me. It started to look like this.
I quite like the shimmery effect of the charcoal, and the lines of highlighter pens, but am not too sure if these really look like cows - the sketch was better....however, I soldiered on, adding more highlighter and some pastel and white conte and ended up with this
Twa Coos copyright Aileen Grant 
I thought the result was quite interesting and worth trying again. I've been thinking about my landscapes. Perhaps they are a bit empty and maybe I should think about the elements within the landscape to make my efforts into more interesting pictures. Was also at the Blackadder exhibition on Saturday and she of course was very considered about the elements she placed within her pictures. (I noticed that one of her early landscapes had some carefully placed cows, so maybe that put the idea into my mind). So perhaps I can learn from Blackadder.... I think I'd like to develop this idea further....

Friday 22 July 2011

Black and white...or shades of grey?

Quite a good day in the studio today, even although I didn't really get started until the afternoon. (I had to move a shelving unit into the studio and it took longer than anticipated. But it has given me more space)
Anyway, having limited time, I decided to focus on black and white today. So this is what I did.....
This was the start - just in charcoal - a picture of the boathouse on the shore at Kishorn, based on sketches and a photo. So the next stage was this.
I added some oilbar to the charcoal to produce this. Then I did some more - adding more charcoal, and white acrylic.
 Then I thought I'd add some ink and more white acyrylic......
And then I added more ink and acrylic to try and finish it off. So the final result was this....I've brought it home to review it.
Boathouse, Kishorn Shore copyright Aileen Grant

After I'd finished this it was late afternoon, so I started  a sketch in pencil....'s the view from my studio window. Have been thinking about doing this for a while. It's a start.......

Monday 18 July 2011

Diddling about today

Well, I went along to the studio today intending to get on with some serious painting. I was going to work from sketches as well as photos on my computer. However, there was some problem with the computer - basically it froze - and so I was left with my sketches. Ah well, c'est la vie. Instead of working seriously I just played about and finished a few things off ....well, they may be finished....
I revisited this one, adding a little pale colour and making more marks in black ink to make the wall bigger. It looks a little better, I think.
Harbourwall copyright Aileen Grant    

Darksea copyright Aileen Grant
The other picture - Darksea - I did from another piece of prepared paper - I loved the blue colour - and made it into a view of the sea at night - based on the view I get from the flat in Musselburgh. I think it turned out not too badly, but I'm still considering it.
I had a go at one new picture, based on a sketch I had done near Lochcarron. This is again done on Japanese paper which I had previously prepared wth gouache, and it turned out like this - again I'm still thinking about this one, don't think it's finished yet....
NW to Kishorn copyright Aileen Grant
I'm thinking about going sketching on Friday. I think it would be good to get some fresh ideas to work on. Till Friday......

Friday 15 July 2011

A Struggle

Very tired again today - it was a hard 4 days at work. However I foced myself to go into the studio. To try and get into the mood I did a couple of sketches here at Musselburgh first - it was a lovely day, after all. Anyway, one of these was (inevitably) of the harbour wall.
Harbourwall sketch copyright Aileen Grant
I quite liked the lines in the foreshore and Leith in the background. I thought it might make a good picture in the style of Diebenkorn - detail in the middle and great sweeps of flat colour top and bottom. So when I went to the studio, I had a go at a small acrylic of the same scene. However, I used one of my pieces of Japanese paper with gouache already on it. That may have been a mistake as sadly it didn't really work.What's even worse is that this photo makes the picture look good!
Harbourwall Study copyright Aileen Grant
Ah well, I may doctor it, or I may try another pencil sketch before I abandon this idea. I do feel a bit stuck in the studio and am clearly missing the Friday class. Maybe I need to go out sketching again, but the trouble is I have so many unfinished pictures. I get to a certain point and then I can't quite finish the picture off. (Perhaps I'n finding out that I'm not a completer-finisher.) Anyway, here is a case in point.
Hairdressers copyright Aileen Grant
This is almost finished, but not quite. Peter was encouraging me to finish it off so maybe I'll knuckle down on Monday and try and get it finished. Trouble is, I don't have any other pictures of figures that are anywhere near ready and I feel as if figures may be more of a winter subject. On the other hand, there are plenty of people on the beach here, so maybe I should try some local studies to put me in the mood.
Ah well, I'm off to Art Tarts this evening, so maybe that will spur me on.

Friday 8 July 2011

A Difficult Day

It's Friday again, so in the studio. However, I was not feeling particularly sparky. Not sure why - maybe I've been too busy at work. Anyway, I was greeted by my efforts from Monday, the most startling of which was this.......
Seacliffe in progress (copyright AG)
I just couldn't decide what to do about this picture - was not in the right mood. I looks a bit Turner-esque and I did not want to lose that feeling of heat and shimmer and I did nothing. Left it for another day.
All I could do today was drawing. So I started with a drawing of my mystery object.....
Isitabirdhaha (copyright AG)
I picked this up on the beach here in Musselburgh. It's the remnants of a brush, perhaps a sweep's brush. Great object, but difficult to draw. I used pencil, white conte stick and then some graphite powder which made it more smudgy. Then I added some white ink. What do you think? I'm not sure, but I think this drawing looks better in the flesh.  It was a good starting point for the day.
Then my next effort was to try and draw a big boat I sketched in Port Gasgow on our way back from Tighnabruaich. Well - I thought I might paint it in black and white, but I got caught up in the drawing of it. And here's a conundrum....I'm not sure that the finished drawing looks any better than my very quick starting point. What do you think?
Here's how it was at the start
Big Boat in progress (Copyright AG)

It's nice and loose and mysterious. Quite impressionistic.... And here it is when I left it
Big Boat later (copyright AG)
 Totally different feel. Have I overworked it? I shall reflect on this over the next few days. I think there is a good picture somewhere between the two extremes. Hey ho! (But very interesting to have captured images of these two extremes.)
And sadly I won't get into the studio on Monday as I need to work. And it's a busy weekend too. So I'll just have to snatch my chances for sketching until next Friday.

Monday 4 July 2011

If you can't stand the heat, get out of the studio.....

It was pretty warm today, but no slacking for me. I'm trying to keep up momentum from the Leith course. I managed to have a sort of productive day. First I was reviewing the adjustments I made last week. For instance, my big Leith picture - "The call of sea and shore" - is now looking like this.
The Call of Sea and Shore copyright Aileen Grant
I think adding the extra grass makes this picture work a bit better. The weak part was the shore itself, and now that this area is reduced and better contained, the greens and blues are more dominant and the whole picture works better. So I'm going to leave it alone now.

Today I thought I'd go back to some acrylics, using some sheets of Japanese paper (Ho Sho paper) underpainted in gouache. As I thought there was some potetial in the Bass Rock sketch I did at Seacliff, I thought I should have a go at this. The result is shown below, and it's interesting to compare it against the sketch from yesterday. I think it is a bit more interesting - there's more colour and texture. However, the far horizon looks a bit like the Bass Rock is casting a shadow, so I think I may adjust this.  I think is feels like a sunny picture - which of course it was. And it is true that the underpainting gives a good effect. However, I'm also going to try it in oils. I made a start today, but as I forgot the camera, I don't have an image yet.
Bass Rock from Seacliff copyright Aileen Grant
So it's back to work for the rest of the week, but I hope I'll be able to get another studio day on Friday. I don't expect it'll be quite as hot, but you never know.

Sunday 3 July 2011

Summer at last!

Finally we get some good weather. What a beautiful day it was yesterday. We went off to Seacliff - the pay beach as Peter calls it. We were looking after Pooka the dog and she headed straight into the water. I headed straight over to the rocks to do a quick sketch before the tide came in.
Bass Rock sketch copyright Aileen Grant
I've tried to paint this view once before, but with a sandy foreground. I think the rocky and seaweed foreground has greater potential, so I may try to paint it again. This sketch was in pastels in an effort to catch the colours.  Sadly that was the only sketch I managed. It was far too picturesque! But when I got home I managed to do a pencil sketch of the view towards Berwick Law.
East over Fisherrow Harbour copyright Aileen Grant
I think this is a good view with the potential for a picture - particularly with the power station in it - the verticals echo the masts in the harbour. And it's the view from my balcony.....Sorry the photo's not so good. Anyway, today's another lovely day, but I'm going to the studio for a short time. I missed out on Friday cos' I had to work, so I want to make up for lost time.