Friday 25 November 2011

Extreme Sketching (Almost)

What a day! What a day to go sketching! Despite the atrocious weather today, we had a go at sketching in Portobello.  Well, all I can say is..."Thank goodness for the Beach House Cafe!" .....
But on the basis that the weather can add an extra dimension, the four of us who turned up for a bit of a sketch did make a go of it.......then we repaired to the cafe where we continued to sketch the sea view.

By the time we made a start, a rainstorm was already approaching.  The colour looking over the Forth was fantastic, and a couple of us tried to capture this - I tried it in pastel.  Here's my effort.
Sketch of Inchkeith from Portobello copyright Aileen Grant
I was trying to capture that strange luminous dark turquoise of the sea - the stormy colour - it's not quite as bright as this - but down came the deluge.  And it was mighty cold - a high wind chill factor.  So I packed up to find shelter.  Then I tried bits of sketches - how difficult it is to sketch in the rain!  The charcoal was blobbing, the paper was blowing about, etc etc.
In short...I gave up trying to brave the elements, went back to the cafe, and there were the pals, sketching in comfort!  So I attempted another sea view, in pencil this time as I was out of the wet.
Sketch of Largo Law with Table + Chairs copyright Aileen Grant

I'm afraid that my efforts were definitely the worst of the bunch, but I don't have the evidence to show this.  Maybe we'll start a sketching blog. Anyway, despite the awful weather it was a good attempt and we all managed to do something!  It was also great to catch up - we went on to Art'sComplex after this to eat our sandwiches and have a chat - and arrange the next sketching session.  In January!

Monday 14 November 2011

Another Attadale View

Wasn't feeling so well today but still managed a bit of painting. I almost got distracted (thinking about some recent urban sketches), but no...I knew I must stay focused on my thumbnail template.  As usual I wanted to 'draw myself in' and make a start to my session with charcoal, thinking about a black and white picture.  So I decided to focus on a view across Loch Carron to Attadale...again.  I had not tried a black and white of this picture, so I thought that doing this same view in a different medium might produce an interesting result.  I started with this.
Attadale view (scribble) copyright Aileen Grant
Now, this was virtually a scribble of a start.  However, as always, there is something so lively about this first scribble.  It feels rough and full of energy, it's got lots of looseness (which is what I am seeking to achieve) but it would be dissatisfying to try and leave it as a finished picture.  Why? Well, there is no detail underpinning it.  It would not hold the viewer's interest.  Anyway, leaving it was not an option.  So it was out with the rubber and on with the oilbar.  So a few minutes later it looked like this.
Attadale View (blurry scribble) copyright Aileen Grant
I'm nt always convinced that I do the right thing with oilbar.  Am I overdoing it?  Have I done the marks in the best way?  I'm wondering if these marks are a bit too rigid and vertical.  Really, I'm aiming for randomness, to achieve unexpected results.  Anyway, I carried on with a few marks using oil crayons, then white acrylic and inks (black, blue and red).  Finally I decided to crop the right hand end off the picture to make a more contained composition. So now it looks like this.
Attadale View (Black and White) copyright Aileen Grant
It's the white acrylic which gives the opportunity to loosen the picture up, allowing a bit of dreaminess for the sea and the sky.  This cropped composition is also much better - similar to the composition in the square coloured version.  (I only realised this with the photograph.)  I also worked hard on the shore treatment - pebbles, rocks and shoreline - to make sure there was enough interest. There is actually a bit of subtle colour in there! Of course this is larger than the coloured thumbnails, so maybe I'm nearly ready to attempt a larger picture.  But frustratingly I'm not going to be able to get time in the studio for a little while.  Can I keep the momentum going?

Monday 7 November 2011

In the Studio....Continuing

Had a busy weekend with the Morningside Artkist exhibition  - was up there on Friday and Saturday and looked in on Sunday too.  It was busy and I got some good feedback on my pictures, and a few sales. (Not many pictures sold overall). People mostly liked my black and white pictures and my drawings - can't say I'm surprised.  Anyway, I found it a little bit difficult to settle back into painting today but I decided to keep focused on my thumbnails.  As usual, I started doing a black and white exercise to get into the mood for painting.  I had a painting on the wall of Fisherrow Harbour and thought I would try it in black and white. I got so absorbed that I forgot to take a photo until I got beyond the charcoal stage.
Emerging Fisherrow Harbour B+W copyright Aileen Grant
I carried on with more ink and white acrylic, remembering that the floor of the harbour was much darker than the harbour walls.  I took it as far as this.
Fisherrow Harbour B+W copyright Aileen Grant
I wasn't pleased with this at the time, but looking at it now, it looks quite interesting.  I was having a bit of fun with the muddy harbour, spraying lots of water as well as mixing the ink and acrylic.  It's helping me to create a dark and interesting space which is really my aim.
I got the oil paint out in the afternoon and returned to the applecross pictures. I had already painted this small  (A5) version of the view over to Attadale.
Attadale oil colour study copyright Aileen Grant
I quite liked the colour treatment in this, and the brushwork (it is just a small picture), but I thought the composition could be improved. I had already made a start to a small square picture which I had prepared with an orange acrylic ground.  I added some pencil marks in a similar treatment to my big pictures.
Attadale oil colour study copyright Aileen Grant
Actually, I quite like this now, this light treatment which allows the orange underneath to shine through.  It has a delicacy which may have been lost now, with this.
Attadale oil colour study copyright Aileen Grant
Apart from the difference in composition, in this new version I have used Prussian Blue in the mix (not used in the earlier verion).  It gives a richer colour.  So I think this composition has some potential and I may take it further in a larger square picture.