Monday 30 January 2012

A little bit more of Victoria Street

I'm determined to keep at the Edinburgh pictures, even although I'm finding the subject matter less to my liking than Lochcarron.  Anyway, I had done a few thumbnails last night in preparation for the studio today.
Victoria Street thumbnail copyright Aileen Grant
I thought this composition had some merit, so I thought I would have a go at it.  (Actually, looking at it again, I like the way the buildings disappear into soft focus at the top of the page.)  Here's the sequence of pictures.

Series of Emerging pictures of Victoria Street copyright Aileen Grant
 I don't appear to have taken a very good photo, but it gives the general idea.  I'm afraid I don't find pictures of buildings all that exciting, and because of that I'm not a good judge of the end result.  I like the thumbnail better than the finished picture so perhaps it needs more work - I need to darken down some of the shopfronts, providing a better focal point.  But the finished pic was not too far away from the thumbnail.

I did another picture today which I think I'm a little bit happier with.  Here is the sequence.
Series of emerging pictures Victoria Street with Highland Free Kirk Steeple copyright Aileen Grant
The colour of this is much more interesting (perhaps a bit Turner-esque? not by design, I must say). It may point to a good approach to depicting the buildings of Edinburgh.  I started with underpainting of gouache - magenta and indian yellow - then drew into it and added some pale acrylic.  At that point I didn't want to lose all the pure colour, so I put some masking tape over, and carried on with ink, gouache and acrylic.  Oh, and graphite and charcoal.  So it was a right mixture.  But the building has ended up looking quite vibrant.  It has a warmth which makes it interesting, I think - at least it appeals to me more than the watered down colours I did on Friday.  And the steeple is nice and black, emerging out of the gloom of the sky.  The only thing I'm not sure about is the composition.....the building is a little low in the page, but then this accentuates the narrowness of the street and the importance of looking always...difficult to get everything right.

Saturday 28 January 2012

A Little Bit of Victoria Street

Continuing with the Edinburgh theme yesterday in the studio.  I looked out some of the sketches I did with the sketching group last time we were out.  I had particularly thought about doing a study picture on the subject of the 3 gables.  Before I started out on this, I felt a bit daunted.  I think buildings are harder work than landscapes, and I don't feel so free doing them (have to be a bit more disciplined, I suppose).  But this is my current direction and I want to give it a go.  Perhaps I was feeling a bit tired as I decided to do it on its own, i.e. not doing two pics at once.  And I was less pleased with the results.

Anyway, here's the picture development.

Stages of emerging picture - Three Gables -  Copyright Aileen Grant
I used the usual - charcoal, graphite, oil bar, then added some acrylic and water, then ink and drew back into the picture.  I think I faffed around with the windows too much - put them in, knocked them back, put them in again.  Not sure I like them yet, but I think the shopfronts look OK.  Rona M saw this picture last night and suggested the two figures don't work, and I think she might be right.  I'm perhaps a bit too attached to the foreground figure, and I can hear Jacqueline's advice ringing in my ears - don't hold onto details just because you like them - do they work in the picture? I quite like the far away figure and I think he's in the right place, so I guess he should stay.

Anyway, when I got to this stage, I felt it really hadn't worked and that I had wasted this precious day.  So I thought I'd try it again. 
Emerging picture of Three Gables (2) copyright Aileen Grant
Now, when I finished this, I thought it was better than pic1.  I prefer the texture on the buildings, and I do like a spot of orange in a picture (Quindachrome burnt orange mixed with other colours).  But again, I fiddled around with the windows and they're still not to my liking.  Also I had set out to control the colour a bit more and clearly did not deliver on that objective.  And when I got hime with these pics, Peter said he preferred the frst one.

Well, they're studies really. So I now have ideas to improve upon the idea.  I think I need more verticality - the buildings should really be  taller.  And I need to make a decision on the colour before I set out - pale but interesting colour should be my aim.  A single figure, or a small group. And be thoughtful about the windows - some more clearly defined than others. 

But overall, I also wonder if I've got the balance right on the amount of work in the picture.  Again the unfinished images look quite interesting, and maybe a more abstract approach would make a better picture?  Comments welcome.

Monday 23 January 2012

A New Start

In the studio today, and I could put it off no longer....I said I would try some pictures of Edinburgh, so I made a start to this 'project' today.

I found myself working entirely off sketches. Did some very sketchy thumbnails first then just got cracking.  I did two rough studies today.  Here's how they developed.
Two gables emerging copyright Aileen Grant

I started working in graphite, then added some silver acrylic, white and off-white.  I had decided to make the sky dark to increase the drama of the picture and was determined not to get too tight with the marks.

Two gables copyright Aileen Grant

By this late stage I had added some dilute ink (black, red and blue).  I also used some oil bar and then went back over the steps with ink and acrylic mixed to give a sort of blobby effect (technical term).  I was quite pleased with this, and I think it was the best thing I did today, but I'll see how it looks when I go back to the studio.

The other study I did, was based on my sketch of Lady Stair's Close.  I worked on it at the same time, but I don't think the motif was as strong.
Emerging Lady Stair's Close copyright Aileen Grant
This is the start I made in graphite plus a first stab with white and silver acrylics. (That band of light  was the sun shining.) After I had used the inks, it looked like this.
Emerging Lady Stair's Close copyright Aileen Grant
 Looking at this now, I quite like the paved close, which I may have lost.  As well as the inks, I had also used some burnt orange acrylic.  However, I thought the buildings needed to be a little darker and the sky needed a bit of attention.

Lady Stair's Close copyright Aileen Grant
Again I added oilbar, some pencil marks to denote Princes Street, and worked on the trees.  I also had a go at the stonework, adding more of that burnt orange and black ink.  I'm still not sure about the windows in the right hand building, but I had run out of steam and this was just a study (bad excuse).  So I stopped it here.

Ah's a start.  I've got more sketches to try out....on Friday, I hope

Saturday 21 January 2012

No more life drawing

It's very sad.....the life drawing sessions I was going to on a Monday evening in the Fisherrow Community Centre in Musselburgh have now finished.  Last Monday was the last time.  Two reasons - not enough interest to keep it going, and the difficulty of getting life models to come to Musselburgh on a Monday night. 

Well, I tried to make the most of the last night.
Last model 1 copyright Aileen Grant
 This was my best drawing of the evening, even tho' it was just a 20 minute drawing.  I was using a graphite stickfor drawing - I think it's quite good for life drawing - just a bit more subtle than charcoal.

A couple of my warm-up drawings were not too bad.  Here they are.
Last model 2 copyright Aileen Grant

Last model 3 copyright Aileen Grant
The one above was only a 5 minute drawing.  As usual, I would have liked more time but there's something about the pose that I like.

The final 40 minute drawing was this one.  It was not a very inspiring pose, and kinda difficult to draw, so I don't think it turned out well.  I needed extra space to capture the pose, so this drawing is over two A4 pages (hence the white line down the middle).  It has a sort of exaggerated perspective.  I'm not sure.  What do you think?
Last model 4 copyright Aileen Grant
I'm so disappointed about these sessions folding, but I must confess that I didn't go along often enough in the autumn, so I'm not entirely blameless.  A few of us think that life drawing is really important and we want to keep going at it.  I think it's great that we (of all ages and backgrounds) have this in common. So I'm going to explore other avenues.

Monday 16 January 2012

Update from Friday's Sketching

Had a good day's sketching on Friday with Rona, Mary, Mhairi, Kairen, Elspeth and Lel.  Have been a bit too busy since then to update the blog, but here we go....

We met at the Museum, and some of us sketched indoors, some out-of-doors (it was a beautiful sunny day, but somewhat cold).  I did a mixture of indoor and outdoor sketching.  Here are the results.

All sketches copyright Aileen Grant
Bit of a mixed bag.  I was able to sit and sketch the petrol pump in a little quiet corner of the museum, so that's why it looks better developed than the other sketches.  The outdoor sketches were done quickly as I needed to keep walking around to keep warm.  I wanted to grab some sketches of groups of people and some Edinburgh buildings.  I want to see where this might take me this year.

Monday 9 January 2012

The difficulties of finishing

Went into the studio with the intention of finishing off some pictures, clearing the decks before I embark on a new body of work. But I'm afraid I didn't get anything finished....except this little picture

Valley Study copyright Aileen Grant
This picture actually started life as part of a larger picture which I sliced off.  It was in acrylic, charcoal and oil pastel, and I added a little graphite today and did some rubbing out....I think it works as a little picture...but maybe the sea should be a little darker now I see it again.....

I started another sketchy picture just to "warm up", and got a little pre-occupied (again?).  I decided I would have a go at a picture of snowy hills.  It was based on a view I saw while on our recent walk above Achnashellach.  I knew this would be difficult..I think painting snow is one of the most difficult things to do.  Also, I wasn't sure about the composition so wanted to do a large picture which I would later crop.  The main thing was to try and do an atmospheric picture.  Anyway, I did the usual sequence - charcoal-water-more charcoal-oilbar-white acrylic-coloured ink-oil pastel-etc.  This was how it progressed.

Sequence of pictures to develop Snowy Hills copyright Aileen Grant
So, guess what?  I've overworked it again.  I think the second picture in this sequence is by far the most interesting.  The bottom two are the same version, just cropped differently.  When will I learn?  I need to pause a little longer once I get to a certain stage.  One answer would be to work on more than one picture at a time, so I must try this in future. But maybe I can salvage another little picture out of what I did today.

So - thinking of Friday - another sketching day and I'm going to take the opportunity to do some indoor scenes (or street scenes if the weather is OK). I'm hoping this sketching day will be a springboard for me to embark on a new body of work with an urban context.