Tuesday 27 March 2012

Sunny Applecross

Spent Sunday in Applecross, lovely day, but a bit hazy, almost sultry.  Did a few sketches in various favourite spots.

Applecross Bay Sketch
In Applecross Bay the tide was out and the sun was low in the sky to the west.  I love those beech trees on the south side of the Bay - they make me think of some of Nash's paintings of trees - however I was a bit nervous about trying to sketch them.  I don't think I've quite captured the essence of them here - I haven't managed to convey the featheryness of the carmine-coloured branches.  The beach itself is interesting - large stones sitting on a bed of small white shells - not sure if I've captured that either.

Further north on Applecross, the sun was shining on Shieldaig, although the Torridon hills behind were looking a bit hazy and indistinct.  I did a quick charcoal sketch.

Shieldaig from Applecross
Once I started this, I found I had to take the sketch over the two pages to try and capture the grandeur of the view.  I could have done with a bigger piece of paper.

Fearnmore Boat High and Dry
And down in Fearnmore I did a sketch of the boat I missed the last time I was there.  Decided to do this in ink.  Not really sure why I chose ink, but I used to sketch all the time in ink and it is quite good for giving the impression of seaweed.  I'm trying to draw more boats just to become more proficient at capturing them - practising really.  But this boat was interesting because it was high and dry - not sure if it would work as a picture.

It was so lovely to bask in the sun in Applecross.  Such a contrast to the weather a few days ago when it was cloudy and overcast.  However, in the spirit of sketching-whatever-the-weather, I had done this sketch down at Kishorn Bay.  

Overcast Kishorn Bay Sketch
At the time I wasn't very pleased with this, but looking at it now it does capture that subdued colour of an overcast day.  I was also trying to capture the sand patterns in the foreground.  But the tide was coming in a bit quickly and I had to stop.

As always, it was good to get the opportunity to gather a few sketches, and a bit of sketching made me feel better.   Especially in such surprisingly beautiful weather.

Friday 16 March 2012

Trees today

Was feeling a bit off-colour today so I thought I wouldn't attempt a picture.  I thought I would play a bit -  try out some textures, experiment.  But in the end I did a sort of a picture.

I started scribbling with graphite and conte sticks.  I quite like the effect you can get if you mix them together and also use a rubber.  I did some scribbles of tree shapes and from this emerged the idea of trees in front of a terrace of buildings - very New Town.
Emerging New Town Trees
I started drawing with graphite stick and white conte.  What to do next?  Decided to add a little ink.

Emerging New Town Trees
I thought if I used ink diluted with water to sketch in the buildings this would keep them subdued, behind the trees.  However, this was a bit rough and ready and a bit too dominant.  So I added some white acrylic.
Emerging New Town Trees

I also added oil crayon and oilbar and more acrylic.  However by this time the paper was starting to rip a bit (notice the little flap by the right hand tree!).  I dithered a bit about the treatment of the roof, and added some blue and purple oil crayon, blue ink and then painted over it with white acrylic again.  Looking at the trees, I wanted to get the right feel to them - wanted to give the impression of movement - so did a liitle more graphite and  rubber.  I also decided to add in some tree shadows on the grass.

Emerging New Town Trees
So this is how it turned out.  Well, I mean, this is as far as I took it.  I've brought it home to reflect on it.  My initial reaction was that it was not abstract enough.  I had wanted to try and capture the feel of the earlier sketch.  So I thought I'd do another drawing of three trees and not use any paint at all.  Same technique - combination of graphite and conte.

Drawing of Three Trees
Is this better than the New Town Trees?  I don't know.  Time will tell.

Monday 12 March 2012

More Corrugated Iron

Back in the studio again today, keeping the focus on my corrugated iron sheds.  I had sketched some boatsheds at Cockenzie last weekend - a very quick sketch done in a cold north wind.  The sheds caught my eye as they were quite dark and brooding, a bit run-down, and made of corrugated iron (of course).  I thought they might make a good subject for a picture.  I particularly liked the slipway rails in front of the sheds.
I started with charcoal and a bit of graphite, rubbing out a bit and adding a little oilbar, trying to capture the feel of graffiti on the sheds.

Emerging picture of Cockenzie Boat Sheds
I wanted to darken this down a bit, so added more graphite and some ink.  Also used a limited amount of oil pastel.  I was particularly keen to include the house and the pylon in the picture, although in reality these are not quite in this position.
Emerging picture of Cockenzie Boat Sheds

I put this to one side for a bit.  I thought it didn't look too bad, but wasn't wholeheartedly pleased with it.  Couldn't quite decide what exactly was not quite right.  So I decided to go back and look at a photo I had taken at the weekend and think about how I might improve the picture.  I realised that the proportions of the big shed were not quite right, and that the sheds were not quite as dark as this, so I took out white acrylic and applied this with a roller - going back a stage.  It looks kinda interesting.
Disappearing picture of Cockenzie Boat Sheds
After this, I drew back into the picture with graphite, oilbar, oil crayon and ink. I was trying to create interesting texture on the sheds, and to darken the beach, while at the same time, trying to keep the looseness created by rollering in the acrylic.  Decided to add more (subdued) colour to the sheds as they are the main subject of the picture.  I was quite pleased with the result, as follows.

Cockenzie Boat Sheds

What next?  Looking for more sheds, I think.

Sunday 11 March 2012

Revisiting the Fishing Hut

In the studio again Friday - so happy to be there as I missed Monday - and I wanted to keep the focus on the corrugated iron fishing hut.  Over the week, I had been looking at this studio sketch.
Fearnmore Hut studio sketch
Clearly it is somewhat messy, but over the week I thought I could see a good composition within it, underneath the scribbles.  So I wanted to try it again, a little differently.  I went back to one of the sketches I did on the spot to capture a better look of the fishing hut.  I started with charcoal and added some oil bar.

Fearnmore Fishing Hut - emerging picture stage 1
When I reached this point, I noticed that the shore behind the hut was a bit lighter than I had intended, but I felt that this worked quite well.  So when I took it to the next stage, I tried to hang onto this.  I also wanted to capture a more ghostly and mysterious look, and decided to darken it down with graphite and ink at the same time as adding white acrylic.  So the next stage looked like this.
Fearnmore Fishing Hut - emerging picture Stage 2
There are gains and losses in this.  The contrast is better and the treatment of the hut now suggests windows and other interest; but I have lost some of the marks which gave the picture energy and interest.  I then took a fresh piece of paper - thick watercolour paper - and decided to have a go at the same composition with a little bit of colour.

Fearnmore Fishing Hut - emerging picture Stage 3
 I started in charcoal and then realised that I had forgotten to add gouache, so I added this a little late.  I liked the foreground pebbles treatment in this, but it was a little difficult to hang onto.  I should of course have protected it with masking tape or masking fluid, but this didn't occur to me at the time.  Anyway, I added more ink and water, and the next time I stopped, it looked like this.

Fearnmore Fishing Hut - emerging picture Stage 4

Sadly I've lost that delicacy in the foreground, but the black rocks look not bad.  And there is some interesting texture for the hut.  Now I'm not sure about having three buildings in the composition, so in short,  I'm still not sure about the strength of the picture.  Ah well.  I need to think a bit more carefully before I make another attempt.

Friday 2 March 2012

Aileen Grant - Gallery: Fearnmore in the Studio

Aileen Grant - Gallery: Fearnmore in the Studio: Today was my only chance to work in the studio this week. I felt so happy getting back into the studio today, but it was not easy getting ...

Fearnmore in the Studio

Today was my only chance to work in the studio this week.  I felt so happy getting back into the studio today, but it was not easy getting down to work.  I wanted to keep my momentum going on Applecross images, so after a brief review I focused on the image of the Fearnmore fishing hut.  I had spent a bit of time sketching the hut, and I'm thinking about doing a series of pictures of beach huts/shore buildings.  But we'll see. 
Anyway, I embarked on an attempt to capture the rawness and elemental feel of this quirky fishing hut.

Emerging picture of Fearnmore Fishing Hut
I used charcoal, oil pastels and graphite (with rubbings out), and also white acrylic.  But when I looked at this, I thought that the sky was too light.  So I darkened it with ink and charcoal in the next stage.
Emerging picture Fearnmore Fishing Hut

Hmmm.  Looking at this now I see a bit of energy.  At the time I thought it was a bit scrappy.  However, learning from earlier mistakes (!) I decided to set it to one side and do another version.  Slightly different composition and using different paper, and a square composition.  This is how it turned out.

Emerging picture Fearnmore Fishing Hut
There's good and bad about this and I suspect it's not there yet.  Maybe it's a bit tame!  Anyway, I've brought both pictures home to look and reflect on them. (They are really just studies.)   A slight complication is that Peter says he doesn't like these in terms of subject matter, whilst I really love this quirky building and want to capture it and what it represents in a picture.  Hmmm. I must develop my own judgement....it's up to me! So that's another challenge.

I did a few other things and some finishing-offs, but all a bit disparate and nothing interesting really in terms of picture development, so any potential pics I'll post on the website (now that I can do this!).

I'm going to have to work on Monday, so I don't expect to be back in my lovely studio for another week....c'est la vie....