Monday 30 April 2012

Revisiting Lochcarron....

In the studio agian, and I thought I would try to re-do this picture of the view looking west along the front at Lochcarron.
Lochcarron waterfront 1
I needed to re-do it as I was not happy about the technical quality of the picture - i.e. it looked a bit scrappy.  So I started with charcoal.
Lochcarron waterfront 2 (emerging)
The hills look a bit like Beinn Alligin at this stage - not at all appropriate.  So I continued with rubbings out, oilbar and more charcoal.

Lochcarron waterfront 2 (emerging)
At this stage, I added ink and white acrylic.  I needed to darken down the middle hill and add some shoreline marks, as well as more work on the sea and the sky.  It ended up like this.

Lochcarron waterfront 2
I stopped at this stage to take stock.  Is it better than the original or not?  I think so, but it still looks a bit messy.  I'm continuing to work on it.

Tuesday 17 April 2012

Wester Ross Again

Up in Lochcarron again, so not able to get into the studio.  Out gathering sketches instead.  Beautiful weather (until today), but the cold north wind meant it was a bit too cold to sit sketching for long.
Over in Applecross, we went south to the Coral Beaches - it's such a lovely walk, and the colours were just beautiful.  Lovely turquoise sea turning to ultramarine.  I love those long views out to Skye over the islands and found a spot out of the wind where I did this pastel sketch.
South Applecross View

Also decided to try some woodland sketches.  I've been meaning to do sketches in the woodland around Achnashellach for a while, so I finally got out there.  The trees which remain there are a bit mixed - some look very spindly - but there are some lovely old pines.  The bark was just beautiful and I decided to have a go at drawing this in pastel too.

Pine Bark Detail
The other details I was trying to capture were the moss, bleached grass and dead bracken - the forest floor.  Quite tricky to catch the essence of this, I found.  Actually, I realise that I don't draw details much, and I think I should be trying things like this more often.  I'm sure Jacqueline (Watt) told us that Matisse suggested that we needed to draw and understand the visible before we could really get into the realm of the invisible.
Anyway, again it was cold, so the other sketches I did were in pencil.  The first was a view east up Strathcarron with some spindly trees in the foreground.  A desire to sketch these trees was my main purpose in visiting this spot.
Looking Up the Strath
And then I did a view of some other pine trees, overlooking the loch.

Looking out of the Forest
Actually, I would have liked to use a larger sheet of paper for this sketch to include the loch and the ridge behind, and some sky.  But I only had my A4 sketchbook.  Looking at it now, maybe it has potential in terms of composition.  There was something about the interrelationship of the trees that appealed to me, and maybe I recognised some abstract values in this.  I'll need to think about this a bit more.

We're coming to the end of this visit now.  About to head back to Musselburgh and it will be a while before we can get up again, sadly.  Maybe I'll manage to grab a couple more sketches before we leave!
And then I have to prepare for Art'sComplex Open Studios on Sunday.....

Monday 9 April 2012

Colourful Day

Back in the studio again today, despite being a holiday Monday.  Very quiet in Art'sComplex - only saw one other person.  I decided to bring out the oils today as I haven't used them for a while.  I thought maybe I was getting a bit bogged down with my corrugated iron sheds.  However, after painting myself in, I took a new square canvas and thought I would try a version of the shed by the sea in oils.

I was thinking about 'abstract values', and gave the composition a little more consideration than usual.  I drew out shapes on the basis of a diagonal composition, with the angle of the hill echoing the angle of the shed roof, and the angle of the beach, etc.  Before I knew it, the picture looked like this.
Rusty Shed, Applecross
I had just set to with my favourite palette of ultramarine, prussian blue, allizarin and cadmium yellow plus white, and realised that this had a sort of Fauvist, or even Colourist, look about it.  I had also been very loose with the brushstrokes - I was trying to do my stormy sea again - but I didn't really mean to paint it in a one-off approach: I had intended to layer it a little (but avoid over-working it).  Well, I thought this looked lovely and cheerful (where did that come from?) and I was really enjoying painting in this style.  So after a little careful tidying, I stopped.

Now I had the palette full of colour...where next?  I had loads of half finished pictures, and returned to these ones.

Far Away Trees
This was a little picture that I thought I had finished.  I added quite a lot of colour into the hills and to the foreground, and loosened up the brushstrokes.  I think it looks a lot better now. 

Then I had a go at another little picture.

Another Skye View
I realise that I have totally changed the mood of this picture, but I think the colour has added a lot more interest, particularly to the Skye hills.  It was a bit boring before.  But maybe it's not a great picture.

I also had a go at rescuing this next picture.  I was analysing its abstract values and trying to improve them.   I haven't finished it yet, and I have to say that I'm not quite sure where it's going.   But at least it's beginning to look more interesting...

Fuar Toll, Strathcarron

Anyway, after all my recent struggles, I felt very happy to immerse myself in the sumptuousness of the oil colour.  And I think taking more of an impasto approach suits my natural style a little better.  But I'll see how I feel about these efforts in a week's time....

Saturday 7 April 2012

Studio Saturday

Missed out on the studio yesterday, so I did a catch-up today.  I found this picture waiting for me (I had quite forgotten about it).
Arrina Study 1
 I did this on Monday, based on a sketch which I did in the little village of Arrina on Applecross.  Reviewing it today, I decided that the palette was a bit wild, the brushwork was not very interesting, and the track was a bit too straight.  But apart from that, I thought the composition was quite interesting, so worth trying again.  I went back to the thumbnail I did on Monday.

Arrina Thumbnail
Then I took a sheet of A2 paper and made a start.
Arrina Study 2 Emerging
At this point I had used ony charcoal and conte stick, along with some oil crayon and oilbar.  I thought I would add some ink (blue, red and brown).  I really wanted to get some flowing inky marks into the picture.  So soon it looked like this.
Arrina Study 2 Emerging
I was quite liking this, but wasn't altogether satisfied.  I couldn't quite decide what was dissatisfying me.  Looking at it now, it may be something to do with the juxtaposition of the cottages - perhaps the angles are not quite right.  Or maybe the colour is not working (or maybe both...sigh).  Anyway, I decided that the sky was looking altogether far too cheerful, and that I would darken it down.  So I used navy blue oil crayon and ink and it ended up looking like this.
Arrina Study 2
I think I like the mood of the picture better with the darker sky, but it is curious how darkening it down has changed the picture so much.  Maybe I'm feeling a little gloomy these days, so only a dark sky will satisfy me?
Anyway.  I had time to do a little Studio tidying.  Open Studios on Sunday 22nd April. I hope I get some visitors....

Monday 2 April 2012

Half-hearted studio day

I found it difficult to work in the studio today, and frittered away the morning.  I did a bit of scribbling and a few thumbnails, and decided to continue with my corrugated iron sheds.  I returned to an earlier composition and thought I might re-draw it, but then I found a half-finished picture and pinned it up.  I decided to use blues and purples as well as graphite, charcoal and white acrylic.  I wanted to make the sea more stormy and give the picture more movement.  So it started to look like this.

Fearnamore Fishing Hut (emerging)
At this point I added more colour to the hut. I also added marks with a white conte stick.  Normally at this point I would add coloured ink, but to be honest time was getting on and I felt a bit tired, so thought I would stick with the acrylic for a change.
Fearnamore Fishing Hut (2)
By the time I got to this point, I felt it the picture was not looking too bad, so I would stop.  But maybe I could do another, slightly different. I took a clean sheet of paper and started in graphite, then oil bar and oil crayon, then added some acrylic - blue/purple, white and pewter. I quite liked the look of it at this point and paused so that I would not lose the lightness and delicacy of the colour treatment.
Fearnamore Fishing Hut (3)
I did quite like this - I think it almost looks a bit Turnerish - but I decided to try and take it a little further,and at the same time trying not to lose that delicacy.

Fearnamore Fishing Hut (3)
Now, there's bits I like about this, and bits I don't like.  I quite like the hut: I really like the rock on the right. But I also think I've lost something.  Have I gone too far (again)?   Should I have stopped earlier?  It depends what I'm trying to achieve.  If I can think more about layering the colour I will develop a better approach.  But we'll see.

Sunday 1 April 2012

Sketching with friends

Friday was another opportunity to go sketching with friends.  The venue this time was the Botanics in Edinburgh.  Much as I love going to the Botanics, I find it a difficult place for sketching.  Another difficulty I had was limited time - I couldn't stay as long as the others - sad to say this as it was such a beautiful day. 

I wanted to have a go at the Edinburgh skyline as viewed from Inverleith House.  So I sat in the sun and did this sketch.
Edinburgh Castle from Inverleith House
This was quite a quick pastel sketch and I've not quite captured it - it's not hazy enough.  But at least I did manage to do a sketch, and that's imortant!  I'm afraid there's a bit of distortion in the photo (the steeple on the left IS vertical!)

We were talking about the merits of sketching in black and white vs sketching in colour, and the consensus is that if you want to create pictures in colour, you should sketch in colour.  This is a conclusion I've gradually been reaching, so maybe I need to get back out there with watercolours.  Pastel is all very well, but you are limited by the colours in the box (and I find it much more difficult to mix them).

The other conclusion we reached was to try and set up a joint blog to gather our sketches that's my next task.  Watch this space.