Wednesday 25 July 2012

A week of sketching

Midway through doing a week's summer school at Leith School of Art.  Doing a course with the artist Jenny Martin, focusing on sketchbooks and the connection between sketches and finished pictures.  It's been interesting so far.  We've been to the Museum and to Newhaven Harbour, and we were privileged to view a few sketchbooks of Scottish Artists of yesteryear - Crozier, MacTaggart, Mackintosh Patrick, and Eardley - demonstrating how well they could draw!

Our efforts on this course have been done on coloured and collaged pages, which we have prepared, as well as white, and in a variety of media - oil pastel, chalk pastel, pencil and charcoal.

Today was beautiful at Newhaven, and here's the first sketch I did on a sketchbook page I had painted up in orange.
Newhaven Boats Sketch
I've painted on a coloured ground, but it was quite interesting SKETCHING on a coloured page.  In this one I've used oil crayons which forces me to be bolder than usual.  Here's another also using oil caryons.
Newhaven Lighthouse Sketch
This is less successful, I think, and perhaps the dark shade of red was just a bit too dark for sketching on.  And this was at the end of the day - getting a bit tired.  I did a thumbnail of the same view in pencil which made me think it might be a good composition.  I also did this study of one of the boats in the harbour.
Newhaven Skiff Sketch
The boat was sitting in the mud, and I was keen to try and capture the colour and shiny texture of the mud as well as the angle of the boat.  I then noticed that the boat had both a shadow and a reflection, making it even more difficult to capture.  I did it in chalk on a greeny-yellow ground.  How do you get the colour of mud?

Anyway, I had also used a yellow ground for this sketch at the museum yesterday (it seemed like the most appropriate colour).
Silver Relics Sketch
The colours made me think of a Philipson painting - I suppose he used that yellow a lot in his church interiors.  Maybe that was in my subconscious when I looked at the objects in the glass case.

So now I need to make a decision on which sketch to work further on tomorrow in the studio.  A difficult choice.  But it's just great to have a full week of drawing and painting!

Monday 16 July 2012

I wanted to do something different today, and so I set about glueing bits of paper to card, thinking about attempting a collograph.  But of course it took all day for the glue to dry.  So I got the acrylic paints out again.  Looking through one of my little sketch books I came across an image that made me think of a face.  So I did this little picture using charcoal, oilbar gouache and acrylic.
Yellow profile
This seemed like a good subject, perhaps because I sketch people in the bus - mostly in profile.  And it was sufficiently different for me to hold my interest - I haven't done this sort of a painting before.  I can't decide if this is a finished picture or not so  I've brought it home to reflect on it.
I then found another sketch
Gullane Beach detail
I did this little sketch down at Gullane beach a while ago.  It is a sketch of some windswept grass on top of a rock, but when I looked at it today, I saw something different. 
Rear View
Perception is a curious thing, isn't it?  I quite enjoyed doing these small pictures - a bit of fun.  Again, I'm not sure if this is a finished picture and indeed if it is leading anywhere.  I think I need to get a bit more focus.  Looking through the sketch book I found another image from a trip to Arran a while back.
Island Lighthouse (emerging)
I was guessing about the colour here, but I remembered that it had been a dreich day.  This picture looked a but washed out, but really it was too bright (I thought).  And the lighthouse was too clearly defined for the look I was trying to achieve.  So I added some graphite and dark paint.
Island Lightbouse (emerging)
This was more like the thing...or have I gone too far?  Well, I had run out of steam, so I'll continue it another day.
Next week I'm doing a course at Leith School of Art, based on sketchbooks, so maybe that's why I can't settle down this week!

Sunday 15 July 2012

More Beachmen

Back in the studio on Thursday I was working on a few different pictures. 
Warmed up with a quick graphite sketch of Inchkeith.  Trying to get a little mystery and darkness into the image so have not included the Fife coast behind the island.  I did this from an earlier small sketch.  I will do a painting of this one of these days.
Inchkeith Again
Beachman 2
Then I thought I would add a little colour to the beachman pics.  This one definitely was an improvement (see previous blog), but I still need to work at the texture to make it sufficiently interesting as a picture.  I was very restrained about the colour - I think it has to be very subtle.  I also like the stance of the figure - it's not clear what he's doing.
Beachman 1
I did this similar treatment to the running beachman, but the colour is a bit stronger here.  I don't think it works so well (although I do like the purple reflection).
Why do I get drawn to this image?  Partly because I look out over the beach here at Fisherrow and see people walking when the tide is out.  They look so small against the vastness of the beach.  But maybe it's not interesting enough as a picture.  I'll keep thinking about this.

Wednesday 4 July 2012


Back in the studio on Monday, trying to pick up some threads.  Found it difficult to settle down to paint.  The weather has been so bad, there's a feeling of gloom settling over us (despite being away in Tighnabruaich over the weekend).  I felt like taking on a gloomy motif, based on the men who dig for bait on the beach at Fisherrow.    So my first stab at this was in charcoal and looked like this.
Beachman emerging
The challenge with this motif is trying to get the feel of the large watery space - a slightly desolate feeling.  Need to have sufficient interest as a picture.   I do little sketches of people on the beach but this is the first time I've tried to do some sort of a picture. Have shied away from it.  Anyway, I felt that black and white - or monochromatic treatment - was totally appropriate.  So on I continued with acrylic and graphite stick.
Beachman emerging
There is a little colour in this, woven into the black and white approach.  I was really exploring the different textures I could obtain with paint.  This was now looking quite mysterious, but I wasn't happy enough with the feel.  Then the figure sort of took on a life of its own.
Beachman still emerging
Yes - he turned into a man running away.  I did like this better, but maybe I've lost some of the mystery?  However I have ideas now to turn this into a more interesting and atmospheric picture.  So I hope to start again on better paper next time I'm in the studio.  And I expect it'll still be raining...