Saturday 30 November 2013

Here's the etching I've made from the drawing I posted last week - based on my favourite building block at the top of Cockburn Street. I used Raw Umber ink and natural-coloured paper to give it a sepia look. Actually the small image here looks better than life size - it's almost A4 in size.  I think it's a bit boring - a bit too 'straight' perhaps?
I did a couple of new etchings. A cherry tree image which I printed first in sepia (Raw Umber)
And then in a red-yellow mix
This image is based on a tree I sketched in St Andrew Square, while sitting in the gardens. I loved the set of the branches. I think I prefer the red tree. It's a bit more exciting and more autumnal.
After this, there wasn't much of the week left.  Thursday I spent in the kitchen - Look!

No, I wasn't cooking and I certainly wasn't doing the ironing. But I've found a better use for these appliances.
And then I finished off my prep.
To be completed at a later date, I think.

Friday was sketching day, for a bit of a change, and I met the sketching pals at the museum. I did these two sketches outside in the bitingly cold wind.

Must get more organised next week.....must finish a few things off.

Monday 25 November 2013

Preparation and Experimentation

The highlight over the last week (apart from the Macmillan exhibition) was going to Edinburgh Printmakers - again. I like the discipline of working there - I feel the clock ticking. However, I think it's good to vary what you do there - I think one can get a bit stale trying to cram too much printing into one session. I now think this as on this session I spent most of my time printing from a plate I had already made. I decided to have a go in two colours - using a warm red-brown as foreground, and a cool azure blue for distance.  It turned out a bit like this (this is not the full size). I must say the colours look quite subtle in this photo. I think the actuality may be a bit brighter/greater contrast.
 I'm not sure if I like it more or less than my initial print in soft black - which looked like this.
I am thinking that printing in two colours may make it more appealing, more saleable, but personally I like the purity of the black ink. I think the marks show up more clearly. However, I don't think one is better than the other - they are just different. What do you think?

I also made a new plate. Thought it would be a good idea to do a couple of prints of Edinburgh buildings, so I re-drew this Cockburn Street building - based on a sketch I did last week before the cold weather set in! It had to be Cockburn Street: I spent so much of my previous working life at the bottom of Cockburn Street...
I then re-drew it again, this time on film. I'm wondering if I've been a bit too tight with the drawing - that's always a risk when I draw buildings.  It's ended up looking a bit different from this, but I didn't get time to do a print.....for next session, I think. And I think I'll try a sepia coloured ink (Raw Umber?)

My other idea for this week was to search for a way to do monochromatic pictures without using acrylic paint. Can I use more sustainable materials and still get interesting effects?  I happened to have some egg whites, decided to make glair (egg white ink) and tried this out using charcoal and white pigment.
In this first study I used white glair and tried to make a black ink using crushed charcoal in egg white. Not sure that the charcoal ink worked!
However, I do like the charcoal effects - a nice loose and splodgy effect. Quite stormy looking. I'm not sure what to do next with this study. Maybe the top of the hill needs to be a bit more distinct. Or maybe it's just an experiment.

Because the charcoal ink wasn't working, I decided to add a little Prussian Blue pigment to make a blue glair. It ended up behaving a bit like watercolour.
However, again I quite like this restrained effect. For the dark trees I used charcoal and painted over them with the charcoal ink. Also used pencil for some better marks.

I did a couple more studies which were I think less successful.  Nevertheless, kinda interesting!

Not quite the bold effect I was wanting.  So where next? Can't begin to think about this - I've now got a terrible cold!

Saturday 16 November 2013

In Reflective Mood

During the past week I was working both in Lochcarron and back in the studio.
I started thinking about images of Applecross, particularly the long views out to sea. First I did a charcoal drawing based on that quick charcoal sketch I did on Applecross.
 I then did another version using watercolour paper. I used graphite and ink.
I then added white conte and darker ink marks. However I wanted more light in the distance, so I added white acrylic. I really wanted to focus on getting good sky effects.
When I looked at this, I thought the Skye hills were not the right shape. And I wanted to capture the small luminous clouds near the horizon and the little hint of blue sky above. So I did a bit more in acrylic and conte and it ended up like this. It's close to the look I was trying to achieve. But is it interesting enough?
I also tried a more colourful view, based on a view over Lochcarron. I had done some earlier work and it was looking like this. I wasn't happy about it - I liked the colour (I do really love the orange and russet colours at this time of year) but it was a wee bit too bright and literal for my satisfaction.
 I tried to darken it down and make it more moody, using conte, brown and black inks, and acrylic colours, but in the end I wasn't particularly happy.  The issue, of course, may be that the composition is not good enough. Or that I've not been clear about what I was trying to achieve. So I've set it aside.
Back in the studio, I had a go at painting the view over the island of Rona that I had sketched in pastels. I have tried painting the isle of Rona a few times, but never been happy.  I thought that focusing on the sky might help to produce a good painting. After working at it for a while, it ended up like this.

However, as so often happens at this time of year, I'm feeling a bit stuck in a groove - not sure that I'm really achieving what I'm setting out to do. Maybe I'm not being ambitious enough: maybe I'm not clear about what I am trying to achieve. Whilst I'm attracted by wildness and like to focus on the wild Wester Ross landscapes, maybe I haven't yet found an appropriate 'language' for capturing the emptyness and wildness. So I'm setting these aside for a while and I'm going to focus on some quirkier scenes. I've started with this.
This is based on a little harbour I saw in North Harris. To me it looked like boats placed within a boat. I did a little CD picture for the Inchmore gallery of this, and wanted to try a larger picture. Again I used graphite, conte, gouache and acrylic. I'm satisfied with the boldness and graphic qualities - a slightly different approach, I suppose.

And I've also brought this unfinished picture out of retirement.  I had got a bit stuck with it in the summer. It has my Aberdour tree in the composition. Wasn't sure how to finish it.
So after a critical self-review, I've got rid of the figure and made the cottage a bit smaller to get better perspective. (NB Is it necessary to get the perspective right? A modernist approach might play with perspective, I suppose.)  Anyway I feel as if it's coming along - just not sure where it will end up.  I'll get back to it next week....

Friday 8 November 2013

A Few New Sketches

Up north this week, trying to get a few new sketches, hoping for some fresh inspiration from Autumn colours. However, the weather hasn't been that great.
Tried to do a little sketching over in Applecross. When we arrived (after driving over the Bealach) I was very taken with the look of Rona (the island!). I tried to capture the ephemerality of the light in this sketch - difficult - it was changing all the time....

One of my favourite views is the view of Skye from Sand. I tried to capture the atmosphere...

I was also taken with the view looking east from the Applecross Inn. The sunlight caught the colour in the hill!
But it was really a bit of a black and white day, with very atmospheric views of the Hebrides. I stopped the car and dashed off a very rapid charcoal sketch. (It was very, very windy).

We continued on to the villages. I love this stunted Crab Apple Tree in Fearnbeg, so I had another go at sketching it.

 Back in Lochcarron, I've been sketching too. Just caught this corner before the light disappeared.
And here's another sketch done from a similar spot - but with a broader outlook.
And here's a view from Ardaneaskan - this is another favourite place (just along the road from Lochcarron) - did this sketch in charcoal.I love the shape of the hill on the RHS. It's my 'Dark hill above Strome'!
So I'm pleased I've managed to do a few sketches. Can I use these to develop paintings from them? I'm not sure. Only time will tell....