Sunday 26 January 2014

Experimenting and Playing

I didn't feel that I managed to achieve very much while away, but I did have a go at playing with some pigments and making egg tempera and glair.

Using the tempera paint, I thought this would be best suited to small paintings and I cut up some Arches card and before I knew it, I was painting little hill pictures, like this one.  The motif was based on a little image I've had in my sketchbook for ages. I found the egg tempera made me paint very precisely - I had to use a small brush - and I wanted to do something a bit looser.
 So I tried another hill motif - based on the view of Beinn Damph from the Torridon Road.  With this one, I tried to make the pencil marks stronger, as an intrinsic part of the painting.

I stuck with the hill motif, and another day I got out the beeswax. I wanted to experiment using aluminium foil encased within the beeswax. This was the best version - using a single piece of foil cut to a recogniseable shape. I thought it was interesting, but not sure what to do next......

Another day I tried using graphite powder dissolved in rabbit-skin size.  This was how it looked on Arches card. I added some water, and scattered a little salt.

And this was the same graphite 'paint' but applied to a board which had been gessoed.  Some interesting effects here...especially with the salt.

I tried another painting on a gessoed board, using a tree motif. Again the effects were kind of interesting.

I was not immune to the weather outside, and after doing a few sketches of the raging sea, I did this little painting using white-of-egg ink or glair.
But the best thing about using pure pigments is the intensity of colour. My favourite colour studies from the hols are these two.  I love the cobalt violet pigment and keep thinking of ways of using it - it's such a pure and bright colour.

And, of course, I always have to do some kind of hut. I had seen this hut as the last dwelling standing in a deserted village in Strathcarron.
Now it's back to the studio and on with some serious work (?).  But there'll always be time for play....

Wednesday 15 January 2014

Continuing The Struggle....

Still up north, and finally, yesterday, it was good enough for a proper sketching trip. I headed over to Sheildaig and turned off into Applecross.  I thought the clouds were coming over so with no time to lose, I stopped and did a couple of pencil sketches. Sheildaig was looking lovely in the sunshine, with a snow-capped Beinn Alligin rising in the background.  Had to sketch in pencil for speed as it was a bit cold.

In terms of composition, I was keen to try and capture the pine trees in the foreground. There was a lovely specimen close by, so I had a go at sketching it too.
By this time I was freezing, so it was back in the car, and on to Fearnmore, to visit my favourite corrugated iron hut. I thought I should sketch it from a different angle, so here's my first attempt.

Fearnmore Shore (sketch)
I thought a composition with the boats in the foreground might look interesting. I then followed up with a closer view, making more of the old wooden posts.  This time I used some wax crayon to get the rusty colour of the hut.

Fearnmore Fishing Hut (Another sketch)
I was quite pleased with this composition, and I was trying really hard to capture the birch trees slightly silhouetted against the sea in the middle distance. Again I was a bit cold after this, so it was back to the car to warm up. Then another couple of sketches of Fearnmore before heading off again.
The Road Past Fearnmore (Sketch)
I like this view of the road at the entrance to Fearnmore and have sketched it before. There are some nice little shapes of colour.
Abandoned Cottage sketch

And I did this abandoned house very quickly - I liked the little window and took photos of the textures....there may be a painting somewhere in this.....

I was a bit sketched out by this time and headed back to Kenmore, by the sea.  Had a walk in the adjacent woodland and then came across this lovely group of mature birch trees clinging on to the edge of the hill. I loved the angle of tilt, thought they were a crazy little group, showing so clearly how they struggle against the effect of the wind. It was beginning to get dark, so this was definitely my last sketch of the day.

Old Birch Trees (Pencil Sketch)
On reflection it reminds me of Cezanne's picture of Olive trees. I'm not sure of the title.  Actually, I just tried to find it in google, but couldn't see it; however my search has alerted me to just how many paintings of trees Cezanne did, and Van Gogh too. Gosh, I've got a long way to go...

Friday 10 January 2014

Nothing Is Easy

Happy New Year! (or is it?)
I seem to recall a track by Jethro Tull - 'Nothing Is Easy' and that sums up my mood at present.
The excesses of New Year are finished and I've had a clear run to get on with some painting. But am I happy with the results?'s been a struggle this week.
I thought I would start with my pencil sketch of Slumbay....
Reflected on the composition - looking for connections and abstract values. 
 Continued working in ink and graphite and white acrylic.

I set this aside - not entirely happy - I think a landscape composition might be better.
Another day this week I wanted to try out some eggy paints, but was distracted by the stormy weather. I did a pencil sketch of the waves that I could see out of the window, and then I found myself doing a pic of the stormy sea in 'glair' - ink made from pigment and white of egg.
Stormy Sea (1)
I was surprised about how good this looked and I decided to try doing the same image again on a smaller format.
Stormy Sea (2)
What do you think?  I really liked the way the eggy ink moved around the surface. It was very fluid.
I also tried out some home-made tempera paint and finished this little pic in a mixture of tempera and glair.

Coral Beach, Applecross in egg tempera and glair

But these little pics were the best of the bunch this week....I'm not so happy about my bigger pics..for the next post.