Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Summertime Blues, (and pinks, oranges and purples)

Whenever I have been away from the paintbrushes for even a short length of time, I find it a daunting prospect to pick them up again. So, like with anything That has something of a learning curve, the best policy is, slowly, slowly. A few practise pieces first before tackling a bigger project.

That's why I have been enjoying the Sketchbook Exchange project so much. Tackling each book with a different approach and with different subjects, means I can try out new ideas and new techniques without fear of mucking up an important project. of course I don't want to ruin someone else's sketchbook, but we have enough confidence in each other now, that whatever we do, will be appreciated.

The ever-present typography.
But more was to come this time.

For the May / June sketchbook, I went with the theme of 'Summertime'. A little on the Porgy and Bess song, (you know, Summertime, and the living is easy...), but more on the hazy-lazy-crazy days of summer, (another of my favourite songs) with strawberries and cream, home made lemonade and deck chairs and ice creams. Ooh, the nostalgia, but you get the idea. So, a mixed page of glorious flowers were a must. (Get a bit of that 'Summertime' magic courtesy of Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong).

A touch of nostalgia 

Of course, it was a bit difficult to do all of these from scratch, as I was recovering from my latest bout of needful rest and recovery. But I was determined to make a good job of it. Looking through my archives, I found a lovely little page of flower heads I had completed a while ago that was now residing in my, 'Folder of Shame'. A place for the Cinderellas, the not quite good enough or the, never to be finished pieces. Looking at this Cinderella, I thought that with a bit of touching up here and there, they would be perfect as I did really like the eclectic mix of shapes, sizes and colours. And, it would give me a chance to try out some new techniques.

Recently, I bought some Winsor and Newton Ox-gall liquid. This watercolour medium extends the flow of watercolour, allowing the artist a greater length of time to work with a wash, and to cover a large area smoothly. This was a tip I picked up recently from the lovely Fiona Strickland, an exceptional botanical artist and tutor. So thus armed, I put a few drops in the painting water, and gave it a go. 

The 'touch-up' palette and my new friend, Ox-gall.

First, I wanted to increase the depth of tone on the flowers, and mixed some deeper colours and shadow mixes. Keeping a relatively dry brush, (another Fiona tip) I swept the colour into the shadows and increased the depth on the folds and shadows. Almost immediately, the flowers began to look more finished. Adding more detail, being careful to keep the edges crisp, I tidied up the stamens and delicate veining. All the time, I noticed a difference in the feel of the paint on the brush. There was a smoothness and slight viscosity to the washes that I really liked. Now this might be due to the Daniel Smith watercolours I have started using, but I am sure the Ox-gall has something to do with it too.

Cinderella, you will go to the ball!
An eclectic pageful of revamped flowers.

Added oomph to the folds, flower centres and shadows,
plus a general sharpen and tidy up, made these fit for presentation,
rather than the 'Folder of Shame'.

Elsewhere, I was delighted to have been asked to write a piece for the Society of Floral Painters, (SFP) summer newsletter about the exchange. I have only been an associate of this society for a little while, so was really excited about putting forward our exchange to a wider audience, and getting as many of our participants involved as possible, (many thanks to Sarah for helping me write it and to Sigrid, Dianne and, Lorraine for the use of their pictures). Using a few of the sketchbook pages we have already completed and gathering them all together on one page was great fun, and it was exciting to have something about us in print. Again, a daunting prospect, but I was delighted with the result, (although apologies to Dianne Sutherland, who became a Diana). 

Have a read...

   Hope you enjoyed it.



Claire said...

Great post Jarnie ,good idea to use some old paintings and revamp them. I might try some ox gall too. xx

Sketchbook Squirrel said...

I quite liked the page of flowers, but not in their current form. Thought, 'let's give something a try' and it seemed to look okay.