Spectacle Island

spectacle_islandOn Sunday I met up with Chris Haldane at Balmain. We sat on some stairs and sketched the view over the water. I looked further west to Spectacle Island and Chris sketched Cockatoo Island, slightly to the east of where I was looking. Chris is a great artist with a lot of experience in watercolour.

It had been a dull morning and was supposed to rain later in the day. Instead the skies cleared. As we started out, there were these impressive shapes in the sky, so I piled water onto the page and some colour and spent most of the rest of the time chatting and waiting for the page to dry. I was sorry I had taken my ‘sketcher’s box of paints as the Perylene Green was left at home in my travelling kit. It is so useful for all those dark greens. Must switch it over.

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Filed under Copic Multiliner, sketchbook, sketching, watercolour

Siracusa ….another door

siracusa_door_2Stuck in the kitchen while electricians roamed the house, I decided to sketch another of the three doors from Siracusa. Again I used mixed media techniques I picked up from the John Lovett book. Watercolour, watercolour pencil, ink, charcoal pencil, both black and white, and gesso.

I didn’t look at the one I had already sketched, because I didn’t want the way I had handled it to influence this sketch. I have decided to leave it a while before I do the third one, and see if that makes any difference. I love to look at the photos of these doors, because we walked past them several times a day and it takes me right back to Sicily. It would be so nice to be there now when it is warm there and so cold here.

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Filed under Charcoal pencil, gesso, inks, Italy, Ortigia, Sicily, Siracusa, sketchbook, sketching, Travel, watercolour, watercolour pencils

Back in the Succulent Garden

succulents_orangeLast week, in the depths of winter, we had a day that was 25 degrees. That’s 77. We decided that though we had a late start we would go to the Botanic Gardens. The succulent garden has a wall around it, so we headed there, because there was quite a breeze. It gets very hot in there in the summer, and you have to go very early if you don’t want to cook, so it was a great opportunity to sketch there.

Many of the succulents were in flower, and the majority ranged from red, through orange, to yellow. I decided to make the orange ‘a feature’. I was sketching the flowers in the upper left when a couple came and watched me. He said, “She’s cheating, she’s putting flowers”. I just pointed upwards at the flowers and said nothing. Not very observant, huh?

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Filed under Botanic Gardens, Copic Multiliner, sketchbook, sketching, watercolour

Another John Lovett landscape

jl_project_3Everything broke last week, so while I was waiting for tradesmen to come and fix things, I painted another little landscape from the John Lovett book. This is a step by step project from the book. I learn so much from these projects, but on the whole I would much rather paint from my own photos.

This one is also mixed media and the main difference is that the sky is mixed with ultramarine watercolour and white gouache. It certainly makes it pop against those orange rocks. A very Australian landscape, not that I have been to the outback to see country like this.

So, mixed media again. Watercolour, watercolour pencils, ink, charcoal pencil and gouache.

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Filed under Charcoal pencil, inks, sketchbook, sketching, watercolour pencils

A little landscape – from my John Lovett book

jl_project_2This book is crammed with information, and I have decided that the best way to take it all in is to do the projects. However this raises even more questions, and I think the best answer is to do a workshop with John Lovett at some time, and actually watch him work.

I did this little landscape on Saturday morning, when it was raining, and I spent a lot of the day waiting for it to dry. This is a real mixed media effort, with watercolour, gouache, watercolour pencils, charcoal pencil, ink and gesso.

I have decided that this style of painting (or any watercolour beyond ‘pen and wash’) is in direct opposition to the qualities required for urban sketching. Well, you wouldn’t really want to carry around all that long list of materials. But the main thing is that sketching is fast, and ‘real watercolour’, to be done well, really needs time to dry. I have seen some very experienced watercolourists achieve it, but I have seen others make mud.

I am a bit of a ‘glazer’ when I paint in acrylics and oils, and I guess I am the same with watercolour. Makes for wet paper. I think this little painting (postcard size in my sketchbook) needs some stronger darks under the rocks, but it was an exercise and I had had enough with the waiting.

This time I had learnt to be less heavy-handed with my charcoal lines. That’s why I’m doing these projects…..to learn.

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Filed under Charcoal pencil, dip pen, gesso, inks, sketchbook, watercolour, watercolour pencils

A door in Siracusa

siracusa_door_10In s street very close to our apartment in Siracusa were these wonderful old doors. I took several photos of them because I knew I would want to make art work from them later.

Yesterday we were going to go out sketching, but the weather was too miserable. Rather than go to a museum and sketch inside, we decided to do a project from the John Lovett book I was given recently. There is a section on Buildings and Architectural features, and within that section is a number of Italian doors. We chose one of these three doors, and got started.

We didn’t have the correct colours in pastel pencil to draw it up, so we used watercolour pencils and that worked fine. Then we put in our structural marks (the darks). The next step was to work in charcoal pencil with big confident strokes. I understood that to be bold, and I was wrong. You paint after than and the trouble is that when you wash over the charcoal pencil marks, it makes the washes dirty. From the examples I see that the author’s strokes are thin and spidery. I don’t know how big he is working either. Maybe the strokes look so fine because the image size has been reduced. I am working in a sketchbook. He also says to work from the shoulder and elbow rather than the wrist. To me, that means he is working at an easel. Oh how I would like to do a workshop with him and see how he does it.

John Lovett uses gesso so I also used it to restate my whites so that I could put clean paint over the top. We also used ink…my lovely ink from Florence. And I went back to the watercolour pencils as well.

These were particularly grungy doors, so I am happy enough with the result, though I will do it differently next time. I have already printed out a photo of one of the other doors, so that I see if I get a better result when I try it again. We had great fun doing it though, and learnt so much.

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Filed under Charcoal pencil, dip pen, gesso, inks, Italy, pen, Sicily, Siracusa, sketchbook, sketching, Travel, watercolour, watercolour pencils

The Blue Door at Casa Cuseni

blue_doorAt Casa Cuseni in Taormina, this blue door was across the terrace from the room at the top of the house where we had breakfast each day. I would have liked to sketch it at the time, but I was jet-lagged and getting used to how cold it was in Sicily.

Taormina is built on a hill, and Casa Cuseni is quite high up with wonderful views of the bay. The house of Casa Cuseni is a museum and we were so happy we had chosen to stay there. It was cold and rainy except for our last day, but the gardens are wonderful. It would be so nice to be there in the warm weather.

imageWith this sketch I used some techniques from my John Lovett book. I have used watercolour, ink and gesso. I would have liked to introduce more of his techniques, but I have photographs of grungier doors that will suit them better. I wanted to keep the colours of this lovely blue door more true to life.

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Filed under Charcoal pencil, gesso, inks, Italy, Sicily, sketchbook, sketching, Travel