Sent to me last week for my pleasure and experimentation, a new range of Australian made watercolours by Derivan. They are professional artists quality. I don’t have to test them. They are already tested and will be in the shops next month probably. (Matisse and Derivan are the same company – just different ranges. Their products are sold in the USA by Jerry’s Artarama).
This is not the full colour range. I have a PDF of the colour chart if anyone wants it. As you see I have plenty of colours to mix any colour I want. I am longing to use them, but all my small palettes are fully loaded with other watercolours for my upcoming trip.
But I need to give them a workout, because I have to come up with some ideas for demos and workshops when I get back. There is supposed to be a storm coming and rain for some days. Maybe I will get the opportunity later.
The thing that drives me crazy about my own sketchbook is that, unless I plan ahead and draw a line around the page, I always fill the whole page. So with this sketch I cheated, and digitally put a white border around it. Recently while reading Matthew Brehm’s book Sketching on Location, I read what I already knew – sketches look better with white space around them (Flickr, take note).
So why do I do this? A couple of reasons.
I was a painter and drawer long before I became a sketcher. I am used to filling up the canvas. Used to filling up the paper.
The other reason is that I am used to working big. BIG. Before I went to art school I thought A4 (letter size) was big. Immediately when we started in first year, we were onto A1 size and expected to fill the page. That’s around 23 x 33 inches. Then A1 became small, and we were expected to work much bigger.
Cartridge paper – six sheets of A1
Here’s one I did of the studio. I started with one A1 sheet and it grew to six. So the whole drawing is about 99 inches across by 46 high.
Stonehenge paper – nine sheets
The next drawing is on nine full sheets of Stonehenge paper. Each sheet is about 22 x 29 inches. So this one is nearly 90 inches wide by 66 high.
This is probably the reason I can’t fathom the use of tiny sketchbooks. They make me come over all peculiar (more peculiar).
These large drawings were done about ten years ago. The last one may look abstract, but in fact it was an investigation into drawing ‘the bound object’. We all had to bind an object during the holidays as a basis of our drawing for the next term (final year- Advanced Diploma of Fine Art). I got some old metallic helium balloons with congratulatory messages on them, and bound my object (rags? I can’t remember) with yellow curling ribbon. I was the only member of a large class with a coloured ‘bound object’. Beige, white, grey, black…and then mine. I did the realistic colours first and then was instructed to do more in different colourways till I had a large wall full of them.
So on Thursday we sketched around Newtown. In this area is one of the best streets in Newtown. An interesting link on this blog. So is mine by the way, but my street is full of ‘workers’cottages’ whereas this area has large mansions with lots of lovely architectural detail to sketch. I slopped on watercolour first and drew into it. There’s a nice little park opposite where we sat to sketch. Forced to listen to a ‘lovers’tiff’ which, it seemed to me, had only one obvious ending.
Saturday was the Urban Sketchers event, led this time by Rod Byatt around the streets of St Peters, before sketching in Sydney Park. Made the wrong decision and caught the bus, although we could have walked there much faster, so missed the walk around the streets. Still, it is in my local area, so I can easily go back.
These tall chimneys are a feature of the local landscape. Yes, they might be in St Peters, but when you see the chimneys, you know you’re in Newtown. King Street, the main street of Newtown, continues through St Peters and becomes the main highway south.
The weather had seemed dodgy (which it has been for weeks), but it was perfect in the end. I decided to draw the chimneys. Being late, we couldn’t find the other sketchers, so I thought I’d better sketch the chimneys to prove I was there. But they had gone off for their walk to the famous much-graffitied May Lane and surrounding streets with original architecture. So we caught up with them in the end, and had a wonderful morning sketching and socialising in the shade of a tree.
This park is new since I came to live in Newtown in the 1980s. It is on the site of an old brickworks. I drive past it often, but it seemed very open, and not very interesting. Also it is on the highway, so you need to go into the car park to stop and have a proper look. But there is plenty of shade, and even in the middle of the day, there is shade around these wonderful old brick buildings. Plenty to sketch here.
I did it about fifteen years ago (maybe longer), under tuition with Lyn Butchart whose studio used to be in Manly. Lyn lives in Grafton now, but she does travel teach. I recommend taking classes with her if you can. She’s a star in the field of creative watercolour techniques.
We used to struggle over there against the peak hour traffic early in the morning. Lyn had many huge reference books to browse though. The first time I went, though daunted, I found two different images, combined them, and drew this up, even though I couldn’t really draw back then. Lyn guided me through the various techniques to put the painting together – creative techniques. It is ‘full sheet’ size, and it took me a long time to finish it (at home) because each little water drop had to be individually masked and have a shadow painted under it.
The lotus one was done from my own photos from Bali, also under tuition from Lyn (more and different creative techniques). This photo is so old it was taken with a film camera and the photo scanned, so the colour is slightly off. Also a full sheet.
The jellyfish (full sheet again) I did at a friend’s place. Very bravely going it alone without Lyn, but using her techniques.
The orchids were done at home. There are a lot more of these paintings, mostly florals or marine life, but you don’t want to see them all.
You might be thinking ‘Why is Wendy showing us this stuff? What happened to the One Drawing a Day”. It hasn’t gone away, but trip preparation has had to come first. Bottles of black ink don’t mix with making sketchbooks. All the pristine white paper and decorative covers. We had a paste paper day, but time and weather haven’t co-operated in photographing that. And now the table is covered with half made sketchbooks (three) and I don’t want to get ink on them.
This time last year we went to Huskisson for a few days. It is right on the ocean, but instead of a long straight beach, it has an interesting coastline. We sat on the beach painting the sea. I paint the water in Sydney Harbour a lot, but the open sea is a different story. It has direction. When I got home I trawled the net, looking for a book about painting water. Not as easy as you would think. A number of the books were about painting American lakes and rivers. Colours all wrong for us. Even more of the books had painting that was ‘too pretty’. Finally, while reading through reviews of quite another book, I found one that said, “Don’t buy this book. Buy “The Complete Watercolorist’s Essential Notebook”. It is the best for painting water. And if you buy the 10th anniversary edition, you get two books in one.”
Of course I had seen it around. It’s not a new book. But in view of this recommendation I ordered it from the library. Sold! Yes, it is two books. Without any indication on the cover, which as you see says, “The Complete Watercolorist’s Essential Notebook”, half way through there is a new title page and it becomes ” The Watercolorists’s Essential Notebook – Landscapes”.
It is perfect for me. I have done ‘creative watercolour’ for some time, about 15 years ago, (I will show you soon) and never really been taught the basics. This book has it all. It’s perfect for someone who wants to learn the fundamentals, and also perfect for the sketchbook. If I’m out sketching, if it’s not buildings, then it’s landscape. And it’s all in here. So many watercolour books rely on the artist’s idiosyncratic style to sell them. Beautiful watercolours, yes, but not particularly translatable to another artist’s style. This one is different. It is like an encyclopedia of watercolour.
Back to my original hunt for painting water…just the thing I wanted. Wave direction and surface patterns. Pages and pages about painting water. Just to dip in elsewhere…trees, branching options. The quality of sunlight, making billowy clouds. You want to paint it? You can look it up in this book. For example, in the first part of the book there is a chart of watercolour paints, colour by colour, brand by brand. Lots of small exercises. Painting with brushes, palette knives, sticks, sponges. There is a chapter about the factors to consider when you put together a composition. Anything you might want to look up about watercolour painting is here. And it is done with humour. It’s a thick book and a bargain at the price.
Sunday and early in the morning out in the courtyard, Exercise Two of One Drawing A Day: A 6-Week Course Exploring Creativity with Illustration and Mixed Media (One A Day) . Broni put in a watering system for me when she was visiting recently, and my Hawaiian hibiscus loves it.
The exercise was to use dip pens with a number of different nibs. I found I have many nibs, and four thingy-os to stick them in. In the event, I used three. My trusty Post Office pen with matching Post Office nib. I love to draw with this pen. It has a wavery line on the watercolour paper (hot press) and to me that really shows the hand-drawn-ness of it. As well as that. I used a wide calligraphy nib, and another nib … I don’t know what you call it. It tapers off like a normal nib, but it has a small round flat piece that glides along the paper. I used these three nibs to sketch my hibiscus.
And then…..on only exercise two, I added colour. I have seen some lovely sketches recently with selective colour, and my hibiscus are such a rich vibrant red…I couldn’t help myself.