Wednesday, 19 December 2012

The Smell of Art

Yesterday, while my wife and me grabbed a few last minute pressies for Christmas, I took the opportunity of nipping into Gadsby's, Leicester's main art materials shop, just for a browse, you know. There's something beautiful about the collective fragrance of art materials that puts it right up there with new-mown grass, fresh bread and freshly brewed coffee. If it could be captured and bottled, I'd be happy to dab it behind my ears every morning. Ahhhhhhhh.

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Getting along swimmingly

Another doodle. I was part way through drawing a face when I decided to put him into water. I rubbed out the lower part of his face, added reflection and ripples then realised he should be encountering another swimmer. The result, I'm convinced, resembles something I've seen before by another artist but I can't recall where I've seen it. It'll come to me one day I'm sure.

Wasting time

I seldom sit and watch TV. If I do, a little light flashes on a control panel somewhere in my head that says "WARNING - VALUABLE ART TIME IS BEING WASTED!" and I begin to feel I'm neglecting my whole purpose. So, I'll take up my tools and see what comes out.
This week, the astronomer Patrick Moore died aged 89. I assume this character came from that news. I wasn't trying to achieve a likeness - that would mean research and thus loss of spontaneity.
Like many of my sketches, this began with the face and spreading like ripples from a pebble dropped into still water. In this case, the scale and position of the drawing on the sheet of A4 paper meant I could only draw a head and shoulders before falling off the edge of the paper. So I thought it'd be fun to make him a little compressed. Well, why not?


Monday, 10 December 2012

My Kindom for a mask!

The Proposition
A3 Pen and ink with watercolour wash (blue flame added in acrylic)

Working on this piece, I'd drawn out the image on my regular 300gsm (140lb) Fabriano Artistico NOT Watercolour paper (for those that like that kind of information). I normally lay in the background washes first. If the shape I need to leave uncoloured is complex, I'll mask out with a latex masking fluid so I can get pretty relaxed with the colour and not peck around the edge with a fine brush while the rest of the area is drying unevenly. However, I reached for my pot of masking fluid to find it had set into a solid jelly in the jar. This often happens. Once air gets in, the latex dries and you need to replace it. I've lost count of how many jars have done that to me. I'm convinced it's the manufacturer's way of securing continued business. Needing to get the job done, I was too impatient to order in more masking fluid, I opted to do it the hard way. Yep, pecking around the edge while the rest of the background dried unevenly. I seldom lay a single wash on a background. This piece had four. That's lots of edge following and frustration.
When you have nothing else to look at, the characters are just areas of blank paper, all you see are the areas where the wash has misbehaved. Blotches, uneven colour, tide marks and dry edges, sitting, glaring back at you giving you a big wave of self doubt to swim through.
Picking yourself up by your bootstraps, you get on with it.
Naturally, once the characters are painted, everything falls into place and you wonder why you ever stressed over the background. A lesson learned though. In the time it took to paint around the figures four times, I could've walked to my local art materials supplier and bought a fresh jar of masking fluid. Plus maybe another as backup.
We live and learn.

Testing Time for The Tart Thief

I have a book project I expect to be working on in a few months. The illustrations need to have a slightly subdued palette. Often the Winsor & newton black indian ink I usually use can overpower the colour, so I wanted to carry out a test using a weaker line. I have tried diluting the ink in the past but the characteristics of the ink altered and the permanence is compromised. This test is made using FW inks Burnt Umber. I like the way the ink 'settles in' with the watercolour and ties the image together rather than shouting from the rooftops.

Tart Thief
5"x4" Pen & Ink with watercolour wash.