Sunday 22 June 2014

Summer of Colour. Week 2: Coral, Teal and Bright White

It's week two of Summer of Colour, and this week's colours are:

Coral & Teal 
with a Smudge, Splash or Pop of Bright White

Again, like last week, it took me all week to come up with something, but this afternoon, I finally sat down, took my toy elephant model out of the bookcase, grabbed my watercolours, and started sketching. I really love the combination of red and teal, I was a bit sceptical, I must admit, I'm not much of a red person, but the really do look great together. The page's not quite finished yet, I want to add some writing, but it'll have to wait a bit.

Next week's colours will be up tomorrow. Can't wait!

Friday 20 June 2014

Adding colour to sketchbook portraits

I'm having lots of fun with my ink pen portraits in my sketchbooks. They're quick to do, and therefore perfect for a bit of creativity when you're really to tired to do anything else than flop on the sofa after work.

I'm trying out different ways to add some colour to the portraits. Gouache hasn't really been a favourite medium of mine, I've tried it out before, but then always went back to watercolours. But last night I thought I'd give it a try again, and I must say I'm very pleased with the result. They're more vibrant than watercolours and a good match to the bold lines of the ink brush pen.

The only drawback with the gouache is still the same as with watercolours when it comes to Moleskine sketchbooks. But as long as you don't want to create an accomplished work of watercolour/gouache art but just want to a bit of colour to your sketch, it works well enough.

The Liquitex acrylic markers on the other hand work very well on the Moleskine paper, but have some limitations when it comes to blending and transparency. But they're great for adding bold colour.

I bought some Tombow dual brush pens earlier this week, as I thought they'd be useful for adding a touch of colour quickly when you're out and about. They had some other pens, Shinhan or something there too, with a great selection of colours, but their smell was just overpowering. I'm not usually over sensual to the various smells of my art materials, but those definitely were too much. The Tombows are water based (maybe the others are alcohol based?), and don't smell at all. They're not as smooth and blending as I would have liked, you can see the individual strokes, but apart from that, they work well enough, also in a Moleskine.

I usually take photos of my work to post on my blog, but this time I tried to scan them instead. I've tried scanning before, and I was never happy with the results, and I wasn't this time either. But due to some technical problems (mainly due to Yahoo Mail being even more annoying than they have been for the past few weeks, i.e. simply refusing to let me access my account at all today), I had to use the scans for this post. The scanner never seems to get the colours right, and is having particular problems with the Moleskine paper (all images but the first are Moleskine). It doesn't seem to recognise the creamy colour of the paper but instead scans it as white, and as a result, all the other colours turn out wrong too (and in some areas didn't even catch the colour at all). I've tried to adjust them as well as possible in Photoshop, but they're still far from accurate.

What do you use for taking pictures of your work for your blog? I know that there are a lot of people who do use scanners, and if you do, I'd be more than happy to get some tips on how to successfully scan my images, as I seem to be doing something wrong.

And last but not least 

Sunday 15 June 2014

Summer of Colour, Week 1: Aqua, Yellow and Hot Pink

We're in the first week of Summer of Colour, and this week's colours are:

Aqua Blue & Yellow
With a Smudge, Splash or Pop of Hot Pink

Such a cheerful, happy and summerly combination of colours, and I was really looking forward to playing with these. But, I've been wrecking my brain all week, and just couldn't come up with anything. Today, the last day of the first week, I've finally managed to get something on paper. The three pears in my fruitbowl, with their different shades of yellow, gave me some inspiration at last, and luckily, I've got quite a selection of different yellows in my paintbox to match.

Week two will start tomorrow, with a new combination of colours. Can't wait to see what they are! And hopefully, it won't take me the whole week again to come with something.

Friday 13 June 2014

Portraits from life, brush pens, and ready to party

Some weeks ago, I decided to quit pottery class, and instead take a portrait drawing class again, and I'm so glad I did. I had taken that class two years ago, and totally enjoyed it, and I'm totally enjoy it again now. It's not a class specifically with model (which would make the class more expensive) but our teacher sees to it that we have a model to draw about every other session. Last week, Werner sat for us again, and we tried to capture his likeness in ink. Our teacher had given us reed pens that she had cut herself to try out, and I decided to work in my portrait Moleskine journal, trying out different kinds of ink pens along with the reed pen. 

For the one below I used a grey Pentel brush pen. They come in different colours but aren't refillable, and on the Moleskine sketchbook paper, it behaved similar to watercolours - not so well.

For the bigger portrait below, I used the reed pen with India ink. It works great, and I like the idea of making your own pens, but depending on the paper, the ink can run out quickly, and you need to dip your pen into the ink bottle every few seconds, which can disrupt your line. But it worked well enough in the Moleskine. For the smaller one, I used a Pentel pocket brush, a new acquisition which I really like. The pen takes cartridges, and so can be refilled and used again and again (until you've worn out the brush, I guess), but as far as I know, the cartridges only come in black, and the ink is not completely opaque but can appear a bit faded.

After the break, Rosmarie joined Werner as model, and it was nice to have a female to draw too.  I would have liked to do a drawing of both of them together, but from where I sat, they were too far from each other, so I decided to focus on Rosmarie. Because both models are a bit more mature in age, they have much more interesting faces full of characteristic lines. Although I sometimes find it a bit difficult, to really make them look as old and wrinkly as they are, especially the women. I'm always afraid that they'll be offended, somehow (I showed her the two portraits, and she wasn't). Which is probably also the reason why the first portrait I did of her, on the left, looks much younger. The one on the right is more accurate, although I didn't quite manage to capture her lovely smile. 

Here you can also see better how "faint" the brush pen is. I've since found another brush pen, which is the same size as the Pentel one, but which can be used with a converter too, like a fountain pen, which means you have a much greater variety of colours to choose from (bottled ink), and which also can be filled with a lovely carbon ink, which dries instantly, is completely waterproof, and really is pitch black.

The portrait on the left below also started as a portrait of Rosmarie, but after two hours of intensely concentrated drawing, I just ran out of energy, and I soon knew that nothing satisfactory would come out of it, and that the best thing was to stop. I had meant to work a bit more on the sketch at home, to finish it, but then decided that I liked the unfinished one, and just added a touch of colour with a Liquitex paint marker. I had never tried them out on Moleskine paper, and I'm really pleased with the result. 

I decided to try out some more pens and paint marker and painted the portrait on the left last Friday night, on the sofa. I was watching tv, an old series from the 70s, where the camera focuses much longer on objects and faces than it does today, and I thought I might do a sketch. It turned out to be too fast for me, after all, so I just did an imaginary face, added some paint, and then added some stamped lettering too. As I've mentioned before, I'm not a party girl at all, and a perfect Friday night for me is spent on the sofa, with a sketchbook and something good on telly, a nice cup of tea and an early night, so that I can get up early on Saturday morning and spend the day in the studio. So this is probably the expression I would have on my face if someone suggested to me to go out clubbing and partying all night on a Friday night. Slight terror, frantically wrecking my brain to come up with a reasonable and accnptable excuse why I absolutely can't go out.

For the two portraits below, I used a big fat Faber-Castell pit Artist Brush Pen. It's great as you can fill in bigger areas quickly, but also has quite a fine tip. And it's nice and dark too. Both drawn from imagination, and using the paint markers for background, and some letter stamps.

Well, I might not be a party girl when it comes to going out on a Friday night (or any other night, really), but one party I definitely like to go to is the fabulous Paint Party Friday. Pop over and have a look at what everyone else has created, it's always a great inspiration.

Friday 6 June 2014

Holiday drawings, Bics, and Summer of Colour

I spent a relaxing holiday in lovely Dorset last week, and while my batteries have fully recharged while I was enjoying walking on cliff tops, through forests full of wild rhododendrons, eating fish & chips at the seaside, a great National Trust day out, and many more things, they seem to be already drained again. But anyway.

Of course I took my sketchbook with me, but I ended up not really doing much sketching at all. But I got two done, at least. One sketch I did on the train, using a black Bic pen. It's a bit of a bumpy ride at times, so getting a straight line was even more of a challenge than getting a straight line in itself already is, but it made the two hours from Woking to Dorchester pass quickly.

N. and me are not much of the going out type, we're usually out and about all day, and then are too tired in the evening to do anything else than flop on the sofa and all attempts to go out never came to anything and it was all beginning to become a bit of a joke. So when N. announced that he had arranged a night out for us, and on a Saturday night too, I must admit I was very intrigued, and a little bit worried, especially as he absolutely refused to tell me where we were going. What could he possibly have come up with? After all, the possibilities in Dorchester are somewhat limited. Well, I needen't have worried, because it was a great evening out. N. had got tickets for Mat Ricardo, "gentleman juggler", at the Corn Exchange, part of this year's Art Festival. It was just amazing, an hour full of fun, stories and history, and of course stunning juggling tricks. If you ever have a chance to see him, do! You won't regret it.

Apart from a range of pens and pencils, I also took some coloured penciles with me this time. I haven't used them for ages, but I'm trying to explore them a bit more. Most of all, I'm still looking for the ideal travel sketching set with mediums that are easy to carry, versatile, and fun to use. Last time I sketched on the train to Dorchester, I spent half of the journey watching my watercolour paints dry. And you have to remember to empty your little water spray bottle before boarding the plane, and to refill it again after landing. And although they're very handy, I'm just not a great fan of those plastic water reservoir reservoir brushes, I just prefer proper real brushes. I just bought a fancy little travel watercolour brush in England, though, so I still hope to use watercolours more often for outdoor and travel sketching. But coloured pencils definitely are an option that need some more testing.

And then of course there's the Bic ballpoint pens. I really don't know why I haven't discovered them earlier, they are absolutely wonderful for sketching. So smooth, and such gorgeous fine lines. And I like the fact that the red one is a nice dark red, and not the bright red I had expected (feared) to be. And then I found those beautiful "fashion colours" at a shop in England, perfect for summer. They're slightly thicker (1.6) than the normal ones (1.0), but still make nice lines. Bics are definitely going to be a part of my sketching basics.

Back home from the much more agreeable temperatures in England, summer is now arriving here, and temperatures are rising, getting close to 30°C today, and over 30°C over the weekend. I'm not a summer person at all, and I'm not looking forward to the heat, and I'll be glad when summer's over and autumn will bring cooler temperatures. But there a couple of things that I'm looking forward to this summer, one of them being Summer of Color 4: Smudge, Splash & Pop, hosted by Kristin. I participated for the first time last year, and it's one of the few challenges that I actually completed. And thoroughly enjoyed. It was a great experience to use colours and colour combinations that I wouldn't have used, and really liked how my paintings turned out. You can see my posts from last year here,  and read more about this year's Summer of Color and how to participate here. The first colour prompt will be up on Monday, 9th of June. Don't miss the fun!

And lastly, I'm going to link up with Paint Party Friday, even though technically speaking, I haven't done any painting at all. But it's been ages since I joined the party, and I can't wait to see what everyone's been up to.