Friday, 29 June 2018

Direct Watercolour challenge, Weeks 3 & 4 - The End

The 30x30 Direct Watercolour challenge is almost finished, one more day to go. I started very well, for the first 12 days, I managed to paint every day. But then I just didn't quite have the energy for a few days, and the last two weeks have been quite busy, so painting became a bit more sporadic. But I'm still pleased with result. I might not have 30 paintings done on 30 days, but I have 24 paintings altogether (I did more than one on some days). Many of them were quite quick and simple, like the ones here, but still, it's all practice, and I certainly painted much more than I usually did. And I know now that I can very well fit in a bit of painting in the evenings, after work. And I intend to do that much more often. So all in all, it's been a success. But now, I'm just looking forward to my holiday, which starts tomorrow.  I really need a holiday now!

Friday, 15 June 2018

Direct Watercolour challenge, Week 2

The second week hasn't been quite as productive as last week, although it started well. Evenings after work are definitely a bit of struggle sometimes, especially towards the end of the week. But I'm so glad this challenge is encouraging me to take time to paint. Even if it doesn't turn out as you wanted. On Friday, I tried something different. And it was an Epic Fail. I tried it twice. And both - an absolute and total disaster. So much so, that I even considered glueing together the two pages to make it disappear. Now, it just makes me laugh. For the moment, I'm going to leave it, and hopefully, one day I can look back and see the progress I've made. Or maybe I'll eventually gesso over it, and draw something else.

I didn't have the energy to do another painting, so I had to make up for it on Saturday. I went back to the fridge ad its content, sketching the ingredients for my lunch before they became a mushroom pasta sauce. I deliberately bought the fresh garlic, because it is so much prettier, with all it's purples and greens.

I meant to have one of these bananas for breakfast on Sunday, but it took me too long to sketch them so I had to go without breakfast. The sacrifices we make for our art...

I also had these delicious cherries, which needed to be eaten, so I made another one for Sunday. Apparently, this year is a good year for cherries.

With all the fruits and veggies gone, or already sketched, I tried something different again on Monday. A couple of stoneware bottles I have in my studio, which have been waiting forever to be drawn and painted.

And that's all I've got to show for the second week. I did a sketch on Tuesday, but still haven't scanned it. And for the last two days, I have been so tired and my neck and shoulders are so stiff and painful, that I just didn't feel like sketching. Last night, I had a hot bath and an early night instead. The weather we're having at the moment, humid, hot, cold, sun, rain... is just the perfect weather to catch a chill, if you aren't careful. Hopefully I'll make up for the days I've missed at the weekend, and have more energy again next week.

Friday, 8 June 2018

Direct Watercolour challenge, Week 1

The first week of the challenge is over, and so far, I've been keeping up. Well, I still have to do today's sketch, but on work days, I'm doing them in the evening. And keeping them quick and simple. My fridge happened to be full of all kinds of juicy fruits at the beginning of the week, so I decided to start with sketching them.

With some, I made more than one sketch. With these apricots, I tried a more realistic version, using layers. I wasn't quite happy with how they turned out, they seemed to become more and more dull in the process. So I made another sketch, very quick and loose. They turned out much fresher and brighter. I'd like to combine the two and achieve more realistic paintings, that are still bright and fresh. Lots to practising to do....

I really enjoyed painting these strawberries. I wanted them to be quick and loose, but with the texture they get from those little seed thingies. So I decided to use salt. The first one I did in the Hahnemühle Watercolour Book that I'm mainly using for this challenge, the second one in my normal sketchbook, that doesn't have watercolour paper, but takes a bit of watercolour quite well. I played with the different formats of the two sketchbooks (landscape and portrait), and lined the berries up. They were also delicious to eat afterwards.

Blueberries are a big favourite of mine, and the perfect subject for a quick sketch. The hot, humid and thunderstormy weather we're having at the moment leaves me feeling so tired, I just didn't have the energy for something bigger.

Eventually, all the yummy fruits were sketched and eaten. These bright red radishes were perfect to sketch next.

On Wednesday evening, I needed something very quick to sketch. This ice lolly was a very suitable subject, for obvious reasons...

I'm glad this challenge makes me take time to sketch in the evening. It's so easy to find excuses, when you're tired, and just spend the evening on the sofa, staring into the tv before you fall into bed. It's so much more rewarding to take the paints out, switch off and play with your paint. But sometimes, the result just isn't quite as you'd have wanted to, and maybe what you could have achieved on a Sunday morning, with more energy. The greens on these tomatoes turned out quite heavy. But that's okay too. Some days are just better than other. And you can always paint it again, and learn from your mistakes. And my scanner messes up all my sketches too...

Friday, 1 June 2018

A new challenge for June

After my disaster with The100Project (I probably lasted less than 10 days altogether), I'm foolish enough to embark on another daily challenge. The 30x30 Direct Watercolour challenge, hosted by Marc Taro Holmes of Citizen Sketcher. 30 days of daily direct watercolour painting. Direct simply means that you don't use a pen or pencil to draw your subject first, before adding watercolour, but instead just paint directly with watercolours. Although, if you need a little bit of help from a pencil first, that's okay too. There's a very lively Facebook group with lots of info and helpful tips, and where you can share your paintings. And it starts today, so there's still time to join :)

So far, if I attempted any kind of daily challenge (and there haven't been many), I usually chose a medium that allowed me to easily work on it during the day, such as 5 minutes during my lunch break at work. In other words, mediums like pen and pencil, and no paints. This challenge means, I will have to do it in the evenings on work days. And that will definitely be a challenge. But then again, my main goal isn't the number but the practice. What I want to do is to practise watercolour, as often as possible. Every day would be great, but if I miss one or more days, that's fine too.
I love watercolour, but I'm still struggling with it, a lot. The amount of water to use, the different techniques, which brushes... And that's why I'm going to try and attempt this challenge. It's a good motivation for practising, and as we all know, practice makes progress. (I read that somewhere a while ago, and liked it much better than the more common version. Perfectionism certainly isn't doing me much good...)

The above sketches are just warm ups, I haven't done the first one for today yet, that'll be my plan for tonight. I've also been busy playing with my watercolour pencils. I went through all my art supplies and got out all the pencils I have (and I've made lots of colour charts, which I will share another time). Watercolour pencils really are a very clever medium. They allow you to draw your subject very carefully, if you want, and when you add water, all the lines disappear and what you're left with is a vibrant watercolour painting. But of course not very appropriate for this particular challenge... As with watercolour paints, you can layer the pencils, but I soon found out that in my non-watercolour-paper sketchbook, that didn't work very well. One or two layers of wet medium is okay, but not more. What works really well, though, is painting a base using watercolour pencils and water, and then add more layers with normal coloured pencils, which gives you vibrant colours and also allows to add more details.

In my watercolour journal, the watercolour pencils work a lot better.

It's also a good exercise to draw the same subject several times, and by using different mediums, you can really explore it, and compare how they differ and what works better or not so good for you, and when and how.