Just lost my entire post! I did not save it and left the page…………ARGGHGHGH My priceless words have just gone, never to be shared with the world – ha ha. You will never hear my musings on the season or my opinion of the current weather – aren’t you lucky?. I’m not going to try and rewrite so that’s all for this week folks.
The final month has arrived, it is now a countdown to the finish. I have a spreadsheet that I tick the days off and I have reached the last column; 365 days fitted onto 2 A4 sheets. The only thing that I have not been able to find since the move is sheet one from 1st January until 30th July which is a shame as I wanted to include it in my final post. I have been investigating how to get a blog printed (not for vanity reasons as most of these drawings are heading for the great bonfire in the sky – but just as a record for myself) and have found a site called Blog2Print – has anyone used this service or can recommend another?
There was much interest last week in Mabel, so I have cropped the photo and put the enlargement in this week. She is about 12 inches tall I guess and this is her regular daytime roost.
Things must be settling down as I am finding more time for drawing which is good, I am also finding that I would like to do more time intensive stuff – maybe larger drawings or more detailed or pictures that take more than a couple of hours to complete. But it will have to wait…..
Bit of a quickie this week…………
Started the week having a go at some pumpkins, they are satisfying to sketch with their lovely round forms.
Then my eye was caught by a Callicarpa growing in the garden, it catches my eye and my attention every year because of the glorious colour of the berries, its common name is ‘beauty berry’ and I understand why.
I decided to make this the subject of my next coloured pencil drawing….. a great excuse to use the purples that have been lurking around unused since I tried a Cerinthe back in the spring. Lush!
A close up of how it is progressing.
It’s not that I have not been drawing but I have not been drawing very much, my intentions of drawing every day just flew out the window. The only artistic tool I have had in my hand for the last month has been a paintbrush – a house painting brush.
So, what have I done? Well on two occasions I was overambitious and started drawings of large specimens which I was unable to continue with or to finish. I did not think forward about how my days were going to pan out and then when I got back to the drawing the specimen had shrivelled, withered and I did not have back up photographs. Another good lesson to learn; think hard before starting something ambitious. Pictures attached are very poor as the graphite is too faint for my photography skills and I have over adjusted the contrast. I have just put them in for the record.
I also had a go at drawing outside again, sitting in the sunshine with the breeze waving the plants around. Good practice at looking and remembering and not being too precious. I love poppy seed heads, they are so much fun to draw, seem like little crowds of people.
I also had a go at Crocosmia, which actually flowered in the garden this year, it seems to have been a good growing year for many things. This also was a venturing into colour for the first time for a long time – and it was orange again – I have a weird attraction to orange I realise that now……. Again I was disheartened by my efforts, my petals end up heavy and lumpy.
The final drawings I have managed are of a fantastic Dahlia flower that is so luscious in colour changing from apricot (orange!!), peach (pale orange!!) to yellow with lots of yummy shades in-between. A massive challenge to draw with so many petals twisting and turning this way and that, but that bit went quite well. I then traced off my drawing to give me the base for a colour drawing. Taking advice from others that have been kind enough to support me I used an underpainting of yellow watercolour to cover the paper before starting with the coloured pencils.
The colours are not quite right in the photo so this detail shows them better.
But my petals are still lumpy and thick. However, excitingly, I am starting a coloured drawing course later this afternoon with Ann Swan who is a brilliant coloured pencil botanical artist and I am hoping to learn loads; whole week of drawing and learning, how lucky am I!
I sound like a cracked record going round and round, but again this week the pencil did not hit paper very much. Below is my entire output, a practice for getting the colours right! And now I think the Foxgloves are past their best so I might have to wait until next year to have another go.
But on the positive side, I have had another go at the photography lark and think I have now solved the problem of photographing paper to my satisfaction. The solution was in the exposure. My paper now looks ‘white (ish)’ instead of dingey greyish. So I am happy about that and can let it go………..
I have been following the blog of occasionalartist over the past weeks and have been very interested in the work she is doing with paper and sewing and they reminded me of the last quilt I made just in the square shapes coming off a flat surface and the shadows and dimensions that are created. Materials used: plain white fabric, coloured threads applied with overlocker, and plastic tags (the type that hold labels onto clothes that get cut off and thrown away).
I have been reading an inspiring book, ‘The Awakened Eye’ (a companion volume to The Zen of Seeing, SEEING/DRAWING as meditation) by Frederick Franck. This is my early morning read, as I enjoy my first cup of tea of the day and my copy is now littered with little orange post it notes as I find things to try and remember. My favourite extracts follow:
- There is no other valid reason for drawing than the awareness of the eye awakening from its half-sleep.
- If we take eternity to mean not infinite temporal duration, but timelessness, the eternal life belongs to those who live in the present – say Wittgenstein
- The leaf I just picked is already going limp, then I see it shrivel. While seeing/drawing I see each thing living its own time, as I am living my time, my life-time. The awakened eye becomes utterly aware of the fleetingness of all that passes before it, of this eye still seeing, of this hand still moving, still tracing…………
- When I draw in line with a pen or a sharp pencil I am compelled to the most intense, uninterrupted attention to and awareness of what my eye perceives. It makes it impossible to deceive, to humour or to flatter myself. The quality of my line shows up every attempt at a cover-up, a pretense. Looking at my drawing once it is finished, I can’t help becoming my own graphologist: I see instantly every flagging of my concentration, every incompetence, every trick!
I hit a low spot last week; took on too much so I felt overburdened and put upon. But action has been taken – I have dropped one commitment and reviewed my attitude to my own efforts (I would hate to work for me, I am a hard taskmaster indeed). But enough of this already and onto what has made it onto paper this week.
In the hope that eventually I would draw something that I would like to own as mine own, I fiddled around with my signature. My initials are S & H which together can look like a dollar sign ($). Here are my efforts, I wanted to include the date in some way but decided that month and year were enough:
The one I think I will go with is below, but looking at it again I might change my mind (any comments or suggestions would be appreciated).
Plant of the week was the wonderful Foxglove; they spread themselves elegantly about the garden in shades of cream, white and maroon, with beautiful markings; just beautiful and enticing to draw. Despite the lush colour I stayed with pencil.
I am going to post the four scrubby drawing I managed this week. I put them up as the intention of this blog is to share my progress as I struggle to revive my art practice. The best thing that I can say about them is that they have been done. I have managed to hack out a couple of hours and to sit myself in front of a drawing board and start, which is no mean achievement this week. I had another go at the Easter Cactus.
But the plant that caught my eye in the garden was another weed – this time the wild carrot (Daucus carota) a small specimen but bushy and growing well. I read that it is a plant of high summer so that shows how forward the season is this year after the mild winter. The attraction was the festoon of bracts beneath the flower umbel so I had a good scribbly go at them.
And finally this afternoon I attempted a more detailed sketch.
When the flowers are finished and they turn to seed, the flower heads contract and become concave like birds’-nests. I like this plant, it grows well in the garden and the hover flies love it
I went by myself to a Botanical Art exhibition, ‘how sad’ you say, but no it was great, it was just what was needed. I had no one to talk to, no distractions, no worrying about if someone else was bored, tired or hungry, needed the loo or just wanted to go home. I just had myself to please and somehow that does not happen very often.
I was able to go around the show which ran to nearly 700 pieces and look at each one individually. I treated my visit as a learning experience and decided to analyse the pictures I liked and to decide what it was in that image that ‘spoke’ to me, and then I took notes (nerdy or what?) Still I was there by myself so I could please myself!
At the end of three and a half hours, these are my findings about the things that I liked:
- images that were larger than life size
- compositions that overflowed their own boundaries
- images that were ‘arrangements’ of separate items
- gouache compared to straight water colour
- images that were a single item (e.g. leaf)
- interesting cropping that filled the picture plane
- the combo of graphite and colour
I also noticed that some subjects are just ‘done to death’ and however beautiful and clever the work there is really nothing much new to say about strawberries, peppers, conkers, aubergines, tulips, daffodils, onions, garlic, carrots, cherries, orchids, iris, violas………….. I could go on. That said, I’m sure I’m going to have a go at all of these over the coming months.
Artists I liked:
- Lynne Buckler
- Susan Christopher-Coulson
- Wendy Cranston
- Jane Goodson
- Lesley Hall
- Carmen Lyons
- Rachel Munn
- Angela Stanbridge
- Ann Swan
Some amazing work in the exhibition and so many talented artists.
Back at my own drawing board, things are not so amazing………. This week I followed instructions from a book called ‘ Creating Radiant Flowers in Colored Pencil’, this had instructions about using solvents to dissolve and blend coloured pencil.
First petal is just blended/burnished pencil and second one has had solvent applied to blend the colours, not only is it bigger (not caused by solvent but by operator error) but it is brighter, so I guess that is one way of getting really intense colour.
Then I went onto my plant of the week, which this week is my flowering ‘Easter’ cactus, this flowers for me every year and survives on neglect. Have not put much time into it but I did try to have a go at the flower, pale pink almost white in places, how do you draw white petals on white paper? Another skill to learn – to be added to the list.
This week as I wandered around the garden wondering what to draw, mulling over my skills, I realised that I had been avoiding flowers with too many petals. Too hard, too complicated – nah not for me, I can’t do that yet. Despite my doubts I left the garden with a marigold in my hand, and decided to give it a go. As I sat down and started drawing in dawned on me that it was not the shape or the number of petals that was going to be the problem but the colour. What a bright orange, what a singeing eye popping colour, it really does not look like a natural colour – it is just way too bright.
Orange, is a strange colour, many people don’t like it and I can understand why, it is very fierce and in your face, it is a Marmite type colour, you either love it or hate it. Maybe not quite like Marmite as I have converted from hate to love. My conversion to orange came many years ago when I was still a quilter and a completely lurid piece of orange fabric came into my possession and dominated my stash. I decided that instead of throwing the fabric away I would use it, and I pieced it into one of my very first ‘art’ quilts, and found to my surprise that it was the orange colour made the quilt sing. The quilt was not brilliant but it opened my eyes to the magic of orange. After that, most of my textile work had a sprinkle of orange sparkle and were all the better for it. (Apologies for the rubbish photo)
Back at the drawing board, I was struggling with both the colour and the shape of the marigolds and now that I have finished a few and photographed them and looked with new eye I can see how wobbly they are and how very ‘off’ I am in places and how I have failed to match the orange.
So although not satisfied at all with my coloured pencil efforts, I really enjoyed the pencil drawing, a marigold when studied closely has a complicated and interesting shape, the leaves wrap around the stalk and they twist and spiral outwards. The bud is tightly wrapped with a calyx with spikes that curl beautifully. I found the structure fascinating and a real challenge to draw.