Tag Archives: ann swan

Ally Pally, an old friend, a new toy and the Milton method

This week I made my annual pilgrimage to Ally Pally (Alexandra Palace for those of you in far flung places) to the Knitting and Stitching show.  There, those of a textile persuasion gather to indulge their passion…….. to look, to touch and to buy.  So much to buy…… and I did put my hand in my pocket: my purchase, a magnificent magnifying glass with daylight LEDs – wonderful.

Magnifier

Magnifier

This year the exhibition felt very different for me, I finally felt that textiles was no longer my ‘thing’: don’t get me wrong I still love fabric, yarn and cloth in all its wondrous variety but it no longer grabs me to ‘do it myself’, it’s been a long goodbye  but it’s over.  Contributing to that feeling was meeting someone from my past quilting life who was exhibiting there and it felt really good to catch up with her and hear about other members of the Quilt Art group of which I used to be a member but I have really moved on (at last).

Back to more pressing matters, the nasty stain on my drawing.  I don’t know how it got there or what it is but it looks like watercolour (but it can’t be).  I decided that I would try and remove it using ‘the Milton method’ that I learned from Ann Swan .  Milton fluid is used in the UK to sterilise infant feeding equipment.

The Problem

The Problem

So the method is to use a cotton bud and dab the solution onto the mark, not rubbing and then to blot it off using tissue.  I tried it out on a spare piece of paper first  and then went for it!  Slowly as I dabbed and blotted the mark faded and I was left with a wet patch.

Waiting

Waiting

Finally the paper dried and the mark was gone – amazing…..

Gone

Gone

Very happy with the result, now that it is fully dry it does not show at all, especially as the mark will not be as enlarged as the above photo.  I then tidied up my picture, erasing all the other marks and sharpened up my edges.

Finished image

Finished image

Finished picture is called ‘Ripening’, I really enjoyed working on it and realise that may be because as a ‘recovering quilt maker’ I am very attached to repetition and pattern.

An ample sufficiency of tomatoes

Coming in from hanging out the washing I saw this wonderful display of tomatoes laid out to ripen.  They really caught my eye and I noticed with what care they had been arranged.  My next project I thought!

Tomatoes

Tomatoes

I have just recently worked on tomatoes with Ann Swan so I thought I would like to have another go, and this would allow me to practice tomatoes at all stages of ripening.

I already knew what colours to use so I was able to get started quickly, was not bothered too much about composition as I was happy just to work with the tomatoes in a grid formation.

Green Tomato

Green Tomato

I trialled a green and a red tomato using the underpainting technique I learned and using the transparent Pro Marker to dissolve the colour into the paper.  This meant that the base colour application is much quicker, I tried underpainting the green tomato in green Pro Marker but the colour was too dark.

Red Tomato

Red Tomato

Happy with both my trials I cobbled together a light box with a sheet of glass, a cardboard box and a desk lamp and traced onto good paper; then I had a happy afternoon putting on the base colour underpainting, now all I have to do is colour all those babies in!  I suspect I won’t be as fond of tomatoes when I am finished!

Tomatoes with underpainting completed

Tomatoes with underpainting completed

 

 

What a week I have had! 6 day course with Ann Swan at Dedham Hall

An enthusiastic group of students, an experienced and knowledgeable teacher (Ann Swan), a great studio (despite the abundance of spiders and other creepy crawlies) wonderful weather and a full six days of time; the recipe for a really enjoyable and productive week.

I learned so much:

  • Which side is the right side of the paper, I got this wrong twice and was made to start again. A stern teacher indeed but I will pay attention in future.
  • Which greens are ‘good’ and ‘safe’ and make natural looking greens for leaves.
  • How to use a light box, I got this wrong too in two ways 1) I reversed my image and 2) used wrong side of paper.  Had to laugh though…….. and I will be much more careful next time.
  • Found out what a Plamp is (no I am not telling you, you will have to look it up for yourself).  Have also found out how to make one for myself (super scrimper that I am).
  • How to sharpen and pencil and why a sharp pencil is important.
  • The order that a coloured pencil drawing is best done.
  • Different methods of underpainting and how this works really well if a graphite drawing is planned.
  • What baby oil really is; not oil at all – who knew?
  • Burnishing and bloom: what colours to use and how to do it.
  • How to remove random marks e.g. fly poop, pencil slips from paper starting gently and moving onto the heavy guns of Milton fluid.
  • How to select colours for shadows, not necessarily greys but a pale complimentary instead.
  • To be much much braver when I lay down my first layer……….this is hard as I can feel myself not wanting to ‘go wrong’ but to get deep intense colour I must plunge in.

Here is my output for the week:

Abandoned drawing due to wrong side of paper used

Abandoned drawing due to wrong side of paper used

Here you can see the resist veins and the initial shading.

 

Leaf showing highlights and shine

Leaf showing highlights and shine

Here is a finished leaf, photo has dulled it rather but the depth of colour was good.

Backside of leaf

Backside of leaf

Backside of leaf (if you excuse the expression), this is generally duller than the top often with a velvety texture, Veins incised with ivory, bluntish pencils used to create softness. Used wrong side of paper again and reversed image on light box.  Tutor commented on lack of observation on where the veins finished, but I was able to add some extensions to bring the veins to edge of leaf.

Perky Tomatoes

Perky Tomatoes

A lot of hours went into these little babies! I loved the little dancing calyxes and that was what made me want to draw them.  They ripened as I watched.  I feel I have captured some of their perky nature, and preserved some of their luminance and translucency (don’t read on Karen because there is a ‘but’ coming) but I could work on them some more to intensify the colour.

Tangutica clematisMy final piece of work was this drawing of Clematis Tangutica and I don’t think the photo does it justice, it is not quite as washed out as this picture portrays.  I am happy with the composition of this drawing and used many of the ‘tricks’ I observed and learned to put this picture together.   I thought it was finished but it needs ‘beefing up’ Ann’s words and I will do that and try and strengthen the colour.

I had a really positive experience on this course and am fired up to keep going, I have improved  skills and a better understanding of the medium as well as a long shopping list for pencils and paper and other sundry equipment.

 

 

 

Still here!

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.

Drawing

 

Drawing of Teasel

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.

Drawing of Poppies

Poppies

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.

Drawing of Crocosmia

Drawing of Crocosmia

Drawing of CrocosmiaThe 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.

Drawing of Dahlia

Pencil drawing

Working drawing

Working drawing

Coloured pencil drawing of Dahlia

The colours are not quite right in the photo so this detail shows them better.

Detail of Dahlia drawing

Detail of Dahlia drawing

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!