Tag Archives: art

Draws Shoots and Leaves – 2015

I spent an hour going through my posts from the last year, reading about my activities and thought – how soon we forget!

The new year has dawned and our new project is underway, but as I write this (01/01/2015) I am the sole person who has posted a drawn image on our 365 Drawings for 2015 group site.  As I talked to friends, several people expressed an interest in joining in, so it is not just me!  During the run up to the challenge I have managed to draw every day and it has been really helpful knowing that if I did not post an image, then I might disappoint Maggie who was also doing a practice run up.

I was given a Bromeliad for my birthday and this was the subject of several of my drawings and the colours and shapes are so dramatic I thought it would make a good winter subject – the reds and greens will cheer me up.



I found it difficult to draw and with the stem running through the centre difficult to see.

Bromeliad 2

Bromeliad 2

However the complicated shape made it fun and interesting.  With the final drawing, I thought, just go for it, so I just started on good paper directly with coloured pencil (usually I do a careful drawing then trace and transfer to good paper).  Using Wendy Hollender’s limited palette of 20 pencils and her direct way of image making I have launched myself into a drawing – and ran out of paper; my drawing is just a gnat’s bollock (s’cuse my French) from the top of the sheet – doh! Still, the drafting is OK so I’m ignoring that and finishing the piece.

Bromeliad in colour

Bromeliad in colour

These images show the start of the drawing and I have only lightly blocked in the colours and shadows.  Looking at the image now though, I can see all the drafting mistakes, I read somewhere that this was a good way of spotting errors, shame I have already done so much as I can see something I would really like to fix (and I think I know how to fix it).

Bromeliad in colour

Bromeliad in colour

At Christmas my sons told me that they read my blog, that they liked it and that they had shown it to their friends, I was surprised as in some weird way I thought this blog was just me musing away to a few (distant) folks. They have never posted a comment………..so this is a request to any of you out there that read this, drop me a note once in a while to let me know that you are there………….Happy New Year.

Progress and Felt

Not much chance to do very much this week with a trip to London to help with a house move.  But some colouring in did take place.  I am happy with the intensity of colour I am getting, but a mysterious mark has appeared on my white paper and I am at a loss as to where it came from…. Not tea or coffee, I suspect a spider or a fly or even an earwig!  Using an eraser has not worked so I am going to have to try the Milton fluid technique.

Work in Progress

Work in Progress

There was also a meeting of our felting group this Saturday and here is the piece of felt I produced, only 3 more to go and then I shall make myself a multicoloured waistcoat, or bag, or pillow, or tea cosy – who knows? something anyway.  Circles seem to be a theme…….

Spotty Felt Panel

Spotty Felt Panel

Rose Hips and photo editing (again!)

Just a quickie again this week…..

I finished the rose hips, it was such a tiny picture (5ins x 3ins) it did not take up too much time.  But the photo I took to put in the blog was not good, photographing white paper – ARGGGH.

Scrabbling around the Internet I found reference to image editing software called Pixelmator, and I downloaded the app for a 30 day free trial.  Well, I am very happy with it, especially after my very frustrating experiences with Gimp.  Gimp ‘0’ Pixelmator ’10’!  Obviously I need to practise but there are a bunch of tutorials on YouTube so I am happy.

Finished Rose Hip drawing - Sue Hagley

So now I am learning photo editing………. Anyway at least I can cut out my image and place it on a white background thus solving the photography problem.  The colour editing tools seem good so I can colour match if I want to.  I worked on the Tangutica again and ‘beefed’ up the intensity of the colour in the drawing.  The yellow in the image is still not ‘true’ even with my photo editing.

angutica - colours strengthened

Tangutica – colours strengthened

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 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


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!

You shall draw everything and every day – a new resolution

Still reading ‘The Awakened Eye’ by Frederick Franck and mulling over his ideas.  One of the consequences is that I have laid aside my coloured pencils for a while and I have been working outside rather than in the studio (grand name for the spare bedroom).  At the end of the book he lays out his ten commandments, and as I found them so interesting and shall be trying to integrate them into my practice I am taking the liberty of including them here in full:

The ten commandments on seeing/drawing were revealed to me on a mountain, but also in a meadow, on an beach and even in the subway.  For their revelation did not come all at once, but in instalments, as it were, over the years, and always while I was busy drawing, and invariably on holy ground.  But that may be because, while drawing, all ground is holy, unseparated from the Whole.

      1. You shall draw everything and every day.
      2. You shall not wait for inspiration, for it comes not while you wait but while you work.
      3. You shall forget all you think you know and, even more, all you have been taught.
      4. You shall not adore your good drawings and promptly forget your bad ones.
      5. You shall not draw with exhibitions in mind, nor to please any critic but yourself.
      6. You shall trust none but your own eye and make your hand follow it.
      7. You shall consider the mouse you draw as more important than the contents of all the museums in the world for..
      8. You shall love the Ten Thousand Things with all your heart and a blade of grass as yourself.
      9. Let each drawing be your first: a celebration of the eye awakened.
      10. You shall not worry about ‘being of your time’, for you are your time. And it is brief. 
  • Frederick Franck

That’s the plan anyway, since writing this I have already not achieved commandment #1 but what the heck? I am really thinking about #4 and #5 these are the faults that I need to challenge.

Here are this week’s efforts….. working outside in the shade trying to draw foxgloves in the breeze, the ones where it does not look like I was looking? well that’s how I drew them –  I did not look at the paper, experimented with pen and ink.  I think my eye is not confident enough to draw with ink so I went back to pencil.

Next I tried my most complicated plant yet – a trailing geranium.

Trailing Geranium by Sue Hagley

And lastly, another afternoon in the garden where my beloved teasels are stretching up to the sunshine, great crowds of them lifting their arms up.  My first coloured pencil drawing was a teasel leaf; I could only manage a section of leaf then as I thought the whole thing way too difficult to draw.  But one year on it looks like I am more confident.

Teasel Plant by Sue Hagley

Another week, another exhibition!

This week’s experiences were a contrast to last week’s as I visited an art exhibition put together by local people, mostly amateurs and hung in a local community centre.  Eight hundred plus works created in a variety of media and curated mainly into groupings by subject.  I went around quickly scanning the works and when I got to the end I paused; I noticed how I had been  subconsciosly grading them into ‘good’ and ‘bad’, or worth my consideration or not.  Wow! harsh!

So I went around again, much slower this time and trying to give each work its due notice and consideration and this time I was aware of my judgements as they arose.  Looking with kindness on these artworks brought a different appreciation.  I noticed that each artist has the same problems, the struggle with colour and establishing a palette, the struggle with composition, the struggle with light, the struggle mastering the media and on and on, each problem needing a resolution.

I noticed the things that people felt were important, so important they spent hours of their time and much effort to try and express their experience of these things.  I noticed how simple these things are; their pets, their homes, their villages, their food, their gardens, other people, plants, birds, trees, the ocean, machines, the landscape.  Things that we all engage with every day and that have a profound impact on us.  I noticed the differences in approach from those with colour straight  from the tube laid on boldly with a flourish to those tentative and shy with the brush.  I thought I noticed those with some formal training as opposed to those who were self taught.

Later, I thought again of my judgements from the first time around and remembered that I am a product of my own culture and experiences and that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and that notions of what is ‘good’ and ‘bad’ change.  Not quite sure where I am going with my ramblings, but I am glad I went to this show and took the time to try and see.

Back in the studio………..I have had my own personal struggle with colour, composition, light and use of media, but I have finished my first ‘composed’ picture and it is posted here for the record.  Onto the next one………………the garden is bursting with material and today (Thursday) is my ‘art’ day so I shall take a little wander around outside to see what demands my attention.

How to decide what to paint? I would be interested to hear how others make their choices.


Clematis Montana - pencil drawing - Sue Hagley

Finished clematis