Tuesday, 4 August 2020

Art Ideas! - turning sketches into paintings


Some commentary on how I turn my sketchbook pages into finished painting and ideas for doing the same with yours.

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Mallaig Harbour 

For starters this pencil sketch in A5 sketchbook, made whilst I sat watching the comings and goings of a small, lovely, Scottish harbour town. See the Skye ferry at anchor?

Note darker use of pencil in areas closer to the front of the drawing, only lighter pencil used in the furthest off areas. Do this to give greater depth to your sketch.


I had intended a possible large painting (really large for me) of this scene (hasn't happened yet) but wanted first to try out my composition and colour ideas. Using what I had in my sketchbook I drew out the same scene with a bit more detail and on a larger scale (24x48cm). 

I used thick watercolour paper (nearly the thickness of mountboard) as I knew I wanted to paint the watercolour on quite richly and thickly for a bold final scene. I used really thick watercolour paper (weight - 640gsm) as it means you can apply loads of paint and water with very little buckling of the paper. It does seem expensive but I buy very large sheets then cut them down to size.


To achieve the same depth as in my sketchbook page I mostly put my areas of darkest paint towards the front of the scene. Almost-black paint did sneak in on the hull of that second CalMac ferry though.



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Blackness Castle

A place I've known well, since fairly early childhood. A good location for family cycles or (long) walks from home, then later in my teens a place for gradually getting into birdwatching with my friend Chris.





More recently, over a period of some days I cycled down there and made these A3 ish watercolour paintings and lots of pages of bird sketches in pencil.

For the two watercolours I tried painting directly onto the paper, no pencil drawing first, not even for the castle. Sometimes tricky but I really recommend trying it for a sometimes more exciting, 'free-er', looser end result.







The final painting in this series,a bit larger and combining different elements from various parts of the sketches and paintings above.




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Earthquake House, Comrie

If you don't mind messy fingers (sketchbook... clothes... face [when you scratch your nose]...), chalk pastels are a brilliant tool for an artist. With so few strokes and so little pressure you can achieve such bold marks, colours and contrasts. Try using chalks alongside charcoal too, see what you think of that.


I then made these compositional sketches to decide what I wished the final painting to look like, how much presence I wanted to give to Earthquake House compared to its surrounding landscape.


I chose my preferred composition then worked up this more detailed drawing



and the final painting became this. Different again!

Spot the fox (easy). Spot the figure (a bit harder). Spot the owl (hardest - I can't quite remember!)




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Clerkhill Wood

I prefer to work from real life. Most exciting is to paint outdoors, directly from life, but often I make sketches and watercolours outdoors then turn them into acrylic or oil paintings back in my studio.

Now and again I need or wish to work solely from photographs. When this happens I first sit and look at the photos for a long time, trying to imagine myself there. Then I make quick sketches from those photos, again, whilst trying to imagine actually being there, When it comes to making the painting I try to refer mostly to the sketches I've made from the photos, not to the photos themselves. It doesn't always work like this but it's what I aim for.

This small acrylic painting of an Aberdeenshire wood was made in this way. I knew the wood well but hadn't been up recently and hadn't ever sketched in it. I used these two and lots of other photos I had, made a pencil and watercolour sketch from them then used that to paint the final acrylic.




think about adding a detail in the very foreground of your artworks, it can add so much to the scene.




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Balvenie Castle 

On a camping trip with Jennifer in our early years. I made this sketch on the spot outside Balvenie Castle then later turned it into two different paintings. One large (for me) at 60x60cm, acrylic on deep edged wooden board. One small, maybe 14x14cm. One I wanted to be bold and dramatic, the other more mysterious and misty.

pencil in sketchbook.

Taking a bit of care and time lightly sketch some of the main outlines of the scene. Once that's done try to loosen up - move your pencil quite rapidly, not worrying about lines crossing one another or ending up where you didn't intend them. Sometimes press lightly, sometimes heavily, sometimes in between. Sometimes hold your pencil on its side to create much broader marks, try this heavily, try this lightly. Such variety of line type  and of tone can make for a really interesting lively drawing.




How different the same location (or ornament on your windowsill) can look in different weathers/seasons/times of day... Try painting the same thing lots of times. Like Monet with his haystacks.



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Seven Snow Hares

roe deer in blue felt tip pen, hares in grey felt tip pen, 8x12cm mini sketchbook.



hares sketched in grey felt tip pen in 8x12cm mini sketchbook.


These hares were sketched one winter evening up on the fields above where I live. When we're lucky enough to have snow it gives brilliant opportunity to watch night time wildlife. The whole land and sky was illuminated and I could clearly see these hares as they dug through snow to get at any plantlife below.

Using the sketches I came up with this A5 acrylic painting. I decided to make the final painting lighter than the actual scene had been, more approaching-end-of-day than winter night. You can do that in art.

seven snow hares, acrylic, 15x21cm



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Winter Deer
roe deer sketch, blue felt tip pen in 8x12cm mini sketchbook.

 Sketched one still night in winter, snow lying deep, thick warm gloves on.
Me standing at wood edge, sketchbook leaning on old stone wall.
Me mostly hidden by wall and trees. Deer out in open field.



Some time later back in my studio I used these sketches plus photos I took in the same area during daylight to sharpen my memories of the event and come up with this painting:

winter deer, acrylic, 15x21cm

Spot the deer.

Thursday, 30 July 2020

Art Ideas! - thinking about space. *Outer* Space

(apologies for very dodgy font sizing and spacing and formatting throughout this post. It keeps glitching and I cannot work out how to solve it)


Following my last two blog posts looking at other worlds here are some ideas for bringing Outer Space Into Your Art.



Re-finding this oil painting

Leo -



and having fun further browsing through the Art in Healthcare Collection

Claire Cooper Walsh
Realms of Possibility
mixed media & collage
100x120cm
https://www.artinhealthcare.org.uk/work.php?code=G1328



Wilhelmina Barns-Graham
Cardinal
screenprint
58x76cm
https://www.artinhealthcare.org.uk/work.php?code=P1115




apologies, I have lost the link for this artwork from the Art in Healthcare Collection




made me think planets. 


Well, you know, circles... sci-fi / fantasy head... = planets.


nb. choose spaceships if you prefer but planets are definitely easier to cut out.




Instructions:


1 - make some circles


- draw around lids, rolls of tape, anything circular


- colour the circles however you choose:

 

- PVA glue mixed with paint. 

- Brush or drip it on then leave to dry. 

- The PVA makes it dry to a lovely glossy semi-translucent finish. 

- Try different paper colours underneath.


- colour with oil pastel or wax crayon
- make lots of folds in the paper to add texture

 

- colour with oil pastel or wax crayon
- make lots of folds in the paper to add texture
- gently brush watery paint on top.

 

- colour with oil pastel or wax crayon

- as above only scratch rather than scrumple at the end. 

 


- a ' happy accident' using black drawing ink rather than black paint





2 - make a Space Background for your planets to orbit in


This background is painted. Lots of different layers of blues gradually changing from dark to light.  


choose your planet. This one is:

- oil pastel lines of blue and green

- watery paint of yellow and orange and pinkish filling in the rest 






3 - place your planet


Planet Rising


Planet Fills All

 


(Space background turned upside-down) 

 


(Space background turned right-way-up again) 

 




4 - Again with a circular Space background


Circles of paint. 


pva-paint planets placed

 


added a colourful oil pastel planet


one dark, one bright and bold

 



5 - one more Space picture



- painted-circles Space background
- planets are coloured with wax crayon,


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Tuesday, 14 July 2020

Art Ideas! - a bit more escapism - other worlds - other artists

Here are a few more of my Other Worlds for you to enjoy.

Or to make you think twice before next you see me.

Spot the space goblin?



Find a place in the real world which looks otherworldly. These human-made grassy mounds were spotted on a train journey then elaborated on for this painting:
modern hills
acrylic, miniature


Space serpents? Seaweed? Mountain range? Waves?
sandford
oil, 3x5ft

Choose a real object, put it in an unexpected place:
boat in the clouds
acrylic, miniature

A building on an impossible clifftop:
dawn in blue
acrylic, miniature

Choose a title to enhance the fantastic:
Journey of a Space Goblin
oil, 5x6ft


But it's not just me who likes fantastical. Honest. Here are some from ***Other Artists*** in the Art in Healthcare Collection.


These first two are by Peter Standen, an Edinburgh artist. He takes well known locations, often Edinburgh, and shows them as he imagines them in the far far future.

Try a landscape in sombre colours to give the feeling of something huge having happened.


Peter Standen
View From Calton Hill
etching
72x54cm


Depict your pets doing odd things:
Peter Standen
Catalytic Catnip
etching
57 x 68 cm


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More cats. People like cats.

Michael Forbes
What's For Tea
painting
66 x 76 cm


Great trees!
Michael Forbes
Familiar Faces
oil painting
62.5 x 72.5 cm


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Alan Davie. Look closely for buildings, gardens, roads, trees, mountains and many curious things.

Try this with black ink or black paint. Or a felt tip marker.

Alan Davie
Between the Villages
printmaking
73 x 62 cm


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A scene from Greek mythology. Enhanced by its title. Without reading the title you might not guess at it being an other-worldly painting at all.

Philip Braham
Icarus Falling to Earth
oil painting
53 x 69 cm


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Fantastical rollercoaster?

I would not go on that.

Jennifer would.

What do you see?

Try a big bold drawing using lovely soft charcoal, or conte crayons for a harder line:
Judith Rowan
Nine Pine Trees
Mixed Media and Collage
100 x 110cm


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Three Flying Crowns...

Choose some objects from around your house, make them fly!:

Alice Shannon
The Flying Crowns
mixed media and collage
67 x 60 cm


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A magical fantastical giraffey dreamscape by Maki Hamada. I was at art college with Maki.

Maki Hamada
zoo
acrylic and gouache mixed media and collage
67 x 60 cm


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A very happy scene. Starry volcanoes, flying house.

Christopher Gilvan-Cartwright
Nothing is Impossible..II
oil painting
50 x 63 cm

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I love this. A real building (demolished 1964) in a fantastical moonlit setting. With sunflowers.

Robert Leishman
Royal Arch (Dundee) Fantasy
oil painting
101.5x140cm



And your other worlds?