Saturday, August 11, 2012

Watercolour class 4th week.

I haven't got around to scanning the exercises with masking fluid, sorry (who the heck am I saying sorry to?  I don't even know if anyone is reading this).
Our tutor had us do another still life this week, but using vegetables instead of fruit.  She wanted us to incorporate what she had shown us so far into this painting, so I used candle wax for the white bits as highlights on my shiny vegies.   When she had told us last week to bring our own vegies if we wanted to, there was a bit of a discussion around the room as to who would bring what, and what would be the hardest things to paint.  One girl said broccoli would be, and most of them groaned 'oh yeah' until someone else said cauliflower!  I sat silent, already thinking.  I wanted a combination of colours and textures, and finally decided on a red onion and a brown onion, a zucchini, and a red pepper.  When we arrived at the studio on Monday, Dorothy had already set up an arrangement of vegies, and she said we could use it if we liked.  So after asking if anybody else wanted the broccoli (they didn't!) I added it to my little display.  At the end of the class, they were all very impressed with my broccoli! 

All I had to do was the shadows and a few touch up bits here and there, and I found time to do that today using the photo I took on Monday while everything was in the same position. Dorothy encourages us to do that, so we can finish our paintings later if we don't have them completed by the time we go home.
That damn red onion was very hard to paint - would you believe something so simple could be so tricky?
I still haven't got the arrangement and perspective correct either, although the photo was taken from a slightly different angle to where I was sitting when I sketched it.  Cie la's all in the learning I guess.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Watercolour Class, third week.

This week we finished our fruit still life, painting the background with washes, and making final touches to the fruit.  Dorothy demonstrated how to create white spaces on water colour paintings, using masking fluid, candle wax, leaving an area unpainted, or scratching away a painted surface.  The last hint came with a warning that the paper will be damaged by that process.
I spent today with my artist friend G, and we sat in her sunny kitchen and played with masking fluid and candle wax to create some interesting effects on small paintings.  I will photograph them and post here shortly, but for now, here is my finished Still Life.  The original is actually a rectangle, but it wouldn't fit in my scanner that way, so I had to crop the sides.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Watercolour class, second week.

Classic still life exercise! Dorothy arranged some fruit on a scarf and got us to paint it. She also provided a tracing of a photo that she'd taken of a fruit arrangement, for those students who felt unable to sketch the fruit before painting them. There were only two of us that didn't use the tracing; I'd done this sort of drawing so often, I felt confident enough to draw the fruit in front of us. I felt the pull of my previous workshop training in acrylics; tempted to use the watercolour from the tube without diluting it, so my colour is very strong instead of being muted and more subtle as watercolour should be. Hopefully at the end of the course I will have re-learned my painting technique! We will continue working on this painting next week, to do the background and finish the fruit.
I did this when I got home - taken from a small water colour picture I had. I plan to use the same sketch to make three more - but of different seasons.

Watercolour classes.

I have enrolled in an 8 week water colour class, and have enjoyed the first two weeks. Our tutor (Dorothy Fields) is an accomplished artist and excellent teacher. She explains the lesson to the students, shows us how to do it, and then gets us to do it one step at a time. The first week she talked about the properties of watercolour paint, the best type of paper to use, how to wet and stretch the paper, the right brushes and how to look after them. Very comprehensive. Then she taught us three ways of doing water colour washes.
When we'd done those, she asked us to paint something over the washes.  I chose to paint pyramids over my blue wash, sand and sea over another, and a simple tree over the fourth wash.
After we'd done those, Dorothy said to 'do our own thing' with a wash background and something over the top, so with the July Sketchbook Challenge in mind ('circles') I painted these balls and circles. Doesn't represent anything - just painted doodles I guess!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

June challenge.

The theme for Sketchbook Challenge in June is Urban Sketching. I was a bit puzzled by this until I had a look at the examples, where I saw that artists had sketched their environments (many interpretations of this!). I don't know if I'm going to have time to do much sketching this month, so for my contribution to the Challenge Flickr site, I posted my sketches of the Eltham Trestle bridge and the house on the river in Warrandyte, which I did in April and May, and posted on this blog.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Sketchbook Challenge for May, and other stuff.

The topic for the May Challenge is Fruit and Vegetables. I lined up a banana, pear, mandarin and tomato to make a nice contrast in colours. This is in watercolour pencil, a medium that I have had very little practice with, so I've got a lot to learn. I took the photo below so I could make some improvements to my sketch without having to leave the fruit on my desk, or go and find it again when I wanted to work on the picture.

An artist friend has offered to set me a challenge, and have a look at my work when I've done it. She said to paint someone in one colour acrylics, using light and heavy applications of paint to create shade and depth. This is my husband asleep on the sofa last night. I had a lamp behind me, otherwise the room was in darkness, so it was pretty hard to see his features. But White Feather thought it was great! The cat was curled up beside me on the couch, so I painted him as well, but that was not successful at all.

I invited another artist friend to come over so I could paint her portrait - also in acrylics. It was great having someone who is an experienced portrait artist, to critique my work. She offered points for improvement as I went along, and while my husband says it still doesn't look like her, I'm still pleased with the result. I had planned to leave it as black and white, but G. suggested bringing one colour into it, and as she has auburn hair, I chose that to use.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Sketching in charcoal.

The more I use charcoal pencils to sketch, the more I like the results.  Here are some sketches that I've done over the past month.  The first one of the open door was my contribution for the theme 'open' for Sketchbook Challenge's April challenge.

This is a tree stump in our back yard.  When I showed the MOTH, he stared at it and said 'what is it?'  I replied  "never mind"....

The old trestle bridge in Eltham.  I'd done a water colour of this bridge last month, and was disappointed in my efforts.  I think this is a bit better, but when I compared it to the photo I took from the same spot on the day we were sketching, I realise I still have lots to learn about perspective!

The MOTH and I went to a Native American workshop recently, and one of the activities was learning to dance Apache style.  Ken and I sat that one out!  So I took the chance to do a quick sketch of some of the others dancing, with the Indian in his regalia standing with his back to us.  It is very difficult to draw people when they are moving around - all the books say you need to practice constantly to get it right.  They are not exaggerating!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Watercolour experiments and quick pencil sketches.

Today was such a beautiful autumn day in Melbourne, I decided to try some watercolour sketching around the town where I live.  Found a table on the outside balcony of a local cafe, ordered a coffee and muffin, and away I went.  This took me about an hour.  I really need some lessons in this medium!!  But I enjoyed doing it, and some of the people who noticed what I was doing came over to have a look.  People who consider themselves unable to paint or draw are always complimentary, which makes me feel good! 

After I'd done as much as I could to the first painting, I moved across the park to a spot where I could draw the old wooden trestle rail bridge. I've taken heaps of photos of this bridge, but never tried to draw it before. Next time I think I will try using charcoal, as I seem to be able to capture shadow and shape better with that medium than with paint and brush. There were trains coming and going all the time, so I included a bit, but it is woefully out of perspective; in fact it looks nothing like a train! Next time I'll just do the bridge.
Yesterday, the MOTH and I spend an hour waiting to see our doctor, and I took advantage of the time by sketching people in the little book I keep in my shoulderbag for that purpose. There was a lady sitting in front of us who helpfully kept still the whole time (not knowing what I was doing), but the two young men across the room caught me when I was about halfway through drawing them. One whispered something to his mate, and they both looked at me while I tried not to look at them - ha ha! Ken was chuckling, and he told me they changed their position when they figured out what I was doing.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Last acrylic painting, recent sketching.

The final class in Acrylic painting was held on March 26th.  The previous week, Michael suggested we paint anything we wanted to on the last night, and he would be there to assist us on a one to one basis.
I decided to work on my American Indian portrait, and Michael praised my work in progress.  I was quite chuffed!  I almost finished it on that night, but it needs a bit more work on the finer details, so I won't post a photo of it here until I've completed it.
In the meantime, I've been using pastels, charcoal and pencils to do some sketching.  This one of some of our hens basking in the sunshine in the back yard was done with my cheapest colouring pencils - I use them if I'm just messing around or having a practice run.   I've never seen hens lie down like that, and it was quite tricky to capture them in those poses.

Last night, there were sleeping bodies all over our house - one cat on the bed (Tiger), the other under a chair in the dining room (Topsy) and the MOTH stretched out on the couch.  I thought it was a good opportunity to draw them all in charcoal while they were unaware of me.  I captured Tiger before he woke up, but Topsy opened her eyes and glared at me when I crouched down to draw her, and all I could get was this quick sketch of her cross little black face before she got up and moved away!  By that time Ken had woken up and wasn't in the mood to be a model for my scribbles, so that ended my session.

Today (Monday) I went down to the Yarra River in Templestowe with one of my arty friends (Val) and we spent a lovely couple of hours sitting under some shady trees, practising our drawing.  Val had a book of "how to paint for kids" and it had some interesting exercises on drawing and painting trees (one of my worst themes) so I dallied with those for a while.  The first page is done in Derwent pastel pencils -
 And the second page in water colours.
 I decided to get serious then, and drew this house and trees on the other side of the river, using charcoal to sketch it first, then added colour with the pastel pencils.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Today's work.

It was such a lovely day here, I decided to go outside and do some painting(drawing?) with a set of oil pastels I have in my stash. It was easier than using paints, which would have dried too quickly in the sun. Birds are so hard to draw from life - they flit around so fast it is hard to catch them in one spot long enough!
This apple and flower were taken from a tutorial in a book on using pastels.
Tonight was the fifth class in the Acrylics workshop. Michael hung a white sheet over a rope, and instructed us to paint it. When we'd finished, he showed us how to turn it into a coloured sheet, painting a colour wash over the original black and white toned painting.

Thursday, March 15, 2012


Our Acrylics art class tutor asked us to paint a self portrait for our homework.  I did mine today.  It's a bit tricky looking at yourself in a mirror and trying to paint at the same time.  He warned us not to try and beautify ourselves; just paint yourself warts and all, he said.  Well, I tried to paint what I saw, but it is true that we don't see ourselves as others do.  Most people see themselves in their mind's eye as younger/thinner/prettier/uglier than they actually are.  I've always been told I don't look my age (64), but I'm not really sure how old I look here!
We have a friend who is a Native American Indian and I asked his permission to paint his picture from a poster he gave us.  He was happy for me to do so, and today I started experimenting on a small piece of paper (octavo size).  It's out of proportion in many parts, but I wasn't trying to get it right this time, as all I wanted to do was attempt to paint the sunset.  Got a way to go!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Sketchbook Challenge March.

The theme for March is flowers.  I did a few sketches of various flowers in pencil, then tried painting the beautiful red petunias in our front garden.  Just as well I did, because the possums ate them two nights later!

While I was in the back yard sketching flowers, Ken let our chooks out of their house for a roam around on the grass, so I took the opportunity of making a few sketches of them.  Then I drew Ken while he was doing some work on the aviaries.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Fourth night of Acrylics painting class.

Michael was pleased with my homework from last week (the black and white rose and the landscape in green), and suggested that I make a few improvements to both pictures by putting a glaze over them, then a light colour wash. Sounds interesting, so I'll try that in the next few days. Tonight, he put an image of Van Gogh's painting "The Bedroom" up on the big t.v. screen in our studio, and put us all to work painting a copy of it. Some bright spark suggested he turn it upside down, so he did. Thanks, bitch. Don't know about the others, but I would have found it a lot easier to copy the right way up. Yes, I know someone wrote a book about artists using the right side of their brain or something, but did we really need to go down that path? Everyone else was using their large A3 size painting pads, but I chose to use one of my smaller ones (12 cm x 18 cm). I've only got small tubes of paint, so I'm trying to conserve them! Michael was amused and called me his miniature painter! This is the painting we had to copy - this one is taken off a website, but I don't know where Michael got his image from, as the colours were quite different.
My version:
He did warn us that different websites have varying colour images. He urged us to use our paint with less water or medium, to create a more intense colour the way Van Gogh did. When I thought I'd done enough, he came over and added a few bits of colour here and there, and made a couple of suggestions which I followed. At the end of the session he put my little painting up on a ledge to display - I was quite chuffed!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Sketchbook Challenge

I was looking on the web for online tutorials about painting and drawing (there are thousands of links!) and I came across this interesting blog. The authors suggest a new theme each month, and the blog followers do something with that theme - draw, paint, stitch, etc. It sounded like a good way to get me drawing something new regularly, which I'm told is the way to improve my skills - practice daily! Well I just don't get time to draw every day, but once a month, yes I can do addition to the painting class homework. The Sketchbook Challenge has it's own Flickr pages where the members can post photos of their new sketches each month. It is fascinating to see how everyone else has interpreted that month's theme. January's theme was Doodling, and February's theme was Close up. I chose to doodle with a red pen and lettering, which is what I do if I am mindlessly doodling - usually letters and words. Close Up was done while my cat Tiger was sitting up close to me, watching an insect or something on the ground, and I added the Mouse figure just for fun.
The theme for March is Flowers - that will be a serious challenge for me, as I am not good at all with flowers or trees!

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Acrylic art class, third week.

Our homework this week was to do a painting using just black and white and grey tones. I painted this rose, which is based on a project by Amanda Shepherd in a recent issue of "Aust.Find Art & Decorative Painting" magazine. My hurried version doesn't do her original picture justice! But it was an interesting exercise.
We were also asked to do a picture using just green, tinted with black and white for effect. I saw a painting in a tuition book, done in a few colours, but I thought I could modify it to suit myself. Just a stream running through a landscape with a tree. Then because I still had some colours on my palette, I used them up on a small black visual diary I'd been given. I'm learning to appreciate playing with paint, which is what our tutor is trying to instill in us, I guess!
I've just been re-reading my notes from that class, and I think Michael said we could add another green if we wanted to. Mmm..I might play around with this picture. But after the next class, when he's seen this first.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Rainbow Lorikeet drawing.

On Sunday, I attended another workshop presented by Janet Matthews, who taught us to draw Owls last year. Above is my drawing, and the photo that Janet provided. I'm not happy with my drawing; the perspective is wrong, and the bird looks elongated.  I used the colours that Janet suggested, but the photo is not good to draw from, as it was taken in bright sunlight, and the parts of the bird in the shade are so dark you can't see what colour it is.  
I would like to do this again, but using a better photo, and perhaps in oil pastels, to try and capture the brilliant colours of the feathers.

Last night was the third class in the Acrylics course.  Michael talked about tones, shades, tints, etc., and demonstrated how colours can be changed by adding black or white.  He got us to paint a chart of tones from black through shades of grey to white.   Then he spoke about the colour wheel of primary colours, and how secondary colours are made from that.  We then had to paint our own version of a colour wheel, blending our paints to come up with secondary colours, and then blending those with white first, then black, to create even more tints and shades.  I painted along with the others, but threw it out when I got home, as it wasn't worth keeping.

It was interesting to some of the class, but I have a good knowledge of that through reading books over many years, so I didn't learn much.  I 'threw' Michael a bit when I challenged him on the use of blending primary colours.  I said not all blues and reds make purple, it depends on whether the red and blue are cool or warm shades.  He agreed, but he said it was getting a bit too technical for our class at the moment because he just wanted us to focus on doing what we could with the primaries we had on hand.  Later on he said that I obviously knew more about colours than the others, going by the questions I was asking, and I admitted to him that I wasn't learning much.  I said I probably should have chosen another type of class more foccussed on drawing and design, rather than just playing with colours.  I didn't say it in an offensive manner!  He was sympathetic, and knew what I was trying to say.  He said he would spend a bit of time working with me on anything I wanted to learn in particular, which was nice of him.  He really is a friendly and helpful guy - he just approaches art from a different perspective from me!

Our 'homework' this week is to paint a picture of anything we like, using only black and white to created shading.   We can also try to paint a small picture in only green - toned up or down with black and white paint, and including one other green (cool or warm contrast).

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Acrylic art class homework, second week.

For our homework this week, the tutor instructed us to get used to working with our paints, by just painting something - anything. He said "go out your front door and paint a landscape! A tree!" I took him at his word and took my paints and paper up to the back yard this afternoon. I've made myself a viewer - piece of cardboard with the centre cut out, leaving a 'frame' which I can look through to isolate the area I want to draw. I chose a corner of the yard that has an old tree and some small shrubs up against a paling fence. The chooks were scratching around while I was painting, so I put a little black hen in my picture.
Still not marvellous, but I'm getting the hang of using paint instead of sketching.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Acrylic Art lessons 1 and 2, February 2012

The first painting is my first attempt on the first night of the course. An orange towel with two blue-green upturned plastic tumblers and two limes. I got the perspective all wrong, as well as the colour of the towel, which was more apricot than orange. I needed some tuition in blending colours!

I re-did the first painting from memory - instead of painting the towel draped all the way across the table, I just had part of it where the tumblers and fruit sat.  Layout a bit better.

We were told to practice at home with some still life items, then bring them to the next class to paint them again. This is what I did at home with a plastic lemon container, a vase and an origami box, on a piece of pink fabric. The actual vase is pink, but I changed it to brown, because it got lost in the fabric colour.

I took the lemon and the vase to class, but changed the box to a small tin. I wanted to have three different shapes to paint. My first attempt was pale and washed out. The tutor suggested using less medium and more paint to produce more colour. I wandered off and went back to it several times, each time adding some colour. I still don't like this, but at least it now has some depth.

What have I learned so far? The use of Titanium White to lighten other colours, the use of water or medium to dilute colours to a point of transparency like water colour, and using Gesso to coat the paper I am using to improve the surface for use of acrylic paints.
We have also learned a bit about mixing primary colours to make secondary colours, which most of us knew a bit about already, but he then told us that some colours simply cannot be mixed from certain blues, reds and yellows, given the variation between warm and cool tones.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Gouldian Finches in Acrylic paint.

I painted this picture when I first bought some tubes of acrylic paint, just to try it out. I painted the birds from two photos of birds from our aviaries. It is okay, but I feel there is something missing; it looks 'flat'. When I showed it to our class tutor, he agreed - there is no life in it because it is painted from a photo and not real life. I reminded him that it would be almost impossible to paint these birds from watching them, as they fly around so fast, not sitting still for long. He didn't comment on that.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Drawing with colour pencils workshop 2011.

Janet Matthews was our tutor for this one-day workshop at the Light Factory in Eltham late last year. She gave us this picture of an owl to draw, then went through the process of using colour pencils step by step.