Friday, June 27, 2008

Summer Flowers and Work In Progress

In progress - The Garden of the Aliums

Designs for cards

A small pen and ink goose sketch

My watercolour palette

I have been out and about in the countryside lately photographing all the wonderful flowers around at this time. So much colour and inspiration and I haven't done one, single flower picture lately. Something I will definitely have to put right soon. The only problem with flower photography is that it has to be a very still day and we don't seem to have many of those in England recently. We seem to have lots more windy days than we ever did before. I wonder if it is a sign of global warming.

Artwise, I am in the process of drawing another female figure in pen and ink. You can take a peek at her above. This picture is to be entitled Garden of the Aliums because they are my favourite flowers. So far I have only done her head with a bird on top but the bird will be holding an alium on a stem and there will be several aliums growing around her. Aliums are quite tricky for pen and ink because the tiny stars are so very close together, so mine will definitely be stylised aliums. Nothing wrong with a bit of stylising I

I have also enclosed a few other pictures of random art and a view of my colour palette set out on paper - very useful when I am wondering what colours I have available. I have more colours than this but these are the most useful ones.

The little folky animals holding up the pieces of artwork will get a makeover in the not too distant future also. They are looking a bit grubby now and I fancy giving them a lick of bright colour. That reminds me I have three wooden cats that need painting too.......!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Dr. Who and the fickle hand of fate....!

This is a mermaid watercolour sketch I did recently. I do enjoy drawing and painting mermaids. I think I may have elongated her body a bit too much . Probably wishful thinking in my case. I am not sure I like the colours in the sea though. I may need to rethink that part.
This is Magda and she is just a figment of my imagination but I do have plans for her in a "proper" drawing at some stage. I like her hair and her rather fancy flower adornment. Definitely a stylish lady.
I enjoy producing pen and ink landscapes with very stylised trees. They are surprisingly quick to draw and have a lovely graphic feel to them.

This is a statue series which I photographed at a local garden centre and then photoshopped for some added drama.
I am a great fan of cats and really enjoyed drawing this pointillist tabby cat some years ago.
I watched a fascinating episode of Dr. Who yesterday which was all about fate and what could happen if we did one little thing differently in our lives and what huge changes there could be. Some of you won't know who Dr. Who is. It is an extremely long running (over 40 years) childrens' (and adult) series about a Time Lord who has control of a time machine and he and his assistants go whizzing through space and time doing good deeds. This episode featured his assistant Donna making a right turn in a car instead of a left turn and it resulted in changes on a global scale and the death of the doctor and many others, not to mention invasion by aliens. Very dramatic stuff. Can't wait for the conclusion next week.

I am sure that any changes which could have occurred in my life would not affect the earth but it is very intriguing to wonder what would have occurred in your own life if you just did one very small but very important thing differently. For instance where would I be now if I had decided nursing wasn't for me all those years ago. What would I be doing and where would I be? For some people it could the decision not to attend a party where they were destined to meet their future husband or wife, or even just deciding to walk along a different path from your usual and meeting someone you would never otherwise have met. So many possibilities and totally fascinating to think about them. I am a great believer in destiny and I think the really important things in our lives are meant to be and they will happen whichever path we take, whereas the smaller and lesser important things are left for us to decide. Anyway that is my theory and I am sticking to it. Nothing to do with art of course but I have been doing a bit of drawing and painting and the results are shown above for your perusal. I think fate and art make a good combination.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Hens, Embroidery and Boats

Possible new banner design

Watercolour entitled "specked hens
My "three women in a small boat" sketch in pen and ink

Embroidered Panel by Beryl Dean from a series of the Virgin Mary - 1973.

I didn't really feel like blogging today because I have had a very nasty cold and sore throat for the past few days and I ended up feeling very sorry for myself. Then I looked at the date of my last blog and thought, yes, I must do a new one. It is very easy to get out of the habit of blogging regularly and that is not a good thing.

Anyway, here goes. I have been perusing some of my old textile and embroidery design books and I found a beautiful design I thought I might share. It is one of 5 panels created by the embroideress Beryl Dean and now hangs at Windsor. The panels are of the life of the Virgin Mary. The book doesn't show the others but this one is so beautiful. Although the photograph is black and white it is easy to see the wonderful decorative detail and quite contemporary design of the piece. I believe it was designed in 1973. I find designs of this type very inspirational for my pen and ink work. I bet it looks wonderful in colour and I would love to see the others.

I haven't done any more collage work since my one and only piece but I have been saving scraps of paper like mad and have quite a folder full now. I have posted a pen and ink sketch from my buff sketch book to show the design I am quite interested in recreating in collage. I tend to be quite neat and precise in my work and I think collage may enable me to relax and be a bit more expressive and less "neat"; similar to the way of linocut. I will give it a go anyway. The boat design was inspired from some work done by one of my favourite artists. I like the idea of people sailing in small boats. Needs a bit of water of course and could even have a dog in there somewhere....

The hen post is a painting that I did some time ago. I think I may have got carried away with the dots but then they are supposed to be "speckled hens". This little combo of hens has been used on quite a few of my pictures to date. I find it quite a pleasing little arrangement. I love using pen and ink decoration on painted landscapes.

I am finally getting around to changing the banner on my Etsy shop. I have never been very pleased with my present one as I think it is over designed but it takes quite a while to do a new one so I have put up with it. Now I am thinking of going for a bright red theme much like the image I have posted. It is a pen and ink drawing which I have coloured digitally. I will have to see if it grows on me....!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Inuit Women's Art and yet more trees....!

This is the finished three tree drawing. I really enjoyed this piece. Looks a million times better in real life but don't they
Guess what...another tree design. I am not too enthused with this one for some reason. I may improve upon it in the future.
This is a very decorative and stylised leaf design I drew sometime ago. It made a nice image for a greeting card.
Young Mother And Children from Inuit Women Artists. This is my absolute favourite from the book. I love the bold, graphic quality of the illustration and the cute little children, especially the tiny one on her shoulder.
Affectionate Mother from Inuit Women Artists
Bird Landscape from Inuit Women Artists
Red-necked Loon from Inuit Women Artists
Woman Proudly Sewing from Inuit Women Artists. This is one of my favourite illustrations from the book. I love that little baby cuddled into his mum's neck.

I have an extensive (some say too extensive) library of inspirational, art and craft books. One I have had for many years is "Inuit Women Artists" and is a very large book filled with wonderful illustrations, many stone carved, of inuit or eskimo life in the Cape Dorset area of Baffin Island. There are about 9 women featured and it details their beautiful artwork, inspired by their culture and their environment.

It is a whole world away from what we understand and their lives can be very difficult due to the extremely harsh elements they survive in. Until I bought this book many years ago I had never even thought of the inuit having any artistic or craft traditions, but they do and they are wonderful Their work is quite naive and primitive in some ways but quite complex in others and has a lovely graphic quality. I hope you find these illustrations as inspiring as I do.

I was so pleased with my three pen and ink and watercolour trees from my last post that I decided to work the image up into a finished drawing. The trees came to represent spring, summer and autumn because of their tones of green and I added a contemporary figure to fill the picture our a bit more. I am quite pleased with the result. I am becoming a real fan of ink cross-hatching these days. Prior to this I always added tone to a drawing using pointillism (tiny dots of ink) but that technique is so laborious that it takes about an hour to produce a small square (1") of drawing. Cross-hatching is wonderfully quick and you can see the drawing taking shape much more rapidly. I still prefer pointillism for realistic looking animals or birds and portraits though.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

My First Collage

My very first collage
Pen and ink and watercolour trees
Stylised pen and ink drawing of rooks done a couple of years ago

Spring is passing much too quickly for me. I haven't enough time to appreciate all the lush beauty and colour of this, my favourite season. I would like to hang on to it but I know that we are heading quickly for summer and a totally different shade of green. Still, each season has its own particular beauty to appreciate. My aliums in the garden are blooming beautifully and I have seen some truly wonderful ones in other peoples' gardens too. I have posted a picture of aliums near our local churchyard. I really must get around to producing an alium inspired piece of art.....hmmm....will have to think about that.

I love drawing, with my very fine pens, on watercolour paper and then painting parts of the drawing. My "very best friend" paper of the moment is Arches 90lb watercolour paper. It is quite fine and tends to cockle if it is painted over the whole surface, but is perfect for the odd touch of watercolour here and there. I love the crisp texture. I drew three stylised trees and painted the leaves of each with different shades of green. I love fine, delicate painting best. I am not so good with covering large areas with washes and I think that is why I am no landscape artist. I cross hatched the trunk and branches of the trees in ink. I go off into a world of my own when I am cross hatching with one of my rapidograph pens. It is so soothing and relaxing and is wonderful on a good quality paper. I will probably do a "proper" piece of artwork with this design but will put some birds or little animals in somewhere. It does look a trifle bare.

I also decided to try my hand at collage. I have always admired this technique when other people do it and thought I would have a go myself. I used an old copy of Asiana magazine which has some wonderful photographs of highly colourful and richly decorated saris. I must say I found cutting up some of the shapes very fiddly and got a bit stuck up with pritt stick sometimes but I am quite pleased with how it turned out. I like the contrast of drawing in some of the features and collaging others. Not a bad try for a complete beginner even if I say so

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Blues, turquoises and golds and a lovely English village

This painting is entitled "Golden Hen In The Orchard"
This little painting is entitled "Your Tree Or Mine?"

This is the preliminary watercolour sketch of my hen. Bit of an odd shape I know.
A decorated and stylised bird from my sketchbook
Stained glass window to the Caldicott family. Click photo to enlarge.

Cottage on the village green at Warborough

A village lane in Warborough

I actually put paint to paper this week and did a couple of little watercolours. One is of a golden hen in an orchard - very stylised as is my style. The other one is of two little birds who are having a bit of a confrontation over whose tree it is. Both pictures share more or less the same limited palette of blues, turquoises and golden browns. A lovely combination and one of my favourites. I have also included a tiny little sketchy watercolour of the finished picture. It doesn't really bear much relationship to the finished article but then a sketch doesn't have to. I have often produced a sketch and when I start painting or drawing the finished picture, there are so many changes that it doesn't seem to be related at all. That is the beauty of art though - it is an ongoing process and you never know where inspiration will take you.

I visited some friends over the weekend with my brother and his partner. They took us to a lovely little village called Warborough in Oxfordshire. It was the quintessential English village and utterly delightful. After a lovely meal in the local pub we strolled around the outskirts of the village and visited the parish church. We even spotted a couple of lapwings in the fields trying to distract us from seeing their nest. They had nothing to fear from us though. Because of the recent rains we have had, everything looked beautifully fresh and green. I love this time of the year for that reason. I envied the villagers with their lovely thatched cottages and cricket green but then I realised that there is a price to pay for living in heaven. They are inundated with cars during the summer weekends because the area is so lovely and a great place for walking dogs. I found the place so inspirational that I returned home and started on my little artworks while I was in the mood.

The parish church had some beautiful stained glass windows which are a passion of mine. The quality of the colours in stained glass is much more intense than I have seen in any other media. The one is have posted here is relatively recent and records a local Warborough family. I just love the deep raspberry and turquoises of the robes. Wonderful.

I have also included a very decorative and stylised bird from my sketchbook. I am so into birds at the moment. We are having large numbers of them visiting the birdtable in the garden and the fat balls hanging on the tree stump. It is so lovely to see the young joining in too. My birds don't resemble any of them of course, but I do draw the occasional realistic bird as well which I will post at a later date.