A sketch of an old Shepherd’s Hut which I am hoping to work up into a larger painting in the not too distant future, once I have finished some other things I am working on.
This little character has been standing, minding his own business in a cabinet at home for years, without me noticing him. My eye was probably drawn more to the assortment of teapots which surround him. I wonder if he is Dickensian, but there is nothing whatever to indicate who he may be or from where he came. But now I have discovered him, I love drawing him. I have no idea what he is holding. I thought at first it could be a microphone, but if he is Dickensian, I don’t think it can be!
All the greys here are variations of French Ultramarine and Burnt Sienna. His face and hands are from Yellow Ochre and Permanent Rose. His hair, purely Burnt Sienna.
I drive past this view two or three times a day without thinking about it. Today, for some reason, it struck me it would make for an interesting sketch. The cottage, tree and postbox went in quite well, but I was a bit frustrated with the vehicle which took more time to draw than the rest put together. The weather hadn’t decided if it was going to be cloudy or sunny, so the light was a bit flat. They said more showers were on the way, so I didn’t want to wait too long to see what happened. There are a lot of greens here which need to be separated into warm and cool areas. The main tree is made from New Gamboge, Permanent Sap green, French Ultramarine with Prussian Blue and Winsor Violet in the darkest areas.
The tail end of a storm passed through this morning, so I had the chance to draw a few ‘types’ taking refuge over a cup of coffee. Despite restrictions having been lifted, there are still a lot fewer people around than in pre-covid days. This meant I had a choice of tables where I could sit and draw without being too obvious. It is always fun to try and capture these mini-characters, but it’s been a while since I had the opportunity. If I had been able to sit there uninterrupted for a few more hours (days?), I might have begun to get somewhere.
After a morning in front of a computer screen, I needed to get out into the fresh air and stretch my legs. I took a sketchbook with me as usual, but I didn’t go out with the prime intention to ‘find something to paint’. In my experience, the more you search for a subject, the harder it is to find one. The danger then is to become frustrated at having ‘failed’ to find anything suitable. So, in desperation, you grab hold of something which isn’t at all ‘suitable’ and try hard to make it into a masterpiece. That mostly doesn’t happen and usually leads instead to feelings of negativity. Not good.
However, none of that happened today. I went out more to think than to look , and having a sketchbook with me was more by habit than anything. But on my way back, I happened to glance across the allotments and for some reason these two barrels caught my eye and I knew I wanted to sketch them – just for fun.
With showers on and off all day, I travelled only as far as the vegetable patch and back. Looks like courgettes (zucchini) and beans are on the menu tonight. Not sure about the beetroot yet. Can’t get fresher than that!
The cooler greens of the beans are from Lemon yellow and Cobalt blue, while the darker greens made use of New Gamboge, Permanent Sap green and French Ultramarine. A little Prussian blue was used for the highlights as well as leaving some unpainted paper. Permanent Rose, Permanent Magenta, Winsor violet and a little Raw Umber were used on the beetroot.
We’ve been used to blue skies and sunshine recently despite warnings of thunderstorms since the weekend. Today was grey, it’s true, but I went out anyway and managed to paint this little barn, which I have done many times before. The rain stayed off long enough for me to walk home, and when it came it was heavy but brief. Not long enough to give the gardens as much as they could do with, but there may be more on the way.
With continuing high temperatures it’s been best to set off sketching early before it becomes sweltering, and the difficulties mentioned in yesterday’s blog start to become a nuisance. I wanted to capture the light filtering through the trees, and the shadows on the roof of the barn, before it all changed. Sometimes you have to simplify, a lot, to capture the feeling that first attracted you to the scene. It is all too easy to fall into the trap of being too literal to the scene as it changes, and end up losing the initial idea. I think in this one I have almost captured what I was hoping for.
It was almost too hot to paint in the 30 degree temperature today unless one could find a patch of shade to stay in. For one thing I did not want to dehydrate or have heatstroke or be barbecued, but more importantly, I needed to think about my materials. It is not always a good idea to paint in full sunshine and intense heat with watercolours. Firstly, the sun’s reflection on the white paper can really dazzle if looked at through unprotected eyes. You also have to wonder at which point the sizing on the paper is likely to melt. So keeping the paper out of the direct sunlight is a good idea.
Then there are the pigments. Remember this is water-colour and water evaporates quickly the more the temperature rises. So if you are used to a more controlled set of circumstances, you might be shocked to find how quickly the paint dries – almost before it reaches the paper. I remember one year, the wash I was mixing was actually sizzling on the metal palette I was using! Try painting a lot wetter than usual or resign yourself to painting much smaller so you can try and keep a degree of control on what happens on the paper.
One other thing – make sure the patch of shade you choose is likely to stay in shade for as long as you need to complete your sketch.
‘Marigolds on the patio’ was painted quickly before the sun hit them directly and also changed my shady refuge.
98 – 99 – 100 !
Although I only had three people to find on the final day, I found it harder than coping with a cast of thousands. I spent quite a bit of time thinking of a composition which might work, but do you think anyone would arrange themselves into the positions I wanted? Of course not, so I had to improvise, which I should have known to begin with. Always go with what’s there – not with preconceived ideas.
Thank you to Marc Taro Holmes and Liz Steel for coming up with the idea in the first place. It’s been fun.