I miss good Whiskey. I don’t drink now because of the medication I’m on and mostly it’s fine. But I do miss good whiskey. There is something beautiful about sitting up late with really close friends and gently drinking a really good Irish whiskey together.
Here’s a sketch I drew this week celebrating that fine drink…
And here’s the watercolour I painted of the same subject…
The way light reflects and refracts and moves around our world completely fascinates me. With this in mind, I have been studying how to draw light flowing through liquid and reflecting off liquid and glass recently. At first I thought there might be a trick to it, to make it look real. But as I learned more and more I found that, in the end, it just came down to painting exactly what you see, no matter how weird it seems to your brain. This is what I did with this glass of whiskey, I just painted every shape, every tone and every colour. Once I looked at it like that it was such a relaxing thing to do – it was fabulous fun!
As I look at the picture now I imagine that the whiskey there came from a bottle like this…
A beautiful drink from the wonderful Bushmill Distillery in County Antrim, and introduced to me by my good friend Peter at University.
When I first tried to paint I was in digs at University. Fortunately I was staying with a potter who was, herself, very creative and allowed me to paint in my room there. (In fact my bedroom was over the kiln which kept me lovely and warm on those cold Cambridge nights.)
I actually started painting with oils. I knew nothing about any kind of painting at all except what my mother had taught me. She had studied art as a young woman and, before I left for University, she gave her oil paints and brushes to me. She showed me how to clean them and then let me get on with it.
That’s one of the brilliant things about my mum. She has this gift for letting those she is teaching have a go at things and work things out for themselves freely. She pushed us to think for ourselves. Professionally she was a superb teacher (now retired). She gave me this sense that I could do anything if I put my mind to it and worked hard at it.
So I didn’t think anything of using my Saturday afternoons at University to try to paint a picture of the Crucifiction with oils the first time I ever really tried them.
The picture itself wasn’t massively successful – I should have concentrated more on my anatomy as I’m sure I gave poor Jesus too many ribs! Anyhow, this is the only photo I have now of that picture…
Along with a close up of some of the detail…
I do remember really enjoying painting with oils and them being incredibly smelly to have in my bedroom!
Today I saw a brilliant video on YouTube on how to use oils. The artist was using a medium called Liquin (made by Winsor and Newton I think) which dries quite fast but still gives hours of wet time for blending and moving the paint around.
Here’s the video. It’s by Lachri…
When I started art again as an adult I painted in Acrylics, which was fun but very fast drying.
Even using copious amounts of retarder to extend the wet time of the paint, I still found it dried too quickly for me. I was forever racing the drying time.
What I really love about using paint as a medium generally is the ability to blend the tone and colour to get exactly what I want. With copic markers and pencils, colour and tone choices are necessarily limited. The Acrylics were technically able to get there but I never found there was enough time to play with it. Watching Lachri blending in her video (above) makes it look like blending is more relaxed in oils, maybe because the paint stays wet for much longer. I think it would be brilliant to try oils again and find out what it’s like as I can’t remember the details of using them in my youth.
Also, I really loved the way she painted a tonal picture at the start and then glazed over with colour – what an amazing way to do it! I totally love that!
So I’m thinking about getting a small set of oils and having a go. I’m going to have to research which materials to use, especially with respect to drying times and odour. But it might be fun!
This week I worked on a small picture of a snake in my sketchbook.
I saw this great video on YouTube by MiltonCor of him drawing a brilliant realistic snake with Prismacolor pencils.
Here’s the You Tube Video…
I thought it was fabulous so I had to have a go. I’ve not worked seriously with Prismacolor alone before although I have used them in conjunction with watercolour in the past.
I began by downloading probably about twenty Smooth Green Snake photos so I could have a good idea of what I wanted to draw. I used different bits of different photos for my reference. That way I could have my snake in exactly the pose I wanted.
I made a sketch and then just began trying to draw it with the Prismacolor pencils.
It was much harder work than painting because you have to press so hard to get the colour to transfer but the quality of the colour was excellent. They really are great pencils!
Once I completed the snake I filled in the black background with black ink and a brush and then added extra highlights with a white gel pen and extra detail to the eye.
Here’s the finished picture…
I think it’s recognisably a snake and I like the colours but it’s not as realistic as I was aiming for and the shiny bits don’t work as well as I’d wanted either. I will have to watch Milton more closely! Still, it was great fun for such a small image and I learned a ton of things about how to use pencils effectively.