Leaves – Mixed Watercolour and gouache

This week I played around with using watercolour and gouache together in my watercolour sketchbook. I tried to allow this sketch to become more impressionistic. I’m afraid I got so drawn in by the painting that I didn’t make any process photos – oops!

Here is the finished sketch:

PS: Apologies if I take while to get back to you at the moment or to keep up with reading the blogs I follow. I’m still unwell. I will do my best though. Take care!

Spirit of the Wood

I only managed to draw something small this week. It’s a traditional ink drawing with greyscale tones added digitally to the scanned image. I’ve called it the Spirit of the Wood.

It really began as a doodle, while waiting on the phone for 111 to answer. It was done on the back of an envelope! Fortunately I was able to scan it and clean the slight shadows of the envelope structure off the picture.

I was thinking about the idea that places can sometimes, almost, have a personality of their own. At the end of my road there is a big stand of Oak, populated by a family of crows. I’ve heard owl’s calling at night from there and seen bats flying around in the late evening too.

This drawing is a portrait of the spirit of that place.

Yesterday, for the second time, I saw a Red Kite hunting in the sky above that same stand of trees! They have an awesome call which is quite unmistakable. (I had wondered initially if it was just a really big Marsh Harrier at first, but it had the classic V in it’s tail and then I heard it call.) It was going for a pigeon.

Photograph taken by Prosthetic Head  Licence CC BY-SA 4.0

(PS: If you want to hear the Red Kite call, the RSPB has a page here where you can listen to it.)

Mandarin Fish – Ink

This week’s drawing is of a Mandarin fish (Synchiropus splendidus). As it’s scientific name suggests, it is a truly splendid fish with bags of character and gorgeous colours and patterns. While, in this drawing I wanted to capture the patterns, I like the animal so much that I think a detailed watercolour painting would be really lovely to do. I have some ideas for that cooking already in the back of my mind.

Here are a couple of pictures of the fish by a photographer called Luc Viatour (CC BY-SA 3.0):

Mandarin Fish by Luc Viatour (CC BY-SA 3.0)
Mandarin Fish by Luc Viatour (CC BY-SA 3.0)

I suspect that if they weren’t so very difficult to feed they might be the most sought after fish in the marine aquarium trade. Apparently they are particularly fond of Copepods (their natural diet on the reef in the wild) and quite resistant to being fed on frozen food like brine shrimp or bloodworm.

Copepod Species by Andrei Savitsky (CC BY-SA 4.0)

I have read about some aquarists who have managed to feed them on some frozen food by taking the time and gentle effort to teach them that the food is OK, but it takes a lot of skill and patience I think.

Here is the sketch I began with…

Before I got to this stage I sketched out the basic shapes to get the main structural elements proportionally correct but I forgot to photograph it.

Next I inked in an outline of the main areas and then added my ink rendering and textures. I particularly enjoyed making these three textures…

A – was the speckling on the tail which had a kind of randomised pattern to it which I really liked.

B – was a set of cross hatching marks in various directions which I like up close as a pattern but from a distance reads more like a simple grey scale area.

C – was the edges of the fins which were crinkled up and wavy in places.

To further push the impression of a three dimensional fish I then added some watered down black watercolour as a wash over the body of the fish. This also made the lighter coloured stripes stand out more.

Here’s the final drawing…

The Beautiful Pangolin

This week’s art is a drawing I started a while ago and finally finished. It is of a Pangolin. I think these guys are such awesome animals. They can roll up like armadillos and climb like monkeys; they can spray like skunks , dig like badgers and have tongues like anteaters! How great is that?! I don’t think I would mind being a Pangolin. It must be brilliant.

I began with basic shapes which I eventually worked into a sketch…

Then I began the process of inking. My goodness there were so many scales!!! Still, it was very meditative to draw them. I tried to do some in bed one afternoon when I was feeling a bit rough, however a certain Princess Leia was having none of it. Clearly it was kitty playtime, not art time as I had thought – silly me…

I’m so lucky to get such good feline help with my drawing LOL!

Here’s a closer picture of the beginning of my ink process…

After playing with kitty and working in short bursts on more of the drawing I finally got the basic black inks of the pangolin done. Then I sketched out a fallen tree for her to be walking along…

I inked the tree…

…and then added both white gouache and black watercolour to add highlights and shadows respectively. Finally it was finished! Here it is…