Rudd

Since I’ve not painted for a few weeks I wanted to get back into the swing of it before attempting an important portrait of my son’s Grandad who passed away recently.

I began this painting just messing about with gouache on a watercolour background.  The foliage began life as grass, but soon became the kind of water weed found in freshwater rivers and lakes in the UK.  Then I sprayed it with some fixative (since gouache can be reactivated very easily by water). 

Once it was partially fixed I sketched on a fish like this…

I blocked in the underpainting of the fish roughly, giving it some warm and cooler colours…

Next I partially fixed the painting again with the fixative and then applied a more finished layer.  I also tidied up the my rendering of the weed too…

Finally I added all of my details and highlights and then painted in some weed in front of the fish.

Here is my completed painting…

When making this painting I changed my usual gouache process a little.  I added a spray of fixative between layers.  This partially stabilised the gouache so that the layer beneath wasn’t quite so readily activated by paint on top.  This method worked really brilliantly allowing me all of the freedom of using gouache without the hassle.  I will use this method again I think.

🙂

Octopus Dreams #1 – A small gouache painting

This last week has very much been an Octopus Week for me. 🙂

It began when I watched My Octopus Teacher on Netflix. At first I thought it was going to be a natural history program, but after about 25 minutes it was clear it was more of a memoir. It’s about a professional film-maker who became really burnt out in his life. Then he attempted to find his way back to himself, his work and his family through a friendship he made with a wild octopus. It was actually quite wonderful – I really enjoyed it.

Then, once I was in the mood for Octopuses, I came across a fellow blogger’s excellent book review of Sy Montgomery’s The Soul of an Octopus. Again, I thought the book would be more of a natural history tome but again it was really a memoir and this was all to the good as it was also a very enjoyable read!

So I have decided to create two or three octopus pictures over the next few weeks.

Simple Gouache Painting

This week I worked on a simple octopus painting in gouache. It’s a painting of the famous and deadly Blue-ringed Octopus. The animal itself is gorgeous looking, but carries enough venom to kill 26 adults despite being really quite small!

One night when I couldn’t sleep I scribbled down the idea for this picture on an envelope…

Then I made a clearer drawing on a piece of cardboard I reclaimed from the packaging which comes when you buy books online.

Next I painted the background but forgot how very opaque gouache can be so I lost my initial drawing!

I redrew it quickly in pencil and then got my paints out.

I painted the local colour of the octopus first…

…and then put in some basic shading to indicate the three dimensional shape of the animal and it’s basic colour pattern.

Once that was done I went to town of the details of the rings and the richer darker tones of the octopus right next to it’s rings. Finally I added some white to give the octopus a shine. Here is finished painting…

Reflections

My aims with this painting were to try to show the dimensionality of the animal’s legs. I wanted to use a colour scheme which included the bright blue the animal shows in it’s rings when it feels threatened. Finally I wanted the octopus to look like it was floating free in space with his legs all out around him.

The idea I had of putting in the shine was something I was in “two minds” about. An object which is underwater doesn’t show this effect since it is created by the thin film of water on the object when surrounded by air. However as humans, frequently we visually “read” this effect as indicating wetness. In the end I decided to put communication of the slimy, wet, feeling of an octopus above the physics of underwater reflection.

Next week – I’ll be starting a large octopus ink drawing which will probably take a couple of weeks to complete. (I think it’s pretty appropriate to draw and octopus in ink!!!) 🙂

Season’s Greetings!

 

Some Christmas Cards painted for this season…

 

The Winter Owl

The owl one was sketched in pencils and then inked with rapidograph pens on Bristol Board. After that I added some tone with Mars Lumograph pencils and scanned it into my computer.

This is the greyscale drawing…

 

Then I coloured it digitally.  This is my finished painting…

 

 

Shepherds

This was a more tradition Christmas card theme of the shepherds outside Bethlehem.  I started with a gouache background on Amazon shipping cardboard…

 

 

Then I inked on the drawing with a Sharpie. Next I painted in some hills and went over the drawing with black and then white gouache paint, giving me a final simple painting like this…

 

 

Once it was painted I cut it out and stuck it to a card using carpet tape.  I used this once years ago because I didn’t have any other double sided tape and it worked so brilliantly I’ve used it ever since.

 

Then it was finally ready to put in it’s envelope…

 

Later I decided I liked the border around the painting so I made a digital version too.  I like the idea that there’s an original painting on the first card but I also like that it’s my finished image how I wanted it on the second card.

 

I hope you all have a lovely Christmas holiday!

 

 

 

Dog Family in Gouache

 

This is a painting I did over the summer for the husband of a friend of mine.  My friend sent me a range of pictures of the dogs, but not one picture with all three of them.  So I used the furniture in their house to get the dog’s relative sizes and then pulled 3 reference images into photoshop to make up the trio.

Then I was able to make a sketch and start the process.

 

After that I made a quick study to get a feeling for the picture…

 

Then I laid down my background and got to work…

I used purple for the shadow areas under the dogs to give the painting the feel that they are warm.

Here’s my final painting…

 

Cha Cha the Chihuahua

 

Following on from last week, where I discovered that repurposed cardboard envelopes can make an excellent painting surface for gouache I made a small painting (approx 6.5″ x 6″) of a little Chihuahua puppy and her ball.  I called her Cha Cha, because little ones like this have a tendancy to dance and skip around when they are happy!

The cardboard performed beautifully as a painting surface and worked better than any other surface I have tried with gouache, including the expensive Arches Hot Pressed Watercolour Paper.

As usual I began with a sketch…

 

Then I laid down some basic background colour…

After that I began to paint in earnest…

 

Here is my finished painting…

 

I also really love the way this surface has a beautiful texture when painted on.  Here’s a close up…

 

NB:  Apologies – I’m not very well at the moment, so I may take some time to get back to you.  All of the posts for the next few weeks were completed in the summer holidays and scheduled so I’m just going to let them run.  (It’s not Covid and the doctors have a good handle on it but it might take a while to get better.)

Reusing Envelopes and Jars as Art Materials

Art materials can be expensive. Sometimes this expense is really worth it. For me, good quality paint brushes and good quality paint are worth the extra money – control and water holding is better with good brushes and paints are more densley pigmented and less fugitive with good paints. However, it’s always great to find some art resources that can be found for free.

Envelopes

This summer I spent some time experimenting with this. It began when I was watching Star Trek Voyager and felt like doodling. I grabbed a cardboard Amazon envelope and my palette which had a range of paints left over from a picture I had worked on the day before. Then I just began to play with it. I was really happy to find that the gouache paint went on to this surface beautifully and, because the surface was a mid range tone rather than dark or light, it was really super to work with tonally.

This was my first adventure into envelope painting…

The next day I tried the same thing with an insurance envelope. This was a thin, low quality paper and it really showed. The paper couldn’t take any water without becoming wrinkled and discoloured making it hard to work on…

So I decided to only do this with cardboard. I grabbed some old envelopes and used my trimmer to make some small postcard sized canvases. Here’s my current pile…

 

This time I found the painting was even better because I had only reused parts of the card which were clear of printing and belimishes. It really was a fabulous surface to work on – and totally free!

Here’s a close up of my third foray into reusing envelopes for painting…

…and my forth…

I then went on to make a fully painted, small sized painting of a tiny chihuahua on the same reused card the next day. (More of that in next week’s post!)

Jars

Another new learning for me this summer has been that my kitty cat doesn’t care if the water I am using for painting is green, or blue or pink, she will still drink out of it! This is despite her having a cat fountain and two fresh bowls of water in different places! So I did a bit more recycling and reusing. I tipped away the last bit of coffee from a jar, cleaned it out and now I use this for painting. It still holds about a pint of water, but I can screw the lid on if I get up from the table so she can’t get to it. I’m using my trusty old pint glass to hold brushes now instead.

She looks so cute and fluffy but she can be quite a pickle!

A tribute to the Hollow Knight

Ok, I admit it, I’m a massive gamer. It helps enormously to manage my pain and keeps my mind very active. I recently bought a Nintendo Switch Lite which is a handheld games machine by Nintendo (who have a superb reputation in this area). That way, I can play wherever I am. One of the games I’ve recently got is called Hollow Knight by Team Cherry. The game is set in a fictional land of bugs. It’s beautiful. The artwork in the game just blows my mind away. Here are some examples..

They use a simple cartoon style for the foreground objects and then a digital watercolour / gouche style painting effect for the backgrounds. It’s a lot like Studio Ghibli.

So I decided to paint a tribute to them in traditional media. This post details my first try at this. It’s quite difficult to make a traditional painting look like a digital design since all of the tools of the trade are different.

I began with a basic watercolour wash on which I pencilled in my basic drawing…

As usual I used several pictures as reference and combined different parts of them. Then I added my lineart…

And then finally I painted the foreground. I used watercolour for almost all of it with some white gouache mixed in in places and used on it’s own for highlights.

Grey and Yellow Cockatiel

 

This week I painted a bird.  It’s a grey and yellow cockatiel (Nymphicus hollandicus).  It’s a popular pet which is native to Australia.

I began with a sketch…

 

Then I gave it a blotchy background and laid down a basic lemon wash on the bird…

 

Then I put in all of the basic large scale colours and tones as a basis for the detail I was planning next…

 

Finally I got to the details and dived right in.  Once I was most of the way there with the finer work I could see how my background didn’t give the painting enough contrast so I darkened the whole thing right down.  Lastly, I finished off the edges.

Here’s the final painting…

 

 

I really enjoyed painting the eye, beak and other facial features of this little bird.  I used more gouache techniques on these parts and more watercolour on the plummage.  The feathers were the most difficult part, especially the feathers on the top of the head.  This is the weakest part of the painting in my opinion.  The only reference I had for the head feathers was a bit too small to use effectively.  However, it’s something I only realised with hindsight!

 

PS:  I’m having some issues with my health at the moment so I apologise if I’m a little late getting back to anyone.  Also, this is the last of my summer holiday paintings and I’ve not been able to paint for a while so I might not be able to put a post up next week but I will get back to it as soon as I am able.

The Dawn Wall

 

This is a painting I’ve been working on for a while.  It’s quite large (A3) and went through a lot of iterations before it was finally complete.

I first came across this particular rockface while watching some climbing videos.  The first was about a couple of climbers climbing a particular route on the rock face El Capitan in the US.  The section they climbed is called “The Dawn Wall”.  Then I watched the amazing Alex Honnold, in another video, climb the whole thing, free solo.  It was extraordinary!  My hands kept breaking out into a sweat just watching that chap.  Later the same week I was looking at some more beautiful woodblock prints from Japan.  I looked through a lot of Yoshida’s work and came across this beautiful print he made of El Capitan…

By Horoshi Yoshida, 1925

It just blew my mind.  If I were rich I would attempt to get an original copy of this.  I find it really beautiful.  Having seen this I made a couple of sketches of El Cap using photo reference…

 

I liked the feel of this sketch, so rather than sketching it again I decided to enlarge and transfer the sketch onto my watercolour paper.

  • First I scanned in my image and then printed it out 141% larger so it would fit to A3 paper.  Because my printer will only do A4 I printed 2 sections and then joined them like this…

  • Next I used a nice dark pencil to cover the back of the paper with graphite…

 

  • Then I got my Arches paper and laid the sketch over the paper and drew over my lines.  This marked the watercolour paper very lightly with my sketch…

 

Then I began to paint.  I began with a watercolour sky…

 

Then I blocked in some of the main light and dark areas on the rock face…

I built this up until I had a basic underpainting…

Then I began to layer on my gouache.  I thought the contrast between a hazy watercolour sky and the clear and definite strokes of gouache would make the rock seem harder.

After the first wash with gouache the painting looked like this…

 

Then I did the bulk of the actual painting – all the medium level tones

and colours…

 

Then I was ready for my favourite bit – the details.  Here’s the final painting…