Little Acorns


This is a small pencil sketch of some oak leaves and their little acorns.  It was done with Fabre-Castell watercolour pencils and a small watercolour brush.  I wanted to see how small I could go and still put in some textural detail in the acorn cups.  The actual drawing is two and a half inches across.

Here’s a slightly enlarged photo of the drawing…

Elephant Hawk Moth and LadyBird in Watercolour

I had more fun with painting this week. I was browsing the internet when I came upon this beautiful creature – an Elephant Hawk Moth (Deilephila elpenor)

Often, many of the biggest, most beautiful insects in the world are found in warmer climates, but this pink-lovely is resident in the UK! Apparently it really likes Rosebay Willowherb which is a colonising plant on wasteground, roadside verges and other places. We have it at the side of the Common near where I live. I’m going to look out for it and see if I can see any Hawk Moth caterpillars, pupae, or even young moths this spring. They overwinter as pupae low down on plants or even in leaf litter so I might find one in any stage of development. In fact tomorrow is the 2nd February, which is traditionally the day when ancient people around here used to believe that the earth began to stir again after winter, so it’s a good time to start looking for new life.

Because I had so much pain when I was painting in acrylics at the table I’ve gone back to painting in bed with all of the paintings I’ve done in the last two weeks and it is so much easier. I painted 2 pictures this week – the Elephant Hawkmoth and a Ladybird on a Flower.

Here’s my initial sketch of the moth…

I decided to paint this using a mixture of watercolours and watercolour pencils. The pencils were ideal for the details of this subject because I could get really thin lines, even thinner than with my 10/0 rigger brush. I started with a graded wash as my background with two colours in it to work in harmony with my subject. However at the end I realised that I needed a plainer background for such a detailed, patterned creature so I mixed my watercolour paint with white gouache to make a flat light green colour. I chose it because it’s supposed to be the complementary colour for pink. Here’s the final painting…

My second painting this week is quite simple, a Ladybird on a flower. Here’s the sketch…

I used watercolour paints for this one, rather than the pencils. It was done with basic wet on wet washes and a tiny bit of wet on dry for the shadows. Here’s the final painting…

I was feeling quite sunny when I painted this and I think that got reflected in the cheerful colour palette.

An Accidental Watercolour Portrait

Quite by accident I started to work on a watercolour portrait today.  It began with a quick and dirty sketch of Ralph Fiennes from the cover of a DVD he starred in which was lying about in my living room – ‘The Constant Gardener’

Here’ the DVD cover:

DVDHere’s the sketch:

sketchThen I went over the sketch using a black watercolour pencil and used a wet brush to make some gradations in the tone and ‘colour-in’ some parts.

ralph_watercolour_sketchFinally I added some browns and some blues to the picture.  Because it was initially only a sketch it wasn’t on watercolour paper and so I got bumps and dips all over the place but I was pleased with it.  It has a loose sketchy feel which I like.

The I tried again – this time on watercolour paper and with a little more colour:

ralph_paint_1It started out OK, but then I messed it up:

Ralph Fiennes Watercolour Portrait_FIN_WEBDoing the background was really difficult with the watercolour pencils, plus it was getting on for bedtime and I didn’t have the patience to wait for some bits to dry with horrible consequences.  Plus, I decided to use blue as a background colour and I don’t feel that it really works how I envisaged.  In the end I salvaged what I could from it by trimming the painting to a near close-up but it’s not how I wanted it to be.

However, all of that said, I learned loads from making a bit of a mess of it and got a taste for working on portraits in watercolour.  😀  I’ve never done portraits in any paint before, except for one I did for my sister, of her and her two sons in acylics, but it was a portrait of their backs so there were no faces to paint.  I find faces a bit tricky to look at, but it’s OK if it’s on a picture and not in real life and if I’m looking at bits of it, rather than the whole – that helps too.  I quite like this picture of Mr Fiennes too because he’s looking sideways which feels more relaxing.  Tomorrow I’m going to try another watercolour portrait.