Saturday, July 11, 2009

Birch pour

Today was bright and lovely and I thought it would be a good time to try some watercolour pours outside in the garden. I singled out this little birch at the rear of the house as my victim and started in.

I'm lucky to have a range of painting opportunities literally on my doorstep as lugging all the water and paints and brushes, etc. etc. is like packing for a trip where you'll be gone for weeks! While plein air painting is great, it does pose challenges, but if I want to draw from life, I have to put up with the problems.

I also wanted to complete a base of a watercolour pour in preparation for a painting I have in mind over the next couple of weeks. I tried one today, but it just didn't turn out as I planned. Too many hard lines and the colours weren't what I had in mind, so I'll try again tomorrow. I did complete a watercolour pour in the winter, inside, on a full sheet. After that I vowed it wouldn't happen again until the summer when I could take the mess outside.

So I played with the birch outside and the temperatures soared until I had to call it quits or succumb to the heat. The insects also seems to take a great liking to this painting while I was doing it and tonight there are a number of flying beasts with multicoloured legs being stared at by their friends and relatives.

I shall add this piece to Vivien's tree challenge and see if the watercolour behaves tomorrow.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Weddings and mermaids

This photo from my daughter's wedding in June seems appropriate for the rock challenge. The scene is Middle Cove and the dress train looks like a fish's tail almost, giving her a mermaid appearance.

There are photos from a number of locations, but the beach ones appealed to me most.

Another location was downtown St. John's coming up over the brow of one of the very steep hills. My other daughter is the second from the right.

Photos copyright: Wayne Thornhill, St. John's.

Thursday, July 09, 2009


A low line of shore was visible at first on the right between the movement of the waves and fog, but when we came further it was lost sight of, and nothing could be seen but the mist curling in the rigging, and a small circle of foam.
John Millington Synge
While waiting for an idea for a painting to gel, I thought I'd share a photo that I took last week. A northeasterly wind blew in fog which blanketed the coast and gave a surreal appearance, allowing small glimpses of land or ocean.

The tip of the distant land is just seen poking through the bank of fog and shrouding the closer land to the left.

Below the horizon is obliterated, truly making it seem as it you were indeed at the edge of the world with trust alone making you move forward.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

When you get it wrong

This is a hair's breadth away from the trash can, but I thought I'd show it anyway, if for no other reason but to remind myself what not to do in the future.

I will redo this painting of my mother, as the watercolours just weren't working for me. The muse was off doing other things and she obviously was not guiding my hand on this one!

So what is it that makes us know when a painting or drawing isn't going right? A drawing that is off is one thing, but often I find it is values that are lacking, or simply the vision that is in our head just doesn't appear on paper or canvas. Or fatigue, lack of inspiration - the list could go on and on to help justify why what I want to do doesn't turn out as I want it to.

I also accept that not everything I do will be pleasing. I haven't calculated numbers of drawings and paintings, but should for perhaps a month to see what I think works and what doesn't. If I note time of day when I draw, mood, weather, level of fatigue, and the other things that all seem to feed ability the create, perhaps I will see some pattern emerge that leads to success or failure when creating an image.

I'll let you know the results when I figure out just how to analyse the process.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Mariner's foe

This piece is part of a series of rock studies that I am doing to help understand how rocks are formed and to enable me to draw and paint them more realistically. This will be the first for the rock challenge. Feel free to join in!

This is a section of rock that juts out of the sea in Savage Cove at low tide. With rocks like these submerged, you can see why it was called Savage Cove. I loved the shape of it and how the water around it was so still and reflective - a rarity in the Atlantic.

I still haven't gotten quite the level of roughness and jagged nature of this rock, but I'll keep trying. I started with a line drawing, then switched to coloured pencil in sepia. I didn't like the grainy nature of that on Bristol vellum, so I switched again to 'Sketch & Wash' General's pencil that I found in the bottom of my pencil case. This pencil is a water soluable graphite, perfect for light washes. I added a hint of colour with watercolour pencil and a light wash.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Birthday portrait

I took a few photos surreptiously of my mother at my daughter's wedding in the hopes of finding something suitable to do a portrait from. She hates having her photo taken so its a rare thing that I can find any material to work with and she isn't interested in sitting for me.

She will be 85 at the end of July, still lives alone and although there are challenges in many areas, she continues to do so. I thought that a portrait to mark this birthday would be good, but I doubt she will feel that way somehow. But whatever the case, it will still be done and you never know, she may even like it!

I've done the line drawing and will continue it in watercolour initially. I may try an oil later, I just wish the original photo was clearer when enlarged.