Saturday, March 13, 2010

Laguna Beach revisited

There is benefit from revisiting a subject a number of times.  Each time you see something new and learn something new about it.

A couple of years ago, I did a pastel of this stone arch on Laguna Beach, and recently did a little retouching on it til its at the point where I want it to be now.  I wanted the colours to be more intense and to reflect the golds against the blue sky. Of course the current image doesn't do justice to the blues or the golds, but I'll try again tomorrow for a better image in daylight.

I had completed a small piece as a warm up before putting it onto a full sized sheet.  I have also tried this in oils and I am considering another large piece using this reference and charcoal as the medium.

8 x 10 oils

This sandy rock holds a series of shades of ochre, red, violet and lovely seams and planes of blues that overlay it.  The glimpse of the beach and wet sand through the arch tempt the viewer to walk through.  The ongoing challenge is to make the piece appear solid, to create the planes and recreate the colour values. Compositionally, its not good with the focal point in the centre, but the exercise in colour and value creation always appeals to me.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Old blue update

The dotting bug has captured me and I fitted in some time early this morning and tonight on the little blue boat.  The scan of pointillism doesn't give good colour, so I took some photos and they have a truer colour representation, despite the less than white background.

I added a light wash of coloured pencil to highlight some of the areas that the early morning light is touching.  I was going to use more coloured ink, but my other .18 pen decided it didn't want to work under any circumstance.  I think its been sitting there awhile unused and may need a longer soak to help it see sense.  The finer nibs on technical pens do have their moments.  Perhaps its time to invest in a few more.

But right now I'm so tired I could fall asleep standing up so no more dotting for me tonight and tomorrow's may be sketchy as I have a workshop to go to and another again on Sunday.  But there's no rush is there?

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Old blue

There is something about pointillism that is addictive, even after my last marathon piece with it. There is also something addictive about the ocean and aging boats at dawn.

Last summer I was up before light one morning and took some photos by the water in Flatrock.  As the sun was rising its pinkish light hit an abandoned boat lying on the slipway. The paint was peeling off and the wood weathered beyond a rough life on the ocean. 

Grass seeds had found a home there in some moisture filled crevice and grew beyond all odds, giving a little life to the old dory.

I took some photos of the boat in that early light and have taken them out from time to time to consider what medium would suit it best until pen and ink found its source.  I'm using a mix of colours and perhaps mediums in this piece.  I'm working on a smaller scale than the last.  This is 6 x 7.5 inches, so shouldn't take me months to complete (I hope).  I find the technique soothing and while progress is slow with my .18 or 4 x 0 nib, progress is there.

I scanned this start and don't think that it gives a good impression of the drawing.  Perhaps a photograph would give better definition.  Or maybe I just don't have the patience for all the fiddling and adjustments in Photoshop to achieve good colours and sharpness.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010


When I finished art training, I supplemented my bread and butter in fur and whiskers for the most part and that love of creating animals who appear out of paper has never lost its appeal.  I would trundle around old stately homes, photographing and sketching gun dogs. Labradors mostly with some spaniels or setters and terriers thrown in.  I would sit in drafty kitchens with high ceilings, watching dogs transfixed by aging pheasants hanging in larders, flies buzzing around while I silently vowed to become vegetarian.

I occasionally had to put the gentleman of the house in his place as portraits of dogs wasn't on his mind.  And I would silently vow to be a spinster.

But the dogs were always the fun part as I would have them brought into a garden for photos and if I could some live sketches. And I would silently vow that I would own a handful of dogs always.

None of the vows followed through completely.  Life got in the way.  Vegetarianism is borderline.  Spinsterhood was timelimited.  A handful of dogs?  I usually had two until I moved to Canada, then a dog and cat.  Well two cats, one who came to an unfortunate end, the other lasting 18 years and the dog 16.

So even though I spent a month drawing cats, this little fellow had an appealing face so I tried a sketch in charcoal and white pencil on kraft paper in a sketchbook. And silently vowed to keep drawing animals.

Meet Sleet.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010


I've had a few days off to revitalize and it does work.  It refocuses my mind and frees me up to be creative without distractions and commitments. It was well planned in some ways as I'd fallen down the front steps at home one morning last week when it was very slippery and am only now is the pain easing up.

I'll still flit in and out of the blog while I get some pieces underway.  As always I have more ideas than I have time or energy, so they're jotted down and will have to wait their turn. I've pulled out some oils again and played around with a quick portrait using a (mostly) Zorn palette.

The simplicity of having few colours to use tests my skills at mixing colour and makes me look more carefully at values and skintones. I like a change of medium too when I want my mind to change direction.  Tight drawings for the last month demanded that I do something looser.

This piece took about 90 minutes without me overthinking or worrying about the outcome.  I find that things often work out better if I don't consider the end result, but only the process.  This is done on an 8 x 10 stretched cotton canvas and is of a friend of my daughter.