Thursday, July 16, 2009


I've started to layout a complex drawing of the rocks that make up the cliffs and slide into the sea at Flatrock. The layers of rock are multi-textured and combined with a slice or two of sea is challenging. To ensure that I was on the right track, I decided to grid the piece so I could get the proportions right and have some semblance to the rocks as after awhile they start to all look alike. Its a bit like putting together a puzzle. If you look away, you lose your place.

I chose a piece of Bainbridge hot press illustration board which is too smooth to take layers of graphite, so I will try this in pen and ink once I get the initial drawing in place. The board is 15 x 20, so the drawing may take awhile to complete. However I like having complex pieces to work on while I do other drawings or paintings. Its something I spend a few minutes or a few hours on depending on my mood and end up rather missing the process once its complete.

The image of the start of the drawing is poor. Its taken under artificial light and adjusted so that you can actually see the lines which are drawn in a hard pencil so they can be erased or gone over without showing. However, it does give an idea of the structure of the rocks and the image below shows a section of rock similar to what I will be drawing.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Making decisions with technology

I often have a love/hate relationship with technology, but I do sometimes use it to help me see potential in drawings or paintings. With a few tweaks in Photoshop I can have a glimpse into how a photo reference may look in different mediums, before I start investing time and materials.

This image is a photo I took early Sunday morning just after sunrise in Flatrock. This old abandoned boat has sat there for years with weather taking its toll and it makes an ideal subject for drawing and painting. I liked this shot that shows the ribs of the boat and some of the effects of age on the wood.

This first manipulation is done using 'fresco'. I like the soft colours contrasting with the darkness and it could be recreated using watercolour and ink.

The second is a simple paint manipulation and that has possibilities too, depending on how impressionistic I would want it to be.

The final manipulation is graphic pen and I like this a lot. I think it adds to the overall feel of age of the boat. Its a piece that would easily translate into pointillism instead of the diagonal lines used here.

I do have a graphics tablet but a finite amount of patience as to the steep learning curve around creating something vaguely acceptable on it. While those competent can produce wonderful art digitally, I am a traditionalist and like to get my hands dirty!

So now I have some ideas that take the guesswork and some of the decision-making out of medium choice and I may decide on one or more of these when using a reference. Despite some of its drawbacks, being able to play with images digitally is a bonus and a shortcut for artists.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Candle in the window

Candle in the window
9 x 12 coloured pencil

Over at Watermarks, we got together to wish Sarah Wimperis a happy 50th birthday, each of us contributing a little piece of art to wish her well. See Its Only Half a Hundred to read what we said, see some art, and wish Sarah happy birthday as well.

I had a scene of an image appearing out of the darkness in my mind for awhile and this was the perfect opportunity to try it out. The drawing is a combination of photographic reference and inspiration from David Blackwood's dark images of views of the sea out of windows in Newfoundland. I love his images and prints and the opening on the main page of his website that has that haunting sound of whales singing which always gives me shivers.

This image is in coloured pencil on Artagain black paper. My original idea was a giant piece on a fullsized sheet of black Stonehenge. That may be ambitious for cp so the size will likely be reduced to a half sheet.

I enjoyed the process and detail of cp after not having used it for awhile. There are some areas which I would like to have done better, but I'll work on that for the next piece.