If someone was to ask me what my style of painting was, I’d be a bit stumped to be honest. I tend to flit about a lot but I do become a little bit obsessive when it comes to trying new things.
For example, I like to draw and paint from nature as near to realistic as possible and love to add the smallest details. Pen and ink, watercolour pencils and paints all add their bit to create something which I think looks fairly decent. However, this takes time and I don’t always have that much time to create. Right now I’m diving deeper into surface design and my goal is to paint first, scan then work on my designs on the computer with the aim of printing them onto cards for example. These detailed paintings don’t lend themselves that well to surface design anyway so I need to come up with something which does!
By contrast to the super detailed sketches I love abstract painting and design and admire the artists who effortlessly produce abstract floral designs in minutes. Recently I’ve been busy practicing loosening up my paintings and I love it. It’s nowhere near perfect yet but I’ve become a bit obsessed by this style. To some people it might look sloppy and a bit of a cop out compared to the detailed drawings I’ve done in the past but believe me it’s far harder than it looks to stop it from looking a bit cartoony.
These need quite a bit of work but that’s just what I intend to do. So it’s back to the desk and on with the practice.
I never really consider January to be the start of my year. I think maybe this could be partly because the Christmas decorations are still up at the beginning of the month and we’re still wading through the cheese, chocolate and other naughty but tasty treats left over. January in the garden is a bit of a nothing month on the whole. If I get a dry-ish day I’ll get out and cut down or tidy up but the garden is mostly devoid of any colour or beauty. February however is when the garden is starting to wake up, nature is coming to life, the inspiration is flowing and Spring isn’t too far away. Yesterday 2nd February was liichtmessdag here, also known as Candlemas. Small children go door to door with lanterns bringing in the light and singing their song in return for sweets.
On my afternoon dog walk I can see one of my favourite little late winter flowers, the snowdrop. I’m very lucky indeed to live in a village with a beautiful castle with a well loved garden. The snowdrop display under the trees is one of my favourite sites to visit.
I’ve photographed them often but I don’t think I’ve ever sketched them let alone painted them. Since one of my goals for this year is to paint more I decided I’d better right this wrong.
I was given some Winsor & Newton paint tubes for Christmas so I’ve been itching to try them out. I usually use paint pans so tubes are new to me. The colours in this particular set are beautiful and vibrant. Mixing them is a dream. I don’t know why I’ve been so reluctant to use tubes in the past. They’re so easy to use.
I look forward to the shift in the season with all the inspiration which comes with it.
It’s easy to fall into a habit of doing or not doing something, especially the not doing something! At the beginning of the year I realised I’d lost the habit of sketching or painting which I used to thoroughly enjoy. As well as practicing more abstract work I wanted to practice more drawing and sketching skills. I don’t think I’d actually drawn anything for a long long time especially if it wasn’t for an end goal like designing a stamp or stencil or a design for a christmas card. I gathered a few books together from my studio, none of them new. They’d either been started and abandoned or bought and not started at all.
MY CURRENT SKETCH BOOKS
Each one has a different use which is why I have six on the go. Firstly from the bottom up I have my inspiration journal. I’ve had this for a while now and I’ve even blogged about it more than once. I use this more like a collage book sticking in magazine images of things I like, patterns, colours or ideas I might be able to use in other work. I really do find it a very useful tool. It helps to choose colour combinations, ideas for a sketch or painting, layouts or even to simply remind me of what I have in my studio. It’s such a simple concept of cutting and sticking then adding in some paint or ink.
TWO PAGES OF MY INSPIRATION COLLAGE JOURNAL
Next up is my watercolour sketchbook. I call it a sketchbook when in fact I like to keep it neat and clean and draw realistic images which I colour with watercolour and pencils. This type of thing does take time which I don’t always have so this is why I only do this occasionally. It gets me into a habit of looking closely so I notice things I didn’t actually see before.
DRAWN FROM THINGS COLLECTED ON MY WALKS
My mixed media journal is next, I’ve had this for a few years now and dip in and out of it. It has everything from drawings and collage to gel prints I really like and mixed media pages. It’s a bit of an anything goes type of book in which I just enjoy the process of trying things out. As I’m passed the middle and I’ve glued alot of papers in there, the pages are getting a bit bent but I don’t mind that at all. It’s a Ranger mixed media journal so the pages are good and strong.
Then I have my new accordion watercolour sketchbook which I’ve shown you here before. This large one I’m using to test it out as I’ll be selling these at KUKI but I’ve made myself two smaller ones which I’ll use to take with me if we go away anywhere.
I’m also using a really nice A5 sketchbook as an abstract testing book. Inside its pages I’m mainly trying out composition and testing out ideas. It might be using watercolour, acrylic or collage, whatever I fancy at the time. The pages are not particularly good quality as it’s a sketchbook but this hasn’t put me off using all sorts of materials including ink which I was surprised and pleased to find didn’t bleed through as much as I thought it might. This is a new book for me this year and I’m finding it very useful so far as I decide what I like and don’t like.
Finally on the top of my stack is my actual sketchbook. This is a much more loose style, including quick sketches of things with less details. This is the one I’ll most likely use if I need a quick arty fix. I plan to take this one out and about once the good weather is here possibly into the forest when I go out for a walk with Cooper.
AS YOU CAN SEE THESE ARE NOT IN THE LEAST DETAILED OR ACCURATE
So that’s a look at my collection of sketchbooks and why I’m using more than one.
I’ll be back next week but in the meantime have a good weekend and stay safe.
Normal can be a blessing after a period of upset and stress, however just doing one little thing out of the ordinary every now and then peps life up and keeps things from becoming stale. Well that’s my excuse for straying a bit away from the norm sometimes.
I’m back in the studio after a period away and very keen to get the paints and pens out again. I find comfort in these things and just having my supplies around me brings me joy. I also think that starting in a small way is easier than trying to complete a big project right from the get-go! This is why I was pleased to see a couple of tags in this month’s Sweet Treat Box from Paper Pen and Plan and a challenge to create a tag book with them.
Without a clear plan of what I would end up doing, I decided to start with a little abstract watercolour on the tags using a lovely gold watercolour paint I bought recently and hadn’t yet tried out.
A Prima text stamp added a bit of contrast and extra texture. The lines just happened naturally which I was surprised about to be honest as I usually go for circles, anyway it was quite appropriate that the text should also be placed that way on too.
Using the tag as a template I cut several more from odd bits of paper, brown paper, bags, book pages and gel prints.
I’ve seen this binding method in several places recently and it seemed like the most simple way to bind the pages together. Handily the box also came with the washi tape so of course it was obvious I’d use it here. I taped the pages together in pairs.
Then glued the pairs together back to back. A strip of fabric covered the spine and added a pretty bright splash of colour to the front too.
It just took a stitch stamp and a couple of stickers (also in the same box) to finish the front. I added a thin smear of gesso to the pages so I could add paint to them and tested out the first page with a few watersoluble crayons and more stickers. Anything but boring I think.
I hope you have a lovely weekend and I’d love to know what you’re up to as well.