West’s Bestiary

Over on Twitter, Colin West has been posting a new little rhyme every few days, featuring an animal for each letter of the alphabet. He’s then been inviting anyone who’s interested to create an illustration to go with the poem. I’ve been following along and here are my sketches. To keep up with the fast pace, and to keep it lively and fun, I’ve not tried to stick to a single style and I’ve created mashups of a few of the letters.

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Sea Life Animal Alphabet

Each Monday, over on Twitter, people share their drawings, sketches and paintings of a specific animal that was announced the week before. Starting at A, each week is a different animal starting with the next letter of the alphabet on a specific theme. It takes six months to get through the whole alphabet (26 weeks!) so the theme changes twice a year. I’ve been taking part in the sea life theme since January and here they all are!

Sea life animal alphabet illustration
Continue reading “Sea Life Animal Alphabet”

Wet in wet

Much more like watercolour now! Less is definitely more with this digital watercolour stuff. So difficult to resist fiddling with it though – very much like learning to use real watercolours except when it all turns to mud on the iPad, you can undo :)

We are moving in the right direction and this is definitely something I’m going to continue playing around with.

Sunday Times Watercolour Competition 2018

The Sunday Times Watercolour competition 2018 exhibition ended its run in Basingstoke last week and I went along to have a look!

There were about 70 watercolour, gouache, acrylic and mixed media pieces in total across a whole range of subjects and styles. The three winning paintings were all huge! but that’s about all they had in common.

First prize The Prodigal Son by Sophie Charalamgous:

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Second prize was Growth of the Soil by Michael Chance:

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Third prize was Diving Boards, Crystal Palace by Richard Elliot:

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My favourite painting that I could just fall into and stare at for ages was Rear Window by Adrian Coleman:

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A few others that caught my eye and I liked very much:

 

and then there were some that I’d have been really interested to know the judges thinking behind selecting them over others:

 

Cemetery Junction

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Cemetery Junction is a crossroads just outside Reading City centre, made famous by the film of the same name by Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant.

I spent Sunday morning drawing in the walled cemetery with the Reading Urban Sketchers. It was a gloriously sunny day and lots of people turned up to soak in the atmosphere and be creative.

I focused on watercolour sketching some of the various statues and then, with 10 minutes until we were due to meet up, I quickly drew the entrance scene above in coloured pencil.

The throw down photo at the end of this post is just a small section of the sketches produced – several people had to leave early and then the wind picked up so we had to snap and move on before our sketchbooks blew away.

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immortal jellyfish

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I is for immortal jellyfish.

This jellyfish can revert back to it’s immature polyp stage and then become mature again over and over whenever it gets old or sick.

This was fun to paint and I think I may prefer some of the early stages of the painting over the finished piece. Less is more!

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only hope holds my heart

This is a plate from the Wallace Museum with an inscription of ‘Only hope holds my heart’. It shows a profile bust of a woman and was made by an unknown artist in Deruta, Italy, some time between 1515-1540. It was maybe made to mark a betrothal.

While drawing this I rediscovered the joy of drawing wavy banners. I loved drawing these as a kid! I think it was one of my first realisations that you could easily make flexible things look ultra 3D in just a line drawing. It was good for banners and flags and ribbons and that was about it so I drew those things a lot :)

Also I only noticed the secret hidden face in this plate as I was drawing it! pretty freaky. can you spot it? It’s in her giant pendant. Is it a photo of the guy who holds her heart? Is it a mirror and so a self portrait of the plate artist? I guess we’ll never know…

The drawing is all in coloured pencil – brown, orange and blue. Below you can see just the line drawing. Then the blocks of colour are watercolour -pretty much just ultramarine and yellow ochre.

Pigeons

Because of decorating I was moving furniture around and found 10 full watercolour sheets under the bed! A present from the me of Christmas past :) I vague remember stashing them there to keep them flat.

I thought I’d take advantage of the psychology of them being a bonus to freely scribble away on a whole sheet without the stress of worrying about ruining expensive supplies.

This is an enlargement of a little pigeon sketch I did a long time ago. Lots of splashing ink and paint to evoke the flustering of feathers in a crowded urban square.

I think I still prefer the spontaneity, colour and blooms of the original little scribble but it was still fun to work so big for a change. One disadvantage of painting big is that it doesn’t fit in the scanner and photos of watercolour never quite capture the colour and detail properly. You can see in the scanned sketch below the granulating watermarks and texture of the paper.

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This is a steam lawnmower. Apparently the status symbol of its day!

Today I joined the Reading Sketchers at the Museum of English Rural Life. I’ve walked past a few times but never made it inside til today. It’s much bigger than I thought and there was lots to see and do. I could tell it was going to be good as I walked up and saw the awesome yarn bomb entrance:

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Outside is a nice big garden with natural sculptures and a big tractor (for children…) to play on. Inside is crammed full of farm machinery and history, as well as a gallery of ladybird books. There’s stuff to watch and play with and a learning room that looked like it might have stuff for dressing up. Plus the usual museum cafe and shop (filled with more brilliant knitted and crocheted things).

It was tempting to sit outside in the sun and draw the building itself but I thought that I should really try and tackle some of the machinery since I wasn’t likely to find anything like it to draw elsewhere. Wonderfully, there was a rack of stools at the entrance to the gallery (all museums, please do this and encourage people to draw your stuff!). I took one and wandered around looking for a good spot. Red and green was a definite theme running through all the machinery and eventually I settled on a steam lawnmower tucked away at the back. Below you can see my favourite bit of this device – some sort of crazy, loopy, spring loaded gauge – reminds me of the stuff in Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory :)

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Museums don’t usually allow wet media to be used inside so I prepared the watercolour background at home and just sketched using fountain pen, grey marker for the shadows, some red and green pencil/pastel things and a white gel pen for a couple of highlights at the end.

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Everyone was attracted by something different and we had lots of nice sketches at the end. I’d definitely like to visit again, to draw some more, but also just to look around generally at everything on show.

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Mrs Mounter

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This is my watercolour interpretation of an oil painting by Harold Gilman called Mrs Mounter at the Breakfast Table. This was set as a Thursday portrait challenge by @StudioTeaBreak on Twitter. I saw that the highlights of her hair were a very bright green/yellow which matches the Glow Worm colour for this week’s colour collective challenge so I thought let combine them!

I don’t normally copy other artists work and it felt a bit wrong somehow to be doing this to start with but after the first few layers of paint I was sucked in to the details and all the colours and really enjoyed the process. I found myself working with thick paint and mixing the transparent colours with white gouache to give them more body. Something I never normally do but I loved the results and really wanted to try get the same feeling of seeing each brushstroke on her face.

This took me about three hours with a break for dinner in the middle and is approx A5 size.

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disco

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Yesterday, we contemplated catching the last of the pumpkin themed events going on around the countryside, but the weather was grim so we went to a “Sunday Session” with the musicians Sam Walker & Natureboy in a small community centre in Oxford instead. There was music and lights, a brilliant disco ball, cake, drinks, very cool music/singing, dancing and a variety of maracas, tambourines and other percussion instruments handed out to the crowd. This last bit was mainly for all the kids but everyone had a go :)

We arrived a little early and so, of course, I got out my sketchbook and started doodling. I continued on and off throughout the afternoon and in between conversation until the lead singer announced a competition for the kids to sketch the band and maybe win a prize. It turns out this is something they do regularly and then they showcase the pics on their Facebook page. Since I’m not on Facebook I didn’t know about any of this and suddenly felt a bit self-conscious about appearing as though I’d spent the last hour trying to beat all the five-year-olds to the coveted prize kazoo! :’D

I surreptitiously slipped the sketchbook back in my bag and picked up a tambourine instead.

The scan of the sketch is above but I also decided to have a go at making a little animated gif with flashing disco lights. This worked great and was pretty easy once I found the right Photoshop menu.

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Auburn

I saw a photo from @archpng on twitter of Ait Benhaddou (an impressive fortified city (or ksar) made up of many kasbahs, earthen buildings made from mud and straw) earlier this week and thought it would be great to draw. It seemed perfect for this week’s colour collective of auburn so I gave it a go, also having another trial with the new cotton paper sheets – they still seem pretty good.

I started with lots of watercolour and water – Indian red, a mix of yellows and perylene maroon. I tipped the paper and let it run down. When it was just a bit damp I put it in a large book with a heavy box on top to flatten as it dried (though it didn’t really buckle much at all anyway). This worked really well!

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I turned the page 180 degrees so it went light at the top to dark at the bottom then started drawing the landscape with a dip pen and watered down sepia acrylic ink. It took a while to get the best dilution of ink – too watery and the ink bled across the page horribly.20181102_auburn_lanscape_wip (4)20181102_auburn_lanscape_wip (5)

I used a brush with the dilute ink to add shadow areas and made the top part simpler with large flat shapes20181102_auburn_lanscape_wip (1)

and finally went over some details with neat sepia and white ink only in the centre of interest.

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Rain

Trying out some little sheets of 100% cotton watercolour paper that arrived today. They didn’t look very impressive straight out of the packet but turned out to be very nice. Holding a lot of water, repeatedly, without too much buckling and definitely nothing leaking through to the back. Here’s a little rainy scene.

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South Lake

A cold but sunny autumn morning drawing with the Reading Urban Sketchers group around South Lake to the East of Reading. The group then moved into the pub for drinks, food and a warmer place to sketch but I headed home as I think I’m coming down with a cold. This is watercolour and fountain pen on tinted rough paper. It’s very difficult to get a good match to the colours from a scan when there’s no white to help colour correct. So the featured image is, I think, the closest to the true colours but below are some other tweaks to the hue, some details and a photo half way through. The colours of the actual sketch sit somewhere between all the versions here.

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Diabolo Menthe

A house plant illustration for this week’s colour collective colour, Diabolo Menthe **cough ** cough turquoise ** cough **

This is turquoise and green gold watercolour and sepia acrylic ink with a dip pen. I got some nice texture in the watercolour by being impatient and dabbing the puddles with a tissue instead of letting them dry naturally. I couldn’t do that with the ink though and it took a really long time to dry (compared to my regular fountain pen ink anyway). I even smudged it a bit in places as I didn’t realise it was still so wet after 10 minutes.

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Scheveningen

A sketch of some interesting squash for today’s inktober and this week’s colour collective – Scheveningen orange. These were very striking squash with a hard line separating the orange part from the green part. Crazy that something could grow that way. I can’t find what it is – I thought it might be a zephyr but they seem to always be long and smooth…

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Glaucous

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I’ve been feeling very uninspired and unsatisfied with everything recently. Generally everything in life but particularly anything I’ve tried to make or paint or create. It was a struggle to even muster the enthusiasm to sketch this little pencil sharpener and I almost didn’t post it but I’m way behind on the inktober challenge and this also satisfies the colour collective prompt for this week of glaucous blue so here you go.

ketchup

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I planned ahead for this week’s colour collective. The colour is cardinal red and I planned to sketch either a bus or a postbox while I was in London for a meeting earlier in the week. But time escaped me and I ended up through and out of the city with no red paint splashed. Just as iconically red is a Heinz ketchup bottle and so that’s what we’ve ended up with. An A5 page of a Seawhite of Brighton sketchbook, drawn on location while eating a burger at the pub opposite the station :)

I do very much like red paint. This is a mixture of cadmium red and magenta Windsor and Newton watercolours but then tweaked a bit in Photoshop as it scanned in a little washed out. The variations in opacity and patterns and blooms are much more intricate and interesting on the real thing but this is still nice. It was very wet and I had to walk half way home holding it open as I walked until all the puddles evaporated.

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