Thursday, February 21, 2008

Pienza Pen & Wash

Pienza Duomo - A4 Pen & Wash

These pen & wash sketches are great exercise. I'm still having trouble with proportion, sketching directly with a dip pen (no opportunity to make corrections). As a drawing this one is way off but I am happy with the colour and light. And it is loose and fast. At last!

For anyone interested in some tips on Pen & Wash I recommend John Lovett's 10 minute DVD Fast & Easy Pen & Wash (a bargain!). This scene is from a photo I took looking in the opposite direction to the Pienza sketch I posted the other day. John tells me painted the Pienza Duomo a few years ago. I'd love to see what he made of it.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

First Tulips

Watercolour Pencil & background wash 15 x 15 cms

I'll always associate tulips with our friends Jani and Louis. This is from yet another beautiful bunch they've given us. I've been sketching and photographing them all week.

The first big pencil sketch was a disaster so I decided to try a detail in watercolour pencil. This Cartiera Magnani drawing paper quickly started to scuff under the sharp pencils so I knew I wasn't going to be able to build up a multi-layered dark pencil background. I used a neutral tint watercolour wash instead, so I guess this is now mixed media.

The tulip bulbs we've planted are now coming up in the garden. I love this time of year, so full of promise.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008


Today Australia finally said sorry for the misery that has been visited upon the original owners of our land.

Things are looking up Down Under.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Playing Fast & Loose with Pen & Wash

Pen & Wash W&N A4 Sketchbook
(not watercolour paper unfortunately)

This was an experiment, sketching directly with dip pen and brown ink. I thought it was an absolute disaster while I was working and was glad it was in a perforated sketchbook where I could give it the Big Rip. Now, with all its flaws, I quite like it. Wonders will never cease.

Pienza is just across the valley from where we live. It is a tiny gem of a town constructed in 1459-61 because Pope Pius II thought the original village, Corsignano (his birthplace) wasn't grand enough . It is described as a folly, but what a folly. You can hardly move for visitors in the summer. I'm told Zeffirelli filmed some of Romeo & Juliet here.

My sketch doesn't do it justice so I'm giving you a photo as well.

There are fantastic views from the walls. The Duomo and the beautiful Renaissance Palazzo Piccolomini I will save for another time. But don't say I didn't warn you about the number of tourists, if you come in the warmer months.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Colour Derived from Notan

Watercolour - Notan Exercise

I've been spending a lot of time studying a PDF version of Composition by Arthur Wesley Dow. I found the book through a link posted by Katherine Tyrrell at Making a Mark. Katherine has been posting some wonderful instruction and references on Composition and Colour over the past few weeks.

The tulip exercise (above) came from the Dow book. As Dow points out Japanese ink painters enhance their harmonies of tone-composition by mingling slight quantities of hue with ink. This exercise involved mixing a set of three grey washes and painting the same design a number of times, gradually increasing the amount of hue mixed with the grey. I find the results quite elegant and it has been a great lesson from that point of view.

I've had a lot of distractions this week because all the art references I have bought on line finally turned up on the same day! I'd been waiting over two months for my 10 minute DVD art lessons with John Lovett. Below are a couple of quick efforts based on John's exercises and reference photos.

The most fascinating aspect of these DVDs is the opportunity to watch Lovett push and pull the the pigment on the paper and the lovely calligraphic marks he makes with pen or liner brush.

After John Lovett - exercise in Cobalt Blue & Light Red

This was a failure if you've seen the original, so I tested adding some brown ink and spritzing it. Disaster but fun. I learnt a lot.

After John Lovett - Outback palette

This was fun because the colours are so warm and it reminds me of home. I certainly didn't do John justice in this one. It's only a detail from his bigger painting. I will try another of these with my own outback photos.

Also in the mail came The Simple Secret to Better Painting by Greg Albert and Keys to Drawing with Imagination by Bert Dodson. Can you see why I've been distracted?
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