Thursday, September 19, 2019

Opposites Attract

Suddenly, in the midst of working large, I got the urge to make a small, handcarved stamp.  

I immediately used it to make some artist trading cards for our local swap.

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Beards are Fun!

Sailor Fude Pen and Watercolour
11" x 14" Strathmore Sketchbook

Roz Stendahl, one of my sketching heroes, loves to sketch men with beards.  I can see why - scribbling is fun!

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

The Paper Buckles, But So What?

Sailor Fude Pen and Watercolour
Strathmore Sketchbook
11" x 14"

You can see on the background of this scan how the thin paper buckles when I add watercolour to it.  But these sketches are so much fun I don't care!

Monday, September 16, 2019

Working Large

Sailor Fude Pen and Watercolour

I've been using an old 11" x 14" sketchbook as a studio journal lately, a place to keep notes, test colours, do thumbnail sketches, etc.

I have found that I enjoy the freedom of working large again, something that I haven't done for a few years.

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Arches Text Wove

Arches Text Wove paper is a favorite with my calligraphy friends.  It feels about the same weight as the Arches MBM Ingres paper but I think it may be 100% cotton.  It performed beautifully using the same technique (laid on wet plexiglass without tape).

I wet the sky area first and dropped in Daniel Smith Opera Pink and Cobalt Teal Blue.  Then I drew the field with Sap Green and added water to wet this area.  I added French Ultramarine and Veridian at the horizon line, and some more opera pink and teal until I was happy with the saturation.  FUN, FUN, FUN!

Saturday, September 14, 2019

Weathered Barn

Stonehenge 100% Cotton 140 lb.

This next test needed a bit of a sketch with a light pencil.  I did this on the paper while it was dry.  Next I wet the glass and laid the paper on top.  Although this paper was considerably heavier than the last one, it still stuck fine without tape.

This is also a wet on wet painting, worked in sections.  Once I stopped fussing with the drawing, it was a lot of fun to do.

The reference photograph was by Dana Critchlow from Paint My Photo.

Friday, September 13, 2019

Look Ma, No Tape!

Included in my paper stash was a small piece of Arches MBM Ingres 60 lb 75% cotton paper.  It seemed an ideal paper for my next experiment.

I wet the glass thoroughly and laid on the paper.  I didn't tape the paper because the water held it firmly in place.

First I wet the sky area and dropped in French Ultramarine.  I then moved into the foreground letting it bleed into the sky to create a middle ground.  After it was dry I added the trees.  I cheated on the highlights by using a white gel pen.

This paper was a lot of fun to work on.

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Still Having Fun!

Opus Student Watercolour Paper

This series of watercolour paper tests seems to have morphed into tests with various methods of preventing paper buckling.  That's OK, though, I'm still having fun painting!  And I'm not worrying about how much paper I'm "wasting", so that's a good thing too.

I wet this paper on the reverse and taped it to the glass.  It worked well.  As I was doing some Internet research on this subject I found another method that I'll try next.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Persistent or Stupid?

Refusing to give up, I tried two more tests on Canson XL watercolour paper.  I washed the glass I have been using in case contaminants were my problem and I used more fresh water to wet the back surface of the paper.  The first painting I transferred from the glass as soon as it began sticking, but this time I noticed that the layers of the paper were actually starting to separate.

For the second one I prepared the paper in the same way but I taped it to a board instead of glass.  It worked absolutely fine with no sticking.

Just in case I had not left the paper on long enough, I took a very small scrap of XL, wet both sides, taped it to the glass and left it over night.  The paper stuck and separated.

Conclusion:  Paper production often changes over time.  My XL paper is a few years old, so other artists may not experience the same thing I did.   But I will not be using XL paper for painting with lots of water again. 

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Another Canson XL Watercolour Test

After my last experience with this paper (see yesterday's post), I wondered what I might have done wrong.  I had learned this no-stretch method of preventing buckling from an artist who uses it with all kinds of paper, including Canson XL.   Had I left the paper taped to the glass too long?  Not long enough?

The next day was cooler and the humidity was lower.  With different weather and these questions in my mind I tried again.   After I finished painting I removed some tape and could tell that the paper was beginning to stick to the glass again.  I quickly removed it so that there was only some minor damage.  I transferred it to a board and pressed the tape down to continue drying.  This worked fine.

I still had a lot of fun painting, though, and enjoyed a change of subject!

Monday, September 9, 2019

Preventing Buckling

Opus Student Watercolour Paper

For the next test, I wet the back side of the paper and taped it to glass, in an attempt to stop the buckling.  (Paper buckles when it gets wet on one side only).  This worked really well and I had so much more fun when the paint didn't run into the valleys caused by buckling or over to the edges.  

This worked so well for this Opus cellulose paper that I wondered how the XL paper might perform.  It seemed to work while I was painting, but I was surprised that as the paper dried, it glued itself to the glass and wouldn't come off without tearing.  

Canson XL Watercolour Paper

Sunday, September 8, 2019

Testing, Testing, 1-2-3

Stonehenge 100% Cotton

I recently began a series of watercolour paper tests.  I had a number of goals, which changed as I progressed.  My overall objective, however, was to see if I could get over my feeling that watercolour paper was too precious, too "good" for me.

My initial idea was to do a series of tests using the watercolour landscapes that we had done in Joanne Sharpe's Whims 2 class.  I had used a mixed media journal for the class, but thought that these would be more fun on watercolour paper with lots of water. 

I have quite a bit of watercolour paper in my stash, so I thought that it would also be useful to compare different kinds of paper.  Artist quality watercolour paper is 100% cotton rather than cellulose, and I wanted to compare the difference for myself.   

For the first two tests I taped the 140 lb. paper to a board and wet the paper in the sky area before adding paint.  The 100% cotton paper above definitely took more water without buckling than did the cellulose paper below.  The Canson paper buckled and the paint ran to the edges - not fun at all.  The Stonehenge cotton buckled a bit but at least the paint didn't run down to the edges.

Canson XL

Saturday, September 7, 2019

Friday, September 6, 2019

Fabulous Finishes

Well, Joanne Sharpe calls them fabulous, anyway.  I love this quote by Emerson.

Thursday, September 5, 2019

Sketching at the Library

The overhead lights are too diffuse at the library to show good shadows, but I had fun with the chairs in this drawing.  The idea of drawing all the books on the shelves didn't appeal to me, however.

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

No End

There seems to be no end to the inspiration to draw my office chair and painting apron.  At the moment I'm working with water soluble ink and using watercolor to paint only the areas that are in shadow.

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Negative Painting

Joanne Sharpe's Whims 2 class includes some negative painting.  I love negative painting, but I think this would have worked better on watercolor paper.  The Alpha Stillman & Birn book that I'm working in is great for pen work and light washes, but these multiple layers of watercolor require something a bit more robust.

Monday, September 2, 2019

A Mighty Tree

Evidently Joanne Sharpe likes looking up into tall trees as well!

Friday, August 30, 2019

A Visit to My Grandfather's Grave

I never knew my grandfather, but recently I went to visit his grave site for the first time. I certainly never expected to find a bare patch of grass between the other markers in the row. I confirmed my findings with a very helpful young man in the office. When my grandfather died in 1945, two plots were purchased in the Masonic Cemetery in Burnaby, BC.  No marker was ever erected, and in 1955, the second plot was sold back to the cemetery. 

It is no wonder that I find genealogy fascinating - the mysteries and discoveries are endless!

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Looking Up

I'm fascinated by looking up into the large trees that line the city streets of the rain forest here in Vancouver.

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

A Favorite Subject

This fountain no longer works, but it functions well as a bird bath.  I love it, and draw it at least once each summer.

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Choosing A Subject

This geranium in a clay pot attracted me as a drawing subject as soon as I sat down in my lounge chair last week. 

I discarded it as a subject because I thought it was a bit simple, a bit boring, and instead, launched into the wider, busier drawing below.  After I finished, I was still drawn by my initial choice, and so I sketched the one above.  

I like the simple one much better; I should have stayed with my intuition.

Friday, August 23, 2019

Imaginary Flowers

I read a book by Sandrine Pelissier recently, called Painting Imaginary Flowers: Beautiful Blooms and Abstract Patterns in Mixed Media.

It gave me the idea to use gelli prints as a basis for a technique I used many times (with great joy) with gelatos.  I'm always looking for things to do with my gelli prints.  

Thursday, August 22, 2019


Japanese Double Pamphlet Sketchbooks

This is what happens when I can't make up my mind.  I made the portrait sketchbook first, and then the very next day I decided I wanted to go square for awhile instead, and so I needed to make another.  

I gelli printed the covers of both sketchbooks, using stamps that I was contemplating discarding (more indecision).  I decided to keep both stamps.  

The process not only helped me to decide, but to stop thinking of them as "precious".  I usually avoid using wood mounted stamps with acrylic paint because I can't throw them in water, but I just scrubbed them with a toothbrush under a running tap and they cleaned up just fine.  I figured if I was getting rid of them it didn't matter if they got destroyed.  I had much more fun this way too!

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Tom Cat ATC's

These are a few of the artist trading cards I made for the local swap last Sunday.

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Whim 18

Joanne calls these patterns on colour fields "Pods".  They're everywhere on social media these days!  I've even done a few of my own....

Monday, August 19, 2019

The Rainforest

Much of my art is inspired by the luscious rainforest where I live, in British Columbia, Canada.

These were done following the restrictions from Lesson Four of the Find Your Joy taster course I did recently.  And, once again, I enjoyed myself immensely. 

Part of the fun was stumbling across these little collage pieces from my stash.

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Value Study

This was inspired by the talented watercolourist from Montreal, Shari Blaukopf.    Once again, I did it for the challenge, not the result.  It was one of those "I'd like to try that!" moments.  

Saturday, August 17, 2019

Perspective Challenges

Drawing for me is often about challenging myself.  That's what I enjoy about it, getting lost in the challenge of putting the next line in the right place.  I rarely succeed, but it doesn't matter.   

As they say on Instagram:  #doitfortheprocess!

Friday, August 16, 2019

Find Your Joy - Lesson Four

These were all done as part of the free taster course Find Your Joy with the wonderful artist and teacher Louise Fletcher.

This lesson was about limitations - there were instructions about which media to use in which order.

I enjoyed this lesson immensely.  Knowing that I was going to make four pieces freed me up to experiment and make mistakes.  I can see myself coming back to this exercise again and again.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Car Inspiration

The reference photo for this came from the Facebook group "I grew up in Vancouver".  I want to try a value exercise with it too.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

The Elements of Drawing

This is the first exercise in a book called The Elements of Drawing, by John Ruskin.  Roz Stendahl recommended it on her blog.  This book was first published in 1856, and it was a ground breaking book written for the average person who wanted to learn to draw, rather than for art students.

I didn't find it an enjoyable read, so I returned it to the library.  But I might borrow it again or look for it in a used book store; I can see myself wanting to try again at some point.