24 December 2013

Strutting his stuff

A snowy pheasant, checking me out, based on a photo I took of a rather magnificent bird that visits the garden here from time to time...

Watercolour and ink, quarter sheet.

Signing off now for Christmas - happy holidays everyone!

06 December 2013

A frosty morning

Hello again, here's my latest effort, an ink and watercolour based on a photo I took on a frosty walk earlier in the year...

Ink and watercolour frosty
This is a view at the edge of the cricket field here in the village. I did the initial drawing in Indian ink, smooshed around a little with a waterbrush, then added some watercolour washes.

Cropped in a little from A4, ink and watercolour.

27 November 2013

Window ledge snooze

This is a reduction linocut print I did a few months back, for some reason I've only just got round to getting a pic of it! Based on a sketch of the studio assistant snoozing in the sunshine on the windowsill...

Cat linocut
  Printed area 4 by 6", on Simili paper.

22 November 2013

The silent owl

Working on another card design, quite like this one :-) An earlier attempt along these lines came out as 'evil scary owl', but this one is much more benign!

Linocut on 5 by 5" card stock.

17 November 2013

The dynamic duo gets some shuteye

Hello again! Here's what I've been up to over the last couple of weeks - a reduction linocut based on the ink & wc sketch from a while ago of my pal's two dogs snuggled up together.

'The dynamic duo gets some shuteye', reduction linocut, printed area 6" by 8".

11 November 2013

Penguins on parade

This is an ink drawing that I've entered in a competition...

'Penguins on parade'
A4 CP watercolour paper, Faber-Castell Pitt Artist pen, Indian ink, dip pen, waterbrush.

It's based on some photos I took at Twycross Zoo of the Humboldt penguins. The main drawing was done with the marker pen, and I went in with the Indian ink with a dip pen, plus waterbrush, to give it a bit more pop.

If you'd like to have a look at the competition entries and maybe vote for your favourite, go here

05 November 2013

View from Pencroft Farm

Hello again!

Thought I'd share a recent painting here to see what you peeps think... I am SO not a landscape painter, it really is a bugbear for me. I went out for what was a wet and windy walk a few weeks back, sketchbook in pocket. I sketched the view on site, and painted the painting when I got back. I'd love to get into some plein air painting, but I am such a wimp if it's cold and rainy! It's 8 by 10", acrylic on canvas .

21 October 2013

A Brush with Nature - workshop

Thought I'd share a bit about a great workshop I attended at the weekend, at the education centre at my local nature reserve, Paxton Pits. The workshop 'A Brush with Nature' was hosted by the local wildlife trust and led by Sarah Morrish, and the focus was drawing and watercolour painting of natural objects from life.

The day started with a quick introduction and discussion of materials etc. Sarah had brought along a load of yummy natural history art/illustration books too, lovely to browse! We had a tableful of things to choose from, some of which had been gathered on the reserve that morning, and others which Sarah had brought with her. We could choose from items such as autumn leaves, seed pods, feathers, seashells, stones etc.

The first couple of hours before lunch were dedicated to tonal drawing using graphite pencils. I chose a dried pitcher, from a pitcher plant.

I did this using a range of pencils from H through to 2B. It took probably an hour and a half, and an awful lot of concentration! Was pleased with how it turned out. I don't do pencil drawings like this very often (I think I lack the patience) but I really enjoyed this.

After lunch Sarah demonstrated her watercolour technique, using a limited palette of winsor lemon and quin gold, permanent rose and perylene maroon, and indanthrene blue and French ultramarine (a cool and warm of each primary colour). Again, patience required. I chose to try some feathers - two barn owl feathers, and one from a jay (couldn't resist it, it was like a gleaming

A highly enjoyable day. Sarah shared a lot of insight and tips (she also teaches botanical art at her local college). She's based in Hampshire so most of her workshops are run down there, but has connections in with the Wildlife Trust in Cambridgeshire, hence the workshop here, the first of many I hope!

A few photos of the day here

We finished at 4pm, but for me the day wasn't over. It was a lovely warm late afternoon, so I decided to dump the art stuff in my car and head out to one of the bird hides on the lake - and I SAW AN OTTER!! Every time I visit the reserve I sit in that hide and hope to glimpse one, and that was the very first wild otter I've ever seen!

So a fab day all round for me!

18 October 2013

Doggie duo

Here's a quick ink and watercolour sketch of a pal's dogs, trying to sleep on the same chair...

Dog sketch

13 October 2013

Back from my holiday!

Hello blog friends!

I've been away on holiday for a wonderful week on the south coast of the UK, near Charmouth in Dorset. We rented a gem of a little cottage near the coast, and enjoyed unseasonably warm and dry weather too - how lucky! Lots of walking and pottering on the beach looking for fossils, and some sketching was squeezed in too...

This is my sketch of Golden Cap (the highest cliff on the south coast), from Charmouth beach. We had walked up to the cliff top from our cottage, than along the coast path to Charmouth.

Another walk to the beach at Charmouth, on a grey but warm and dry day.

Sketch of some seaweed on the rocks at Charmouth. All these were done in an A5 sketchbook, pen first then watercolour pencils and/or watercolours.

We had a great time - what a beautiful part of the world! Already looking forward to going back there some day...

30 September 2013

Couple of little wc sketches

Hello bloggies

Been a bit quiet on the creative front - lots of ideas rolling around my head but not much actual creating! Thought I'd do some little sketches, from bits and pieces lying around the room here...

So, a watercolour of a feather (buzzard I think), and a watercolour and ink of a pine cone, both on postcard-sized watercolour paper. Nice to get the brushes wet, if only a little bit!

03 September 2013

The gang

Yay, another linocut print! Inspired by the hordes (yes, there are loads of them) of long-tailed tits that descend on our bird feeders, here's my take on just a few of them...

These guys are definitely the cutest. They seem to go around in large groups - we regularly get at least half a dozen on the feeders, and I could hear more cheeping away in the shrubs...

Print area is 6 by 8 inches, and these are on Zerkall 210gsm paper using Caligo safe wash oil-based ink, an edition (so far) of 8. I've run out of this particular paper, so I might just print a few more on the Simili Japanese paper, which is a lighter weight and creamier paper, to see how they look!

21 August 2013

Linocut workshop at the Curwen Print Study Centre

The last of the workshops I did was linocut - on familiar ground at least! Although I use this technique at home, I wanted to try out the oil-based inks and, of course, the press...

I had an image from my sketchbook that I thought might be good for a linocut. We used linoleum floor tiles (great idea, not too expensive!). Tried a few colour combinations, as well as masking the bird and printing the colours separately.

Starling bird linocut

Starling bird linocut

Starling bird linocut
If you feel like having a go at printmaking, I would highly recommend a Curwen workshop - great fun, steep learning curve, lots to think about!

19 August 2013

Drypoint at the Curwen Print Study Centre

The Wednesday workshop at the Curwen Print Study Centre was drypoint, an intaglio technique (where the ink lies in the recesses you make) that needs a press. Traditionally metal plates were used for this, but more recent materials include Perspex as well as acetate, which is what we used. It’s a certain grade of acetate which will produce a ‘burr’ along the lines that you scratch in.

I particularly enjoyed this technique as it’s very close to drawing – both my plates were based on sketchbook images of the cat. Again, I went for a traditional figurative approach, but there were some stunning abstract prints too. The great advantage of acetate is that you can cut it up, rearrange elements and generally manipulate your image quite a lot. I’d like to have a go at this technique again and be a bit wilder!

So you scratch your image into the acetate – we used mounted needles. Sandpaper is good for texture. The marks can be quite shallow, as the pressure of the press means that everything will print. Intaglio ink is scumbled into the marks, and then you wipe the plate to take off the excess ink. Any ink left on the surface will print as ‘plate tone’, which you can control by wiping off more or less ink. You print onto slightly damp paper. And of course, you can go back in to your plate and scratch away more if you want to!

My first print:

My second effort was still figurative (cat again), but a little bit more adventurous. The little circles at the bottom were made by taking a ‘rubbing’ of a piece of Lego with sandpaper (there are lots of possibilities here!). The actual cat was based on one of my contour drawings, and the line was made using a drill (yes, they let me loose with a drill!). The first print is a straightforward print, and the next uses the chine collĂ© technique, where tissue or other very thin paper is stuck to the paper before the piece goes through the press.

 Another fabulous workshop - I was exhausted!

18 August 2013

Curwen workshops - collagraphs

I had a fab three days last week at the Curwen Print Study Centre, near Cambridge UK. Tuesday was collagraphs, Wednesday was drypoint, and Friday was linocut. I would have done the whole week (monopronts and woodcuts) if the two other days hadn’t been fully booked!

So, Tuesday – collagraphs. As you need a press for this technique, and I (sadly) don’t have one, this was completely new to me. Using a piece of mount board as a base, I stuck various items on (using PVA glue), and also cut into the surface of the mount board in some places. The things you can use are without limit – anything that has texture is fair game! The only thing to remember is that your overall plate (mount board plus stuck-on bits) shouldn’t end up being too thick (from thinnest point to thickest point), as you’ll have problems printing the ink evenly. When you’re happy with your plate, let the glue dry and then apply a couple of thin layers of varnish to seal it.

We then inked up intaglio – we scumbled the ink into the grooves and recesses of the surface, then wiped the plate using scrim (a kind of open mesh material). This leaves the relief parts free of ink and the recesses inked up. Then to the press – plate on press, damp paper on plate, packing paper on top of that, then ‘heave ho’ on the press! The paper needs to be slightly damp so the fibres get properly pressed into the recesses of your plate. Result:

Next step was to roll over the plate – using a roller you apply ink to the relief parts of the plate. The plate still has ink on it from the intaglio stage, so when it goes in the press both intaglio and relief area print:


As you can (hopefully) see, I did figurative subjects (cat, landscape), but some of the others produced some fabulous abstract prints. The scope is endless, so much you can do with textures and colour!

08 August 2013

31 July 2013

Early morning prowl

Here's a painting I finished a couple of days ago.

Early morning prowl, mixed media, quarter sheet

I had great fun with this one. I started off with an ink drawing/sketch on watercolour paper to which I'd added random patches of gesso, then went in with watercolour, more ink, charcoal, water-soluble graphite, anything I could lay my hands on really!

28 July 2013

Cat drawings - get well soon...

'Get well soon' for a cat lover maybe? ;-)

 Some new stuff in my Folksy store... Original ink drawings mounted on card stock. I sent a similar card to the vet team that did a great job patching up my feline model.

17 July 2013

Happy me!

Ten fabulous prints from the first PrintPeople exchange have arrived here! They are just wonderful, made my day :-)

You can check out all of the prints in detail here

11 July 2013

Stretchy kitty, finished

Couldn't resist just putting in a few highlights...

Now finished (I've varnished it and ordered a frame, no more fiddling!)

Acrylic on canvas, 8 by 20 inches

01 July 2013

Stretchy cat

Here's a little look at something I've been working on over the past few days - yes, it's another piece of cat-inspired art! Not quite sure if I'm finished with this yet, but if I do anything more it'll only be a teeny tiny bit more!

This is acrylic on canvas, 8 by 20", done mostly with a palette knife, which definitely stops me fiddling and getting too detailed...

24 June 2013

Well, the cat has had her stitches out and no longer needs to wear the dreaded cone collar... but I did have fun sketching her! I especially enjoyed doing some contour sketching... have trimmed a couple down and mounted them on card stock. I think a 'thank you' card to the team at the vet surgery may be in order! I might put a couple of these on my Folksy online shop too - 'get well soon' cards for cat lovers!

17 June 2013

Not impressed!

My studio assistant (aka the cat) has not had a good week! She came in last week with a big cut on her tail so has been patched up by the vet, and is not impressed with her new headgear...

So of course I took the opportunity to do some contour sketches!

Poor kitty!
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