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...
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
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 .
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,
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!
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!
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...
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!
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.
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!
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
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 collé technique, where tissue or other very thin paper is stuck to the
paper before the piece goes through the press.
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
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!
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!
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...
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!
...and welcome to Sharon's Pics! Painting, drawing and printmaking inspired by the natural world is my thing - I love the challenge and it's great to see the subjects coming to life on the paper or canvas. I never get bored of it.
I also have another blog, Cambridgeshire nature notes, where you'll find drawings, sketches, studies, photos and general rambling on about the natural world as I find it...
To get in touch with me, email email@example.com.