Monthly Archives: September 2019

Experimental Portrait

Part of the digital painting that established the approach I took to painting the watercolour portrait.

While I don’t normally do portaits I found a photo that I thought might make an interesting painting. My first attempt was made digitally using Procreate to see if I could devise a way of producing an unusual style in watercolour. I was certainly happy with the rich warm colours in digital version in which I employed a variety of brushes but a limited colour palette. The result allowed me to think of ways in which I might achieve a similar effect on paper. The challenge presented in creating a real (versus digital) watercolour version is to avoid having a muddy product as a result of employing multiple layers while attempting to achieve a dark, moody piece.

Whenever I paint something and am asked, or decide, to paint a second version then that second version will be different in style or composition. I may like a subject but will try a different treatment if I think it is worth painting again. So the watercolour version of this portrait was intended to differ. The composition was the same but the point of first doing it digitally was in part to experiment with Procreate and in part to inspire the direction of the watercolour.

Contemplation – digital art, Procreate on iPad

I had downloaded a number of iPad art apps in the past: Bamboo Paper, Pen and Ink, Art Set, Brushes, Paper, and Watercolour but had not considered Procreate when it was released as I assumed it would only work on an iPad Pro. One of my daughters mentioned that a friend of hers was using Procreate so I decided to download it. I have not tried all of its features but I have established a basic process for using it. I don’t have the apple pen but I have used the app with both a Bamboo pen, which does not have the same capability as the Apple pen, and my finger. I find even using my finger to produce accurate lines. I love Procreate!

The watercolour version had taken a couple of weeks to complete, painting just a little each day as I has other projects to work on. Big caveat – this was experimental (and I learnt a lot from it).

Here it is.

Watercolour and gouache on Canson “Moulin du Roy” rough watercolour 100% cotton paper, 24cm x 32cm, 300 gm/m2

Feel free to comment!


Salt pond windmill

Old windmill on WWF nature reserve between Trapani and Salinagrande, Sicily

Watercolour and gouache on Daler-Rowney hot press celulose paper. 29.7cm x 21cm (A4).

There are plenty of old windmills on the salt ponds that lie between the towns of Trapani and Marsala on the western side on Sicily. While salt production remains important most of the windmills are no longer in working order but stand as a reminder of the history of the region. The windmills were used to pump water from the salt ponds but more modern methods are now used.

I love this part of Sicily and spend as much time as I can visiting the sites, partly to see these old relics but also to see the birdlife in the region. This includes flamingoes, ducks, herons and egrets, and a number of waders.

The mill that I painted today is on a WWF nature reserve, the building used bu the WWF is the one next to the old mill.

Corstorphine Old Parish Church

Corstorphine Old Parish Church, watercolour, Canson Moulin du Roy rough 300 gm/m2 100% cotton rag paper 24cm x 32cm

I managed to paint a few bird pics this week, in gouache, which came out ok. But yesterday, having set out to visit a printer who I thought might be able to do some giclee prints for me, I passed through an area of Edinburgh called Corstorphine.

On the way back I stopped to look at the old church, grabbed a few reference pictures, and walked home.

The print shop didn’t do anything apart from standard photo printing so I was glad, with the church pictures, that the one hour each way walk was not in vain.

The 15th Century church sits at the heart of the village of Corstorphine with a grassy area on one side and a graveyard on the other.

So, this morning I decided to paint this scene. It is the sort of place, sunny and tranquil, that invites one to do a plein air painting. Something to put in my diary before winter sets in.

A heavy hand!

Macarons and raspberries. Conté á Paris pastels on Daler-Rowney 150gm pastel paper, 29.7cm x 21cm

Well, the first thing I discovered about using soft pastels is that I have a heavy hand. It reminds my of the time, a long time ago, when my driving instructor told me that I had a heavy right foot ie a tendency to accelerate too hard and drive too fast. Nothing changed over the years in respect of my driving style, but if I am to progress with soft pastels then I have to have a more delicate touch.

My first attempt at using soft pastels was so bad that I washed it away. I may be able to use the paper for another subject. So I decided to follow a tutorial by Kate Amedeo, a Turin-based artist, on You Tube. She used this photo as a reference …

to produce this drawing ….

In my defence I didn’t have anything like the range of colours that Kate used so I was obliged to substitute, for example, brown in place of purple and dark pink.

I think I may have been better off with a smoother paper too. Some artists use the reverse side of pastel paper so it won’t hurt to experiment.

Soft pastel is a messy medium, lots of “chalky” dust that needs to be blown away regularly, and frequent hand washing when all available fingers have been used for blending.

The other difficult thing to do is fine detail. It is not easy to see what you are doing or where exactly the pastel is being applied. I guess, like every aspect of art, that will come with practice.

Good fun though so I may do more.