Monthly Archives: November 2019

Size matters

In my quest to loosen up in my painting I feel I am neither loose enough nor detailed enough in the result.

I am quick to assume that, after a career in being detail-oriented, I am inclined to be forever focused on minutiae. That’s not a bad thing, especially in getting botanical or anatomical subjects on paper but that leads to other issues. Getting the drawing, composition and perspective right requires a good eye. Getting an accurate colour match, however, is a different thing.

Which means it’s better to be looser. Or maybe not!

Another thing that may influence me is the size of the piece. The picture at the head of this post shows a painting of a Sunbird on A4 paper adjacent to a Bullfinch on ATC paper. The paper size is considerably different but the image sizes are only 2:1. I tend to put more of the subject into the paper as the size of paper reduces.

The larger the image, the more detail I put in.

After Inktober I painted about 15 ATC images as watercolour versions of the monochrome Inktober subjects.

I recommend doing this on a daily basis as a journaling exercise, as a warm up before starting a bigger picture, as a quick reference for the same reason, or as a means to get ideas on paper. This can be done on ATC paper or in a journal – the idea being to be spontaneous and productive.

While I was in Edinburgh I bought some pads of A4 and A3 paper. I made a start in an A3 painting but never finished. The size of the paper requires other considerations: brush size, amount of water used for wetting the paper and mixing the paint, and drying time. It is so much easier to be quick and spontaneous at thumbnail size that at A3.

Yet, in my school days, all of my painting was done at A3 or larger.

So in order to progress I need to set aside time to quickly progress in paper size till I feel comfortable at the larger scale projects.

If you haven’t already do so please have a look at Karl Marten’s work: large sheets of beautiful paper, big brush size, and a mix of subject knowledge and artistic competence that allows him to seemingly throw down an image that captures the character of his subject with ease. That is my goal.

Why am I doing this? Well, partly because I started down the path while at school and am now determined to finish what I started, perhaps in memory of those who encouraged me who I feel deserved more effort on my part.

Also, I love art and birds!


Catching up

Firecrest (Regulus ignicapilla)

The last two weeks were busy ones for me as I packed up my stuff and left Edinburgh to move to Erice, Sicily, were my mother had unfortunately fractured her back in an accident. The hospital was trying to kick her out and send her home so I decided to intervene. A 92-year-old lady needs physio and support. So that brought me back to Erice after just a few months since my June / July visit.

I myself then managed to get hospitalised, for a day, with some renal issue but now back to normal so got out my painting gear.

Yesterday afternoon I painted a Firecrest, a tiny bird that we used to see a lot of in our Sussex garden when we lived there. Difficult to photograph these little chaps but perseverance pays off. As we lived in a rural area we were blessed with a large number of species so I plan to paint as many as I can.

Today, as it was raining and as my mother insisted that I stay indoors, I decided on a Purple-rumpled Sunbird. I saw these birds most weekend when visiting the botanical gardens in Hyderabad where I lived for a few years.

Purple-rumped Sunbird (Leptocoma zeylonica)

Not quite as capable of hovering in flight as a hummingbird, these Indian birds will sometimes sip nectar from flowers while in flight but are usually seen hanging from flowers and twigs, often upside down.

Next bird … maybe a Treepie from India?

I used Winsor and Newton watercolour paints on hot pressed satin grain paper for these two paintings: A4 size (210 mm x 297 mm)

Festive Coquette

Festive Coquette  (Lophornis chalybeus)

I saw this lovely hummingbird in the Atlantic Rainforest near Curitiba (south Brazil) when I used to live there until about 10 years ago.

I was lucky enough to get a few photos but as it was quite misty (as it usually is on the mountains in early morning) the photos serve only for reference. I used to go the rainforest, a section known as the Graciosa Trail, once a month when I lived in Curitiba.

And now some photography

Proof prints – “Gaucho” Series 1

At last I found a printer with whom I feel comfortable in having my artwork printed. As a test I left a few of my “Gaucho” images which have been on the back-burner for about a year.

The reason it has taken so long is that I wanted to find and talk to the printer and to develop a relationship. I was also caught up with other priorities.

My plan is to sell these as Limited Edition prints so having had a chance to study the proof prints I can place an order, with directions on what I want, knowing that the end result will be what I want.

The final print run will take place next week (in the queue!).

The “Gaucho” series has been in plan fir over a year but I decided that rather than produce a series of a dozen or so pictures it would be better to break it up into several smaller sets.

This is set / series 1.

Uni Pin pens

Touros, Rio Grande do Norte, northeast Brazil …. the point in Brazil closest to Europe! Drawn with Uni Pin 0.5 fineliner made by Mitsubishi.

Although I have used a variety of “fine-liner” drawing pens the one that I’d used for Inktober was only the second time I had encountered and used the brand. I was so pleased with the feel of the pen that I decided to buy a set of 6 pens via Amazon*.

The set arrived today so I had a quick test and was not disappointed.

The packet is made of a durable plastic though the corners are a bit sharp. The pens clip onto the internal packaging so can be easily pulled out and, if you happen to be a bit Obsessive/Compulsive like me, they can be kept in order quite easily.

The six pen sizes range from the finest, 0.03, through 0.05, 0.1, 0.3, and 0.5 through to the thickest, 0.8, which is still a fine point.

I gave the pens a quick test. As I found during Inktober the inks are smudge-proof and water-proof so are great for using in pen and wash drawings. Time will tell if the nibs keep their point with age but I will not be able to comment for a while.

In the meantime I shall start using the pens tomorrow. I have a few drawings that I am keen to start on.

* About the product (I have no affiliation to either Amazon or the product – I just like it!)