Monthly Archives: May 2021

An unproductive week

Part of a magpie painting in sumi-e style

When I am lucky I can produce six or seven paintings in a day, assuming I have a clear idea of what I want to paint and knowing that there will be no interruptions. I could possibly do more.

This week has been terrible in respect of disruptions with each day requiring me to spend most of the day on the road for various reasons. That’s life. In consequence I was unable to plan or execute anything worthwhile.

In the evenings, to keep myself as motivated as possible, I forced myself into painting a landscape, which failed, and a bird painting on my last sheet of A3 paper.

The bird, a Tickell’s Blue Flycatcher from my days in India, was a subject I had been considering for a while. But that too failed while painting the head. The eyes and beak are fine but the rest caused me to put down my brush and consider options.

One is to wash out the areas and re-try but its not a thing I like to do. The second option is to scrap the painting altogether and cut the white areas to use for smaller paintings.

The third option, that I think may work best, is to finish the painting with either gouache or acrylic paint. That is the same option that I am considering for the landscape painting.

Aside from those paintings I did a couple of Sumi-e exercises in my journal. I have two chinese/japanese painting sets with, between them, lots of ink in the form of ink sticks and eight brushes. Luckily the two sets are sufficiently different to give me 8 brushes without duplication.

Bamboo. Sumi-e style

As I am out of paper stock, and running short of quality watercolour paint, I may focus on acrylic painting next month ie from Monday onwards.

Abstract. Sumi-e style

I may devote more time to sumi-e painting as it is relaxing – I need to de-stress. I am normally good at dealing with stress but things are a bit difficult at the moment.

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Flora and Fauna

A Longhorn Beetle (species unknown)

After taking a short break from painting birds I resumed my focus on my feathered friends, painting 5 during the past 7 days though I also painted a Longhorn Beetle and a couple of flowers.

The Longhorn was painted from a photo I took of the odd creature that was on my porch. It looks like an Ivory-marked Borer but the markings are different and located in different places on its body. Hopefully I will be able to identify it later..

Rosy Starling

This Rosy Starling was one of a group of winter migrants that arrived in India while I was there. The exact location was at the Qutb Shahi Tombs in Hyderabad.

Common Foxglove

The foxglove (Digitalis purpurea) is a common wild flower in UK. This one was photographed by me in the Sussex countryside when I lived there years ago.

Venus Slipper Orchid

I finished this one yesterday. It is a Slipper Orchid (Pahphiopedilum insigne) that I bought and photographed in Curitiba, again years ago, when I lived there. The flowers originate from the NE of India and Myanmar.

The floral paintings were done on A4 size paper while the beetle and the starling were on A3.

I haven’t decided what to paint next week but may do another mix of subjects.

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Experiment in ink

This week has not been as productive as I would have liked – not even one painting per day completed! In fact I did three on Wednesday and one yesterday.

The three that I did midweek were, as the title above implies, an experiment in drawing ink.

I used a set of Winsor and Newton drawing inks. The pack contains eight small (14 ml) glass bottles of ink that I used undiluted and applied with watercolour brushes.

The subjects were Nagajubans which are traditional Japanese robes worn as undergarments beneath a kimono, so as to avoid the complicated process of cleaning the kimono. From what I can see these robes are generally colourless to avoid clashing with the beautiful kimono patterns. I have to admit my ignorance of such things as, although I lived for about 15 years in Asia, my only visits to Japan were in Tokyo airport (so does not count as a country visit!).

Nagajuban: Blue with gold chrysanthemum, Yellow with cherry blossom and Green with yellow magnolias. Each painted on A3 watercolour paper.

My objectives were firstly to try out the inks that I had only used before to see their colours on paper, and to create a set of paintings that was interesting and unusual.

Learning points:

The colours can be mixed, though I used each separately.

The colours are not fast. Layering caused them to bleed, so care is needed to keep colours separate. I used the bleeding to my advantage in the yellow nagajuban by first painting the yellow, then terracotta in multiple layers for the branches, red, deep red and plum for the cherry blossom, and finally another layer of yellow that softened the blossom.

The colours dried quickly. That is no surprise to me as I live in a hot climate and have challenges when painting in watercolour. I had to apply a second layer to hide the brush marks, though this proved advantageous in creating an impression of texture in the material.

The pack contains black paper indian ink (waterproof) and seven water-based colours: ultramarine, purple, brilliant green, peat brown, sunshine yellow, vermillion and deep red.

I signed the pieces with both my regular painting signature and a gago-in (the hanko or signature stamp known in china as a chop, from the Hindi word chapa) – I have a couple of Japanese / Chinese painting sets which included chops ready to carve my “signature”

An interesting experiment. I may do more ink experiments in future.

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