Tag Archives: sketching

Travel – Woohoo!!

Outdoor space under a vine-covered pergola (in my mother’s garden, Erice, Sicily

The little shady spot, in the photo above, is going to be where I shall sit painting, drawing and writing under the shade of the grape vine for a short time in the six-weeks that I shall be travelling.

This is the first time since the start of the pandemic that I have been able to travel and I shall, in effect, be re-tracing my steps to where I was before corvid began.

I used to be able to travel frequently (for many years I was aboard an aircraft at a rate, on average, of one flight per week) but my logistics planning skills hadn’t been forgotten. In truth they slowed a bit but part of that slowness was due to a degree of anxiety and depression: the anxiety caused by a tight budget and the depression (albeit slight, as I have regular ebbs and flows) as a result of the financial situation and the realisation that I need to sell more just to be able to visit by family in Europe. Boo hoo.Poor me. Life goes on so stay strong.

Apart from visiting my mother and most (hopefully all) of my many beautiful daughters, and my grand-children, I shall be writing reviews of my travels, as I usually did in the past. This includes quite a bit of photography, so there should be some food reviews and images to publish. I have, for budgetary reasons, had to limit the number of hotels and meals I can include in my trip. I expect to lose weight!

I will be taking my paints and watercolour journal with me so expect to have material to produce some paintings on my return to Brazil. One important thing to do on this trip is to buy watercolour paints and paper. My stocks have been in short supply for most of this year, hence I have not been particularly productive.

My ceramic tile designs have been quite successful so, while in Sicily, I shall be looking for inspiration and hope to release a new range or two when I get back.

The travel arrangements include:

  • 10 flights
  • 7 buses
  • 5 trains
  • 2 boats (ferry)
  • metro and taxi
  • 3 hotels

Although much of the accommodation will be with family I would, in the past, have added 5 hotel stays to ensure I stay well-rested and healthy! I doubt I will cut back in future so shall plan and ensure I have adequate funding for the entire trip. Being frugal is one thing but health, especially at my age, is just as important.

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I hope my next few travel-related posts will be entertaining!


January Update

Wrinkled Hornbill (Rhabdotorrhinus corrugatus)

A busy month that has flown by.

My register of completed work indicates that I produced 48 paintings during the month, though that level of productivity is due mainly to a focus of lots of small bird head portraits. I tend not to worry about the number of paintings I produce, my main objective is to enjoy the art.

Two of my paintings in January were of birds created in acrylics using a palette knife on 30 cm x 40 cm canvas, the others were painted in watercolour, though 6 of these incorporated the use of Indian ink.

All but 8 of the 46 watercolours were, like the Hornbill above, approximately A6 in size (15 cm x 10.5 cm or 15 cm x 12 cm). As ever, the majority of subjects were birds or bird heads though I did a few landscapes and florals.

Campo Flicker (Colaptes campestris)
Great Blue Heron

The Shootstock website is still being updated as I held off to ensure the January paintings were all incorporated.

Paintings will, shortly, be uploaded for sale on Saatchi or my Pipra Rosa Etsy store.

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Shoot Stock News

Shoot Stock

The Shoot Stock site has been updated though I am still wrestling with how to seamlessly connect additional pages to a section. Something to look into when I have some spare time as, although not difficult, I want to avoid coding which I used to do on my sites in the past.

A number of paintings have been recently uploaded to Saatchi Art, either for sale or simply to show what I have been working on on commission or for me.

The new large acrylics are not on sale as I have no idea how to crate them up. Finding a supplier takes time and the impact of the pandemic creates issues. Once I have worked out the methodology and cost I will be able to offer large format paintings for sale.

I plan to have a regular re-fresh of the paintings available on Saatchi Art so that I retain about 100 images on view with 10% only for show (ie already sold or not for sale), that is to say that there will be about 90 paintings available for sale via this channel. The older ones, that I remove from Saatchi Art, will be shown separately on my Shoot Stock site and may go on sale via my ETSY store.

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Wat Arun, Bangkok

For the past 2 years, actually since November 2019, I have kept track of my paintings by employing a register based on Stock Keeping Unit (SKU) reference numbers. Prior to that I simply kept a note of paintings by subject. But after I had painted several similar subjects I felt it necessary to keep note of subjects painted in more detail. In this way I can avoid confusion over paintings that are of interest to prospective buyers and those paintings that have been sold.

I was updating my SKU list yesterday when I noted that in June and this last month (August), to date, there have been few additions to the register. July was not a great month but I was producing only one painting every two days on average. My target is a lot higher – I aim to product at least one painting per day. On a good day I can complete 6 paintings in a day though on one particularly productive day in January I did manage 36! The point to note in respect of this record day is that the subject matter was simple and done in pen and ink.

The last two weeks of August were below average in productivity for several reasons but my mood has been the main issue. I feel I am in the doldrums, with no wind or current to push me in any particular direction. Fuelling this lack of motivation is the frequent need to change plans or to to go out to attend to administrative requirements.

Despite the situation I do force myself to do two things: sketch in my journal or of paper, and log into YouTube videos to learn new techniques or different forms of creativity. Learning has to be one of the most beneficial acts anyone can conduct. I try to learn something new every day.

So, to snap me out of this lack of motivation I plan to plan! This weekend shall be devoted to building a list of subjects to complete in the following week. If possible I shall prepare outlines ready for painting though I prefer start paintings with a blank sheet of paper and complete the outlining as part of the painting process – I can think things through while doing the outline sketch which helps me when I start putting paint on the paper.

Angkor Wat, Cambodia

Somewhere in Paris – Montmarte I think but my memory is bad!

Trapani, Sicily (Torre di Legny)

I forgot to post this when it was written at the end of August. It is now the end of September so I have clearly failed to post on the normal weekly basis! I therefore have a bit of catching up to do.

My next post will cover the success (or failure!) in my plan of plans, and will provide an update of what I have done during the month.

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Venetian landscape

Veneto farmhouse on A3 paper

This week was severely disrupted by things happening, or not happening when expected, so I only managed to paint a landscape (two versions) and do a portrait drawing in pencil.

The landscape is a view of a farmhouse near the town of Porto Santa Margherita, Veneto, where my mother lived for many years. Whenever I visited I would often drive out into the countryside to take photographs of the farms, waterways and villages.

Earlier version on A4 paper

I had experimented with the view of the farmhouse on A4 paper but wasn’t happy with the either the composition or the lines. There are elements in both versions that I like so I may have another try when time permits. The hills in the background, foothills that lead up to the Dolomites much further to the north, were not included and I would like to put emphasis on the flatness of the land. There is a river beyond the tree-line but otherwise trees in the landscape are less noticeable.

There are actually three trees in front of the farmhouse, as painted in the A3 version, but I had separated them in the earlier version.

I hope I can clear all administrative tasks over the weekend and allow time to catch up on my painting projects next week.

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Subtle dfferences

In last weeks post I said I was not entirely happy with the drawing of the Doge’s Palace, specifically that I felt it needed more contrast to accentuate the Palace.

A close critical look was taken to see what I could do. The first action I took was to erase the shading on the facade of the palace. This wasn’t easy, in fact I made it worse in parts through smudging and had to redraw some windows as a result. An advantage of pencil drawing is that it is fairly easy to make corrections. Anyway, this action helped to boost the contrast and highlight the subject better. Job done, almost.

The side by side photos are not a great indicator as they were taken at different times. Obviously I cant retake the initial version.

I then added more shade to the right hand side of all buildings. There was a temptation to do more but I decided it was best to be guided by the level of contrast at the corner of the Doge’s Palace.

The building between the palace and the Danieli hotel, on the right, is partially in the shade of the palace so I added shadow to fix this.

The end result is, for me, better.

Pencil drawing is something I love to do. I haven’t done much of it in recent years and that is something I need to fix. When I schedule my projects for the month I shall ensure that there is at least one large (A3) drawing among those subjects, and I suspect that for the remainder of this year I shall draw Venetian scenes.

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Pencil, for a change

My list of things to do, that I wanted to do once I had a fresh stock of paper, included doing a large pencil drawing. I hadn’t done much pencil work since I left school many, many years ago but it was, and remains, a medium that I love.

Having done some quick pencil sketches in my journal I decided to stay with what is a favourite subject of mine, painting and photography, and do a Venetian landscape. It took about 8 hours over three days (lots of interruptions!) and provided me with a few things to remember for future drawing, principally:

– use hot-pressed paper if I want good detail

– start at the top left and work down to the right (I am right-handed)

This is the “finished” drawing though I feel I need to do some more work on it:

Doge’s Palace from San Marco Basin

Venice is a fabulous and photogenic city that I had the privilege of visiting on numerous occasions. My mother used to live not far from the City of Canals, in a fishing village that became a popular holiday resort for Austrians as well as local people. Her father was from Veneto. Hence I enjoy painting and photographing Venetian scenes having had the opportunity to explore the countless alleys and waterways of the city.

The reason I like pencil work is that it is monochrome (as was my early photography) so tones and textures are an important feature.

I started the piece by lightly doing a rough outline sketch based on my chosen reference photo. Next I made adjustments to the composition before making a start on the drawing. It was at this stage that I realised the light roughness of the paper was not going to give the results that I wanted to achieve. The options were to continue or to re-think how I wanted to do the drawing eg by using the texture to make a looser design. I chose to continue as I had originally planned.

The texture of the paper is visible here, making the shadow area difficult to see

The problem was that my pencil work became uneven. Where I had envisaged smooth dark areas the pencil marks were unevenly spread over the texture. Not a major issue but when I get some smooth hot-pressed paper I will be able to get the results I wanted.

I have plenty of pencils in hand. The majority, that are used for outline sketches for watercolour paintings, are basic pencils that I have collected from hotels while on my travels. The majority of my “good” pencils are Staedtler Mars Lumograph pencils. I have a few old, but hardly used Venus pencils (F, HB and 2B) and an old set of Lyrato Ceder 666 pencils that have interesting grades (1 = 3B, 1 1/2 = 2B, 2 = B, 2 1/2 = HB and 3 1/2 = H). These are my preferred pencils and I hope I have more of them. While searching I also found a set of Masters pencils (3H to 6B) that seem to have been hand-finished but, other than that, I have no idea who manufactured them or where. I need to test them!

One thing I do not like about my Venice drawing, which I do not consider finished yet, is that although facade of the Doge’s Palace is in fact decorated with a pattern of cream and beige tiles (or bricks) the treatment of the drawing would be improved if I had not shaded the facade and left it plain white. This would make it stand out a bit more. I could also darken some of the shadow areas to help accentuate focus in the scene by providing more contrast and stronger tonal value range.

I shall review the drawing next week and do what I think is needed. The advantage of pencil drawing is that an eraser and pencils can always be applied at a later date.

So, next week I hope to finish the drawing and compare the two versions ie the one shown above and the final one. I shall also look at the pencils that I have in my collection to compare them and decide which I really like.

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Weekend Fun

Ballerina Betta-fish

I thought I would try a Domestika course at the weekend as this pandemic has us in a continued lockdown of sorts (a relatively loose term here in Brazil where people and some members of government still do not believe the virus is a threat despite the high mortality level!).

While most of the courses on offer are conducted in Spanish this isn’t an issue for me as I spent some time in Mexico, but I found one that grabbed my attention that is in English: Surrealistic Fineliner Illustration by Redmer Hoekstra.

This was a fun course. As I have used fineliners in the past for line and wash drawings I have a few pens in stock. I’ve done detailed monochrome drawings in pencil, which gave me an advantage in approach, but I could see advantages in doing a course like this as it is a great way to draw as well as a way to think creatively.

I have done other Domestika courses to reinforce my skills or to develop a new skill. There are plenty of learning resources on You Tube (free) but sometimes it is better to pay a little to get support included in the learning process. It is easy to browse the courses, there are plenty available, and to check the languages in which they are conducted. All have subtitles but I have never been good at trying to read and follow a video at the same time – same applies with films – therefore I watch them in Spanish and re-watch if there is anything I missed.

Because most courses seem to be aimed at beginners I think anyone wanting to learn a skill will find the courses of value.

Another thing that can be done with these drawings, as they are in ink, is to do a watercolour wash to produce something different. I scanned and copied the original drawing then did the wash to produce this:

Wash over ink version

I prefer the monochrome drawing but I think the colour version is quite nice too.

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Eurasian Hoopoe

Eurasian Hoopoe (Upupa epops)

The Hoopoe can be found in Europe, Africa and Asia. I have seen them in the south of England, in Cyprus, Sicily, Bahrain, India, Egypt and South Africa. The sightings in India was, I believe, a subspecies Upupa marginata while the South African bird was Upupa africana.

They all look pretty well the same and used to be considered a single species (U.epops).

The one I painted was from I photograph that I took of the bird in a tree near Cairo, Egypt, a few years ago.

I first prepared a sketch of the Hoopoe in my journal. I then used the drawing to create a tonal value sketch to identify the highlights, mid-tones and the darkest areas.

Initial sketch in pencil

I then transferred the sketch to watercolour paper, painted the lightest tones of raw sienna and Paynes gray to give me a head start in painting, leaving a few areas of unpainted paper for the highlights, and then started, as I usually do, to paint the eye and beak.

tonal value study in pencil

The Hoopoe generally keeps its crest lowered but when lifted it varies in state from neat and attractive to scruffy and comical. I decided to paint a version with its crest up, again from a photo taken in Egypt.


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