Thursday, 27 September 2012

shell sketches

Open Studios is nearly finished for another year, and it's been a lot of fun.  And I've learned a lot; principally by demonstrating a number of techniques, some of which I hadn't used for some time!

shells - colour photo

I took as my subject for the demos two shells which sit, along with many others, on my bathroom windowsill.  I'd had a vague idea that I could do something arty with them for some time; and when I was casting around for something small and portable to take to Artscape, I realised they were ideal.  I started with photography (see above), but when it came to sketching and painting them I was careful to stick to the original still life.

shells - pencil

My first big discovery was that although I hadn't drawn anything for ages, I still had the knack;  my second was that I didn't dislike drawing in pencil as much as I thought I did.  This prejudice dates back to my life drawing classes;  it was always much easier to render the subject in charcoal.  For small items like the shells, however, pencil was fine;  better than charcoal in fact, as you can see from my next attempt below:

shells - charcoal

For my third drawing I'd dug out some chalk pastel pencils I bought for some course or other and never used.  I surprised myself with the result;  I'm not comfortable with pastels but still managed to produce a decent depiction of the shells.  Both the charcoal and the pastel sketches had to be fixed of course, and I hadn't done any of that for a while; I used enough fixative for a whole A2 drawing on each of my little A5 sketches, which resulted in me standing in the Artscape car park for some time, folornly waving two pieces of paper around (never, ever use fixative indoors if you can avoid doing so; and if you have to, make sure you're in a well ventilated room. At Central St Martins we used to use the staircase!).

shells - chalk pastel pencils

Three reasonable sketches in one afternoon did wonders for my confidence; for my second session I brought along my trusty ink pens.  This next drawing was quite a struggle, as I normally only draw outlines in ink;  but I managed to make them look reasonably solid by adding a shadow underneath, thanks to some constructive feedback from one of my fellow artists!

shells - pen

The second half of that afternoon saw me back in my comfort zone with a pen and watercolour wash of the shells.  You would have thought I was used to drawing them by now, but no;  I was cautious enough to do a pencil outline first before committing the ink to paper.  It took a while to get the paint right, too, but eventually I was happy enough with the result:

shells - pen and watercolour wash

For the third session I took along a watercolour block and my set of sketching hard pan watercolours. This time I drew straight on to the paper with my brush, and blended the colours on the paper.  Again and again, actually; I was lucky that the paper I chose will take multiple washes as I tried several times before I got the colours right!

shells - watercolour

I wasn't the only artist doing demonstrations, of course:  Sue has been painting some animal watercolours.  I'm fascinated by her palette, which apparently contains colour mixes of some antiquity!

Sue's palette

Hillary's been adding a high tech element to our exhibition by demonstrating graphic art on a small HP laptop.  Our visitors have been really interested in the resulting cityscapes and we're all fascinated by our fellow-exhibitors approaches to their work!

Hillary's high tech graphic art

Helen has been showing how she prepares drawings and cuts them into lino to make her prints - unfortunately I don't have any photos to share on this blog, but she explains a little of the process here on her website.

my shells  in various media

So, after three afternoons' work I was able to show seven treatments of my little shells, and I'd thoroughly enjoyed doing each one.  The fourth session will give me the chance to try one more medium; but I may not be able to share the results for a while.  We'll see!!

1 comment:

  1. A beautiful set of small artworks and a fascinating exposition of the different techniques used. These would make some good cards!