Friday, 28 November 2014

self portraits at speed

It's an interesting exercise, drawing yourself.  The model is always available, and does what she's told; that's one of the reasons I tried it in the first place.  But the main aim was to have fun, and hopefully learn something along the way!   The first sketch was drawn standing in front of my bathroom mirror using Zig pens. It took about five minutes, and looked quite like me; an encouraging start . . .

 first thing in the morning!
© Teresa Newham
Not all the portraits turned out to be so accurate, but I wasn't too concerned about getting a likeness - the important thing was the practice.  The problem with staring at yourself in a mirror is exactly that - staring - and several goggle-eyed versions later I managed to produce the drawing below.  At least I'm not in my bathrobe this time:

properly dressed  . .  .
© Teresa Newham
My sole effort in pencil demonstrated another pitfall of self-portraiture: I'm looking fairly grim-faced here because I was concentrating so hard -  possibly because pencil is not my favourite medium.  It really wasn't as harrowing as you might think  . . .

my 'concentrating' face
© Teresa Newham
I had several trial runs with chalk pastel pencils before I produced anything I could share.  I took my time over this one - around half an hour.  Not quite in the spirit of producing a quick impression, but it's my favourite and arguably the closest to how I really look, although I have slimmed my face down a bit:

playing with pastels
© Teresa Newham
At this point the whole project ground to a halt because I developed pneumonia.  As a result I didn't touch a pen, pencil or brush for nearly two months, until a few days ago, when I dashed off the pen and wash below in about fifteen minutes. At this point I should reassure the squeamish that although I'm still recovering, I don't look quite this bad;  I could put the result down to my drawing being a bit rusty, or maybe I was just channeling how I felt about my recent illness . . .

speedy pen & wash - well, I have been ill . . . .!
© Teresa Newham
So I won't be putting myself forward for Sky Arts Portrait Artist of the Year just yet, but, as I thought, I've had lots of fun making these quick sketches, which is what it's all about.  I love playing!

Monday, 17 November 2014

painting the park

My favourite painting amongst those I've produced this year has to be Rothamsted Park.  Like much of my work, it started with a feeling and a photo, and took almost a year to bring about.  The photo was taken at ten to nine on a lovely early September morning in 2013.  In my previous life I would have been halfway to London on the train; yet here I was with sunlight streaming through the leaves and not a soul about.  I've taken many photos of the park since, but I'm most fond of this one, largely because of the way I felt when I took it.

initial photo of Rothamsted Park
© Teresa Newham

It was July this year before I got round to making anything from the photo; I started as usual with a couple of wet watercolour washes and let them dry more or less as they wanted, runbacks and all:

first washes
© Teresa Newham
I didn't want to stick too closely to the photo, so I added in some fairly random splodges of green and red to suggest where the grass and the path might be.

adding colour
© Teresa Newham
Now for the trees - to get the effect of sunlight I blocked these in using yellow and red first, and hinted at the first of the fallen leaves beneath them.

blocking in the trees
© Teresa Newham
The next step was to firm up the trunks of the trees and give them some leaves, without losing the effect of the sunlight.

trunks and leaves
© Teresa Newham

Finally I added the shadows at the base of the trees, which gave the painting the atmosphere I wanted!

Rothamsted Park - the finished watercolour
© Teresa Newham

This painting makes me smile every time I look at it; I've shown it at Herts Open Studios and the Harpenden Art Club's annual exhibition.  I hope it's had the same effect on everyone!