Monday, 30 May 2016

Cricklade artist's book

I am still working on the Cricklade booklet. I thought I had got to the stage where it could finally be assembled, but I have a blank page at the end which I feel needs another image …. back to the drawing board!

The book measures 4” x 6”, with 12 pages including original pen and watercolour drawings and computer printed text. The front cover will be decorated with the cast paper image.

Saturday, 21 May 2016

Watercolour miniatures

Early on in my artistic endeavours I painted watercolour miniatures, mostly of floral subjects, exhibiting with the Royal Society of Miniature Painters for a couple of years and as a member of the Hilliard Society of Miniaturists for ten years. Most of these works measured no more than 2” square. My current work is still quite modest in size, but now I don't often produce a finished painting that is quite so small – a bit of a strain on ageing eyesight! Here are a handful of examples (I now can't believe I managed to add my initials in such tiny letters).

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

More handmade books

A handful of artists' books from the archives.

Approx. 5" x 3.5"
Wax resist and acrylic painted cover, lino printed images inside and computer printed text

Approx. 6.5" x 4" x 4"
Decorated with acrylic inks

8" x 6" photo album with black pages

A flutter book structure 4.5" x 6"
The flutter book was made on a bookbinding course using plain paper.  Ideally, it should be made with decorated paper from the start as it is difficult to add images and text after completion.

Friday, 13 May 2016

A well, a Maharajah and a red kite

Earlier this week we visited a friend in Henley-on-Thames. Unfortunately the recent sunny weather had given way to fairly consistent rain, but that didn't deter us from heading out for a tour of the many bluebell woods in the area. Suitably donned in boots and waterproofs we visited the woodlands of Greys Court and Nuffield Place (both National Trust properties). We also made a brief stop at the small village of Stoke Row which boasts a 368 ft. deep well with a very ornate, Indian-inspired superstructure. This, together with a tiny cottage for the Well Warden, was built in the 1860's with funds donated by the Maharajah of Benares. 

Red kites are now well established in the Chilterns, so an added bonus was being able to get some shots of one of these magnificent birds at reasonably close quarters. 

The Maharajah's Well - pen and wash 2" x 3"

Pen and wash approx. 3" x 3"

Red kite

Wednesday, 11 May 2016

Sundial sketch

Some glorious Spring weather at the weekend prompted me to head for the local park and enjoy the warm sunshine in the walled garden. I managed to do a quick pen and wash sketch of this sundial before the clouds gathered and I sped home on my trusty bicycle – just in time to escape the thunder and a torrential downpour.

Pen and wash sketch

PS Still getting to grips with posting - not sure why my previous post was published in such small type!  Hope you could read it OK.

Wednesday, 4 May 2016

Indian ink and gouache resist step-by-step

This scene was sketched while on holiday in Suffolk (UK), sitting on the village green overlooking these wonderful wonky houses and the general store with its very low lintel (hence its name “Duck or Grouse Village Store”).  The sun was shining, we had just finished the ice creams we had treated ourselves to at the village shop - a perfect opportunity for a quick pen and wash sketch before exploring the rest of the village.
Pen and wash sketch -  approx 7” x 4”
A couple of years later, an art club challenge to paint a shop front, had me choosing this subject from my travel journals.  I decided to crop out the far left of the pink building and, with reference to my sketch and a photo, I adjusted the Village Store for a head-on view, but left the cottages as they were. I enlarged and combined both sections on the computer for my final layout (10” x 6”).
Layout sketch - 10” x 6”
I have used this Indian ink and gouache resist technique on a number of occasions over the past few years and find it particularly suitable for depicting old buildings. So that was my choice of medium for this subject.
The layout was traced onto stretched watercolour paper and a variegated base watercolour wash laid down and allowed to dry – this wash enabled me to see more clearly where I was applying the white gouache which followed.. The gouache was carefully painted over this base, leaving proposed dark areas and outlines untouched for the subsequent Indian ink to sink into the paper. For areas I wanted to keep very light I made sure I applied a couple of layers of gouache; thinner applications will result in shaded or grey areas in the final piece.
Starting to apply white gouache over watercolour base (see tiles on lefthand roof)

The gouache needed to be thoroughly dry before using a wide flat brush to wash Indian ink quickly and with a light touch over the whole image – too much scrubbing and overlapping of brush strokes at this stage would disturb the gouache layer too soon. After another period of drying, it was time to put the painting under the tap, still taped to its backing board - with the aid of a stiff brush the gouache dissolved, removing most of the ink over it, but leaving the areas untouched by the gouache clearly defined.
Under the tap and washing off the ink
Another patient wait for the work to dry and assess the outcome. After this drastic process most of the watercolour base had also been washed off so more saturated watercolour washes were added. Normally I would consider the painting finished now, but on this occasion I obviously hadn’t applied the gouache thickly enough in places and this left me with some areas which I considered were far too dark. Rather than abandon the painting after all that effort I opted to try and make the necessary adjustments with some white acrylic and pastel. Fortunately, my alterations blended in well.
It is a rather convoluted process and the reveal after washing off the ink is often a surprise (not always welcome), but I quite like the “woodcut” appearance of the final painting.
Final image "Duck or Grouse Village Store" – 10” x 6” - Mixed Media

More paintings using this technique can be viewed in the Ink Resist Gallery page.

Monday, 2 May 2016

Art journal sketches

Whether on holiday or just an interesting day out, I try to make at least one sketch to go with my record of events. The following are some recent small pen and wash sketches – they are all roughly 3” x 3” :

The Nature in Art Gallery at Twigworth, Gloucestershire  

The Gothic Cottage at Stourhead, Wiltshire (a National Trust property)

The recently opened treetop walk at Westonbirt Arboretum, Gloucestershire