Quite often, as I lay half awake first thing in the morning, my mind wanders over the things I expect the new day will bring. This morning as I heard rain pelting down and thunder rumbling it dawned on me that I had set myself this challenge to sketch every day and that, given the dramatic weather outside, today was going to be…. let’s see…. interesting?!
Perhaps you noticed this is being written a day late? Honest, I did do my sketch challenge but getting the tech side of things sorted is time consuming and although I could have rushed it last night, it would have been pretty crappy because I was done. Now it is around five thirty in the morning and I can’t sleep so I have made myself a cup of Irish breakfast loose leaf tea and I’m all set to play catch up.
This is probably the best time to do this if truth be told? I’m rested, the house is still and quiet, the dog is gently snoozing on her little bed by the window while next door my wife is curled up cozily before the alarm goes off. Yesterday was a funny day, I think logistics got to me, my equipment wasn’t quite right on day one so I got a bigger bag and packed everything but the kitchen sink, this is not how I expected things to go. Tanzie, my one year old labradoodle was not interested in going out in the rain (despite sprinting out into the lake or sea at the drop of a hat) and protested at the appearance of her lead by playing hide and seek. When we got to the spot I’d planned to paint from a strange, socially awkward chap rocked up, ignored me and kinda sat right next to me and took his clothes off – I assumed it was to have a swim but I’d abandoned plan A and was scurrying off before I could find out, shame really because I rather liked the composition.
So, after a consolatory “you’ve just wasted an hour” cup of tea I decided to leave Tanzie to ponder out of the window and I headed down the slope from the rear of the house to sit on the bench there and sketch the view up where I’d come from. I could see the dog watching my every move thoroughly disapproving of my decision to cut her out from this activity (no-win situation) hmmm… needs must I suppose.
As mentioned yesterday I had chosen the Moleskine sketchbook, I like the heavier, rougher paper and just feel really comfortable using it right now. It seemed sensible to use two pages of the opened book and sketch out the tree line, so I set up my Lumix camera on a mini tripod behind me, set it to be controlled via smartphone and was happy with the tech stuff at that point. The photos were ok but a lot of fiddly time consuming stuff considering the value of the results. I think it is necessary to do this although the essence of what I’m doing really is to whip out a sketchbook and get an image down very quickly and without a fussy setting up procedure.
I like the composition of the interesting houses on the ridge looking up from my bench, the house on the left a modern contrast to the more traditional one on the right. I got some lines down quickly enough, needed only minor perspective line alterations (not saying I got it right but I used the pencil against life then transposed to paper as best I could without looking and feeling like a pretentious knob). As seems to be my present method I went over the pencil drawing in waterproof ink, I used a 0.2mm Rotring Tikki pen, I really like this one, the flow is nice however when the wash went down over it I began to wonder if it was actually waterproof because it looked like it was going to spread into the wet but it calmed down, I guess the ink just wasn’t dry before I wet the pages.
While this was happening I was getting quite a few “hellos” from people passing by. I really don’t mind this, in fact it was very pleasant and a welcome change to the more day to day ‘stranger denial’ local people have a tendency to have although, I believe it is a form of politeness here in Norway. So, using a Rosemary, size 10 round kolinsky sable sketching brush (the only one I used outside – I had far, far too many with me) the first wash on the sky went down, after it dried I was amazed at how much lighter it became (one to bear in mind for the future) but the foreground was more pleasing. The sky was a mix of magenta and ultramarine while the foreground greens and earth tones made up of pure yellow, quinacridone gold, geranium red, may green, cadmium green and caput mortuum as well as the sky wash. These were from my (much heavier, due to the porcelain insert) Schminke paint box. I love this box, the paints seem so much easier to work with and I have the colours laid out as I prefer.
Here are the colours carried in the box:
- Pure Yellow
- Quinacridone gold hue
- Geranium red
- Perylene red
- Purple magenta
- Delft blue
- French Ultramarine
- Cerulean blue hue
- May green
- Cobalt green dark
- Neutral tint
- Caput mortuum
The porcelain insert allows six other colours from tubes to be added so I have burnt sienna, cadmium orange, cobalt turquoise, cadmium green light, lemon yellow and cinerous blue. Most of these are made by Sennelier, they are nice but take a long time to dry in the pan and run out of it the paint box is not stored flat – tricky if it’s in a bag! I’m starting to feel drawn to the Schminke Horadam range. Ruling out othe manufacturers is a little misguided and I have a few Windsor & Newton tubes knocking about.
The weight and size of the box are not really light enough to make it ‘slip into your pocket and forget its there’ kinda transportable though, so I will have to address that or man up and use the W & N Cotman box (definitely got sound qualities going for it). Before I could get going on the buildings, large splats of rain started to hit me and then my sketchbook and I could see disaster looming. My gear was hurriedly packed away, an iPhone reference photo hastily snapped and I headed back up the slope to a very happy labradoodle.
After letting the painting dry I decided I’d have to do the best I could to complete it or get it presentable as a sketch before I could blog about it. Although the spirit of this blog is about giving a ‘warts and all’ view of sketching so it only seemed fair not to completely finish it… plus I had to get some food organised