Vegetables are always a good idea. To sketch. The winter vegetables with their bland colours aren’t always that exciting to paint, but in that fact lies the challenge. It is easy to splash the reds and yellows in summer foods, but what with the black and beiges of winter root vegetables. for this exercise I chose kohlrabi, not a vegetable I particularly like eating and black Spanish radish.
Kohl rabi and black Spanish radish.
Mini TWSBI pen and watercolour in Daler Rowney sketchbook, 29X21cm
Painting those veggies.
One of my favorite paces to lunge for my sketchbook, is in Cafe Douceur in Beaulieu sur Dordogne. Such a welcoming lieu, you keep drinking coffee just to have an excuse to linger longer.
coffee corner in Cafe Douceur
Ink and a wash in Stillman & Birn sketchbook, 14X22cm
Coffee at Voyageurs
Pen and watercolour in Stillman & birn sketchbook, 14X22cm
Sketching faces in St Céré
Pen and watercolour washes in moleskine, 22X14cm
I had the opportunity to sit down for a coffee today on the terrace and had some men close-by to sketch. Some people don’t mind to be sketched, but the majority feel uncomfortable with being the subject. Fortunately today’s subjects were so busy with their own thing, they didn’t notice me who was hiding behind a big plant…sort of. I am very rusty on sketching people…there was a time I did it almost every day and now it happens once a year, for exactly the reason I mentioned…getting rebuked by people who don’t want the attention. Nonetheless..I present to you…the three men.all done in moleskin book(which is a little too light for my watery brushstrokes and the colour bled through to the back of the page. I don’t mind bucking pages, but I fiercely dislike colour going seeping through the paper.
pen and watercolour washes in moleskine, 22.5X13.5cm
Still digging deep to jiggle my art back up, I sat in the coffee shop this cold and miserably grey morning, squiggling lines left and right. After a while I gave up, closed the Stillman & Birn and rove to the garden center, where I loaded my cart with shrubs and trees and perennials. Everybody else was buying forced bulbs for their homes. I was probably the single person in France out in the cold rain, behaving only as one should in the midst of spring…going out on the planting. Well. It helped. I feel I can take on some more sketching this evening…make my hands work while my head is in spring, planting.
chairs and coffee table in coffee shop
pencil in Stillman 1 Birn sketchbook, 14.5X22.5cm
Potplants in coffee bar
Watercolour washes and Pentel brush pen in Stillman & birn sketchbook, 14.5X22.5cm
Hard to believe that February is here. That actually suits me fne. The worst month, January, is over. Now I can start thinking of spring and the garden and planting…
But first I have to get my dried up art process going. February is a perfect month to do just that. I have done several sketches and these two turned out the best. It is Tokala, one of my two beautiful cats, who always remind me of the heather in Scotland.
watercolour pencils and mini TWSBI pen in moleskine, 21X13cm
My mojo has left me since October/November last year with absolutely just no desire to put pen to paper or a brush to the canvas. The intention was there, many a time, but the execution didn’t happen. It was that typical staring at a blank page, at a blank canvas and realizing that even the mind was blank. So what does that say about ignoring inspiration or mood and just get on with it, regarding art as a job that needs to be done. I don’t have the answer. I can only say that if it were my job and I worked for a boss, I would’ve probably been fired.
Rutabagas, turnips and beetroot.
sketches in watercolor and pen in Arches watercolorbook HP, 18x26cm
I even went to see a Picasso exhibit, trying to find the desire to paint, but to no avail. No desire. No wanting it. I had a faint glimpse of my old desire today when I picked up a rutabaga(swede) for dinner tonight. I looked at it and thought by myself that it was a vegetable I haven’t sketched yet and I wondered why… a trigger as simple as that. Not that I am now suddenly overcome with desire to splash the paints, not at all. On the contrary. I wonder what o do tomorrow. But I am grateful for at least having a sketch done today, before January runs out. Tomorrow’s day will have to see to itself.
I have been asked so many times how I do my splashes and after another request from Sophia, I thought I could do a pôst to explain how I splash ans splotch. have forever been doing splashes in my watercolor paintings and sketches. I paint and sketch with a big brush and loads of pigment and water and the splashes almost happen all by itself on my page. There are times though that I use splashes to emphasize or create a certain effect or atmosphere. It all depends on the sketch or painting. I notice that it has become very fashionable in the sketching world to use splashes which is great. But sometimes a sketch can look out of sorts with splashes, which either don’t fit the style of painting or the subject doesn’t ask for splashes, and so it appears on sketches just because it is fashionable. I love my splashes, but I don’t use them every time and with every subject. I would like to see that watercolor work show more discretion when using splashes, before it ruins an already perfect watercolour painting or sketch.
Old french bowls 1…without any splashes. This sketch was done using watercolor, watercolorpencils and white gouache. I overworked the sketch somewhat, so the bottom bowl started losing its shape.
Old french bowls 3, with blue splotches and 1 red splash which I added simply to “accompany” my signing). I used only watercolour and pen for this sketch
Old french bowls 4, with brown spatters on the right side, dark red splotches at the bottom and 1 lilac splash(for my name). In my opinion, on this sketch, less spattering or even none would have been fine, I added the spatters etc for demonstration.
When working in watercolor, I use only one brush, usually my Rosemary sable 12. My splashes are done right at the end with the same brush. Depending on the subject and the atmosphere I want to add to my sketch/painting, I choose from 3 different types of splashes. I call them for my own use, splashes, splotches and spatters.
*Splotches are the small, smaller then the splashes, but bigger, but bigger than the small spatters. To get these dropletys, I load my brush a fair amount of water and colour and hold the brush up straight while I shake the brush in quick upward and downward movements to release the droplets.
*Spatters are those tiny droplets that sometime happen a line or a curve. I get them by loading my brush with not too much water and then flick my finger on the brush to spatter the colour, which most of the time, are small droplets which end up in a line on the paper.
Splashes are the large round drops dropped from a high distance above the paper. I fill the brush with color and water, stand up over the paper to keep my eye on the spot I want to drop a splash and press the brush at the tip to form a drop which splashes on the paper.
To illustrate some of my splashes and splotches etc, here are some of my previous work.
Two Siberian iris sketches – Left: Only 2 big splashes. The line work and minimalist appearance of the sketch doesn’t welcome tiny spatters of colour, it would only distract. Right: The more loose watery interpretation allows for some large splashes as well as some spattering. It adds to a frivolous interpretation and could suggest picking of the irises, blowing in the wind, petals falling…movement.
Some more examples of where splashes work and where not:
In the bottom sketch, splashes don’t belong..it is already a very busy sketch with lots of information.
The sunflower just asks for some splattering…suggesting bees working, pollen blowing in the wind, petals falling off… movement.In the sketch below, I used only a green splash and blue splotches to suggest sky and leaves and I like the effect of stark lines with the contrasting wild bursts of colour.
I hope this explained a bit my thinking and use of splashes, splotches and spatters.
Until next time