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
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
It is only day 2 but boy, I am having so much fun! I feel inspired, enthusiastic creative and just in the zone…how many of you can say that this evening? I hope it will last the entire 31 day of August…and beyond. Of course it won’t, but even just a little bit of it will be good enough.
Starting off with my café, which helps get me in the “zone”, I sketches the géraniums just opposite. It was raining, the tourists took up all the other covered spots in our small village, so I didn’t have much choice of going out. In the end I am happy I stayed, it turned out not too bad, after initially starting off a bit slow…
- I used yellow on the walls with touches of burnt sienna.
- The roofs were done with ivory black and raw umber and blue.
- The shadows on the canopies were done with a light wash of cerulean blue.
- The geraniums done in cadmuim red and the greens in golden green, darkened with phtalo blue.
- In the shade of the canopy in the background, behind the people dining in the foreground, a touch of light black ivory was applied for shadows.
- In the foreground the people and tables just behind the stone wall, closest to me were done in bright burnt umber.
- And lastly some yellow ochre touches here and there when the sun came out…
It is a good idea to test the same colour of different brands, because they do sometimes differ. In the above sample at the bottom left I have compared the raw umber of W&N with that of Sennelier. I prefer the Sennelier raw umber which is cooler than that of the W&N.
From top left anticlockwise to bottom: warm grey, naples yellow, burnt umber, raw umber, burnt sienna, raw sienna, yellow ochre, cadmium yellow, cadmium yellow deep, lemon yellow.
My little pocket brushes are one from Arches…le petit gris nr 6, which broke at some time and I fixed it with tape and now it still works perfectly. The other is a Kolinsky that I have no idea where it is from. all I know is that I have used it for years, so much so that I have lost its cover and now use a piece of plastic that I found which fits over the brush. (See photos down below). So you can see, I am a bit like the mechanic whose car is always in pieces…But look ate those lovely brush points…hold as much or as little water as I want them to!
A new sketchbook from Daler & Rowney which I just discovered and am quite impressed with. The paper is not that heavy, only 160g, but it takes watercolor quite well and I don’t mind a little buckling in a sketchbook. The pocket brushes from top my precious Kolinsky nr 8 with its “unbecoming” plastic cover and the “repaired”petit gris nr 6 below.
..Kolinsky pocket brush 8..
..”taped” petit gris pocket brush 6
I am a lazy person. There you have it. My biggest secret revealed. If I don’t have deadlines and projects and goals, I fall in a slumber of doing less and less and less until I start enjoying doing less. In summer that can happen very easily with the holidays and lazy summer days, lingering by the pool…. So I decided to do some regular August sketching and get back to those sketches I haven’t done for months, years even. No summer laziness for me then, but pens and inks and aquarelle en all these new sketchbooks I’ve ordered and papers waiting to be turned into sketchbooks.
I use the rotring art pen quite a bit, and the ink allows me to add a little water(not too much) to bleed the lines. See the little sketch of the ink bottle below which was done with a rotring artpen.
I also love drawing with inks and especially J. Herbin and Sennelier inks. They are good inks, easy to find and much cheaper than ordering inks from other countries, just for the sake of having inks.
…See, the pens are waiting!…pen and J .Herbin ink, “Café des isles”
My palettes are organized and ready in waiting, mostly comprised of Sennelier and Winsor & Newton watercolor in tubes and pans. The palettes still need more cleaning, but you will never see perfectly clean around my art table..it confuses me completely and I can’t work…too afraid I’ll make mess!
Color chart of all the colors in my palettes. Sometimes I get confused and start using one color thinking it is another, especially if they are close in hue, so it is good to arrange and make sure the right colors are in their right places.
I use about 40 – 45 colors in the larger palette. .which stays at home. Not that I use all the colors every time of course. My tiny travel kit, which I have been using for years now, take about 16 colors which is just perfect.
Colors for my smaller palette…still deciding between some blues and yellows, but I’ll get there. I feel like change sometimes..
In a later post I will cover my use of color and palettes, the inks I love, the pens, pencils…all very simple. I am by far not so prolific and efficient as the urban sketchers or other daily sketchers out there. But more later in the month…this is just to get me started for the month of August.
So until tomorrow…sleep well!
An apple a day keeps the horses at bay…at least here at Coin Perdu. Our three adore their apples and know for sure that September means free apples picked from the apple tree.
..An apple a day..
Pen and watercolor on watercolor block, 23X31cm
With my apple-picking-excursion for this sketch, I once again realized the importance of having a sense of humor. I may have few outstanding qualities, but I have an extraordinary sense of humor and it is the one thing in which I have unshakable faith. It has saved me many a time. It has pulled me up when nothing else or no one else could. I know that however bad things may be today, tomorrow or the day after I will find the humor in it. So I always hang on, sometimes by a very thin thread, until that sense of humor kicks in. Like this afternoon. In heavy pouring rain, I slipped on the slopes, got almost fried by the electric fence and couldn’t reach the apples, so I had to shake the branches, which brought down a shower of apples and extra rains, most of them finding my head. The horses got highly excited by this downpour of apples and pushed my tiny frame discourteously out of the way with their extra large behinds. I grabbed my apples and scrambled out of their way, waving my arms and fingers at them, or maybe it was to keep my balance…who knows.
While trying to find the bumps on my head in front of the mirror and instead only finding apple drenched horse saliva, I wished I could be on the beach in the sun somewhere, elegantly sipping something colourful I don’t know the name of.
But here I am, at least with a sketch for this day.
Tomorrow I will laugh about it.
I have lost a week’s posting of sketches which I’ll catch up on later. For now, I am back on track with today’s sketch of corn on the cob from the potager, on which the horses feast every day. Up until a few days ago, they were still sweet and juicy and wonderful on the barbeque, but seeing them with dry husks, is a clear sign that summer is moving on.
..corn on the cob..
I had no idea what to draw or paint today. If I weren’t so committed to my September project, I would’ve been on the couch, watching a movie. It is raining, it is cold and it is Sunday. On the best of Sundays, I feel blue and foul mooded. Today was no exception. The drawing says it all.
graphite on drawing paper (49,7x42cm)