The agapanthus in my garden are blooming profusely and beautiful in their blues ad whites. To my amazement I realized yesterday i haven’t painted any agapanthus yet. I gave it three attempts. The first attempt is probably still the best , even though it is not what I am after. Most of the time that I try two or more attempts of the same subject, I find that the first attempt is the best.I have experienced it so many times. I think it is probably an instinctive reaction to what you see for the first time in front of you..in order to capture that is…and as we all know… first, spontaneous reactions are always instinctive.
Agapanthus 1: Not great composition, but the first attempt and probably the best of three.
Agapanthus 2: The values way too dark and the overall effect too messy.
Agapanthus 3: Third attempt and I think it turned out the second best of the three efforts. I quite like the lightness of the blooms, but the overall effect is a bit stiff.
Until next time
It is raining outside, proper weather for a nice tajine, which I already have simmering on the stove. In my atelier corner, stands a vase with white hibiscus from the garden and in my Stillman and Birnsketchbook, a sketch of those hibiscus flowers.
After turning the sketch around several times, I felt finally that it looks better upside down, as in the image below. when looking at the top picture the eye wna&ts to get in at the top right corner and run down diagonally towards the bottom. Most of the time it feels uncomfortable to let the eye travel from the top to bottom. It feels more natural to travel from the bottom , upwards, over the painting and out, which is what happens in the upside down version, bottom sketch.
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
I love the big summer Shasta daisies…they provide the most beautiful splotches of white colour in the garden, especially in the evenings.
watertcolour and nib pen in Daler rowney sketchook, 21×29.7cm
I received a lovely bouquet of flowers from our neighbors this past weekend…Gerbera daises, Gypsophillas, and dark red cockscombs.
..bouquet de fleurs..
watertcolour and pentel brushpebn in Daler rowney sketchook, 21×29.7cm
While waiting for a delivery…and everybody knows how that can turn into a long wait…I sat beside the pansies. I couldn’t help myself. The urge for capturing in a sketchbook was too strong for me. I finished the pansies. I checked my watch…still waiting. I moved on to a boxwood with a little statue. Then the delivery showed up.
watercolor and pilot prera fountain pen in Epsilon Stillman & Birn sketchbook, 14X21.6 cm
watercolor and pilot prera fountain pen in Alpha Stillman & Birn sketchbook, 22.9X15.2 cm
This morning it rained. then the rain made way for the sun. We decided some grilled fish would be great for lunch. While mon chéri grilled our daurade over the coals, I lazily, splashed watercolor and squiggled pen lines in two Stilman &Birn sketchbooks. White tulips in an urn and white daffodils among boxwoods…simple scenes turned into messy washes…how I love it..!
..Sketching in the garden 1..
pen and watercolor washes in Stillman & Birn sketchbook, alpha, 22.9×15.2cm
.Sketching in the garden 2..
pen and watercolor washes in Stillman & Birn sketchbook, Epsilon, 14×21.6cm
I still have 2 days left to capture some bulbs. Not that it means we are in spring. On the contrary, with snow forecasts for this weekend en cold to the bone weather and the fire burning high in the fireplace, it is everything but spring. Inside my barn though, I have forced bulbs everywhere and tulips in vases. Nothing can stop me from bringing some spring inside.
I used lots of different mediums and styles, just simply playing around, messing around. I enjoy working with gouache, I don’t do that enough, so it was great to do some sketches with gouache today. the last image is one of the gouache sketches..but I ruined it of course with that enormous name I signed…tried to be too artistic…
..contour lines with black Lamy safari pen on Fabraino watercolor block HP, 18×25.5cm
..watercolor and J. Herbin ink, café des iles in Stillman & Birn sketchbook, Epsilon series, 14×21.6cm
..watercolor and in Stillman & Birn sketchbook, Alpha series, 22.9x15cm
..gouache and black Lamy safari pen on Fabriano watercolor block, HP, 18X25cm