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
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
“A favorite food,” says the list of the art group EDM for this month of May.. Only one favorite food? That is a huge punishment! I can draw a favorite food for a whole month and even beyond. How then to choose between all my wonderful favorite fruits, the colourful vegetables, the meat…(yes, you Greenies, I love my meat!) And then there are fish and shellfish and how about a slice of cake? Or a cookie. And dessert. I never skip dessert. I won’t even mention chocolate and that first cup of coffee in the morning. Only one favorite food?
However, I can sometimes play by the rules and this time seems appropriate enough to do so. So one favorite food it is. I confess my weakness for macarons. Those beautiful, sensual, romantic and utterly delicious delicacies our patisserie in Beaulieu so shamelessly flaunts in the display window. By just looking in my eyes, they know I am there for a box of macarons. Yellows and purples and pinks and reds which vary between red fruits and blueberry and strawberry and lemon and vanilla, chocolate, coffee, caramel and my big favorite, that green one, the pistache. I love them all. I leave the patisserie on an euphoric cloud and with my precious macarons gently tucked next to each other in a quaint box and artfully tied with a pink ribbon. All that is left now, is to nail this sketch, so I can retire with my box of macarons to my favorite chair in my favorite corner…..sigh. I rest my case.
watercolor and dip pen with Sennelier indigo ink in S&B alpha sketchbook, 22.9×15.2cm
I can totally understand why there are nutcases walking around hugging each tree they come across. sometimes I am one of them. Cause a tree is not just a tree. It is a friend, it stirs our emotion, it is a refuge, that safe place under/or in its branches where we hide from all that scorches us..the sun, the world. The olive tree is all of that for me. I do hug my olive trees and talk to them, touch them, stroke them, care for them, love them. They make me think of sunshine and heat. They makes me hear the cigales. They bring me the scent of lavender and wild herbs in the fields and I see colourful vegetables drizzled with the golden oil from its olives, glistening with crystals of fleur de sel. That is my olive tree.
watercolor and Prera pilot fountain pen in S&B epsilon sketchbook, 14×21.6 cm
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
The reds in nature are now at their peak and are quickly fading away as the leaves start to fall. As much as the reds and nature are/were inspiring, I couldn’t succeed in really “getting into it”. the reds tricked me, my sketching was off and my wist was stiff as Sylvester Stallone’s biceps….fit for many other things, but not for drawing. It is nonetheless part of my series for November colours..so here are they…the reds of November.
The palette for a mix of all the reds:
- Golden pink
- Potter’s pink
- Cadmuim red
- Rose madder
- Venetian red
- Burnt sienna
- Alizaron crimson
- Ultramarine violet
* On Myfrenchkitchen, I have posted a recipe and photos..all in the spirit of November reds..
Autumn is the time I take long walks in the forest/woods and gather mushrooms, and chestnuts, walnut, leaves and everything else that take my fancy. Back in the atelier it gets spread out on every available surface, pinned up on a board, hung on a chandelier, stuck in a vase….and painted or sketched or drawn. However much I love being outside, being in front of the drawing table in the atelier, gives me just as much pleasure.
..walnuts in aquarelle..
watercolour in Daler & Rowney artiusts sketchbook, 21×29,7cm
.walnuts in aquarelle..
watercolour in Daler & Rowney artiusts sketchbook, 21×29,7cm
I adore the colours of hydrangeas in the fall. They lose that bright summer blues and pinks and become faded. Even the whites turn a faded green. Some dried brown petals turn the blooms into pieces of art in shades of all colours.
I did the the first sketch too stiff and controlled into a round ball, even though I am not too unhappy with the colours.
So I decided to do another sketch, this time much looser, maybe not immediately recognizable as an hydrangea, but I have never cared about likeness. Loose, fluid painting with personal interpretation is much more important to me.