Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Ida Mitrani- April Yellow

"The sun, a light that for a lack of a better word, I can only call yellow, bright sulphur yellow, pale lemon gold. How beautiful yellow is!" Van Gogh 1888

Cutout, watercolour


Mixed media, dried petal on black paper

Tuesday, 29 April 2014

April Showers, (of Leaves)

April is such an unpredictable month, and I found it really difficult to think of a theme for the next sketchbook in the exchange. Looking out into the garden, it suddenly dawned on me just how green everything was beginning to look. The leaves where coming back at a rapid pace with their vibrant shades and many shapes. So, for this springy month, leaves were just the thing.

My predecessor in the sketchbook (Sarah), had placed a rather gorgeous Magnolia stellata leaf skeleton, which was almost perfect. Having some fine blue tissue paper, I set about making a rubbing of the leaf, using gentle movements with a very soft graphite pencil. it came out quite well, but where there was little gap where the pencil couldn't reach. To get round this and make it more of a feature, I added the name of the plant in calligraphy.

A rubbing really picks out the fine details of a leaf skeleton

Adding some calligraphy fills a gap in the rubbing

I also wanted to add some studies of individual leaves, but where the page was a bit bumpy, I decided to add studies that had been done on watercolour paper. Cotoneaster, basil, clematis, ivy and a little clover leaf made for a nice group, with a good selection of greens. Matching in nicely with the colour used for the month heading.

A selection of leaves and a chicken.

Knowing that the recipient keeps chickens, I thought it would be rather fun to add something personal to them. So, although a rather sketchy little affair, I am quite chuffed with Clucky there in the corner.


And with April being what it is and also having a penchant for the whimsical, this little ditty from Bambi just had to get in somewhere. Complete with it's own rain cloud.

The tune is stuck in my head now.

Monday, 21 April 2014

I'm sure Ida will be relieved to know her sketchbook is now on it's way to Anglesey with Doreen. I have just discovered that I have to find another way to show the pictures as they have scanned in the wrong format. Julie's one is also done and with Doreen.

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Sketchbooks are for having fun!

As this project progresses, I’ve noticed that each sketchbook is developing it’s own little character. Although we all started out with the same black Stillman & Birn sketchbook, each one somehow carries some of it’s owner’s personality with it.

Julie Douglas's sketchbook is no exception- it’s creative, it’s fun and imaginative! Her sketchbook is already looking full, with bits of paper peeking out, and playful sketches by Julie and Ida in different mediums.
It dares you to be bold and step out of your comfort zone.

I decided to start with some daffodils (Narcissus). They’re such happy little flowers, and it’s been a while since I have painted flowers. Besides, yellow is always such a challenge, as there’s a very fine line between subtle shading and making a horrible muddy mess. 

I dug out an old sketchbook study of some daffodils which had my colour notes and began to paint.
You can read more about the process here.
The joy of working in a sketchbook is that you relax a little. You can make up the composition as you go along. You can be a bit more spontaneous, there’s no planning or tracing… just the pleasure of watching the flowers take shape on the page. The leaves were fun too. They’re nice simple shapes that pull the whole thing together.

However I wasn’t completely satisfied. It was still a bit tame and safe. 

Inspiration came to me in the form of a bottle of Winsor & Newton iridescent medium

Iridescent medium is something that I would rarely get a chance to use in botanical art. I had some shells from Galicia, and some nice blue paper. It was time to play!
 I drew the shells out in white pencil first, and then painted them with gouache paints combined with watercolour paints. Gouache is very forgiving and I found it quite meditative building up the layers and creating form. 

I tried using the iridescent medium with the paint on one of the shinier shells, but to be honest, it looked more like cheap glitter glue. It was time to go wild. I covered each shell in carefully cut out tracing paper, laid the page on some newspaper, got my husband’s toothbrush (I can get him a new one), and began to splatter. 

A few pieces of carrageen seaweed (Chondrus crispus) that have been sitting in my cupboard since God knows when, finished off the composition.

Oh what fun!! The best part was splattering the iridescent medium. It doesn’t really show up in the photos but it’s sparkly! Just perfect for Julie!

 I was happy. I had my creative buzz and I’m ready for the next sketchbook now.