Woodland sketch #2

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Woodland #2, Stillman & Birn Beta sketchbook, 7″ x 7″

Second in what might be a series of woodland sketches. I rather like this style of sketching, partially rendering the scene using ink and then going in with watercolour.  It’s really a variation on the line and wash style where you spend a little more time on the ink rendering. The colour of the moss on the tree is a little off. I’m not too worried about that; I think the bigger problem is that the texture of the moss is not apparent. I think I also overworked the background; it looks quite fussy and messy.

 

Woodland sketch #1

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Woodland sketch #1, Stillman & Birn Beta sketchbook, 7″ x 7″

I pass through this area often, it’s part of my regular running route. I really want to become better at rendering landscapes. I have a particular problem with foliage; trees, grasses, shrubs and the general mess of vegetation that you find outdoors. I tried a different approach here which I think worked well as a sketch. Initial quick rendering with a pen, a Lamy Safari fountain pen I think. Over this, I applied simple washes, let them dry and then came back and added additional layers as needed to get the values I wanted.

Tree sparrow

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Tree Sparrow #4, Stillman & Birn Beta sketchbook, 7″ x 7″

Another bird sketch – not entirely sure what it is but I think it is a tree sparrow or something similar. I don’t know too much about birds, in fact, I don’t really know anything at all worthwhile about birds and I find the whole issue of bird identification quite bewildering. Nevertheless, I am finding that they can be quite fun to try and sketch once in a while.

I was aiming for a much looser and expressive feel with these sketches. The result is certainly looser than my previous attempt but still a long way off from what I had envisioned originally. I might try and blame the paper for my failure to get the result I wanted but I think the problem is mainly me.

I actually made a couple more sketches of this bird, although those were so horrendously awful I decided they will stay hidden in my sketchbook forever. What you are seeing here are actually the third (below) and fourth (top) sketches. I do find there’s a lot of value in redrawing and repainting the same subject again and again. The repetition always leads to improvements and even if they are only incremental refinements, one is still learning.  At some point you have to call it quits, even if only temporarily, and in this case, after four iterations I’d had enough – I figured it was time to move on to other subjects and try something different.

In this first sketch, I used mainly a Pentel brush pen and a Pigma Micron. The brush pen lends itself to expressive mark-making though I do find it quite difficult to use effectively.  It’s a matter of control, the marks I make often end up completely different to those I intended. The bottom sketch was made using a Pigma Micron 01. Paints were mainly W&N Cotman; Sepia, Burnt Umber, Yellow Ochre and Cobalt Blue.

 

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Tree Sparrow #3, Stillman & Birn Beta sketchbook, 7″ x 7″

Simple landscape…

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Simple landscape, 140lb Bee Paper, 6″ x 9″

Okay, so this is a very straightforward subject matter – a tree, a field and some clouds – kind of boring even. It’s based on a scene that I pass by fairly regularly. For me, it was more about the practise – as I haven’t been doing much of that lately and I do need to try and put the effort in – but it was also about trying to make the boring, a commonplace everyday sight, interesting. Now clearly, I didn’t succeed in that here but I don’t think it’s altogether bad – in fact I feel there’s the basis of something better here if I can get my technique to the point that I can execute it properly.  Not much more to say about it – the tree worked well, the distant clouds are okay. The foreground, however, doesn’t feel quite right, it’s a little messy, as if I hadn’t made up my mind what I wanted to do with it – which I hadn’t.

Three little birds

Yellow-Billed Cuckoo, Stillman & Birn Zeta sketchbook, 7″ x 7″ (17.8cm x 17.8cm)

I’ve been meaning to try some sketches of birds for quite some time and at long last Ive done it.

I kind of messed up with the first sketch (hidden at the bottom of the page), of what I believe is a Bullfinch, so I think we’ll just call that one a test. I actually thought it was going alright until I started working on the background and that’s when it became just a  huge mess.  In the later sketches, I found that a more sparse treatment for the background worked much better.

The first sketch and the second one also were done in a Stillman & Birn Zeta series sketchbook (7″ x 7″), which has a smooth hot press surface. For the first sketch colours were mainly cadmium red pale hue and Payne’s Gray – I don’t recall the colours for the background. The second sketch, of a Nuthatch, was an improvement – the background foliage was nothing more than a random green mixture splashed onto the paper – the tree trunk was something similar but with a couple of brown mixtures.  The third sketch is of a Yellow-Billed Cuckoo. Again, this was completed in a Stillman & Birn sketchbook, but the Beta series, which has a cold press surface but is in the same 7″ x 7″ square format, which I find suits these sketches quite well.

 

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Nuthatch, Stillman & Birn Zeta sketchbook, 7″ x 7″ (17.8cm x 17.8cm)

The process for these sketches was essentially the same. Pencilling in lightly to establish the contours and the main shapes, then going over the sketches again with a Pigma Micron 01 and then finally, adding the watercolour. In the later sketches, I spent more time rendering the birds with the pen particularly with regard to modelling the form – which has the effect I think of simplifying the painting part of the process.

 

Bullfinch, Stillman & Birn Zeta sketchbook, 7″ x 7″ (17.8cm x 17.8cm)

Skull sketching practise

Skull (front view), Strathmore 400 toned gray sketchbook, 9 in. x 12 in.

I’d like to do some portrait sketching and painting at some point but I’m not very confident currently. Hopefully, working through some exercises will help boost my confidence enough to allow me to try. Took my time with this sketch, working in graphite and white charcoal pencil.

 

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