Friday, 30 January 2009

The perils of papier mache...

Some advice.

When making something from papier mache, DO NOT cover the entire object with newspaper and PVA glue at the same time. Because you won't be able to dry it. And you will have to stand like a fool with said object, holding it with your finger tips, until it stops dripping.

Also, PVA glue and water mixture drips... a LOT.

Just a few thoughts. I'll post a photo when it's done.

Monday, 19 January 2009

EDM #4, and goodbye to one of my childhood heroes.

I had some Malteasers hot chocolate drink tonight while I was watching Buena Vista Social Club on DVD - we are going to have some sort of discussion about it tomorrow in class, but as I've seen it lots of times I was only half paying attention to it, and found myself doodling my mug when I'd finished drinking it. I coloured it in with watercolour pencils and my waterbrush (I love my waterbrush, it's so clever) and thought I might as well post it.

I had the second of my three watercolour classes yesterday. It was good fun. A roomful of adults playing with giant paintbrushes and making a mess, what could be better? The teacher wanted us all to use big brushes, and most of us had to actually go out and buy bigger ones. I bought a size 14, it's liberating in the same way as drawing with pen is liberating because you can't really fiddle around and have to kind of just dive in. We were doing a lot of wet into wet technique but I seem to get my paper too wet and as we hadn't stretched the paper it all went a bit horribly wrong. My paintings (I use the term loosely, but they did all involve paint) are still at the class venue but I'll post them when I get home so people can laugh at them :-)

Sad news yesterday: one of my childhood heroes, Tony Hart, passed away at the age of 83. He had been ill for a while and had suffered two strokes, which had left him unable to draw and that must have been a terrible thing for him to cope with. I found out when I got home from my painting class and I have to admit, I sat down and had a little cry. He was a very talented man and a genuinely nice guy and will be sadly missed. Rest in peace, Tony.

Friday, 16 January 2009

EDM #23 - draw your foot - and more water brush antics

I said I'd do something coloured and I did! This is my foot. You can see my very glam green Primark pyjama pants too. I don't own a single pair of black socks, I'm sure that says something about me but I have no idea what! These purple ones are some of my more subdued; most of them tend to have stripes or birds or cats or something.

I used the Derwent watercolour pencils I bought a while ago and I think I really need to experiment with them, because some of them blend much better than others. The red and blue of the EDM #23 lettering blended really easily, but the green of the pyjamas didn't, and the olive green of the shadow on my pyjamas came out much darker when it was blended with water. I used my waterbrush again for this and I am very pleased at how easy it is to clean it between colours, but it'll be interesting to see if it's the same when it's used with proper watercolour paint as opposed to pencils - I will report back when I've had a play around with that. The paper I used for this was wildly unsuitable and the water soaked right through it - there is a red stain on my knee that was left over from the drawing on the previous page.

Good news! I signed up for the ten week beginner's life drawing course that the teacher of the Monday night class I went to is offering. It starts in February and I will be counting down the days, I really can't wait.

Tomorrow we are going into town to do something involving Culture. Possibly a visit to the National Gallery.

Thursday, 15 January 2009

EDM #21, and some new toys.

I wanted to try out some new stuff I'd bought - a Pentel Aquash waterbrush and some Caran d'Ache water soluble graphite pencils. These come in HB, B and 3B, a set of two each, and you can scribble with them and then add water to create a wash. I first saw water soluble graphite pencils on a David Bellamy DVD and thought they were very clever, and the water brush is really for carrying around with me along with a sketch box full of watercolour half pans, but like any new toy it had to be played with a bit as soon as it arrived. I didn't have time to do a 'proper' drawing so I just very quickly sketched my husband's old Olympus OM-2, a very cool old camera but compared to the first SLR I used (a Pentax K1000) it has quite a few bells and whistles. I drew this with pen (some Faber Castell effort that I don't like but is waterproof), so when I completely messed up the entire lens I couldn't rub it out and fix it - ah well!

I realised that I seem to be using only pencil and/or black and white. The next thing I post will be in colour!

Monday, 12 January 2009

I like naked ladies.

If you've been reading my blog you might have seen last week that I was wondering about going to a life drawing class. Well tonight I went, feeling absolutely terrified in case everyone spotted that I was an imposter and hadn't been to art school and had never even drawn a person before, and barely knew which was the pointy end of my pencil, and told me to get out of the room or they would beat me with their easels.

I could not have been more wrong.

There were about twentyish people in the class, which took place in a huge brightly lit room (which was WARM enough for me, which makes a change and is a huge bonus) with a circle of chairs with drawing boards and easels around the outside. Inside the circle was a pile of cushions and blankets and what looked like a futon, and this is where the model did her stuff. The model herself was a lovely, slender girl of about twenty five, and she did some quick poses (a couple of minutes each), one twenty minute pose, one thirty or forty minute pose (I lost track of time), and a few somewhere in between. The teacher wandered around making suggestions, giving a critique here and there and generally being nice and useful.

I wasn't prepared for how much I would love this class. When I used to do a lot of running (pre-arthritis) it was the only thing that made me completely zone out and forget all about life and work and the pile of laundry at home, and when I'd finished my run I was always on a high - the famous runner's high you hear tell of. It's not a myth. Life drawing is (for me at least) the same. Sitting for two and a half hours, not counting the tea and biscuits break, thinking about nothing except the shape of the model in front of you and the light and dark bits and your pencil (I did find the pointy end after all) is apparently very good for your mental health. I will definitely be back, and hopefully very soon.

Here are some of the drawings I did. Please bear in mind that these are my first people drawings ever!

Thursday, 8 January 2009

Squares are better than lines.

When I was almost 15 I spent two weeks in Spain on a language exchange trip, and one thing I noticed was that lots of the kids used exercise books with squared paper rather than lined paper. I took a fancy to it, and now whenever I see a notebook or file block with squared paper, I have to buy it and use it for writing notes in class. Sadly we don't seem to get it here very often. This notebook started life as a book for writing down new Portuguese words I learned in my beginner class, but I only used about a third of it before getting lazy. I feel sorry for it, poor neglected little notebook, so I've started to draw in the back of it, and will work my way forwards until I use it up.

Funny enough, I read magazines backwards too.

I did this little doodle with a pen and coloured it in a bit with my Derwent coloured pencils. I don't draw in pen ever, except when I'm at work and doodling all over my bills and letters. It's quite liberating not being able to rub out the mistakes.

Wednesday, 7 January 2009

This doesn't look like Portuguese to me.

I'm supposed to be doing my Portuguese homework, but I accidentally found myself doodling in my exercise book with the mechanical pencil I had been using to fill in answers. For some reason I quite liked drawing on the lined paper - I will have to be careful or all my homework will be covered with doodles. This might not be a bad thing though!

Thank you so much to the people who left comments or sent me emails about the life drawing classes. I contacted the teacher (in this class he offers advice and guidance, rather than actual teaching, if that makes sense) and he reassured me that a total beginner like me would be more than welcome, so I'm going to try and go along on Monday night. Expect to see the fruits of my labour if I'm brave enough to post them here!

Finally, here's a not-arty-or-crafty related thing. Our catdog Elvis (he's officially a cat but thinks he's a dog, even though the vet told him he wasn't) likes to sleep in our bed when there's no one else in it. By 'in' I mean under the duvet, like a person. This is an awful photo and I do apologise but I had to snap it quickly using my useless eeePC webcam before he moved, as he was just about to emerge and beg for food. Isn't he daft? I thought you might get a giggle out of him!

PS: I'm having problems uploading images to blogger tonight so I've uploaded these to Flickr... I hope they work!

Tuesday, 6 January 2009

EDM #205 - draw a soda can. And an idea for Monday nights.

I used to be addicted to diet coke. Seriously - I had my very own coke habit. I would get through up to three litres of the stuff in a day. I kicked the habit a few months ago and I don't touch it at all now. If I want something fizzy I have a glass of diet lemonade. (Or a beer.) So this is one of my husband's cans of Dr Pepper, which is disgusting stuff but comes in a pretty can.

I don't like this drawing. Is there such a thing as a bad pencil day? It just looks all wrong. The perspective is wrong, the top of the can is wrong. It didn't help that I was sketching in a room that is very dark, so there were no discernible light areas and shadows. I have to tell myself it's my third proper drawing ever so I don't get too wound up about it!

And I had an idea for something I'd like to go to. On Monday nights, there is a drop in life drawing class in Bethnal Green. I reckon life drawing, in a studio with no distractions, would be really beneficial. I have literally never drew a person before (not counting cartoony doodles). It only costs £7.50 which includes the tea and biscuits (vitally important), and it's close to home, so I think I'll go along next week. Especially if I can drag a friend along for moral support.

If anyone has been to a life drawing class I would love to hear your experiences!

Monday, 5 January 2009

EDM #10 - draw your hand.

Here's my hand.

Today I discovered that there is an art shop within walking distance of my office. This is good news for when I need to buy something, but extremely bad news for my bank account. They sell Cotman paint in tubes and half pans, which is good, but hopefully I'll be confident enough soon to buy and use artist quality paint. But right now I'm still at the stage where I'm afraid of wasting paper.

The bookmarks are done! I had to make an extra one for me.

Sunday, 4 January 2009

Sunday procrastination

I always find it hard to sit down and write an essay, but even more so when my husband is around. He makes too much noise! So I procrastinated for several hours, wrote 127 words of a review of Sin noticias de Gurb (most of which I will probably delete) and did very little that was useful apart from putting away laundry and changing cat litter. I have Fridays off work for studying and doing assignments, so I can work in peace, but now that my husband isn't working and will be home all day, I'll probably have to think of a plan B if I don't want to fail the year! Oh and I finished making bookmarks for the Bookmark Swap I'm co-organising at the moment. I love what I've made, but I can't post photos in case my swap partners see them so I will have to contain my excitement until everyone receives them.

You'd think if I wasn't working I could at least have been doing some drawing, but noooo. Although I did do a quick watercolour, from Frank's book (again), because I wanted to try out my masking fluid that I hadn't used before. I masked off the cottage and it worked quite well although I missed a bit and had to cover it up with gouache. Peeling off masking fluid is fun. It's like when I was in primary school and used to paint my fingers with PVA glue, wait till it dried and pick it all off. I'm sure that's not as weird as it sounds. I don't much like the mountains in this but it was only an experiment!

I would also like to say thank you to the people in EDM for all the comments and for being so nice - and in particular to Sue for all the helpful links she emailed me.

Back to Top Gear now, because that's what Sunday evenings are all about after all.

Saturday, 3 January 2009

EDM #1 - draw a shoe.

I don't necessarily intend to do these in order, but number one on the list appealed to me. This is the first 'proper' drawing I've done since I last had an art class at school, aged 13 (so about 1994), and it took about an hour. I used a 2B Derwent pencil. I'm quite happy with how it turned out. It scanned very light though, I've tried to darken it a bit in Photoshop but it's not brilliant.

The shoe I really wanted to draw was a red glittery one, but I have no idea how to go about drawing glitter!

Friday, 2 January 2009

I'm thinking of killing my scanner.

I've done an HND in Software Engineering (albeit a few years ago now), so why can I not figure out how to work my scanner so that it (a) scans the whole picture, instead of the bit it likes the best, and (b) produces colours roughly approximating the paint I used, instead of what it thinks I should have used? Hmph.

Anyway whinging aside, here are three watercolours. All three are from Frank Clarke's Paintbox books although all three have been changed in some way (not always deliberately). I'm not truly happy with any of them, but they are definitely better than the scans have made the colours appear. I enjoyed doing them all.

A snowy mountain that I painted in Ireland (it looks very washed out - the sky is more dramatic in real life)

Mountains and field of cotton


I am finding it very hard to paint trees without them looking like the efforts of a five year old with a jar of poster paint and a plastic brush. I need more practice. I also need more watercolour paper, so I'm off to Cass Art today to buy some (and probably half the shop - I have no restraint).

Recently I bought a book called The Creative Licence by Danny Gregory, an impulse purchase that cheered me up on my first day back to work after the holidays. And I love it. Danny thinks everyone should draw, and not only that, but everyone CAN draw. And I'm starting to agree with him. On his website he had a link to a Yahoo group, "Everyday Matters", where there are challenges to draw specific everyday items. Draw a shoe, draw a glass of juice. I've printed the list and I'm going to pick up a sketchbook just for the challenges. I'm quite excited about it all.

By the way, if anyone is reading this and can recommend a good book about drawing people (faces/figures etc), please let me know!

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