Sunday, March 22, 2015

Manchester sketchcrawl

Sketching the River Irwell sat on Calatrava's Trinity Bridge
 Yesterday,  I joined the Manchester,  Yorkshire,  and Society of Architectural Illustrators (SAI) for a sketchcrawl in Manchester. It was a surprisingly blue skied sunny day, but with an icy wind, which made outdoor sketching a challenge. As you can see from my sketches below, I alternated between outside and inside locations.
River Irwell from Trinity bridge. Sketch 1
I accidently bought a scone when I went for a warm up cuppa. Sketch 2.
Piano practice in Manchester Central Library's music library. Sketch 3.
Shivering and sketching at the end of the day. Sketch 4.
It was lovely to meet so many sketchers from all over (40+ at the interim lunch meeting) and hope to get up to Manchester and sketch again... albeit in a warmer month.
Show and tell social at the end of the day. Photo by Hakym.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Focusing on something different.

Spring greenhouse ©Sue Pownall 2015
It's been a busy couple of weeks. I had a weekend away and my poor assistant has been in Queen's Veterinary School Hospital, Cambridge for surgery on her elbows. She now needs lots of love and cuddles to help her recover.

My assistant is feeling sorry for herself.
I have mainly been creative in a photographic way, apart from a couple of sketches. The above one was drawn at my friend's house in Cheltenham over the course of 2 cups of tea, finishing just in time for breakfast. (sorry the scan has lost some of the watercolour details and turned it pink too). We have had surprisingly clear blue skies, which has made the UK spring look prettier. Here's a few examples... and a fire as the nights are still cold.
Cheltenham ©Sue Pownall 2015
Reflections in yellow, Cambridge. ©Sue Pownall 2015
Bath. ©Sue Pownall 2015
A single stem. ©Sue Pownall 2015
Abingdon. ©Sue Pownall 2015

 What have you done this week?

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Print workshop induction

I'm now a member of the print workshop at Cuckoo Farm Studios, Colchester.  Consequently, on Thursday I had my induction to use the workshop unsupervised in the future. Whilst there I took the opportunity to have a 2nd attempt at etching. I used one of my new etching needles, which is quite heavy and a dream to draw with into the hard ground. I redid the oak leaves I'd attempted to etch on my workshop, you can see those results here.

Learning points:
  1. I need to clean the ink off the plates more, as you can see from the print above there is a lot of ink on the background.
  2. I need to pay more attention to the composition. Despite it being an interesting subject (well I think so), as this print doesn't work due to the shape the leaves create... I could use a clean hard ground to work more into this plate, but I'm not sure that will improve a badly thought out compostion.

What printmaking lessons have you learnt?

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Digital drawings and a dozy dog.

On Friday, I took Degas to the vets and sketched her as she fought the sedative she was given. She had xrays on her bad leg. There were no obvious fractures or other skeletal problem, but they are being sent for a second opinion. So the question remains, why is she still limping and not getting better?
8th Feb Experimenting with digital drawing.
Last weekend, I finally got a tab and having tried my first digital sketch at the last Urban Sketchers Symposium (click here to see it)  downloaded a couple of apps. Thanks Omar Jaramillo for the app info. Check out his great watercolours here. These are my first digital doodles:
9th Feb. Still playing. Digital sketch of Korean teacup.
9th Feb. More doodles.
11th hmm need to buy a stylus!
10th Feb. 1st ‪digital‬ ‪sketch‬ of Degas. Unfortunately, the background didn't look so dark in the app.
Final things from this week:

Although I'm only three quarters of the way through the Monologue A5 sketchbook, which I started 27th December at the
Winter Wonderland sketchcrawl, I have abandoned it. The main reasons are the perferations and the wrinkling of the paper when water is applied. I tried 2 pages of a Canson but the ink smudges, so I will probably go back to my favourite Daler Ebony sketchbooks.

I started tutoring the mixed media course and will report on that at another time. The first course photo can be seen on my facebook page and instagram @suepownallartist15

Uprooted, 28x17cm Watersoluble ink. Available to purchase.
Lastly, I have a finished drawing, the first of the year, seen here. It's a bit of an experiment as I used watersoluble ink.

What have you done this week?

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Studying with Liz

As mentioned last week, I have been studying on Liz Steel's Sketching Now online course. Stretched over 12 weeks, Liz has covered all the foundations of successful sketching in well-thought out lessons presented in Liz's charming and exuberant fashion. Each week, there has been an indoor and outdoor prompt. I have missed one week entirely (week 9), only managed 2 of the outdoor prompts, but have managed the majority of the indoor ones. 

Despite being a regular urban sketcher, during the last few months of 2014 I had felt lost. However, having worked through this course, on the 11th January I wrote alongside my coursework:
I LOVE DETAILING LIKE THIS!!!... Using class to remember who I am.
 In the first lesson we had to draw our current sketching kit, which is something I've not done before. My Super5 pen has since run out of ink and I've replaced the Super5 Atlantic ink with Noodler's blueblack. I prefer the Atlantic, but can't get it here in UK and the postage is too high from Germany.
My biggest struggle has been with doing set up lines. When sketching, I normally work directly in ink and sometimes use dots as a guide to key points of a sketch. I can see the value of doing a minimal set up for complex scenes, but, I struggle to observe properly in pencil. Is it because I can change it? I struggled with that throughout the course. Right is an example from week 4.

Liz's course was very comprehensive, and I'd thoroughly recommend doing one if you have the chance. It was good to be reminded of some of the basics, and to try out the exercises. shh don't tell Liz but I frequently got halfway through some exercises and had totally forgotten what I was "supposed"  to be doing. I aslo frequently missed off adding the colour.

One of my favourite exercises and results was looking at shapes. I finally drew my Korean teacup that I bought in 2001 and has been in storage until now. It was supposed to be in 2 colours but I loved the shapes as it was, which is half the fun of experimenting within a class situation.

Finally, here's an outside sketch for week 10 that is not of a subject that I would normally choose, but captures a snapshot of dad's garden in winter. If you want to see my other sketches for this course, they are all in an album on flickr: Sketching Now coursework 
The high panel fence between myself & the neighbours with little foilage due to the winter.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Around the World Blog Hop

Looking for my Around the World Blog Hop post? Then please click HERE to go to it.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Café Sketching

This week's homework for Liz Steel's online course Sketching Now, which I'll be posting about next Saturday, was to sketch in a café. My morning didn't go to plan, which those of you doing the course know, is what happened to Liz too. The brief was to sit head on a café counter and to draw from the focal point out. My idea was to head to Tiptree Tearooms & Jam Factory mid-morning for a cuppa and a scone. 
However, I got engrossed in some material I was preparing for a course I am giving and didn't get there until midday. I got a head on view, of the side, which was not exciting as the photo shows. To my left was the hostess desk, so I chose to draw that instead.

I used my Super5 pen, which is filled with Noodlers blueblack ink, and started at the desk, added the girl who flitted there and back, then worked more details out from that point. I do like how the sketch looked before I added watercolour.
 Initially, I had thought to have a scone with my tea, but as it was lunchtime I ordered a salad instead. Whilst, waiting for it to arrive I added colour to my sketch. (The finished scanned image is below). Unfortunately, due to a huge queue of people waiting for tables at the hostess desk, I scrapped my plan to sketch my food too, so ate quickly and left.
I will be posting tomorrow as I've been nominated for the Around the World Blog Hop. Please come back and see what I post. In the meantime check out some of the others' posts such as Béliza's post here and Tina's here.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Want to come up and see my etchings?

Back in the dim and distant past whilst at college, I had the opportunity to do some etching. This is what I did: 
top basic etching, etchings plus watercolour
 below aquatint plate printed in black and red. Final image combined plates.
When I had my exhibition in December 2013, it was suggested that I should etch, but  I stored the idea until recently when I found a 1-on-1 workshop at Cuckoo Farm Studios with artist & etcher David Stone.
Plate 1 in the acid bath.

On a snowy morning, and starting with a 10x10cm ish piece of metal, I was shown how to apply a soft ground prior to copying a picture of oak leaves. After putting it in acid bath (8:1 solution) I then cleaned the plate off and... found that I hadn't pressed hard enough and there were very few lines etched. Take 2, soft ground prep by me, drawing (this time with a dead biro and a traditional pencil as opposed to the technical pencil I'd first used), acid, clean and...  there were lines. Yay!
Then, placing the plate carefully on tissue paper on the press, pre-soaked paper went next, more tissue, then the 3 blankets. After, winding it all through the press, it was a nervous moment to unveil my first print. Nothing stunning, but as this was a workshop it's about learning the process not the results.
1st print from plate 1

Then it was on to plate 2, to learn and use hard ground. This time I drew lines with an etching needle to make a print of trees. It was funny but I didn't spot the mistake until it was printed. David told me how I could correct the plate, but I chose not to. Both reference photos used were from recent dog walks and they had grabbed my attention as "could draw that" subjects.
After cleaning the plates (white spirit to remove ink), it was time to explore aquatint, which I had no recollection of doing at college until I saw the photo.  
Print from plate 2
Aquatint from plate 1
Aquatint is a powdered acid resistant material that was applied over the whole plate. The clean dry plate was put in the box (left) wearing a mask and gloves, then placed on the rack (right) and heated with a scary gas torch from underneath. Once cool, which took moments as I watched the falling snow through the window, I stopped out areas with straw-hat varnish that I didn't want effected. Then it was into the acid bath. Due to the temperature, the grey/time scale based on 24°c was redundant, and David made an educated guess. I built up several tones through stopping out more areas and dipping the plate in acid. The varnish and remaining aquatint were then removed from the plate (white spirit and meths), before it was back to the press... and I was very impressed with the improvement to my first plate (above). So I repeated the aquatint process with the other plate, but reducing the time in the acid bath to just 15 seconds per tone. Here is the result: 
I found the whole workshop inspiring and will soon do an induction in order to use the print facilities reguarly.

Have you tried etching? Or been inspired by a workshop? You are welcome to leave a link to your work in the comments below.

*NOTE: the expression is believed to be an Edwardian euphanism to encourage physical intimacy.

Monday, January 19, 2015

IF: Toy (attempt 1)

Watersoluble ink on A5 paper.
The Illustration Friday prompt for this week is Toy

Here is a drawing of my dog's chewed toy squirrel. What do you think?