Friday, 23 March 2012

Awash with Spring colours

With balmy weather in the south east, toddler and I have taken it upon ourselves to paint in the garden. With very little on the paper and most on ourselves (and the newly laid lawn which is looking at me witheringly-quite literally since a rampant animal seems to have lifted our turf and dug beneath it!) we have accomplished some interesting looking masterpieces! In the event of any peace and quiet I am also building up some less extreme sketches for our fabric 'collection'! There can be nothing more freeing than drawing, as an art teacher I strongly believe that it is not about 'good' or 'bad' art but the unique experience of making one's mark, an original distinct mark that says, I am here in this universe. It should be an affirming practice; I once worked on an education project in a gallery where some scary and rather surly teenagers took part in live art and practical art, as well as art debates with artists. They left chatty and enthusiastic.

So in a quiet moment take sometime for yourself. Grab some paper and try out our Duck Egg masterclass in watercolours...watercolours? Yes watercolours, not the scary medium everyone thinks it is. It's unforgiving reputation is a shame as its easy to blot off and paint (once dry) and it is a little misunderstood. I love it for bold pieces, it is often used for detailed work, but experiment with amounts of water and it comes up with some wonderful effects. For example use a square flat headed brush with little water for marking out bold shadows, once dry use a lighter wash around it in a paler tone for the highlights. Think Hockney landscapes, form far away detailed and intricate, up close a whole swirl of colours and brushstrokes. Try simple subjects such as a garden, buildings, or just the sky. If you can go  to a bluebell wood this weekend, the seaside or the countryside.

Duck Egg takes to the water...

You can if you have to sketch in your drawing in pencil, but take the plunge and try it without, you can get some lovely effects and it is more freeing!

Understand your composition, discover where the centre is, how will it fit- and don't worry if it ends up not fitting on your paper! Tape your paper with masking tape to a solid surface such as a tray.

Have a few paint brushes at the ready and think what techniques you will use...

You might want to start with a basic wash off colour, use a graded wash for sky and sea. Lift off any unwanted patches while wet with some kitchen roll or smooth tissue for a different effect, for clouds etc.

You might also start by blocking in colour. You will use this to build the highlights and shadows on to create perspective so make sure that the paint is not too thick.

Once dry you can then start to add details to your wash, keep looking at the shapes you see and try and not paint what you think you see, it's hard but also therapeutic to turn off and just look. A dry brush can add more detail and you might even want to try scratching into the paint with a clean end of a brush.

For any more inspiration I love this series   take a look at how differently all the artists paint!


  1. I'd love to be able to paint. Hubby's a great painter and photographer, for my part it's just photography and dressmaking.

  2. Thank you for sharing my Bluebell wood painting :-)