A couple of weeks ago I posted about finding coloured pencils. A lightbulb moment after a very long time stressing about what medium and what subjects to paint, lit up. Paint. That was the problematic word. Actually the whole acrylic and watercolour thing had turned me off art and although I dabbled a little back in the nineties, I found the blank page causing me too much anxiety. Watercolour became muddy and acrylics were just too plastic and static. Ok they dry quick but the result lacked the chalkiness I lived about Gouache that seemed to have disappeared from my local art shops. Gouche is opaque and that’s another issue I have with other medium.
I like detail and quite intense colours. Watercolour needs careful planning of the layers to keep the colours clean and with contrast. Each layer alters the colour below. Transparency was difficult for my impatience with drying time. Acrylics dried too quick and left nasty brush lines.
I searched online and spent a few weeks looking at hyper-realist painters. That wasnt for me either as I feel art should have a good dollop of artiness within it…feeling, character, originality. I took a few causes by Domestika which helped but again working so slavishly to photos seemed pointless. Better work on the photo with filters but keep it true to that medium.
But the coloured pencils structure a cord and took the plunge and bought some medium priced ranges by CastleArt and Brutfuner. Using a couple of my own photos for reference only, I pushed myself to avoid copying every hue and tone. My stepdaughter had a gift for art. She found painting stressful too but passed her A Level and even now with the virus causing employment issues, has fallen back on art and is hunting for commissions. She had the ability to grasp colour, to lay it down confidently and mix good combinations that resulted in a magical unity I had never managed. This week I studied her art work and realized I needed to free up, to play, to not worry.
The coloured pencils worked. By mixing directly on the paper with no drying frustrations and carefully blending and layering, I could add colours a little at a time or be more confident and scrub in a good solid wash across the page. The pencils could be rubbed out, tones could be altered quite easily. This was a good feeling.
I had also worked on tinted papers back at school. Off to the local art store, I bought a range of papers by Canson, 160gm in grey, putty, ochre and clotted cream. With a cream pencil I worked on a picture for Tony. He loves lighting, and he has a green billiard lamp he is very fond of. I have exams in draughting, a throwback to studying interiors and architecture. Drawing was always a more but I knew I had to get the proportions right to tackle the colouring.
The pencils were calming. I could stop when I needed, take a breather or make tea and then come back and work on any area I wanted. Liberating!
So having broke my fear with what I can say is to me a successful start, I completed a few other drawings…my young cockerels, Morti, Max, Rollo and Rufus and my black cat Tokyo, appropriately sitting on bird art books.
Along with my resolution to draw one a week, I completed a few more of my Pipi Pintade sketches that will hopefully find their way into mugs.
Having now breathed a huge sigh if relief at finally finding a way to be artful, if that’s the word, I headed to the brocantes in search of pots and easels. I had never owned an easel. It was for artists who had a background in art, art college, a career in illustration. Shows you how silly I can be. My January course before Covid hit, required a charcoal drawing completed on an easel. After fifteen minutes of student clumsiness trying to hoist the boards onto these collapsing, wobbly structures, I was hooked. Standing in itself allows for movement. That frees your hands, frees the mind. I liked the result.
This charcoal may also have enabled me to participate in an exhibition this summer. I am over the moon.
Easels are very expensive. And that’s just the static ones. A flexible height one that holds a two metre high canvas, with wheels would be beyond my budget, but the good old brocante came up trumps. At €56.00 there it was, along with two others. A static triangle one and another adjustable but without wheels. I have been to the brocantes now for three years and never seen easels. Today there were three! With my pulse racing, I sought out water pots and found the perfect solution. Two pots that have a centre you fill with ice. In my case a place for brushes and the water round the edge, easy to pour and change. But why water if I am using coloured pencils, I heere you cry. Well I bought my gouache too. On Amazon I found a make that’s reasonable and includes a carry case.
So it’s happening. Art is finally back in my life and it feels great. Subject? Birds. Well poultry and game birds mainly, hedgerows and insects, the countryside outside my door seemed the best place to start. I am studying a few more courses and reading alot on technique and will post a few of my favorite artists shortly, who I feel in tremendous awe of. I know art takes practice. My tax career took almost eight years of solid study and practice to reach a position where I could choose my clients and contracts. It had its frustrations too, but I am stubborn. The good thing however, is that art is just a little bit more fun than tax and I loved my tax work, so it’s going to be a very fun filled journey.