Friday, 27 June 2014

Nature sketch book exchange project, Holywood stones.

And so, the sketch books are still going around the world, with each one taking on it's own character as we fill the pages, slowly slowly. 
So far, I have been doing things which grow, but I do so love stones. And they ARE natural..

Unfinished ring of stones, 18cm x 16cm showing the process involved. Julie Douglas 
 Some subjects really lend themselves to water colour, and stones - in spite of their solidity, which seems so at odds with the wateriness of water colour -  certainly work well.

More stones, 17cm x 13 cm, water colour, Julie Douglas
There's something about the blobby quality of working wet into wet, the unexpected random happenings of the paint as it moves before drying is very like the uneven patterns on stones. The difference between the first two photos, above, is that the top one is unfinished (so you can see how it is started), the bottom one has had more layers added once the wet-on-wet has dried, giving a crisper edge. The next images were for the sketch book project. 

 I went for a walk on the shore to find stones for painting. Beaches all have their own characteristic stones - some beaches turn up smooth rounded stones, some, like East Sussex have stones with enormous holes in the middle. Holywood stones are characteristically small and nobbly, like chunks of nougat (see above). So it takes a good bit of staring and patience to find vareity and interest. But, once you find one, there's another, and ooh - there's another. Pretty soon my pockets were full, and the coat was too heavy to wear!

A variety of shapes and sizes.. Julie Douglas

When I worked in the first couple of sketch books, ones which belong to other artists, I stuck a piece of my preferred water colour paper onto the pages, as I don't like the paper of the book itself. But this time, I just got stuck in, using the book itself. I had to use a lot more water than usual as the paper is so smooth and wants to absorb the pigment. I did the paintings while my students painted their own stones beside me. I have to admit, some of them were shapeless blobs for a good while (the stones, not my students!!), but when it's someone else's book, you have to just keep on working till it begins to look better.. Shadows vary according to the time of day I did each stone. 

I was happy to include one little heart-stone from my mammoth collection... 

Upcoming courses: Portrait drawing, intensive portfolio preparation, oils workshops. 
Later this summer - 23rd August, BIG DRAWING DAY at The Drawing Office, Titanic Quarter Belfast
Draw In - drawing symposium with some amazing visiting artists including PJ Lynch, Paul Foxton, Katherine Tyrrell and Colleen Barry (NY).

For info email

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