Part 1, exercise 1:2 – black and white

This exercise uses found images again, this time on 10 prepared postcard sized backgrounds – 5 black and 5 white. I used Aquarelle HP watercolour paper which is quite solid and relatively robust, although I discovered it is not up to the kind of scrubbing I’ve been doing on card, canvas, wood, and other surfaces.

Looking at the size and the instruction to paint one or more of my found images onto these, I had a small panic – tiny is not my forte, how was I going to tackle this with any confidence? So I did what I do in these kinds of circumstance, which is something else entirely and only marginally related, and that was to print out and read through the whole module. From this, it became clear that there would be no dodging ‘tiny’ and so I began to seek out strategies that would work for me. The first was to consider simplifying as many images as possible and finding new ones where necessary. The second unexpectedly came from the next exercise (1:3 Quick and focused) which requires drawing from an image without looking at the paper. I didn’t expect it to work but …

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I made all the images with Derwent watercolour pencils with the aim of getting a feel for the shapes before moving onto painting the cards. Oddly formed as it is, I think this is my surprise winner. Not quite a cat, almost a rabbit or maybe a dachshund, I have a sense of personal triumph about translating it from a blurred video still into an animal with an elongated perspective. This gives me more confidence now for many of the tasks ahead.


Tallulah (tabby) in a close up video clip via my wildlife camera

First the sketch book try-outs.

And these are the finished cards:

Top left, black acrylic; top right, whit watercolour. Bottom left, white acrylic; bottom centre, grey acrylic; bottom right, ink.
Top left, black acrylic; top right, white watercolour. Bottom left, black ink; bottom centre, grey acrylic; bottom right, white acrylic

I found I had no white gouache so I substituted Chinese White watercolour.

Individual cards:


What stood out for me, beyond finding this to be possible at all for me, was how some media still leave marks even when they’re essentially the same colour and even the same type. Ink has a brown-ish sheen to it, Chinese White has a greenish cast on white acrylic, impasto has the potential for more marks because of its shadows and texture – dragging a piece of soft pastel over it for instance, and watercolour on acrylic is capable of some very fluid motion.

As for the images themselves, I am inordinately pleased with them whatever anyone else may think, for now that is. I may be embarrassed later. I particularly like the video still of Tallulah (white, bottom left) which is very much more cat than rabbit this time; and the white space effect on Mr Woods (white, bottom right). The five cat composition was a challenge but I found minimal brushwork could suggest ‘cat’ without needing detail, and a very thin brush could indicate their bowls. For someone whose past drawings at this scale have been heavy on detail and light on life, this is significant progress, and all of it due to skipping ahead to the next exercise – draw what you see, not what you imagine you see.

Time taken: around six hours.

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