Part 5, exercise 5:2 – sketches of something seen on a walk.

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The task is to make five sketches in ink on beige/grey postcard sized paper, and another five the same size in watercolour on watercolour paper. I can’t find any rationale for the scale, the number, or the media so I’m having to guess at the purpose and at the moment this is eluding me. Also elusive is clarity as to whether this is to be 10 sketches of one thing seen on a walk or ten things, but as the temperature has fallen to 0 degrees Celcius and there’s bone-chilling fog everywhere this is academic. I have resorted to two photographs I took on a visit to Woods Mill nature reserve a year or so ago. There are pieces of fallen buildings, the remnants of what look like tombstones with carved figures on the top, and the most extraordinary Middle Earth mushroom umbrella in a clearing with pieces of tree trunk under it for people to sit on.

For the first batch, and having no beige/grey paper, I applied a base of T. buff to five pieces of A4 paper which is a just manageable size for me. I painted these flat on the table, a hazardous strategy as all the cats were in and also on the table. Amazingly, they didn’t walk over the paper too often, although it might have improved the outcome if they had.

I am really not a dilute wash/ink/watercolour person, and I prefer scale that allows me some gestural effort. This is partly a close-vision issue but mostly, I think, a preference for the substance and versatility of acrylics and the way large movements translate into detail more successfully than do small ones.

I have two paintings from the second part of this exercise and I have used acrylics for these on a primed base for substance.

9th December and some further progress with these sketches.

This is actually soft pastel, painted into primed cartridge in two discrete sections of the original image. I quite like the way this has resolved itself, the gap sitting there somehow representing the rest of the tree.
This is also soft pastel painted into a primed base layer. It’s actually part of a larger piece, the second of which is below. I like the way the brush strokes of the primer hint at the bark of the tree.
This is the other part of the larger piece which I’ve redrawn as an image in its own right. Cut from the piece above, it had a weighty amount of pastel that smeared and darkened this side of the painting in a way that did nothing for the tree trunk next to it. So I used a sponge to spread the pastel pigment thinly then, with clean water, to pull some of it out, leaving a negative space that makes ghosts of the tree, the umbrella, and the tree trunk seats. Are there people sitting there? Maybe!

Frankly, there are not too many wins here so when I say I ‘quite like’ something, this is code for ‘contextually tolerable but never seeing the light of day again’. In the country of the blind, the one-eyed man is king*, and on a page full of detritus, a wee bit of texture or shape attracts more merit than it deserves.

*Proverb, possibly dating back to 1500. in the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king – Wiktionary

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