Monday, 7 February 2011

Another tree-related photograph

I love this photo. I took this last year when a group of us from the Bristol Sketches were wandering around Totterdown for the arts trail. We passed a little shed in which they were pressing apples for juice and cider. I saw this box and bag of apples and thought the colours were wonderful. 

I'll have to try to paint it!

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Saturday sketches

A couple of weeks ago The Bristol Sketch Initiative went to the Arnolfini, but I wasn't hugely impressed with the exhibition "What Next for the Body?" It seemed to me that the artists were trying a little bit too hard to be shocking and grotesque, just for the sake of it rather than trying to convey any sort of social commentary, as was claimed in the promotional material for the exhibition.

It seems like most of the rest of the sketchers felt the same way because we all seemed to end up in a reading room which had a couple of comfy sofas and chairs :)

I spotted this really comfortable looking chair in the corner, so sat down to have a go at drawing it. I really like how the cushions turned out, especially the shading of the sides of the cushions. I think I've kind of captured the rumpled squishiness of them!

Last weekend, we went to Spike Island where there was an exhbition by Sean Edwards called Maelfa. He had a number of mixed media exhibits inspired by this run down shopping centre in Wales, and I suppose it was all about the sense of disappointment and failure associated with what was supposed to be a centre of commerce and community.

Anyways, I'm not sure the other sketchers were hugely impressed with the exhibition, but I actually quite enjoyed it. I'm really starting to enjoy drawing buildings, but I've always struggled with knowing what to include - I tend to try to include too much detail and my drawings end up looking messy. So I really enjoyed Edwards' style of pretty much blanking out huge parts of the landscape to focus the eye on one aspect of a building.

Here are my reproductions of two of his exhibits, called The Towerblock II and The Towerblock I, respectively.

I've tried to adopt this kind of style in the next sketch I did, which was a reproduction of a cool flyer I spotted before heading into the Spike Island Café for a much needed caffeine injection.

Of course, the real test will be try to mimic this pared-down style in a real-world situation, when I'm out and about in Bristol.

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

My first watercolour in years

Years and years ago, I was a bit of a dab hand at watercolours. I took some lessons and really liked the effects that you could achieve with the paints. I didn't really go for your typical pale washed out landscape scenes though. I was more into painting castle ruins and old graveyards (yes, I was one of *those* teenagers.... and now I'm one of *those* adults). I particularly liked painting entire scenes in different shades of the same colour, just using water to intensify or lighten the hue.

But then I went to university and lost interest in painting and drawing, which was a shame. Since I've started sketching again, I've been itching to pick up the watercolours again. Unfortunately, I got duped into buying a cheapo set a few months ago and when I finally got around to using them I found that the quality of the paint was terrible. One colour had actually separated from the water in the tube and just made a horrible mess when I tried to use it. So that put me off for a while.

Then I went to Bristol Fine Art at the top of Park Street and bought a fantastic little set by Windsor & Newton. It was expensive, but it really does make a difference, in my opinion. The colours look really good and the paint goes much further than the cheaper brands.

Anyway, I'm slowly starting to try to build up my competence at using these paints again. I'm nowhere near at the level I was all those years ago, but I'm enjoying messing around with the paints and relearning those little accidental techniques where, at first, you think you've completely messed up the painting but then as it dries you realise that it actually looks pretty cool... That's one of the things I love about watercolours - they more often than not look way better than you were expecting them to, once they've dried :)

A couple of weeks ago, The Bristol Sketch Initiative took part in our second Sketchcrawl, which took us up to Brandon Hill on a freezing January morning. I did a quick sketch of some steps which I didn't like at all at the time. But when I got home afterwards I threw some paint at it, and I think it turned out fairly ok.

Yeah, it's not going to win any prizes, but I like it :)

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

My (not so) secret tree obsession

I was recently sorting through the hundreds of photos I've taken over the past few years, and realised that there were a few themes running through my snapshots, one of them being my obsession with trees. Apparently, I love them. This was not at all obvious to me before I decided to try to organise my collection of photos, but now that it's staring me in the face, I cannot deny it.

Here are some of my favourites.

There are some weird-lookin' trees in this country!  That last one makes me feel uneasy, and I'm not entirely sure why... it kind of feels like it's watching me...