Frivolous Frills, Irises painted in acrylic.
Continuing the Mouse Story, the next two images are going to be small illustrations of how our mouse was caught. Below are the initial sketches.
The first one was transferred onto watercolour paper, this is just of the trap and the mouse.
My first step was to get a little paint down to hint at the surroundings. This was a thin mix of Ultramarine and Gamboge yellow to represent the green carpet, and then Yellow Ochre, with a tiny touch of Cadmium Red and Ultramarine to make the amber colour of the trap. The amber mix was very thin so that I could build up layers of colour depending on how many walls of the trap were being looked through.
Next I added the basic mouse colour which is Ultramarine with Alizarin Crimson and a little Yellow Ochre.
Then a very thin mix of Alizarin Crimson and Gamboge for the fleshy parts of the mouse with some of the fur colour dotted onto the tail while it was wet to suggest a few hairs. I added the eye and the rubber bumper on the trap.
The shadows were next assuming the light was directly above.
And finally a few details like the little end of the pivot on the trap and whiskers on the mouse.
The mouse trap took quite a long time to get right, I had a lot of failed attempts, trying to get the angle right and to make it look interesting. Here are just a few.
Then on to the next little illustration, this time with the mouse in the trap.
As before the image was transferred onto the watercolour paper, Bockingford as usual.
I started the painting by filling in the body of the mouse, this time using a little more Yellow Ochre to give the mouse a slight tint of the amber colour that would have reflected on him as the light passed through the trap.
Next I painted the trap, again with the thin amber mix.
I added more layers to show where less of the light got through and also the shadow to the breathing holes. The white plastic trap trigger was toned down with just the slightest hint of colour in clean water as the light shining through does this. I also painted his tail just as I did in the previous illustration and added shadow to the black bumper.
Finally I added the whiskers.
Here are the final illustrations shot in a slightly better light.
Next time, freedom.
After a much longer break than anticipated I am back to the mouse book that I started quite a while back. Below are my sketches for the first two images, as I mentioned in my blog back in April, https://wp.me/p7Ohdq-j7 , the story is about a mouse’s adventures after he is caught and removed from the house.
The first painting is of the mouse in the boiler cupboard, it seems to be one of their favourite places, we even found a shrew in there once which was very vocal about being removed.
As usual I drew out the image on Bockingford paper with a pale purple watercolour pencil so that it washes away once the paint is added.
As the cupboard is dark I mixed Ultramarine, Alizarin Crimson and Lemon Yellow watercolour to make a dark grey to paint the inside shadowy areas and the back of the door. To contrast the inside with with the outside I used a mixture of Lemon Yellow and Gamboge Hue to represent the light from the room outside. Once dry, I painted another layer of the grey to increase the depth of the shadows inside the cupboard. The old piece of paper on the back of the door was painted with Yellow Ochre and a little touch of Ultramarine.
Next was the pipework which was painted using Cadmium Red, Ultramarine and Gamboge Hue, to make a dark coppery colour and for the joints I added extra Gaboge Hue for a lighter brassy look. The shadows were added using more of the grey mixture. For the mouse I used Ultramarine, a small amount of Alizarin Crimson and Yellow Ochre which tends to granulate and gives a nice texture for the fur, and I dabbed off with tissue for the lighter areas. The mouse’s shadow was painted using the same grey as the inside of the cupboard and for the mousetrap I used a watered down version of the pipework mixture. Finally I added the little details and shadows and used a black watercolour pencil on the eye and around the joints of the pipes.
The second image is the same scene looked at from the outside of the cupboard, so the room is painted with the mixture of Lemon Yellow and Gamboge Hue and the dark cupboard with the grey mix. The rest was just adding a few details to the room with the mouse trap and the jar of peanut butter to hint at what the smell was that brought the mouse out of the safety of the cupboard. This image also expresses just how small the little mouse was out in the big wide world.
Here are the two finished paintings, the start of the story where the mouse is tempted out and gets caught in the trap.
And here are the sketches for the next two images where the mouse travels in the trap and is released.
We have lived just outside Bude for sixteen years now and have never regretted moving here, even when the wind is blowing so hard that you can feel the floorboards shake. The weather can change very quickly from fog to sun and back to fog again and sometimes the fog hangs around for days but when that sun shines in the huge blue sky and the skylark is wittering somewhere over the fields, it is the best place on earth. Most of what I have written about in my blogs has been based on my garden or the moors and lanes of Cornwall so I thought it was time to look to the sea.
The beaches in Bude, Summerleaze and Crooklets, are huge, when the tide goes out the sea is just a thin line separating the sky from the sand. Looking out west across the sea the next piece of land is Newfoundland 2,200 miles away, so our beaches feel the full force of the Atlantic. This helps to keep Cornwall warm, often wet and definitely windy but it also means that we have wonderful waves, therefore surfing is very popular here. Walking along the tide line and looking back at the cliffs in the distance is quite an unusual experience, the roar of the waves being the only sound the rest of the world disappears.
Nearer the shore there are wonderful rock formations and rock pools covered in limpets and barnacles and teeming with life. There are the dunes and the sea pool, the river and the lock gates to the canal. The canal still runs inland for a couple of miles and otters have been seen by walkers on the towpath, we have also seen kingfishers, herons and little egrets in the marsh area where the river runs beside the canal. At the back of Summerleaze beach is the castle with the museum and galleries and of course there is town it’s self.
Moving away from Bude just a few miles to the north are Northcott Mouth , Sandymouth and Duckpool, three more tiny settlements with beautiful beaches. To the south is Widemouth with it’s long sweeping beach, Millook with it’s crazy rock formations, and Crackington Haven.
Then further south still is beautiful Boscastle and then legendary Tintagel.
At home we look out over the sea and on a clear day can see down to Trevose Head and at night can see the lighthouse flashing there. Although the coast is still a mile away we hear the roaring of the waves and can watch the storms blow in from the southwest. There are some drawbacks to living here, we are a very long way from everything, it takes over an hour and a half to reach the nearest motorway and 45 minutes to the nearest train but I think that my biggest problem is that I am going to need several lifetimes to paint everything.
Every year I try to design at least one Christmas card and over time they have varied a lot in style and subject. Last year I chose a robin sitting in a holly tree with ivy growing through it but with not a hint of snow, this year I had to have snow.
The Holly and the Ivy.
I didn’t want something to overtly Christmas, so I picked a winter wildlife scene, I chose
deer as the main subject and sketched out a few until I was happy with how they looked and then transferred them on to the watercolour paper.
As usual they were drawn using watercolour pencils and then I built the rest of the scene around them. I like to start at the top of the paper and work down, this means that I am not reaching across wet paint so there is no chance of smudging. So I started with the sky which is a mixture of Prussian Blue and French Ultramarine and scattered salt on to it to create starry or snow flurry effect. I find that the Prussian Blue reacts to the salt very well but I use the French Ultramarine to warm the colour a little.
I added a very light wash of the same mix to the land in the background to give the blue tint of distant snow then when that was dry a second light wash in areas to suggest dips in the snow.
Next on the rear deer, I used salt on the paint to give him a shaggy winter coat.
On the front two deer I used wax to resist the paint, to create the white markings on their backs.
Then I used some of the weak sky mix to mark the hoof prints in the snow and to show the snow collecting in the undergrowth.
The trees are almost silhouetted in the moonlight so the distant trees and bushes were painted in grey just leaving areas to represent the snow and the tree in the foreground was given a hint of green. I used the weak sky colour to make the shadow of the snow on the branches.
Then I added the holly in the foreground which helps to give the design depth and re-enforces the image as a Christmas card. Then I thought I would play with it.
I drew a snowflake and put it into Photoshop, I hid the background and turned the snowflake white, you should just about be able to see it beside the blue one above. Then I added the snowflakes in layers to the card design, distorting some of them as they were added , so that there were now snowflakes in the background and in the front. Doing it this way If I didn’t like it I still had the original painting but as it is a Christmas card I think the snowflakes stay.
Cards are available at the above link.
Dragons are easier to find than you may think, and so I thought I would use my first blog to explain how I find them. Like ‘Magic Eye’ puzzles it takes some time to see them but when you have been hunting for a while you can find them everywhere.
Usually I start with a day of splashing strong watercolour paint over reasonably heavy watercolour paper, I use Bockingford 140lb NOT. First I lightly brush the sheet with clean water, this gives something for the paint to bleed into so that it has soft uncontrolled edges. Next I drop and splash on my chosen colours, I only use 2 or 3 different colours , this prevents it turning into a muddy mess. While it is still wet I sprinkle ordinary table salt over parts of the paper, the salt works with the paint to give a variety of textures, I may then add a little more colour. Very slowly the paint will find it’s own way and the salt will react leaving patterns in the paint. All that can be done now is to leave it to dry. It can take a day for some to dry totally so I will usually make lots of sheets at a time. This is a very messy process so do protect the area from unwanted splashes. As the paint dries the patterns will grow, you never know what will happen.
The following day, when all is dry I survey the results, it is like looking for shapes in the clouds. I turn each sheet around to see what is hiding there, sometimes it’s easy, sometimes I have to put them aside for a day or so and look at them with fresh eyes.
When I am sure of what I have found I use weak watercolour paint to enhance the shape and coax the dragon out, usually by negative shape painting. Picking out in this manner helps to reveal the dragon, from there it is a matter of layering and filling in with shadows and highlights to expose the full character of the beast.