Go easy with that colour.

CB based CR, first sketch.

The water colour paints that I have been experimenting with in my recent forays into the world of colour fall into three easily discernible groups. First there are those which come in small block form in a handy painting box. These are what you might call “classic” watercolours and although offering apparently quite vibrant yellows and reds, they are generally rather earthy in nature. The box I have here contains eighteen blocks, quite enough for most things. The second group are in liquid form, like toothpaste, and come in small tubes. My small collection of these covers some Payne’s Greys and some tinting greys of various hues. The third group are those Radiant Liquid Water Colours that look more like inks and come in small bottles with a pipette in the top.


The first and second groups are reasonably easy to get along with although there are moments when certain paints do weird things when applied to certain papers. I’m yet to get to the bottom of that one. The third group, those radiant fellows, are where all the danger lies and one must approach them with some caution. Through their vibrancy they tempt you to get a bit over excited with their application. One finds oneself forever walking a fine line between creating an image with a lovely glow to it, and utterly overdoing it, ending up with a riot of colour that could almost make your eyes bleed.


The “sketch” above, to me anyway, is one such moment when I stepped over that line. Thinking I’d go for a simple vegetative backdrop I piled on the colour like there was no tomorrow. Once I’d started I found I couldn’t stop myself. What was meant to be a rather subdued background ended up being furnished with nuclear powered bushes. The scan almost doesn’t do them justice and I had to go and do something else for a while rather than attempt a sky. It remains without said sky, the white mimicking the grey overcast look of a typical english day. It is stuck to the studio wall now, where it serves as a reminder to take it easy.


I do like the way the bike turned out though, which is what the sketch was all about in the first place. I traced this drawing off on the light box a couple of times so that I could monitor more what I was doing through working on the same picture a number of times. Version 2 will feature in the next post.


Finally, if you are reading this Larry, you can see that I’m using the pictures of your bike to inspire some images. The Honda CB750 is a handsome beast and serves as a great starting point for some future images. There is still work to be done but the process has started and you will be able to follow my progress here on the blog.


Play with your paints.

To those of you visiting the blog it looks like nothing has been going on for some time. In some ways this is true and, in others, nothing could be further from the truth. We are all, at some stage or another victims of things that are beyond our control. Sometimes they are things which require our immediate attention, are complex problems that need solving, or often purely connected to the mundanity of modern life. In this case it has been the latter, the need to go out and earn a meagre living. This unhelpful chunk of freelance work, because I’d rather spend my time at home drawing, has been a bit of a distraction, one of those monsters with lots of problem solving thrown in to leave you drained at the end of every day.

Creative image making has not ground to a halt though, it has merely slowed a bit and this is mainly due to me getting my water colour paints out and having a play. Keeping any colour work and the monochrome stuff going concurrently is quite a challenge as they require you to switch between knowledge centres in your brain all the time and I find that quite tiring. But the colour experiments have been fun so far and I’ll get the results of this fiddling up here as soon as possible.

In the meantime enjoy the latest of my “bikeheads”. These are always quite small and so serve as a great way to warm up or practise a particular technique. Returning to the brushes even after a couple of days exposes some rustiness unless one is a consummate expert, and I am certainly not, so it’s a good way to get back into the swing of things. What is interesting about playing with the paints and inks is that the outcome is still often a surprise, invariably unexpected, both good and bad. The good ones prompt you to commit that small action to memory, putting it in the “do that next time” folder. The bad ones go in the “don’t do that” folder and usually make your eyes bleed. I’ve got one of those to show you next time.


In the pipeline.

As mentioned previously there is a small queue of stuff which is patiently waiting to get onto the blog. It all needs scanning and fiddling with slightly to get it into the right shape to do that. This process seems to take more time than it rightfully should but, then again it’s worth making the effort to get them all looking as good as possible, even the sketches. So here are the first couple of recipients of a bit of tinkering.

This first one, above, is a half done colour version of a biro ink drawing which was originally posted back in October. That was quite a popular post, so encouraged by that and another watercolour picture which featured in September, it seemed like a good idea to see what this one would look like if given the same treatment. The base image is a scan of the original pencil sketch printed out onto a piece of plain fine grain watercolour paper. I paint straight onto this without bothering to stretch the paper or anything fancy. Filling out the detailed areas of the drawing first, the bike is then followed by the rider and finally the background. As this one is somewhat of an experiment, a black rapidograph pen (a Rotring 0,35 remember those?) was used to emphasise some of the outline stuff at this stage to see how it would look. Most of the above is done in a combination of greys. Oddly the solid block Payne’s grey in the paintbox, and the liquid Payne’s grey that comes in a tube are completely different colours, but this provides a nice choice between one which is quite blue in hue and one which is much blacker in character. I avoid using pure black as much as possible, which goes way back to being “informed” by an old tutor once that nothing in daylight is actually ever really black. Hoping to complete this very soon.

This second image is a detail of a drawing which is taking shape on the A2 Cartridge pad which spends most of its life leaning against that wall here in the micro-studio. Having talked about scribble sketching in a post before Christmas it seemed like a good idea to see if that technique could be explored a bit more and the jump up in size from A3 to A2 felt like the right thing to do. In all honesty there is a little bit of cheating going on here, there’s a very rough pencil layout underneath all the ink. Essentially though this is drawn pretty much off the cuff using my previous small sketch as a rough guide. This slightly rougher paper lends itself well to leaning the biro over almost to the point where it won’t make a mark, and scribbling away. There are some bits still to do to finish it off. Apologies if the image is a little dark around the edges but it’s too big to fit under the scanner so out came the camera. Really looking forward to finishing this one and then I can put both finished images in the gallery.