Tag Archives: watercolours

Something Of Myself

18 Jun

rose drypoint watercolour[2]

I have always done a lot of teaching with adults and I think that an important part of my  technique is demonstration. I always work alongside the people I teach, going through the same processes as them, and facing the same highs and lows.


I was running a weekend course at the Glynn Vivian Art Gallery, linked to their Käthe Kollwitz exhibition. We went into the gallery to draw from her work and then went back into the studio to develop drypoint plates and woodblocks inspired by her prints. I drew directly onto a paper drypoint plate with a fineline pen, studying a small section of her etching ‘Raped’ from 1908, a few square inches around a foot and some sunflowers. Once I had incised the lines into the surface of the plate, I inked it up (Intaglio Printmaker’s Drypoint Shop Mix) and printed it onto wet paper (Somerset) and while it was still damp, I worked into it with some light watercolour washes (Winsor & Newton). Her original is monochrome so I’ve put something of myself into it.

Dracula In The Sun

29 May

2018 Tate Whitby

Husb and I spent the Bank Holiday visiting the North East of England, looking at places we’ve been meaning to see for years and finally got around to it. We dropped in on Whitby, home of  Whitby Jet jewellery ( I collected a few antique pieces back in the 1970s before it was fashionable) and the dramatic setting for Bram Stoker’s Dracula. The weather was fantastic, hot and sunny and there was a theatre group performing a fast and funny version of the story through the grounds of the magnificent Whitby Abbey.

I had to have a scribble. I quickly sketched in the abbey, with a Staedtler drawing pen, just before the performance started and did a quick Winsor & Newton watercolour wash, then over-sketched one of the actors. I didn’t do any more because we had to follow the actors all over the Abbey site.

I Don’t Like Brushes

27 Oct

rose 1

Water Colour. The clues in the name. Water. Colour. Water first, then the colour. I’ve been having a few little experiments with watercolours lately. It pays to use excellent quality paints as the colours are so vibrant. I soaked the paper with a sponge first then dappled little spots of watercolour onto the surface with my finger, then ended up with a few scribbles of Aquarelle pencils. I’ve never liked paintbrushes, which might be why I’m a printmaker. It’s nice to play around with materials with for no other reason than having a play.



Quickies In The Sun

5 Aug

3 quickies in the sun

A dry and sunny day in August is as rare as hen’s teeth in these here parts so despite smothering with a cold and sore throat, Husb and I put on our jackets and drove down to Southgate on the Gower Peninsula for a couple of hours. I sat in the sunshine on the clifftop and did some quick and tiny watercolour studies, en plein air, using Winsor & Newton half pans onto a rough Saunders Waterford watercolour paper (300 gsm) from St. Cuthbert’s Mill which comes as a glued block. I haven’t used glued paper before and it’s brilliant, no need to stretch the paper before use. I tried to ignore the detail of what I saw before me and concentrate on getting down the colours while Husb picked blackberries. He’s in the kitchen now, getting this year’s Bramble Jelly started. mmmmmmmm 😀


Quality And The Male Nude

6 Aug

Alan seated small

Here is another of the series of ink and watercolour nudes I did a while ago. This is an older male model I’ve worked with for years, he’s a stalwart of the life drawing group at Swansea Print Workshop. I did the line drawing with Faber Castell Pitt drawing pens. They’re my favourites and I’ve been using them for about a decade now. They’re waterproof, permanent and lightfast and they are very smooth to draw with. The watercolours are Winsor & Newton artist quality half pans and I have used a Cotman watercolour sketchbook, size A3.

It’s vital to use the best quality materials – acid free paper, permanent drawing pens and lightfast watercolours – otherwise the work will fade away to nothing over time. As a rule of thumb, materials marketed as ‘archival’ or ‘artist quality’ will not give you any problems but materials sold as ‘student quality’ or unmarked will not be good enough for a professional artist who intends to sell their work.

An Older Man (male nude)

19 Feb

19 older man

I like to draw older models because it’s interesting to see how anatomy changes with age. When I’m drawing, I often make mistakes and do a few sketches until I get it reasonably right. Here’s the first attempt (above) with notes about what’s wrong with it. I had another go and was happy with the second drawing, done in Faber Castell Pitt drawing pens, various sizes, onto Somerset 250gsm paper. I added colour with Winsor & Newton half pan artist water colours.

19 older man 2

An Ancient Fort in Shangri-La

13 Oct

I was lucky enough to go on an amazing trip round Pakistan a couple of years back and spent a few days up in the mountains in the North East of the country, not far from the Chinese border. We stayed in Karimabad, a small village thousands of feet up in the Karakoram Mountain range. Our lovely little hotel was set at around 4,500 feet and we craned our necks as we sat on the verandah to see the mountain tops, at around 30,000 feet. It was Springtime and the entire valley was smothered in the pale pink blossom of tens of thousands of apricot trees; a staple crop, Oxfam sells them in Britain and they’re delicious.

The Hunza Valley is reputed to be the inspiration for the novel Shangri-La and it was an exhausting journey to get there, two and a half days on the Karakoram Highway, the little minibus struggling slowly as we climbed up the Indus Valley towards China. The sense of scale is staggering. There is nothing like it in Britain. Snowdon, the tallest mountain in Wales and England, is 3,000 feet, lower than our Karimabad hotel. I sat on the verandah in a little wicker chair padded with beautifully embroidered cushions, in the Spring sunshine, sipping green tea from delicately painted china cups and drawing with ink and wash.

Ink and watercolour: Baltit Fort, Hunza.

I don’t usually do landscapes, but I had to try and get something of this glorious country into my sketchbook. This is the view I saw; the ancient fortress of Baltit built on a precipitous rocky outcrop at least another thousand feet up again from my hotel and the ‘Lady’s Finger’ peak towering above. The area is glacial so there is no rain but snow lies on the mountain tops all year round. Villagers grow their crops by careful irrigation and an ancient technique of ‘seeding’ the glacier, which encourages it to spread down the mountain towards the villages.

The drawing is done in Faber Castell Pitt drawing pens and coloured with watercolour washes, using Windsor and Newton artist’s half pans into an A3 Cotman watercolour sketchpad.


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