Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Pears, Cat and Istanbul Mosque Spires

Two Pears from Life 

Today was the grand finale of my 3 in 5 Challenge on Facebook. That's #artchallenge 3 in 5. It's a good thing I had so many artist friends on Facebook, since the challenge is so popular some of them might get nominated more than once. But I have done it! Four out of the five days I actually produced three new artworks too. 

Today's are all done with Winsor & Newton Watercolour Markers on my Stillman & Birn Zeta journal, which has 180lb hot press white watercolour paper. I love spelling it that way, sorry to the spelling nuts, but I generally prefer British spelling and it feels like typing with a British accent. Mildly pretentious but it started off as their language so we Americans are spelling it wrong anyway.

I reviewed these markers already, but I am still experimenting with techniques and different papers. I've also got seven new colours to play with, thanks to a friend who bought them and didn't like them. I was stunned and thrilled that she offered them to me and gratefully accepted. So now I've got double or triple on all the colours in my original set plus seven new ones I dearly wanted. 

I'd dithered on getting the 8 color travel set or 12 color tin (lost my British typing accent, whoops!) and she sent me the tin! Also nine other markers some of them duplicating the tin colors. So I now have Raw Umber, Burnt Sienna, Raw Sienna from open stock plus Cadmium Red Hue, Cerulean Blue Hue, Lemon Yellow Hue and Hookers Green Deep to work with! 

I used all of the new colors in the two pears. Lemon Yellow is so pale it vanishes under my warm indoor light or photography, but it blends other colors great. Raw Sienna is oddly lighter than Yellow Ochre but with Burnt Sienna and Raw Umber it really helped add to the progression of warm colors. Then I used a touch of the orange cast Cadmium Red Hue in them too. Ah, right, the green I touched in was Sap Green so yeah, that's just one new color I didn't use in the painting. But Cerulean Blue Hue got into the background with Cadmium Red Hue and a dash of Raw Sienna to make striped wallpaper from imagination.

 Ari Cat Relaxing

This of course is my beautiful fourteen year old Color Point Longhair, aka Shaggy Siamese, Ari. I caught a photo of him in this pose and meant to see if I could get his eyes better with Cerulean Blue. Most of all his fur color better with Raw Umber, which isn't as reddish as Burnt Umber. Wow. A total success. Cadmium Red Hue made a slightly warmer pink inside his lovely black ears, but the black cooled it again. His pose is a bit foreshortened. I added his tail twitching up because I've seen it do that so many times and wanted his tail visible, since I love his tail and wanted to capture the particular dark tail hue as well as his fluffy paws. 

Mixing colors in these is tricky. It takes putting down lines and marks, then sometimes washing them out completely and other times accepting there will still be a pen mark, a bit like pen and wash that way. So I tend to plan as if the marks will stay and then wash out of them into lighter areas. This worked really well on my cat portrait. He has a lot of areas where his brown hair shades grayer and smokier, especially on his paws, and has a nice soft sheen to it. 

The big white spots on his temples are odd - they really are very pale, his skin under them is dead white and they have very fine pale hairs coming up off them but the skin shows in between. Scritching him, he's soft there and fluffy. Some cats have a thin patch there and some black cats have bare skin showing to make a pale area, but his has got pale hairs coming out of the sparse temples. It's mostly Oriental Shorthair black cats that get the lighter balding spot in front of ears look. Makes sense, they're black cats related to Siamese.

Today is a special day for Ari, because every month when we get a new sealed bag of cat food he gets so thrilled. Little things make him so very happy! I used to get the giant bags for economy, but spending a little more to give him New Bag Day every month is more like buying him a treat than anything else.

Istanbul Mosque Spires
Photo reference by jlloren for 1-30-2015 WDE

This is another photo from the same online "sketch my photos" Weekend Drawing Event as the two cats from Istanbul. There were so many beautiful photos of historic architecture and beautiful scenes but I noticed this one the first time I saw the photo, loved the spires and domes going off into the distance and the loose clouds. I did it near-monochrome for a feel of it being a twilight or dawn scene, but got the gold spire in with Yellow Ochre and Prussian Blue Hue.

Again, experiments, mostly with strokes and values and washing. I liked how I got the two domes with bold strokes flicking up from the base. I got a little looser in the rendering and still kept to the general shapes of the scene but broke up the precise symmetry. It came out better than I expected!

So my experimental paintings with Winsor & Newton Watercolour Markers continue. I have yet to use them in a pastel underpainting but decided today wasn't the day for it if I wanted to do three - an underpainted pastel painting is likely to take a day or two in itself, especially if I put sanded primer over it. 

More to come! I feel a great sense of completion. Five days, twelve pieces... that's a big step up from daily sketching. I had fallen into a habit of putting it all away once I did anything, be that a good painting or a quick cat gesture. Now it's easier to think of filling a page with sketches or doing several pages in a day if the day is at all good. Like breaking a meniscus.

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