Sunday, December 11, 2011

Practicing different techniques

I have had very little time to paint of late, and now with Christmas around the corner and the children all arriving possibly will have even less time. I have decided that I need to practice a lot more than I do, so instead of doing elaborate pictures, will try and do a few every week using different techniques. My tutor in my weekly painting class thinks this is a good idea and will support my work, which is a great feeling!  This first one was worked wet on wet and I put into practice some of the lessons I had learnt from Ona about increasing the strength of the pigment and COI!
The next one was painting wet on dry and again using pigments with different values. Both pictures were done quickly and the experience was terrific! There were no reference pictures but just images from my head!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

20 min challenge

I have had so little time to paint of late. Life has been hectic as I have been travelling hugely.  My travels have taken me to some really remote and rural parts of the country. There was very little time for anything expect work! However I have a small pan of travelling paints and a sketch book and keep them handy, so when we stopped at a small town for a meal, the pink bougainvillea in front of this old house, caught my eye and I did a quick 20 min sketch. It turned out well and I realise it was because I didn't have time to think, just grab my pencil, do a quick sketch, and paint quickly.....

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Practicing figures!

I really haven't had much time to paint or post as life seems to have taken on a really hectic turn this last month. Anyway I have done some sketches and tried a painting of a figure. I like the pencil sketches better than the painting!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Auto 1

The newest member to our family, my about to be son-in-law is Portuguese and was totally taken up by the 'autos' in India, during his first few visits. So I have decided to paint him a series of pictures called the 'auto' series. I have used Indian artist Mullick's pictures as references as he has a great style and I am learning a lot by copying bits from his work. The scenes also appeal to me so much as they are everyday scenes from rural and urban India!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Practicing Washes!

I have been practicing washes. I have been doing a lot of painting and practicing different techniques with Ona. I am also attending a weekly class which is not brilliant, but I get to practice under the guidance of an artist, who is physically present to critique what I do. Anyway as I paint more I have realised that my pictures often had  'patchy' bits and have been trying to understand why this is happening. I decided to go back to the basics.  One of my mistakes is that I don't mix enough of the paint on my palette and so I have to mix more mid wash!!!! The second is that I don't wait for the wash to dry out completely. Keeping this in mind I did some painting and these are my experiments. I decided one way to practice would be to copy pictures of other artists, so  have copied the paintings of an Indian water colourist, Millend Mulick for the first 2 pictures.

The third practice piece is an exercise from a book called Water Colour Landscape Course by David Bellamy, a British artist. It was simple, but taught me a lot about value and controlling the strength of the paint.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Light, shadows and COI

In my last set of exercises with Ona I focused on light directions. This is a continuation of the same lesson and was a great learning experience. I chose a reference picture from a holiday in Ireland:
Ona then gave me an exercise She said 'look at your ref photo of the Ireland scene. Printout the colour photo a couple times and play around with a pencil on the photo creating  2 different light sources. Some ideas to get you going... you could have the scene as midday with the sun quite high in the sky... what would happen to the shadows? In contrast an early morning scene with the sun low down.... what happens to the shadows then? Draw in the shadows where you think they might be and also mark you light source
Its amazing how the effect of light can totally transform a ref photo isnt it'. So I took 2 printouts and coloured them in. This was the picture in the mid day sun:
And this was the picture in evening light, with the sun low in the west

To reinforce what I had learnt she asked me to do a third exercise, 'to re create one of those days where it is part cloudy but some areas of the painting are in sunshine. This would be really effective for eg if you wanted to make the island your COI by having a pool of sun in this area . It could include some of the foreground too or not. I will leave this up to you'. This is the result:
I loved doing this exercise and certainly learnt so much. Now as I go through my day, I find myself constantly observing light sources, the way shadows get cast....I do wish I had more time to practice though!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

painting figures

I have embarked on this self challenge to finally paint figures and portraits. I have been copying other artists paintings, and doing a relatively decent job. I have also been sketching with a pencil and enjoying that. Suddenly I felt like using water colours, so decided to paint from a reference photograph. This was taken on a trek in the Himalayas. The photograph with the pot in the foreground was a nice composition, but the picture also captured his slightly shy smile, which my painting hasn't managed to!!!! I think I have got the composition and the colours, but messed up on the face, and the fluidity of the figure. I am posting it anyway, as this blog is about recording myjourney towards learning to be a water colour artist, the good and the not so good !

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Sketching live!!

Viveck was reading this morning, relaxed and comfortable on Nishka's front room sofa! The light was coming in from the big bay window, and I decided to plunge into my first 'live' sketch! I am pleased with this as besides being a reasonable likeness, I have managed to catch some light and shade as well. I am not sure I have got a 'sketching' technique in place with regards to pencil strokes, but will work on it!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Flowers in the sun

I was looking for pictures showing light at different times of the day for my art class with Ona. I came across this one which I took in Mizoram, and all the great feelings I felt that day came rushing back! So I quickly decided to paint it, remembering what I have been learning in my classes first that a reference is only a reference and second, and possibly more important, is that expressing feelings in a painting makes it special.
The day I took this picture we were in a remote part of Mizoram which is at the eastern most part of India well into the Himalayas. We were visiting families of deaf children who were part of our progrramme from VAANI the NGO I run . We arrived at the village after driving for what seemed like interminable hours.  Families are so poor and have so little in terms of shelter or even food, and yet there were the village children, deaf and hearing, with there families full of welcome smiles. Excited that we were there, wanting to share the successes of their children since the programme had started, behind them the hillside was covered in these yellow blossoms, like miniature sunflowers, only adding to the joy of the moment. It made me realize how blessed we are that our work is so worthwhile!
The reference picture was
And my rendition, where I have highlighted the flowers to capture that very special moment

Sunday, October 2, 2011

More figures!

Some more sketches...these are still copies from other people's sketches but I plan to start doing some real life figures soon.

 Need to get the practice of the proportions of the figures I want to draw! This last one is certainly very very thin!!!!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Working on portraits

I am practicing figures and portraits.  I am attending a weekly art class, the final aim being to be able to paint water colour figures and portraits. My teacher feels I should first work with pencil before using paints. I enjoyed using pencil and the control it gave me.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

practice using reference pictures

Ona has been encouraging me to practice using reference pictures, before I go onto the next exercise of understanding light source!
I chose this picture of the Takshang Goemba or the Tiger Nest Monastery in Bhutan which was built in the
15th Century. It is such a dramatic view! The view for me reiterates the strength of the human spirit, that very spirit that makes the impossible, possible!!! I kept thinking how resilient and devoted the monks, who built it, must have been to build something so amazing. The space has been carved out of the sheer cliff primarily made up of rock!

In my picture I wanted to capture the  drama of the scene, the immense rocky face of the mountains, the wonderful colours, and the monastery nestling in it, totally protected from the elements! I thought about this for a bit and decided I would leave out the trees and focus on the rocks and the monastery. I decided to do a small picture 10"X7". I did my first sketch concentrating on detailing the monastery and just marking the most prominent lines in the rocks.

I next chose my palette which had ultramarine blue, burnt umber, raw sienna, paynes grey, sap green,  hookers green, lime yellow and red. I started by finishing the mountains, working quickly and in washes! Something Ona has encouraged and ensures my picture remains transparent. Some negative painting also helped. I wanted to give an impression of the green shrubs midst the rocks and not have too many details.
Finally I finished the picture giving detail to the monastery. I have deliberately left a white edging to the picture, as I feel it adds  to the general effect and drama!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

TMC Bananas!

Finally time for a TMC! The bananas on the table this morning made a lovely picture. I loved the yellows! The more I paint the more I'm aware and am able to see the subtleties of colours in things.

Monday, September 12, 2011

The learning continues!!!

I had sent Ona some photographs and we chose the one of the church in Portugal as the first one to start working with. This is the reference picture;

I painted the first one as I saw it on the reference and it was a total mess! I thought I would brighten the colour of the red and make the picture darker, more twiligkt hour sort of thing but the result was awful. I also made the mistake of using paper which was obviously not meant for watercolours. I mixed too many pigments on the palette which resulted in big spaces of muddy colours!!!! Since I am recording my learning process, I need to post the here is is
The next version of the picture was a little better as I spent a little time thinking about it and also remembering what Ona had wanted, to use the picture as a reference only and not try and paint everything literally.I changed the paper and also did a larger picture. I have realised that I really don't like painting small pictures! The second picture is better than the first....

Sunday, September 11, 2011

2nd Course!

I have signed up for Fiona Kingdon's second individual online tutoring course  and am loving ever bit of it! . The objectives of this course built on what I had learnt in the first one and were (i.) to consolidate techniques to help define a COI in a painting learnt during the first set of three paintings, (ii) to learn how to develop or change a light source in a painting and experiment with creating colourful shadows, (iii) to develop a greater understanding of how colour can enhance mood/ atmosphere and experiment with using complimentary and analogous colours.
I first carried out a series of exercises to get a clearer idea of how colours work, what their properties are, how they interact with each other, what are complementary and analogue colours, how they work in a picture and so on. The exercises were very useful and I was able to understand complmentary and analogueu colours by creating my own colour wheel with the colours from my collection
I made greys
I made a chart of my own colours and listed them under cool and warm colours

The exercises to determine use of colour for the COI :

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Sketches from Bhutan

Naeeda gave me a sketchbook which I decided to christen on our recent weekend trip to Bhutan. What a wonderful country! The magic starts on the flight itself,  as we start approaching Bhutan nestled among clouds and mist in the heart of the Himalayas!  The views were dramatic and both Thimpu and Paro had their own unique charm. I did a few pictures pleine aire, sitting on my hotel balcony, and have taken many pictures to use as reference for future sketches and paintings.
This was a view of Thimpu, the capital of Bhutan sketched from my hotel. It was mid afternoon and the sun was bright glistening on the river which flows through the town. Nafisa says the colour of the water is like liquid jade!

Straight ahead of us was this monument which was built in memory of the 4th king of Bhutan when he died. It was surrounded by trees and I have tried to capture the contrasts of the greens, white and the golden dome!

This next sketch is of a huge statue of the Buddha built of brass on a spur overlooking Thimpu. It is so huge that one can see it for miles around! It was very early morning and the brass glinted in the early morning sun. There was a rising mist and the clouds were a pale pink....I rushed in to get my paints to capture the moment!

Friday, September 2, 2011


Another figure...this picture creates its own story... a young woman taking a breather in between her daily this case possibly filling water from the well! I loved the colours, and enjoyed doing my version in watercolour!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

I liked the fact that I was able to get the skin tones well, and her leaning figure!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

My first figure!

I have some classes to finish in an art course I started a while back. The artist who is teaching specialises in figures and portraits, so I decided to use my remaining 6 classes  to learn to paint figures and maybe even a portrait! My teacher said that the best way to start is to copy pictures painted by other artists. I wasn't sure that this was the best way, but decided to go along anyway. I was pleasantly surprised that this is a technique followed by many people. The paintings I am copying are done by a local Indian artist called Fernandes, sometime in the 60s. This is my first attempt, and it certainly came out better that I expected!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Picture 3 finished!

After a gap, I was finally able to get back to some serious painting and finish the 3rd of my pictures for Fiona's art course. Before I go to the final product, let me share the process. I did a monotone of the picture first, which is lower down in this blog. It was more for me to understand the lessons I had been given in understanding value.
For this picture I decided to do a slightly larger one than my earlier one. It measures 14" X 11" and is painted on Renaissance 200 gsm rough. I started by a drawing of the picture. I didnt put in too many details, just got the main lines.  I had never stretched water colour paper before, so under Ona's guidance, wet and stretched the paper and let it become dry.
Once this was done I chose my palette of colours which were ultramarine blue, paynes grey, light red, burnt umber and burnt and raw sienna. I had decided to make the cottage in the center my primary COI and the snows at the back the second one. Ona said that COI's depended on what you wanted your painting to say She said 'It is always good to have a thought that you want to convey in any painting. Its what brings it to life. yes, you need the technical skills but paintings that really catch the eye are more than this. So what does this photo say to you? or what do you want your painting to say to others? ' I agreed that I wanted to convey the harshness of life in these altitudes.
I started painting from the background to the foreground, so the pictures developed  like this

 We found that the red stone in the painting (although it was there in the photograph) actually took away from my COI, so I removed it the best i could and matched it to the other colours of the wall. Another valuable lesson learnt that one didn't have to copy everything from one's reference picture but interpret it to say what one wants! So the next one looked like this
To finish it I put a few blue washes on the mountain at the back so that it receded and added a little more detail to the walls and the cottage. Ona also suggested I lighten the ridges on the extreme right and this really made a difference!
This is the final product and I am DELIGHTED with it

Monday, August 15, 2011

TMC Karela and Barbatti!

I did a TMC after a really long time and realised I had really missed it! I had taken out the karela, barbatti and a tomato to make up a sabzi for lunch. The sun was shining on them on the kitchen counter, so I did a quick TMC. It really is am amazing tool to strengthen ones painting skills. You have to focus on whats essential, and capture it quickly and can't spoil the picture with too much fiddling! It suits my own style very well indeed!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

More Africa!

We went to Tanzania by road from Nairobi. In fact we did as much of our travel by road as we could. Its the way we like to travel as one gets to see so much of the country! We spent our first night at Lake Manyara, in a wonderful forest lodge. This was the view that greeted me in the morning. We looked down into the lake area with Mount Meru in the background. I painted really quickly as I wanted to catch the colours of the early morning. The pinks, the golds and the overall blues and mauve were wonderful!

As we drove through the vast dry open planes of Serengati we would often see Masai shepherd in the distance, brightly clothed and jewelled adding a spot of colour to an otherwise dry land! I caught sight of these two under a HUGE tree as we drove past on our way to the Ngorongoro crater. The  vegetation had changed here as we drove through forests which were evergreen as now we were at a higher altitude. Came back to the hotel and tried to re create what I had seen!
We stayed on Lake Kibu in Rwanda. This is a view of one of the many islands on the lake, as the light began to fade in the evening.
 In Uganda we visited a tea Estate. While Viveck went to the Factory and the estate, I sat on the veranda trying to capture the hushed serenity of the place.