Saturday, 22 November 2014

Cover 2 Cover / In the Clouds / pages 1 to 4

These sketches weren't done in the order that they appear; I had several ideas right from the start and I wanted them to appear in certain combinations. I also wanted to vary the interpretation of the theme and the media used, and to try and challenge myself a little. As a result, I managed to learn one or two things.

Page 1

"Cloudbusting", oil on paper.


This is an imaginative piece, with a cloud-dancer and a couple of Kate Bush songs (Cloudbusting and The Big Sky) in mind.
It isn't painted on the page of the sketchbook, but on a small piece of oil-painting paper. I started with the idea of using "lean" paint (thinned with turpentine) but ended up with fatter-than-fat neat titanium white, trowelled on with a knife. Needless to say, it's still too wet to stick in the book. Fortunately, I get the book back at the end. 
Update (24/11/14): It seems to be dry enough, so I stuck it in the book this morning. 
Something learnt: No more palette-knife oils in the sketchbooks!

Page 2

"Nuthanger Down in the Mist", Graphitint.


A Down-to-earth cloud, with trees in it... Based on a photograph, this subject seemed a good match for the subtle colours of Graphitint.
Something learnt: White Graphitint has its uses.

Page 3

"Head in the Clouds - Daydreaming" (self-portrait), oil pastel (Sennelier Nature set).

 A metaphorical interpretation. Oil pastel is great fun to use, allowing broad strokes and fine scratching-back (it can also be dissolved in turpentine, but I didn't do that here). It's not best-suited for small drawings; I think I was pushing the limit here. It also never dries, and remains malleable for - as far as I can tell - ever. Oops.
As I had a drawing opposing it in the sketchbook, I needed to do something about that. I cut a piece of greaseproof paper roughly to size and sellotaped it in as a protective leaf. This worked until I foolishly went and stood in a field on a windy day to make the last sketch, at which point the sketchbook flapped around, the greaseproof paper rolled and folded and ... no damage was actually done. But it could have been, and the sketchbook is only at the beginning of its journey, so I investigated online and discovered that Sennelier make a fixative for oil pastel based on a resin spray. It arrived yesterday and seems to do the job very well.
Something learnt: Greaseproof paper is a clumsy solution to the problem of oil pastel in crowded sketchbooks.

Page 4

Ice Cream Castles In the Air, Indian Ink (Derwent Graphik Line Maker pens)

A daydream, a fantasy, and a line from the Joni Mitchell song Both Sides Now, which also happens to be (in part) about clouds. A friend told me it reminded her of Gormenghast, and she is right, although it was unconscious on my part. (I really must read the whole trilogy.)
Something learnt: Don't draw legs on distant flying dragons*.

*I ended up painting the legs out. It looks messy.

More castles in the next instalment...

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