Peony Practice

peony original sketch
Peony – original sketch

Hi there, how are you?

This week I have been drawing and painting peonies. I had drawn a quick sketch in my sketchbook and thought it would look OK on a card; to be honest I prefer the sketch, it has much more life to it.

The sketch was drawn with a fountain pen, no pencil guides, just quick and simple. It was drawn over some failed thing in grey ink so there is a grey splodge underneath the drawing.

The flowers were all very similar as I transferred the drawing by holding it against a window (poor man’s light box)

I drew it out on watercolour, painted it and realised I’d forgotten to put in the shadows, adding the shadows later lifted the colour. Fail 1.

Trying again this time putting the shadows first which worked but the paper developed some kind of weird bloom? Sad because I liked this one. Fail 2.

The next one is unfinished. I put in the shadows and the first layer then stopped. Maybe I’ll finish it maybe not, I like the softness of it.

unfinished peony watercolour
Unfinished peony watercolour

Time to change everything up. I spotted the coloured brush pens and wondered how they would work on watercolour paper (previously I’d only used them on cartridge paper.)

They are very saturated and I really liked the way the colours blend into each other on this paper, have to do more with these.

peony drawn with brush pens
A peony drawn with brush pens

The colours in the scan look blown out as reds don’t scan well, the photo shows the card and gives a better view of the actual colours. I took the photo in the hope it would show the gold paint, it didn’t really.

red peony
Red peony card

I know it looks really dull painting the same thing over and over but I learn as much about myself as I do the tools and techniques so it’s very useful.

Thanks so much for taking the time to stop by. Till next time, have fun

Trying To Simplify Birds

Chickadee
Chickadee sketch

Hi there, how are you?

This week I have been trying to simplify little bird paintings using a square brush and as few paint strokes as possible. (I did cheat a little for the really tiny details and used a small round brush.)

I’m using watercolour but leaving the white of the paper for little white tummies looked a bit odd so I used a very watered down paynes grey for the whites and added a touch more paint for the shadows.

Above is a chickadee, they look a little similar to the small garden birds we have here, very cute.

Below the same kind of bird hanging on a seed head.

Learning to use a chunky square brush to make the shapes I wanted was interesting, being only black and white made it slightly easier.

Chickadee on a seed head
Chickadee on a seed head

Saw this picture of a blue tit and had to have a go. I love the awkward positions they manage to get themselves into.

This one was a little harder as there are more colours (or variance of colour) and markings. I think it works though, it’s recognisable as a blue tit.

blue tit hanging on a twig
Blue tit hanging on a twig

The last one is a small hornbill. I’m not sure what kind and the zoo has closed all of the aviaries at the moment to protect them from bird flue, I’ll check in the spring when they open again.

It was a little over worked and in the end I used a fountain pen to outline it then added a background. It’s OK as sketches go but not what I’d call simplified, I’ll have to try again.

small hornbill
A small hornbill

I seem to be suffering from some sort of creative block at the moment. I stare longingly at my sketch book, wanting to draw some thing and not knowing where to start so I am setting myself little tasks in the hope it will help. It got my brush moving so here’s hoping.

Thanks so much for taking the time to stop by. Till next time, have fun

Quince Jam’s Ready For The New Year

quince and sage conserve
Quince and sage conserve

Happy New Year! Hi there, were here 2022. Don’t know about you but I’m so glad 2021 is over.

For the last few weeks of December the only creative thing I’ve done is making jam, some experiments I had in mind.

I thought it would be nice to have something special to use with Christmas dinner apart from the usual apple and cranberry sauces. In my river cottage preserves book there is a recipe for herb jellies but they all used apples for a base.

I wondered whether quince could be used in place of apples and since I hate to waste the pulp would making a conserve work. (FYI my idea of a conserve is a slightly less set jam)

Quince and Sage Conserve

1lb peeled and cored quince (I’m using japonicas here)

1lb sugar

1 medium bunch of sage leaves chopped

Wash jars and place in the oven at 100 degrees, this will warm and sterilize the jars ready for use. The lids I place in a jug of boiled water from the kettle.

  • simmer the fruit with the sage leaves and just enough water to cover the fruit in a pan with a lid till the fruit is soft.
  • Add sugar and heat gently till it dissolves
  • boil rapidly until it reaches setting point – use a sugar thermometer if you can get one to work(i have no luck with them at all) or test on a cool plate/saucer. Drop a teaspoon of jam on the plate leave minute and pull a spoon through the middle of the jam, if it stays separate its set if not carry on and test again. I wanted it a little looser so pulled it off the boil a little earlier.
  • Put the jam into the prewarmed jars and screw on the lids. Jam is scalding hot be careful not to get any on your skin!

My batch made roughly four and a half 170g jars which is roughly 6oz a decent size for condiments.

We used the quince and sage Christmas day and I have to say it goes very well with turkey and ham, a very tasty experiment indeed.

Sorry about the sad jam pictures, we have poor light this time of the year.

quince & lemon jam
Quince & lemon jam

Quince and Lemon Jam

  • I had three lemons in the bowl that I thought would blend very nicely.
  • Grate the rind and squeeze the lemons into the pan along with the quince. I neglected to weigh the fruit first, (Doh!).
  • Simmer the fruit till it is soft.
  • Because I hadn’t weight the fruit I used a large jug and measured it that way. I use 1lb of sugar to 1 pint of fruit it usually works fine.
  • Add sugar and heat gently till it dissolves
  • Boil rapidly and continue on as above recipe till the jam on the plate no longer runs back together.

My batch made seven jars of variable sizes from the small 170g to bigger 1lb jars.

Disclaimer – these recipes are my experiments, I am not a cook, I measure in either metric or imperial depending on the mood my brain is in and as in the quince and lemon recipe sometimes forget to measure till later (doh!)

I put the recipes here because I want to remember them and they won’t be lost on here like the scrappy bit of paper I used last year (again Doh!)

As you may notice I no longer use sticky labels on my preserve jars, I got tired of trying to scrape the old labels off each year so now I use elastic bands and little tags, so much easier.

In other news I did a round up of my favourite artings this year on instagram. I didn’t bother with the algorithm versions as I’m a person not a mathematical equation.

After picking the images I liked it was interesting to see the colours, pink, blue green and orange. Interesting it seems like they were the colours of last year.

Four of the images were watercolour the other five ink. Probably of no interest to any one but me but its interesting to see and notice the direction art is taking me.

my favourite nine
My favourite nine

Once again happy new year people, I’m crossing my fingers, toes, legs and eyes that this year will be better year than last year. That we will all be healthy, happy and creatively inspired.

Thanks so much for taking the time to stop by. Till next time, have fun

Colourful Watercolour Beetles

wet in wet beetles
Wet in wet beetles

Hi there, how are you?

These are more pages from the sketchbook I’m using for a Domestika course by Laura McKendry called Creative Watercolor Sketching for Beginners.

Last week was chameleons this week it’s beetles.

The exercise was to drop one colour into another wet in wet; beetles are so colourful and varied so I thought they would be perfect for this, they’re definitely very colourful.

I’m not sure these pages are finished yet but for now maybe I’ll add more to them after I finish the other pages.

more wet in wet beetles
More wet in wet beetles

Two pages away from these beetles is a page about colour and colour wheels. I wanted the pages in-between beetles and colour wheels to connect some how. The wheels are ball shaped so how to get from pretty beetles and wet in wet techniques to colour wheels.

(Wet in wet, beetles, colour and circles.)

dung beetle
Dung beetle

I painted the sky wet in wet it with red, yellow and indigo, the beetles are red with indigo dropped into the centre and the balls are made from collaged circles made for an exercise of painting with discordant colours.

The words read “navigating by the stars” and “on arrival they dance” meaning dung beetles use the stars to navigate to their nests and when they arrive they do a shuffly kind of dance, I like to think in celebration of finally getting to their destination.

In my head it works I think.

I have many more pages to fill in my sketch book and maybe I’ll make a few over Christmas.

beetles dance on arrival
Beetles dance on arrival

I have many more pages to fill in my sketch book and maybe I’ll make a few over Christmas.

Hopefully we will all be able to get together with friends and family this year. I would like to wish you a very happy Christmas and to anyone not celebrating peace and best wishes.

Thanks so much for taking the time to stop by. Till next time, have fun

Colourful Watercolour Chameleons

chameleon collage 1
Chameleon collage 1

Hi there, how are you?

I’m currently taking a Domestika course by Laura McKendry called Creative Watercolor Sketching for Beginners. I like the loose and free way Laura illustrates and her way of teaching.

I know I’m not technically a beginner but after reading the course notes decided it was an interesting and different way to illustrate a sketchbook with simple watercolour techniques.

These pages are from the third module where the lessons are starting to fit together.

The paler background chameleons are collaged from papers using different mark-making techniques, salt, cling film etc.

They’re a little busy and a lot of fun to make.

chameleon collage 2
Chameleon collage 2

The chameleon on the darker background is another collage using different papers. It didn’t stand out enough against the paler painted background so I panted the next page with indigo watercolour, lifted out the leaves and branches and used it here instead.

chameleon collage & lifting 1
Chameleon collage & lifting 1

The fire flies are lightbulbs with wings, odd I know but the way this course works is that every page tries to fit in with the next page and also the previous page.

chameleon collage & lifting 2
Chameleon collage & lifting 2

This is the way the pages look together on the sketchbook.

chameleons and fireflies
Chameleons and fireflies

The aim of the course is to fill a sketchbook with illustrations that follow on from each other and fit together even though they are completely different types of items e.g. chameleons and light bulbs, its a fascinating way to work.

When I finish the sketchbook I will post the pages in order so it will make more sense.

This may take some time.

In other news were having elder care issues. Herself is in hospital at the moment and its putting lots of things on hold as her health and welfare are utmost in our minds.

Normal service will be resumed as soon as possible.

Thanks so much for your patience and for taking the time to stop by. Till next time, have fun

The Last Of The Fuchsia

fuchsia watercolour sketch
Fuchsia watercolour sketch

Hi there, how are you?

Earlier in the week I drew the last of this years fuchsia flowers. Lucky thing really as on Friday Storm Arwen blew through.

We lost a couple of roof tiles, two fence panels and all of the flowers blew off the fuchsia plant. Amazing.

I’d painted the flowers below first, the paper was unforgiving and although it was able to take the watercolour the colours looked heavy and overworked.

Trying again (above) this time I used the watercolour quite dry and painted with a smaller brush than usual, the colours aren’t as overworked and they are truer to the flowers.

I don’t often look inside fuchsia flowers, it was interesting to draw them from that angle, I’ll have to remember to do this more often.

fuchsia sketch
Fuchsia sketch

Drawing with a fountain pen (no pencil guidelines) this was fun, just concentrating on the shapes of the petals. I always find this kind of drawing very meditative. It’s lots of different bits of the plant put together, I think it makes for a cool sketchbook page.

fuchsia drawn with fountain pen
Fuchsia drawn with fountain pen

This is one of the white roses from my bouquet of birthday flowers, it’s long gone now though I did take some photos and I’ll probably dip into them sometimes till spring appears again.

white rose
white rose

Thanks so much for taking the time to stop by. Till next time, have fun

Painting Octopus and Tadpoles

blue octopus sketch
Blue octopus sketch

Hi there, how are you?

I made birthday cards recently for family members. We like to make each other cards, they’re more personal and it’s always fun to see everyone’s ideas.

In my sketchbook I had sketched out a page of inky octopus with two brush pens, one black and the other a pale grey. The legs are a lot of fun to draw and usefully it planted an idea for a card in my head.

Inky octopus ink sketches
Inky octopus ink sketches

The image at the top of the post is the sketch for the card. I liked the colours but thought the fine liner was a little heavy.

In the card I used a thinner fine liner, it looks much better. The colours are burnt orange and Prussian blue, together they make some lovely soft greens.

After painting the octopus I decided to add a background. This is where planning would have been very handy as painting in the background in first I could have given it a nice gradient (very hard to do painting around all of those legs).

He said he liked his card and that’s the important thing.

octopus card
Octopus card

The next card is a little frog looking down under the lily pad into the water. I’m not sure why the frog looks brown here as he is green on the card?

I painted in the background first this time, see planning.

I enjoyed painting this and apparently the tadpoles were a big hit hehehe.

hey down there
Hey down there

Thanks so much for taking the time to stop by. Till next time, have fun

Quick Blobby Sketches

humming bird blobs
Humming birds from blobs

Hi there, how are you?

I have been in a funny mood this week, wanting to draw something but not knowing what to draw. Normally when I feel like this the best thing to do is just play.

I made lots of blobs of colour on the page, some yellow and some blue. Then with another colour tried to turn them into humming birds.

They’re very scrappy but they are interesting shapes.

I did the same thing with frogs; this time I put yellow blobs down first and finished with green.

The details were picked out with a fountain pen.

froggy blobs
Froggy blobs

More little birds in black, brown and grey; I used pinterest birds to make the shapes this time.

sketchy humming birds
Sketchy humming birds

Stephanie Fizer Coleman has a video about putting texture onto sketched shapes. She makes lots of painted papers and scanned them into the computer to use as texture resources.

It looked interesting so I gave it a go. I used a sketch of a little flying frog (seen in the bottom corner of the image below) and used a painting that had lots of brushstrokes and desaturated it for the texture.

If I were to do a lot of this kind of thing a lot I’d probably have to make my own purpose built textures first.

This kind of thing takes a lot of practice to make anything decent. It was just fun to play around and so something different.

computer textured frog
Computer textured frog

I’m also using “ye olde drawing tablet” from the times when windows 7 was a thing. I was thinking of buying one but wasn’t too sure it’s something I need so I rooted the kids olde one out to see how I get on. The pressure thing doesn’t work any more although it did manage to find itself a driver. All I can say right now is it’s going to be a bit of a learning curve.

Ahh the possibilities.

Thanks so much for taking the time to stop by. Till next time, have fun