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Festive Felines

Two Cats Napping

Two Cats Napping

I’m still at the stage of being in love with this one, it’s great to feel like that about something you have just created. It’s not that I can’t see room for improvement – there’s always something – but I was trying a few things that I’ve been too cautious about in the past and found to my delight that being bold can have great results.

I enjoyed playing with the colours and light in my first portrait in colour. The tricky part was combining separate reference images with different lighting – something I had shied away from before. It probably isn’t as accurate as it might have been if I had worked from a single photo, but I think it encouraged me to be creative and I made the light warmer and softer as a result – making the fur on the tabby, Garlic purplish. It almost has the look of a picture book illustration.

I’m so glad that I was able to finish it a little earlier than expected and got it sent in time for Christmas. Emma ordered the pastel painting of her best friend’s cats as a gift after a tough year and both ladies were enthusiastic about the result.

I hope you all have a great New Year.

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Tay Rail Bridge with Pastels

Tay Rail Bridge from Dundee

Tay Rail Bridge from Dundee

I quite like how it turned out with the pastels. I tried not to over work it so didn’t add much, I didn’t want to take away from the lovely translucency of the watercolour where it was working well. I lightened up the sky a little, tried to play light on the water and added some contrast and texture to the wall and path in the foreground to give it some solidity. I kept feeling I ought to add more detail to the rail bridge but at this scale I found it difficult to add anything, and I needed to zoom in on the bridge in my reference photo to pick up the detail so it probably shouldn’t be there!

I love the scrumptiousness of seeing all the pastel colours laid out so I’ll give you another workspace shot. All the pretty colours!

Workspace with fabulous pastels

Workspace with fabulous pastels

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Tay Rail Bridge in Watercolour

I’m not completely sure I’m finished with this but thought I’d share the results of the watercolour.

I like the riverside area where the colours are clean but some areas didn’t quite turn out as I hoped such as the light in the upper section of the clouds and the way the light catches on the water.  I found the watercolours trickier to control that the dry media I’ve been using lately. I may end up taking some pastels over the top to try and capture the light better and add some stronger detail in the foreground to stop the wall looking like it is floating. It is so handy being able to work light over dark with pastels. I’m quite happy with it as a study and first attempt at watercolour in several years though. It was fun to do the ink because it was something I had been too timid to use in the past because it is so unforgiving of mistakes.

I have enjoyed working with watercolours again. Next time I need to remember to protect my lights better and really figure out when I want to work into wet washes and when I need to leave it till it dries. What I’d love to try at some point is Gouache (opaque watercolours).

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Breaking out the Watercolours

Playing with my new pens and some watercolours

Playing with my new pens and some watercolours

Last night was the first little bit of painting I’ve done in years. Painting the tin of watercolours was a fun way to see how all the colours looked on the page. You can also see the test of my new Faber Castell pens, just seeing how they handled before I started inking the Tay Bridge Sketch. I’m not sure how disastrous my attempt to use watercolour on the sketch will be but hopefully I can have a play with them tonight and we’ll see.

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In Progress: Tay Rail Bridge

Sketch of Tay Rail Bride

Pen sketch of the Tay Rail Bridge from Riverside Avenue, Dundee

On Sunday we went for a drive and ended up in Dundee. The light on the journey was amazing and I got lots of interesting reference photos. By the time we got down to the river it had begun to rain though, so the light wasn’t so striking but I’ll do my best.

This is a new mixed media pad and these are new pens and now I’m posting about it in a new blog, so a fresh start all around. I plan to use water colours on it next but I haven’t used them in years so it may be a disaster!