Sunday, 20 October 2013

Derwent Academy part 3

My box of pencils have arrived and I'm delighted with them, the box is solid wood with a sliding lid and nice velvet holders to stop the pencils rattling about.  I did this drawing of a few vegetables before I cooked them for dinner.  The pencils are great washed with water and then I went over the top when the drawing was dry to thicken up the colours.  They work well on this tinted paper, covering it very well with strong pigment.
I always make a colour chart of new pencils to test the colours  and try out different mixes.
Here's my certificate for completing the course.

Monday, 14 October 2013

Sunday treats

Living by the sea has so many benefits, like the warmer air thanks to the gulf stream, the beautiful places to walk to and the easy access to seafood fresh from the sea.  The north of Brittany is renowned for it's shellfish from scallops through lobsters and mussels to oysters, all of which are distributed throughout France.  We buy our scallops live in their shells from the fish counter at the port and you have to be very careful opening them as they can give you a sharp nip by shutting suddenly!   The oysters we buy on a Sunday morning at the village shop where the producer sets up her stall and has a continuous queue till all are sold.   We tend to go out for the mussels as they take ages to clean and the local restaurants sell them with excellent chips too!  I'm afraid we can't afford the lobsters but do have a crab now and again, especially the claws which are so easy to cook and eat.
Yesterday Bob went out extra early to make sure of getting some of these flat oysters which we've never tried before.  They are half the size of the normal ones we have and twice the price at 1 euro each. They were delicious but I think I still prefer the others.  We treat ourselves most Sundays now and have a routine of buying some for our friend, Stephanie the baker, who is too busy to get them herself.  It's no trouble as Bob has to stop at her shop for our baguette on the way home any way!
The shells are difficult to draw having very odd shapes with twists and turns and lots of flaky looking layers.  The one at the top of the post was drawn 3 years ago on smooth paper, sitting in the sun using a summery selection of coloured pencils. The other 2 were drawn yesterday on watercolour paper with a grain and my autumnal colours. The day was dull too and I was rather influenced by the light and feel that they are not so attractive as the first one.  Maybe I should have tried to paint them in watercolours instead but I didn't want to get out the paraphernalia, crayons are so mush easier and cleaner!

Saturday, 12 October 2013

Derwent academy part 2

Lesson 4 of the academy classes was drawing in coloured pencils, my favourite medium.  It was interesting to see a demonstration of shading and using colours for optical mixing and I think my cockerel turned out ok.
In the same lesson was a demonstration of drawing on black paper and this has really inspired me to use tinted paper for more drawings;  I had bought a 'Travel scrapbook' for 1 euro at the local boot sale and discovered it was perfect for this type of sketch. It's not proper drawing paper but the pencils glide beautifully over the surface and scan brilliantly giving the images an inner glow.
Lesson 5 was watercolour painting and the demonstration showed wet in wet colour mixing on the paper.  I think I got a bit carried away with this one using autumn colours but they seemed to think it was ok!
Finally Lesson 6 was all about using oil pastels.  I have had a basic set of these for many years, having got them free with a pad of pastel paper but never liking the texture of the crayons they stayed in the cupboard unused.  I was shown how to put down a base layer of several colours and then to glaze over with black.  Then with an embossing tool to draw out the image and then scrape out the background to leave the image as a silhouette.  I'm quite pleased with the result but I doubt if I'll ever use it again!  So that's all there is to it and I'm now waiting impatiently for my box of Inktense pencils which I hope will turn up soon! 
I do hope some of you will give it a go as you will learn a bit about drawing in different media and the prize is well worth the effort.

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Derwent Academy

Last month I received an email from Derwent inviting me to take their academy drawing classes.  At first I wondered where they had got my address from then I remembered that for the last few years I have been sending off for samples of their pencils as they launch new ranges. There are 6 video tutorials and after registering all you do is submit your drawing for approval and the next class is opened for you to take.  The reward for completing the set is a certificate and a wooden box of 18 colour pencils. That was enough to get me started, I can never resist a freebie!
So I started with the first lesson on drawing with pencils and shading. Even though I have been drawing for years, to be told what to do is quite a challenge and I found it quite hard to get used to using graphite pencils again as I've concentrated on drawing with pens and colour pencils in the last few years.  These spheres took 3 goes to get right!
Lesson 2 was all about one, two and three point perspective and shading to show depth.  Again it wasn't as easy as it looks.  I do like to draw architecture and am aware of the rules of vanishing points and horizon lines and this has helped me to concentrate a bit better on getting the angles right.
The third lesson was texture and depicting natural shapes.  The tutor drew a seashell with pencil stippling for the shading and another in charcoal. I found my own shell to draw and as you can see it was very difficult to get the hollow shape correct.
 I really don't like drawing in charcoal either, I hate to get my hands all dirty!
I will post the rest of the story next time but here's the address of the acadmy if you're interested in having a go too!

Saturday, 5 October 2013

Signs of Autumn

The cool, damp weather of last week has brought out the mushrooms and I was lucky to find these on our walk last Sunday.  They were in a driveway to a holiday home nearby so picked them before anybody drove over them!  The ripe one was about 9 inches tall and dripping ink which stained my hands as I carried them carefully back up the hill.
These parasols were hiding in the long grass on top of the bank opposite our house.
I'm looking out for one of those red ones with white spots to draw next!
We picked our sloes for gin liqueur this week and of course I had to draw a sprig to use as the label later.

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

My favourite season

Autumn is truly my favourite season with it's fresher weather and the lovely colours that start to appear in the hedgerows.
Here in Perros we don't get a lot of autumn coloured leaves as the salty wind tends to turn them brown before they have a chence to go golden.  I really appreciate the gentle fading of the hydrangea flowers into soft greens and reds and purples.  In fact the hydrangea flowers last a lot longer than the autumn leaves so we get a bonus. As Perros is known as  'la cité des Hortensias'  we have plenty to see all winter as long as the over-enthusiastic gardeners don't chop the heads off too soon!
This year the oak trees are laden with fruit all shining and glowing in the gentle sunshine.
Of course I can't resist drawing a sprig of sloes, I just love those dark blue-black berries and they are quite a challenge to get them looking just right!