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‘If it looks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, we have at least to consider the possibility that we have a small aquatic bird of the family anatidae on our hands.’ Douglas Adams.

Stories from my Sketchbook . . .

There is no earthly reason for this post this week other than a funny quote and an excuse for me to sketch a cute duckling.  Well, that and the fact that the last couple of weeks has finally brought us some long awaited and much needed rain.

That old expression ‘Fine weather for ducks!’ seems wholly appropriate . . .

 
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Posted by on October 19, 2018 in Uncategorized

 

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‘No colour will ever be brighter for me than black and white.’ Allessandro Del Piero.

Stories from my Sketchbook . . . 

The Oxford English Dictionary defines colour as ‘the property possessed by an object of producing different sensations on the eye as a result of the way it reflects or emits light’.

The human eye can only see light within specific wavelengths so, by this definition, colour is the range of visible light that humans can actually see.  For us, the visible spectrum begins with the wavelengths we call violet.  This then moves on to blue, green, yellow, orange, and ends with what we call red.  The trouble with this approach is that there are some very noticeable exceptionslike black and white. In science black and white are not considered colours because they do not have specific wavelengths. White light contains all wavelengths of visible light while black is the absence of visible light.

But you know what?  That doesn’t really work for me.  I need to see black and white as colours because, in spite of my love of all the other colours of the rainbow, my day-to-day life is a vision in monochrome.

My home decor is mostly black and white.  I admit  there are a few (quite a few actually) vibrant pops of colour here and there, but the fact remainsI have white walls, white cupboards, black lounge, black chairs, black and white rugs, black and white prints and black and white quilts and pillows.  (All serving to beautifully accentuate all those other lovely colours I might add).

I also have three little dogs, two black-and-white, and one all black.  Now, I hasten to add that I absolutely did not choose these little dogs so they would match my furniture.  That was more of a happy accident . . .

Many of my clothes are black and whitejust because I really like wearing black and white It works in any season, it’s easy to mix and match (and add to—no more vacillating about whether it is quite the right shade when buying something new for my already far too substantial wardrobe) and I can also easily pep it up with any other colour on a whim (fuschia pink shoes!!) while still looking tidy and presentable when out and about in the world.

(Wearing mostly black and white is also exceedingly helpful when you are the owner of aforesaid three hairy (and prone to frequent shedding) little dogs.  The ever-constant dog-hairs on my clothes are at least evenly distributed . . . )

So, scientific or not, I think I need to continue to see black and white as colours—otherwise I might be forced to rethink my whole take on my world and everything in it.

I’m not sure I’m entirely ready for that . . .

Just as well Mabel had her red collar on or she might have gone completely unnoticed on the black and white quilt.

 
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Posted by on March 9, 2018 in Uncategorized

 

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‘Time spent amongst trees is never wasted time.’ Katrina Mayer.

Even after being back sketching for a couple of years now I find I still don’t do much drawing ‘out-of-doors’.  I always manage to find some excuse ( . . . it’s too hot . . . or too cold . . . or there are too many people about . . . or OMG the sandflies!! I dither and dather and although sometimes I do get as far as packing up all my kit and getting myself to the front door, more often than not it’s . . .  ‘I don’t know . . . perhaps I won’t do that today . . .  maybe I’ll go tomorrow instead . . .’   It’s definitely an issue for me and one I haven’t quite got my head around yet.

So now, before you get all excited and think that I must have actually talked myself into venturing out into the big wide world to complete the sketch below—nope, I copied it from a photograph (I wanted to see if I could replicate some of the detail in the undergrowth)—but I was thinking about going outside to sketch a real tree, so I reckon that’s a step in the right direction . . . isn’t it?

Anyway, now that we are on the subject of trees it seems like a good time to share something I came across recently called the Baum test—also known as the ‘tree’ test.  Apparently this test can be used to represent a person’s personality traits (similar to handwriting analysis).  Basically, all you need to do is draw a treenot copy a tree as I didbut actually draw a tree from your own imagination.  The idea is to draw quickly and without thinking too much and to include (or not, whatever you prefer) the roots, the trunk, branches, leaves, fruits, flowers, etc.

Then comes the psychology bit.

According to the supreme beings who know these things—if you drew a tree with strong deep roots you are probably a pragmatic and rational person.  If you drew shallow roots (or none at all) you are more likely to be quite timid or uncertain in life. The trunk usually symbolizes your personality.  If your tree has a large thick trunk, you are more likely to be outspoken, emotional and possess great inner strength.  If the trunk of your tree is small or broken it suggests you are rather fragile or withdrawn.  Thick branches suggest a communicative personality.  No branches or very small branches indicate an inability or reluctance to communicate with others.  Drawing leaves and flowers show your attempts to achieve success (or perhaps lack thereof??)

So there you go.  Why don’t you give it a go yourself?  I’d be interested to hear about your results (although I guess now you’ve already read the possible analyses your final creations could possibly be somewhat compromised.  Hmmmm—I didn’t really think that through . . . )   Anyway, I admit I haven’t actually tried the Baum test myself yet.  For a start I don’t draw quickly (ever), so given that, and my propensity for detail, if I start right now I’ll probably be just about finishing my own imaginary tree sketch some time next week . . .

Now, I wonder what the psychologists would have to say about that!

 
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Posted by on February 23, 2018 in Uncategorized

 

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‘If our mushrooms make you hallucinate, please inform us immediately so we can overcharge you.’ Scott Adams.

Stories from my Sketchbook . . .

I would never describe myself as a mushroom aficianado (although, for some inexplicable reason, I do seem to think the word ‘fungi’ is a pretty cool word . . . )

In fact, now that I think about it, I know very little about the different types of mushrooms at all.  I rarely cook with them (well, of course if you have followed my blog for any length of time you will know that I rarely ‘cook’ anything at all) but my interest was piqued recently when I read an article that stated that the species of mushrooms we do know about is probably only a third to a fifth of what is actually out there still waiting to be discovered.  That’s an awful lot of undiscovered mushrooms!

Apart from being an interesting tidbit, this snippet of information would normally have little impact on my life (still not planning on doing much cooking) . . . . except that alongside that article were photos of some of the most spectacular looking growths of fungi (such a cool word!) I have ever seen.

Suffice to say that, although I may not be enticed to do much cooking with them in the future, they may just be well on their way to becoming one of my new favourite things to draw . . .

 
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Posted by on January 12, 2018 in Uncategorized

 

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‘No water, no life. No blue, no green.’ Sylvia Earle.

Stories from my Sketchbook . . .

No words either.  Just another sketch . . .

 
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Posted by on December 5, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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‘The palest ink is better than the best memory.’ Chinese Proverb.

I have been feeling a little bit despondent about my sketching lately.  I have still managed to work myself up to doing a bit of drawing during the week but I have felt somewhat . . .  uninspired . . . to say the least.  I look at the fabulous sketches of my fellow online students and arty friends, and see that they have done their sketches ‘on the bus’ or ‘in my lunch break’ or ‘in the doctor’s waiting room’ and I, who have no (valid) excuses for not sketching (and obviously a lot more free time on my hands than some of these people) feel like a complete wastrel.

This feeling is not entirely unexpected of course.  I’m in the doldrums.  It’s happened before and, no doubt, will happen again, but . . .  sigh . . .

In the past, feeling like this has resulted in me stopping drawing altogether, sometimes for years, but I am determined that is not going to happen this time.  I am going to try and push through, and if that means a sketchbook full of crappy, uninspiring sketches, then so be it!   (That sentence was full of false bravado by the way.  ‘So be it!’  Ha!  Who am I kidding?  I still get really upset with myself when I do a crappy, unspired sketch, but I am trying a little positive psychology on myself so I’ll let it go . . . )

In an effort to suck myself into a more positive frame of mind I looked back over my very first sketchbook, which I started last year. In it I found one of the first ‘outdoor’ sketches I attempted.  With it I  wrote — ‘. . .  just to be clear, the pots are actually standing on a garden of bark chips (not just a patch of concrete)—but I have no idea how to draw bark chips so I just pretended they wasn’t there.  I also ignored the rest of the garden—the back fence, the Hills Hoist, the three madcap dogs chasing each other in and around the pots—and anything else that was too hard.  I think that’s called ‘artistic licence’ . . .’

At Sketchbook Skool they teach that there are no ‘bad’ drawings.  Each sketch we do is a learning experience and therefore important in itself.  Although I still struggle internally with this concept (I still believe that some of my drawing ‘experiences’ have been, and continue to be, pretty gruesome) I have tried to take this on board and so, although at times still sorely tempted, I no longer rip these offending pages out of my sketchbooks.  I may not ever show these horrors to anybody else but there they will remainpale (or sometimes scarily bright) memories of my ongoing artistic endeavours.

Finding that earlier sketch put me in mind of another I did, much more recently, of the same garden. It’s from a different angle (it was a cold day so the girls and I sat in the warmest spot we could find) but otherwise much is unchanged.  The bird bath and many of the plants are the same—and I still haven’t worked out how to draw bark chips or the dogs racing around the gardenbut, in spite of that, I do like the second drawing more than the first, and that’s definitely a step in the right direction.

So, sketching slump or no, I will soldier on.  I am not going to give up.  Realistically, how could I anyway?

What on earth would I do with all the cupboards (and drawers and boxes) still full of lovely (empty) sketchbooks. . .  and pens . . . and inks . . .  and pencils . . . and paints . . . and pastels and . . .

 
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Posted by on August 11, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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‘What is a weed? A plant whose virtues have not yet been discovered.’ Ralph Waldo Emerson.

Stories from  my Sketchbook . . . . 

Last weekend I thought it about time I got out into the garden and did a little ‘maintenance’ (other than just the usual mowing of the lawns and sweeping up of the debris of the last storm kind of maintenance) . . .

It wasn’t long before I had begun to wish I had just been content to do the sweeping.  It seems my back garden is a virtual cornucopia of ‘plants whose virtues have not yet been discovered’ . . .

Methinks I might perhaps be out there ‘maintaining’ again next weekend.

Sigh.

img133

Taraxacum officinale
(
Dandelion)

 
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Posted by on January 24, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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