Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Of Doodles and Tangles

Are you straight or curved?
It came to me that whatever the situation I am always going to take the wiggly path.  Straight lines and I do not agree, or understand each other! Similarly, drawing the same thing over and over is also something I find difficult.  I would never make an animator! So, I always thought pattern was something I  just couldn't 'do' properly.

This month though, left little time for creating due to family issues. I was introduced to  the world of tangling by my lovely cousin Glenys (who creates (the most amazing) - official Zentangles). To my amazement, I found lots of the patterns similar to my regular notepad doodles and scribbles.  Even more strange - it was really fun, and relaxing, using pattern to unwind, and de-stress over not getting any work done! For the last two weeks I've been playing around and being whimsical each evening - and I feel as if I've actually done some art.

This is a whole new world for me - and I see many uses for design which I wouldn't have thought of before.

My main reason for sharing is that, if you like me, are very late to this concept of 'formalising' your doodles -  give it a try! They're a fantastic warm up exercise before sketching, and  really help you relax and free up.  There are loads of books and info on the net if you're interested - and lots of expert advice. 

These aren't Zentangles in any way, as they have a very specific remit -  they might be Zen doodles though?  Anyway,  they're certainly very basic compared to many of the wonderful creations I've seen. I've no idea if any of these are 'named' patterns, they're just my scribbles,  so apologies if I should be crediting anyone, I'm not familiar with Tangle etiquette! It's  just great to try something you thought you'd never do formally - and find it enjoyable!

I got so carried away I got out the coloured pencils!

 And even got seasonal! 
 I'll be introducing  this idea to my embroidery students next term, because I think they'll love it!

Saturday, 4 October 2014

Summer meeting autumn....

 Autumn is here, but no one told seems to have told Summer! 

From my wanderings late in September.

Amazing seedheads of Wild Carrot - or Queen Anne's Lace, as we call it!

Bumble bee lazily foraging on Red Bartsia.

Watermint still flourishing in the dew pond.
Bindweed everywhere - but how beautiful it is!

I caught this Southern Hawker dragonfly sunning itself. It was absolutely stunning and kindly stayed around for me to photograph it.

As did a late red tailed bumble bee...

 under the sloes - waiting to be picked for sloe gin!
I love this time of year - and I have a lot of sympathy with Emily Bronte!

Fall, leaves, fall; die, flowers, away;
Lengthen night and shorten day;
Every leaf speaks bliss to me
Fluttering from the autumn tree.
I shall smile when wreaths of snow
Blossom where the rose should grow;
I shall sing when night’s decay
Ushers in a drearier day. 

Friday, 3 October 2014

Fiona Peart Workshop: Review Of Derwent's new Graphik Line Painters and Line Maker Pens

My second workshop this month was a line and wash class  on behalf of  Derwent  with Fiona Peart,  who's very well known for her teaching and writing for the Leisure Painter magazine. 

My very dear friend  - and cousin by marriage, Glenys, had suggested we go together,  so off we went on Monday morning, through the gorgeous autumnal Cotswold countryside to  the Farncombe Estate near Broadway, Worcs.

 The picturesque village of Broadway.

 The Farncombe Estate - beautiful setting,  great food,  lovely staff - and the most dreadful,  dreadful signage ! It's a huge estate with loads of buildings, and so badly signposted we were late - and we're both good with maps! The very sweet receptionist apologised - apparently  lost visitors are an everyday occurrence! Get your signs sorted Farncombe;  the only blot on  a super day!

 Fiona is a top class teacher, and I learnt such a lot. She's very generous with her knowledge and advice,  as well as being a really lovely lady - and of course, a wonderful artist! Derwent were very fortunate, as they needed someone able to make the new products 'work' for what was, predominately, a more traditional audience.

The workshop was based around two new  products,  the Graphik Line Makers and Graphik Line Painters Pens.   A selection of these was included in the cost of the workshop,  plus the Inspire Me sketchbook,  a new  H20 waterbrush and a set of 12 Inktense blocks. Fiona had asked for the Inktense in addition to the Graphiks,  having quickly recognised the new products have limitations for line and wash.  I think we were all very grateful!

Let's talk about  the Line Makers first:  these are similar to a number of artist pens already available. Packaged in some funky new pouches,  they felt nice and light to handle  and I liked the range of nib widths ( 0.05, 0.1, 0.2, 0.3, 0.5, 0.8)  in black only.  You can see in the video that Sepia is more a mid brown tone,  but I did like the grey, Graphite, very much.  

The Line Makers are similar to a number of artist pens already on the market.  They come in sets of 3 or 6 (black only). Retailing around £4-6.00,  or around £12.00 for 6.

I did a wash test on all three colours this morning, using my original line test ( made 4 days ago, so plenty of time for the ink to dry). I found Black isn't water resistant, but there was good holding power from both Sepia and Graphite.
I'll be sticking to my Black Pitt pens when  I  don't want a blurred line! I'm assuming Derwent are primarily going for the Zentangle market with the Line Markers and Sketchbook. Having said that, they are both a useful addition to my supplies - although I probably wouldn't have just bought them if I hadn't done the workshop.

The Line Painters are basically acrylic ink in an applicator style format. The colour range is vibrant (if you  like a muted palette - be warned, the colours aren't subtle, and mixing is not easy!)  They all have  names like 'Tickled'  (pink) and 'Herring' (red) You get the idea......!
The pens have to  be primed before you can use them, and they work best on very smooth paper. The drying time is  very fast! The ink soaks in/dries immediately on any dry, absorbent surface. (I  actually find this useful as it's  an effective way to  get vibrant, controllable colour on fabric,  but  that's another story..... )

You can also dampen the paper surface first. You  do need to work quickly though. Fiona gave a demonstration using them to paint a landscape,  but they are really more suited as an addition to  mixed media work. You'd probably be better buying traditional acrylic inks if you want to use them more extensively. They come in a nicely designed pouch ( there are 4 pouch sets - 20 colours, 5 different pens in each),  but the colour choice is a bit odd.  Another important point (which is only mentioned on the underside of the pack label)  is that they must be stored flat. Not good for those of us who like our pens and pencils accessible in pots/containers.

If you have a vibrant, linear, style you will love these pens. They would be wonderful for mixed media work and lettering on smooth paper, and also work well on dark papers. Single pens are around £2.76 each and sets between £10-16.00.

I would probably buy a couple more,  as white would be very useful, and a green - however that's purely because they do what I want on fabric. I'm less likely to use them on paper.

It was fun using these new products, but the most useful parts of the day for me were done using good old Inktense, and getting Fiona's expert knowledge and advice.  Using a size 12 mop for the first time ever was liberating,  so I ordered some of her brushes, and her new book  straight away, (and I  never buy art books these days - so you know I've been impressed!)  A signed copy was waiting for me when I got home today,  together with her DS dot card,  and a handwritten thank you card - how lovely.  Do check out her website,  she has some great tutorials, like this one.

Can't wait to try the brushes! I'll let you know if they help me in my quest to  'free up'!