Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Summer of Colour, Week 4 - Refreshing water melon

I was lying in bed on Monday morning, wondering what the colours would be for this week's Summer of Colour, and hoping that it would include some red. I had seen those delicious and refreshing looking slices of watermelons in the supermarket, and with the temperatures slowly but steadily rising, I wanted to buy some, and of course draw them too. 

And once again, the colours for this week were perfect. Two reds and one metallic. Well, the metallic sounded very challenging, when I first read it. In my head, I saw silver and gold and bronze - the colours of metals. How was I going to incorporate that into a watermelon? But then I remembered those gel pens I had dug out, to use for drawing mandalas and doodles in my sketchbook. The coloured ones all have a metallic sheen to them, and I had a green one. Perfect. The metallic doesn't really come out in the picture, so I'm afraid you have to take my word for it. If you use those gel pens too, you know what I'm talking about. It was certainly fun to add a different medium to my watercolour background and coloured pencil drawing.

Tomorrow we're off on our little trip to the south of Germany. I was hoping that we would have some fine weather and not get soaked. Well, it looks like it's definitely not going to be cool and wet. But it really doesn't need to be 40 degrees... It'll be a lot of watermelon slices and ice lollies!

Sunday, 28 June 2015

Sunday walk - finding joy in the ordinary

I meant to post the last post in my little Stockholm series today, after having missed it last Sunday, but I still haven't got round to editing the photos. So I'm posting some pictures from our walk earlier today instead. We were out for about four hours, just walking around the forest and farmland up the hill. There were no exotic flowers or animals, but instead so much beauty in the ordinary and and all the small things - frogs, insects, cows, wild flowers, leaves, the clouds in the sky. I'm grateful to have such beauty more or less on my doorstep.

A bit of a photo overload today, but that is just nature's plenty.

Sometimes, you miss the perfect shot by a fracture of a second... and capture something delightfully unexpected instead...

Summer has definitely arrived here, the 26 degrees today felt pleasant in the shade, especially with a light breeze, but the hot sun is already burning uncomfortably. I'm not looking forward to the forecasted 33 degrees and not a cloud in the sky for next week. I'm just glad I don't have to sit in the office.

Happy Sunday!

Friday, 26 June 2015

More layers, doodles and mandalas, and holiday at last

Hurray, my summer holiday is finally here! I've been counting the days, and on Wednesday the hours, until the start of my holiday, which officially began on Wednesday at 2.30 pm, when I left to office to go to the airport and pick up N. I really need a break. 2.5 weeks of enjoying the days, going somewhere nice or just doing nothing, and not thinking about anything too much. And eating lots of ice lollies. According to the weather forecast, it's going to get hot next week. 
This is the first time in ages that I'm spending my summer holiday at home. It feels a little bit weird, and I do like going away in summer to spend the time a little bit further north and by the sea, but there are also some advantages to staying home - such as having all my art supplies at hand. And studio time is definitely on the holiday to do list. As is a 4 day trip to the south of Germany at the end of next week, to which I am soooo looking forward to.

I keep adding layers to my two intuitive paintings. Adding some imagery and line work last Sunday.

And another layer yesterday afternoon, while N. was having a snooze on the sofa. What better way to start the summer holiday. I'm still successfully not thinking about where the paintings are going to go, but am just adding more paint, trying out new colours and just having fun. They're still looking very chaotig, and I think it's soon time to quieten it all down a little bit.

With all the painting I'm doing at the moment, the pages of my left-over-paint sketchbook are filling up quickly with backgrounds to doodle on in the evenings.

We're off to the Zoo today. I'm looking forward to see the new elephant park. This is the latest of the new enclosures that are made to more resemble the animals' natural habitat, and to give them much more space. The zoo really has done a lot of work already, to transfer the old enclosures, and are continuing to do so, and the elephant park seems to be really quite impressive (you can have a panorama view here if you like). As we're both keen photographers, we'll no doubt have a busy day ahead, and I hope to come back with lots of nice photos to draw and paint form.

Happy Paint Party Friday!

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Summer of Colour, Week 3 - Delicious cherries

Every Monday morning during Summer of Colour, I can't wait for the new colour palette for the week to be announced, and as last week, I was very pleased when I saw the choice of this week's colours. I bought a box of delicious cherries last Saturday, and I left a few, hoping that I could use them as a subject to draw for this week. This week's colours are two purples and a yellow. Perfect. 

Yellow, I have to say, is my least favourite colour of all. Especially those cold lemony yellows. Awful. You hardly find any yellow in my home, and although I love flowers, I don't like yellow ones either (no, not even sunflowers). I've been trying to persuade my Mum to go for a white/blue/pink/purple, and maybe some red and the odd orange, if it absolutely has to be, colour scheme in her garden, but without success. There's always some yellow somewhere, unfortunately. But then, yellow is my Mum's favourite colour, so I can't blame her. (But if I'll ever have a garden, there won't be any yellow in it at all).

I'm alright with those very warm, leaning slightly towards orange kind of yellows, though, such as gamboge, which I used as a background. And I came across a mustardy shade of yellow in a clothes shop in Dorchester earlier this year, which I find myself liking very much indeed, especially in combination with petrol green and/or white.

Drawing with coloured pencils on a watercolour background is very different to just drawing directly on the white paper. The effect of the pencil layers, both colour and strokes, varies quite a lot depending on the layer of watercolour underneath. I enjoyed drawing the cherries, and I very much enjoyed eating them afterwards.

Friday, 19 June 2015

Claimed paintings, leftover paints and doodles/mandalas

Last Sunday, I had a very happy day painting all day, adding the next two layers to my two canvases for the Bloom True class - contrast and translucence. On Monday, my Mum popped in, and when she saw the two canvases on my easel, she just absolutely loved them and said that the big one would look perfect in her conservatory. When I told her these were just the first layers, and that most, if not all of it, was going to be covered over, she nearly had a fit. "You're going to paint over it? Covering it up?? Are you insane??? Why on earth would you want to do that??" I tried to explain to her about the course, and showed her examples of what they could turn into, but she wouldn't hear any of it. "Madness!" I tried to explain to her about the 'letting go', about painting over something you like in order to turn it into something you like even better. "Letting go?? You want to let go? Well, you just let go of it right now and give it to me!!". She literally forbade me to add any more paint to the canvas and declared it hers.

I had been so happy to, for the first time ever, be keeping up with a class, and having my two canvases ready for the new week. And here I was, with one canvas short. Good thing that Monday is my day off. I gessoed over an old painting and started adding the first layers again and adding more in the evenings the following days. Now I'm ready again for the weekend, to go through this week's painting lessons and add more layers. I have quite a few bottles of fluid paints, had them for ages and hardly ever used them. I'm so glad to re-discover them again now. I just love their translucency! I'm looking forward to adding the next layers, and to see where my paintings are going and how they'll turn out eventually. And I told my Mum that from now on, she wouldn't be allowed to see any of the paintings until they are finished...

I've been using the pages of a sketchbook to use up left over paints. It makes great backgrounds to doodle on. I've also started drawing mandalas, which is a first for me. I never thought about drawing them, but then, they are just shapes and patterns, which I have drawn many times. Just in a more organised way. They are quite addictive too. Perfect to relax and switch off the brain in the evenings. And I just love drawing with gel pens on darker backgrounds.

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

Summer of Colour, Week 2 - Juicy apricots

The colour combination for week two of Summer of Colour is an especially juicy one - two pinks and an orange. I was hoping for some red and/or orange for this week, as I bought some lovely apricots on Saturday and wanted to paint or draw them. The colour combination was also perfect for getting that box with those "other" colours out. That's the box with all those colour that didn't fit into one of my regular paint boxes. As I don't use them very often, I decided to make a colour chart first, before deciding which pinks to use. There are some very nice colours in there, I have to say. I think I have to get that box out more often.

I decided to use Rose Madder and Quinaqridone Magenta for my watercolour background, and then added the apricots with coloured pencils. I had to cheat a little bit, as it would have been almost impossible get all the depths in their skin with just one orange. So I used two, although actually, they are just two different shades of Cadmium orange, so they are basically the same colour. Moreover, the apricots themselves have lovely deep red cheeks, so I did hold myself back there.

Sunday, 14 June 2015

Stockholm i mitt hjärta, Part 6 - Sigtuna

Today, we are visiting the beautiful town of Sigtuna, a one hour's journey by train and bus from Stockholm. It is the oldest town in Sweden, founded in 980 at the shores of Lake Mälaren, and one of my favourite places. It has a picturesque medieval town centre with Sigtuna rådhus, the town hall, built in 1744.

Stora gatan, the main street with its beautiful old buildings, takes you from one end of the town (the bus stop) to the other and down to the harbour and water front.

At the harbour, we stop and have a cup of tea in good company, soak up the atmosphere and get ready to explore the town.

Along Strandvägen, there are many opportunities to stop, sit down and enjoy the views over the water. More intimate ones...

... and bigger ones, where you can meet the locals.

There are many runestones in Stiguna, ...

... and some church ruins too. The ruins of Sankt Olofs kyrka, the church of St Olof, built in around 1100 and situated in the churchyard of Mariakyrkan.

Climbing up a little green hill, an old bell tower is hidden among the trees.

At the edge of the town centre, we come across the ruins of Sankt Pers kyrkan, the church of Saint Per, also built around 1100.

Can I get a job here please?

We're back in the main street...

... but before we head to the bus stop and off back to Stochkom, there's time for a cup of tea and a slice of blåbärspaj med vispgrädde (blueberry tart with whipped cream) at Tant Bruns Kaffestuga. You simply can't go to Sigtuna and not visit Tant Brun. Tant Brun is a character from the much loved childrens books about  Tant Grön, tant Brun och tant Gredelin by Elsa Beskow (1874-1953). The building is one of Sigtuna's oldest, and the café among the oldest cafés in Sweden. And the pies and cakes are delicious.