Look at what you see and not what you imagine

10 minutes felt slightly too quick to paint the image but it came out clear.

20 minutes was slightly too much time.  This came out much better than I expected, very clear and the darker colour helped get the tones.  I liked the way I managed to paint the direction of stroke correctly to reflect the perspective and frame the action.

Quick and focussed

Used ink and large brush to get more time drawing and less reloading.   Found things appear which are not intended as the images overlap.  Hard to make out the original images, I can only make out hints in places.  Seems to be a lot of noise, brush work which doesn’t seem to be adding to anything.  Not convinced I got more accurate in the third attempt.   Felt painting 5 images within a minute meant I was very selective of what lines to paint which in theory should mean I capture more of the key lines.  Large sweeping brush strokes felt good to do.  I need to do more quick and focussed studies.

Black & White

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Lion.   White acrylic on black had more energy than the ink on acrylic.   A combination of the visible brush work and painting more negative space played a bigger part in creating a more dynamic effect.   The ink work tended to get busy with the outlines and I ended up trying to create textured floor which didn’t really work well as a whole, more a distraction.   The ink felt more like a sketch.

Old woman.  This time I tried a close crop of the eyes because of the small size and to try and focus in on what I saw as the key element of the facial expression.   The white gouache on black acrylic looked better than the black gouache on white acrylic, more expressive.   I tended to follow the photo and ended up with the thin black strokes along side larger black strokes which are not as consistent as the white brush work.   The consistent white brush work filled the page whereas the black work left larger areas in the bottom part more untouched.  Again the black on white feels more like a sketch.

Umbrellas.  Ink on acrylic worked and is my favourite because the umbrellas stand out more and theres more movement in the figures and background.   I let the ink run down the page to express the rain/wetness.   Gouache also worked well this time, I was able to control the gouache brush work to show the umbrella form.   They reminded me of jelly fish.  I also liked the way I could use the black ground to show the people.

Tree roots.  This one failed in both cases of grey acrylic on black and on the white.  The choice of picture is less obvious with such a crop and the grey didn’t give sufficient contrast to show the roots compared to the brick wall.   I should have used the black and white for this subject.   The grey may have worked well for the woman’s face.

Paint blower.  The black acrylic on white worked best partly because of the contrast between the dry brush work on the face against the wash background.  Furthermore the profile is visible though the negative space left from the wash.   This contrast made the face jump out and give it more energy.   Interestingly I applied a similar technique for the white yet overall the black works better. I think this is due to the dryer black brush work and it was done on rougher water colour paper compared to a smoother cardboard used for the white version.

Painting Thin & Small

varnish on thin black acrylic, varnish on thick black acrylic, gouache on grey acrylic, black ink on thick black acrylic

Umbrellas in the rain – I found experimenting with reflective /shiny medium against matt mediums interesting because of the way the reflecting light changed the colour in contrast with the matt area.  The first varnish on very thin black acrylic ground didn’t work out, the varnish was hard to see unless you angled the paper correctly with the light.  Then I tried again with a thicker black ground, this time the varnish was visible and either reflected the light or absorbed more light than the background depending on the angle.    Gouache on grey acrylic ground was dull because the grey came through the translucent paint and in this case inappropriate.   I also tried ink on the thicker black acrylic ground and found the reflection warmer, more subtle and interesting.   These reflective combinations are something I would consider using again. Although I’m unsure what would be a suitable subject because the form was not interesting.   I think this relates to the reflective/non-reflective nature and it doesn’t show the brush strokes so well.   I should look at different varnishes, the one used was an acrylic gloss finish varnish.   Its use maybe a painting of something on top of a painting, e.g. painting the umbrellas in colour then adding the varnish on top of the umbrellas.

watercolour on varnish, acrylic on varnish

Reflections – Painting on varnish was interesting, both watercolour and black acrylic didn’t absorb and collected and ran(although this movement is likely due to me painting vertically).   The result is slightly rough where the paint breaks up and collects.  Its not as shiny as I was expecting but I do like the overall effect and seems appropriate for the wet reflective subject.   I find the texture adds visual interest.  A closer crop may help improve this picture because I find there is too many lines relative to the flowers.   I noticed an interesting 3D effect where the paint collected at the edges of the stroke when dry and I think this related to the level of water used on the brush.   The flowers silhouette along the top right needed to be darker to balance it.   I feel this needed to be more glossy so perhaps the household paint might be worth exploring.

White acrylic on gouache, watercolour on ink, ink on watercolour.  Watercolour on white gouache, watercolour on plain paper.

Flower – The white acrylic on gouache produced the most interesting if a little subtle effect.  The gestural strokes help create the interest and texture which I think is important here where there is little depth or perspective.   Both the watercolour and ink flowers were a bit flat with not enough contrast or tonal variation.  The watercolour therefore looks better with the use of colour.  Another issue with the ink and watercolour was leaving some of the background and where I did leave it the effect was too subtle.

watercolour on gouache, gouache on watercolour

Paint blowing – This was fun, using the splodge of paint to mark the direction of air moving and using lots of colour.  I feel the splodge helped make this work by drawing the eye into the middle and showing the movement of air.  It was a difficult subject to get the effect and expressions.  I liked the energy of the watercolour.  The Gouache seemed calmer although more vivid.   The gouache didn’t blend as well on paper resulting in blocks of colour.   My eye is drawn more to the girl in the gouache with the stronger features and colour, it needed a similar light background in the middle.   Perhaps consider using a more messy style with exaggerated brush work to go more abstract and keep the vibrant colours in the gouache and use acrylic.


Ink on acrylic, black acrylic on gouache, black acrylic on watercolour

Tree – I wanted to leave the background more to show highlights in the tree.   I ended up trying masking fluid for watercolour which proved effective.   The acrylic was therefore harder to paint because I had to paint light and build up but I still ended up painting where I wanted to leave the background.  I like the ink on blue splodge because it adds something such as highlighting the hanging roots which I find interesting and following the direction of the trunk.   A closer crop with the trunk filling most of the page with the roots showing in the bottom part would help.

Lion – Again I tried to use the splodge in the picture as part of the movement of the lion as it dances.  What it also ended up doing was creating the effect of a tongue sticking out.  I tried using appropriate sized brushes to get more animated gestural strokes.    I still would like to see more movement, greater blur, maybe more layers.  I think black and coloured ink may work well for this type of picture.   The right eye ended up with too much paint and creates an imbalance.   Perhaps following the water painting by Gary Hume idea where there are multiple outlines of the lion in different positions of the dance could help show the movement but with appropriate colour to show the energy.

Ink on white gouache, ink on plain paper, white acrylic on black ink

Digger – The gouache reduces the absorbency of the ink compared to the white paper.  The ink appears darker and dries with a texture, this is also influenced by the texture of the ground.   This texture and greater contrast creates a more interesting picture.  I also found the gouache starting to mix with the ink if I happen to go back over the same area (something I didn’t expect).   There is too much happening on this picture, a closer crop on the digger arm and house may help.

Concrete – White acrylic on think black ink produced a interesting contrast of matt acrylic on reflective ink.  The white acrylic looks darker than the black ink ground.   The subject is not so interesting, perhaps a face may be more appropriate.   This is similar to the experiments with the varnish and could be considered as a layer within a mixed media to add something very subtle.

Black ink on black acrylic, white gouache on grey acrylic, Black acrylic on white gouache

Womans face – The wrinkled face was good for the white gouache on grey acrylic ground.  The gouache absorbed easily, showing the grey below.  I liked this mix because helped me show the expression and form with simple strokes.   The use of white lead me to focus on highlights which I think kept the brush work simple.

For the black ink and black acrylic face I found I was painting more strokes which got too messy/noisy for the ink version and didn’t work.  The black acrylic on gouache proved more interesting showing the brush strokes better showing more expression.  The ink needed to be kept simpler maybe more lighter washes with fewer stronger hints of wrinkles.  I found this image worked well and will be taking it forward for future exercises.