Of Birds and Bridges


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More small sketches to day. I started doing a very quick bird value sketch but it quickly turned into something more so I left it at the sketch stage. I risked a background in which I don’t usually do but the risk paid off.

The second one was fun to do. The colors are so glorious and the dark foliage of the trees lends itself to loose brushwork. I made a dog’s breakfast of the sky but it has a certain charm nonetheless.

(Edit: A facebook friend tells me this looks like the Mackinac bridge in Michigan. I have to agree)


Evening Fields

Evening Fields. Michele Clamp. Watercolor 8”x10”

A change from the value studies today. Yesterday’s scene came out so well I thought I’d risk a little color. I’m still treating the scene pretty much as value but introducing color (and chroma) as well. Nothing fancy here. No thoughts about atmosphere, mood, texture, interesting shapes. themes or anything. Mind was clear of everything and just concentrating on putting the right colors in the right places. It was the most enjoyable painting I’ve done in a long time and it came out well.

Boldt Castle and Value Studies

Boldt Castle. Michele Clamp. Watercolor. 11”x14”

I always seem to be writing this but I’m trying to get back in the saddle again and finding it hard. I’m out of practice focusing on painting (and it takes a lot of focus) so this was a struggle. Not a pick of mine but one of the WetCanvas watercolor challenges.

After this struggle I decided to go back to some value studies to get my hand back in. I retried the castle at a smaller size (5.5×7) and in monochrome.


Still not much to write home about but I’m feeling a little less rusty.

Next I plucked a photo from my stash of ‘what to paint when I can’t decide’ and it was a rather boring photo of trees. Now sometimes the most boring photo can make for an interesting painting to paint. And so it was in this case. It still doesn’t possess much flair but I could feel myself getting back into intense observation and was really interesting to do. I should do more of these – really contemplative.


Sketching and Simplifying


Lunchtime sketching today (well yesterday).    I was struggling to find something to draw where I could also sit down and drink coffee and I ended up outside 52 Oxford St.   I started with the windows but they weren’t very satisfying so I tried trees instead.  The aim was to simplify the tree into light, medium and dark shapes and I think he’s rather handsome.


My tree.

Sketching and Stretching

I’ve been neglecting the painting sticks a little lately but am back in the saddle now.    Since the Charles Reid course is less than a month away I’ve committed to doing something (sketching/painting) each day until then.   Here are the first two sketch attempts.


Here is the corner of the law school.  I thought this might work up into a nice painting  – more of that downscreen.


And here’s the divinity school.  A little scrappier as I was sitting in full sun and didn’t want to hang around too long.


Here’s the start of a painting from the law school sketch.    Even though I thought I tried to make a good composition I failed – two trees, one each side of the picture, make it too symmetrical.  However I’m not too unhappy at this point.


Oh.   I’m struggling here.   Fairly happy with the foliage – I was trying hard to get the impression of leafy detail without actually putting it in.   Doesn’t hang together though and the color sucks.  I’ll push it a little farther but this one will go to the back of the cupboard.

Art Class – Graded Washes


Ok well there isn’t actually much of a graded wash here but if you could see the other side of this there would be.  This is from a picture of Lake Como shamelessly stolen from John Lovett’s blog.   I liked the muted tones in the sky (unfortunately not shown in this terrible photo) contrasting with the darks of the trees.  Although I struggled with this I think I’m pretty happy.

Sunday doodles

While Mr Davies was showing us how to paint various sorts of trees I diverged a little and doodled around with various things.  

 An attempt at fluffy pink flowers in a Charles Reid style.  Quite pleased here – the lost and found edges work well.


Loose trees with a large bristle brush.


A more controlled tree with branch detail.


Rocks and foliage with the help of a credit card.


Overlapping washes building up to an apple.

John Lovett Inspiration


So Santa brought me
John’s Lovett’s

Splashing Paint DVD this year and by God is it good.   Lots of ideas and advice and just seeing him put paint to paper is educational.   In particular it was good to see his use of a tatty old bristle brush to give wonderful ragged brush marks.  I dug out an old acrylic brush to try the same and I’m pretty happy with the results.