Time to Think Ink!

As readers of this blog will know, I quite often use ink in conjunction with watercolour in my paintings. However, ink is a very useful medium in its own right, particularly for quick sketches.

Sketch of St Clement Burnham Overy
St Clement church Burnham Overy Town. Stabilo 68 pen on Bockingford paper, 10ins x 8ins
The work shown here is a sketch of St Clement church, Burnham Overy Town, which near the popular North Norfolk village of Burnham Market, just a mile or so from the coast. I made this sketch using a Stabilo 68 water-soluble pen. This enabled me to work over the sketch with a damp brush, softening the ink and brushing it out into areas of tone. It’s another way of showing tonal value, without using shading or hatching, and I find it has a rather attractive appearance. Although the ink appears black when you draw a line, diluting it with water reveals many subtle colours within it.

The Stabilo pen is very inexpensive and is available from some stationers. The 68 has a bullet tip which makes a fairly bold line that I personally like. There is a version with a finer tip the Stabilo 88, which is also well worth trying. If you can’t find these pens in your local stationers then you can buy them on-line from the SAA, the Society for All Artists.

I will be demonstrating this technique, along with many other uses of ink, at my Think Ink workshop, this weekend at West Norfolk Arts Centre, Castle Rising.

A big surprise!

July is the month when the West Norfolk Artists Association hold its annual Summer Exhibition, usually in St Nicholas Chapel, King’s Lynn. This year was no exception and Wednesday 17th saw a team of us start the task of setting up the show. There’s a lot to do, with over 200 works being submitted, of which 155 were selected for exhibition. Nonetheless, we worked hard and by Friday lunchtime the exhibition was up and looking good.

Among the selected artworks were four of my own paintings, all of them in a combination of Indian ink and watercolour. Imagine my surprise when, at the grand opening of the show on the Friday evening, I was presented with the Inga Miller Award for a work selected by the committee of the WNAA. Inga was a dear friend of mine and a great supporter of the arts, who sadly passed away in January 2012, and the award is in her memory.

Steve with the Inga Miller Award
In my studio with the cup that is presented by the WNAA committee in memory of the late Inga Miller, who was a great supporter of the Association and the arts generally

I feel very honoured to receive the award and the silver cup that goes with it, which is mine to keep for one year. Then it will be passed on to the next winner of the award. My thanks to all the committee members who voted for my painting “Three Trees at Sunset” which you can see here. To coin a phrase from Last of the Summer Wine, “your cheques are in the post!”

three trees at sunset
Three Trees at Sunset. Ink & Watercolour 10ins x 10ins

Do call in to the Chapel and look round the exhibition if you have an opportunity. I think it’s one of the Association’s best exhibitions, with a wide variety of colourful and interesting work, plus the Chapel is a beautiful building. The show is open everyday 10am – 4pm from now until Saturday 3rd August. St Nicholas Chapel is in St Annes Street, King’s Lynn, Norfolk, PE30 1NH.

California dreaming

I had intended to post some entries on my blog while we were travelling in California, but pressures of time – so little time, so much to see – and a few wi-fi wobbles mean that it’s only now that I’m back home in Norfolk that I can post a couple of the sketches that I did out there.

Ideally, you need one holiday to explore a destination and then another one to go back and paint it. But, who has the time and resources to do that? So, I only got a few quick sketches done while we were away, and you can see two of them here. On the spot pen and wash on a 12ins x 9ins pad of Langton rough surface paper.

Half Dome Yosemite Valley
Half Dome from Olmsted Point, Tioga Road, Yosemite. Pen and wash, 12ins x 9ins
Mist Falls, King's Canyon
Mist Falls, King’s Canyon, California. Pen and wash 12ins x 9ins

Both the sketches were done in California’s amazing National Parks. Yosemite Valley has a huge wow factor with it’s gigantic stone monoliths. Half Dome is just that, like a pebble that’s been split in two. Except that it’s not a pebble, the top is nearly 5,000 feet above the floor of the valley. Awesome, as our American cousins would say. In King’s Canyon park the main feature is the King’s River, which was still a raging torrent at the Mist Falls depicted here. Also awesome and very dangerous – a hiker was swept over a few days before we were there.

I’ll probably do some Yosemite paintings before too long, it will be good to be back out in the studio. But it was a great trip!