Off the Page

A new exhibition by the West Norfolk Artists Association opened today in the Red Barn gallery, King’s Lynn Arts Centre. The theme for the exhibition was works inspired by a piece of poetry or prose, and what a popular theme that tuned out to be. Nearly forty artist members submitted nearly seventy works.

The exhibition continues all week, until Saturday 29th March, although unfortunately not on Sunday. Otherwise it is open every day 11am – 4pm.

Painting of holkham Beach
Where the Wave Draws Breath. Watercolour 50 x 32 cms.
My own entry for the exhibition is this watercolour which I entitled Where the Wave Draws Breath. A poem by Algernon Swinburne was my inspiration, being a verse featured on an information board in the dunes adjoining Holkham beach. The painting itself is a little unusal as it had been on my pile of “the ones that didn’t quite make it” for nearly ten years. I unearthed it, completely reworked the sky, the sea (there was none) and the beach, and was quite pleased with the end result. Never throw anything away – it may take years for a work to finally be complete!

The verse that inspired the work is:

A land that is thirstier than ruin;
A sea that is hungrier than death;
Heaped hills that a tree never grew in;
Wide sands where the wave draws breath.

The Salt Marsh – Algernon Swinburne

Pen & Wash Demonstration

If you look back to my last post you’ll see that I recently ran an ink workshop at West Norfolk Arts Centre, Castle Rising. One of the participants on the course, Fay, very kindly sent me some photos of my demonstrations during the weekend, some of which you can see here.

I always appreciate it when people take photos or even video of my demonstrations, because I can’t, being at the coal face with brush in hand!

Pen & Wash Demonstration 1
Here you can see the inkwork before any colour goes on. I did this with a Faber-Castell Pitt pen, with a medium nib. The size of my paper is approximately 40 x 30 cms.

Pen & Wash Demonstration 2
I’m now applying the Rowney FW coloured inks, using plenty of water. You could do the same with traditional watercolour, but the inks give more vibrant colour.

Pen & Wash Demonstration 3
Nearly done, just a few more clouds. That’s a 3/4 inch flat brush that I’m using.

Pen & Wash Demonstration 4
Ta-da! A mount or mat round the work always helps.

More Thinking Ink

From time to time I’ve shown paintings here that use ink in addition to or as a substitute for watercolour. Last weekend I ran a workshop at West Norfolk Arts Centre, Castle Rising which was devoted to these techniques, which can just add another dimension to your work. I had a good time with a group of nice people, and I got paid too – what more can an art tutor want!

Cley Mill painting in ink
Cley Mill. Pen and wash using Rowney FW acrylic inks. Approximately 40 x 30 cms.

Burnham Overy Staithe. Pen and wash
Burnham Overy Staithe. Pen and wash using Rowney FW acrylic inks. 40 x 30 cms.

Part of the weekend was spent looking at traditional pen and wash, but with the added twist of using acrylic inks rather than watercolour. The inks were kindly sponsored by Daler-Rowney and you can see them in the two paintings here, which I did as demonstrations. The inks are Rowney FW acrylic inks and they are available in a wide range of colours. They have a very high tinting strength and are waterproof when dry, so that you can paint over the top without disturbing the initial wash. The inks look very garish when straight from the bottle, but well watered down and carefully mixed the results can be more subtle. Rowney supplied a boxed set of six inks, called the Primary Colours set, which consisted of Cyan, Magenta and Yellow, which are the colours typically used in inkjet printers, plus three additional colours of Scarlet, Emerald Green and Sepia. It was quite a challenge to generate traditional watercolour hues from these but it was fun and good colour mixing practice. The underlying drawing in both paintings was done with a Faber Castell Pitt artist’s pen, containing black waterproof ink.

By the way, spot the flying boat in the painting of Burnham Overy Staithe. A quick “how to draw a boat” sketch that I did while working on the main painting!

Over the weekend we also explored using Indian ink from a bottle and water soluble pens, so there was quite a variety of techniques. My thanks to all the course participants for being so pleasant and fun to work with, to Daler-Rowney for supplying the materials, and to Richard and Ros Cartwright of the Art Centre who were as welcoming as ever. They do a great lunch too!

I will be back at West Norfolk Arts Centre in August for an outdoor sketching weekend, so why not join me working in pen and wash and other sketching media in the picturesque village of Castle Rising, Norfolk. You can find full details, including how to book, on the Arts Centre website