Show me the Monet!

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I travelled down to London on Saturday for The Unknown Monet: Pastels and Drawings at the Royal Academy of Arts. Train and tube travel has been nightmarish lately due to engineering works on the major lines, but my day out was a full and rewarding one, and the exhibition was a joy – from Monet’s early caricatures to his black crayon drawings of cattle and farmhouses, and the vibrant yet subtle pastel studies he made of sunsets and twilight.

I was struck by this comment from one of Monet’s contemporaries, quoted in the Gallery Guide: “Every scrap of paper, no matter how small, was drawn upon with country scenes, tiny seascapes and fishermen. Every sheet of paper that came into his hands was destined for a drawing.” What better inspiration could a would-be compulsive sketcher hope to find? Monet, it is clear, was passionate about sketching, and in addition to the 80 works on display, this exhibition also makes many pages of his sketchbooks available for browsing in digital form.

With me I had a very basic sketching kit of black Profipen, watercolour bijou box and credit-card-sized set of 12 coloured pencils; over the course of the day, I covered two pages of my hand*book journal, sketching anything that took my fancy – from my train ticket, to the pattern on the dress of the passenger next to me, to a couple of Monet’s pastel drawings, to the evening sky outside Stowmarket. After an hour and a half of wandering lost around Aldgate/Whitechapel towards the end of the afternoon, I also managed a browse round Atlantis Art Materials, where I picked up a couple of drawing pads and some handmade papers.

Just a little green …

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Today’s entry title is for Andrea. 🙂

Those of you who love a happy ending will be thrilled to know that I’ve been reunited with my watercolour bijou box, which turned up in the back of my parents’ car!

EDM Challenge #116: Draw something green

Over the years I have developed an unhelpful attachment to certain watercolour pigments which aren’t very useful, simply because they look pretty in their pans. An attempt to weed these out of my palette led me to bid a fond farewell to Sap Green, which left no ready-made greens at all among my 12 half-pans, and recently I’ve noticed just how dull and limited are the greens I’m able to mix. So I’ve ditched my waste-of-space Burnt Umber and acquired Winsor Green (Blue Shade), which is jewel-like, too bright to be used pure, but great for mixing a variety of fresh, clear greens and rich browns. The colours in this spread from my hand*book have scanned badly, which rather defeats the point. But anyway. Green.

Weekend sketches

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I haven’t fitted in much sketching since my last post. These two modest offerings were done in my small hand*book journal.

EDM Challenge #104: Draw salt and pepper shakers

Easter weekend. As we enjoyed tea and cake on the patio of our favourite local tea room, these yin/yang shakers caught my eye. Profipen & watercolour pencil.

The weekend just past was spent at my parents’ house in Kent – “The Garden of England”. I snatched a few brief minutes with my sketchbook in their garden, where the magnolia was still in flower – just! The petals were dropping as I sketched. Profipen & watercolour.

Unpacking my bag on our return, I realised I’d mislaid my watercolours at some point during our trip. It’s going to cost me a depressing amount to replace those 12 half-pan Winsor & Newton Artist’s colours and the bijou box I kept them in. I was cheered, though, to see my painting “Against a Dark Background” (15×9.5″, 2005 – see below) featured in The Oil Spiel, the online newsletter of the Oil Pastel Society. I think life may be trying to tell me I’ve been neglecting my oil pastels lately …

More pen & watercolour

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These pen & watercolour sketches from February are on a two-page spread in my 4×6″ Daler-Rowney sketchbook.

I started the book an incredible 10 years ago today, finally filling it just last week – thanks to Danny Gregory’s book The Creative License and the EveryDay Matters Group. I was compelled to reward myself almost immediately for getting back into sketching mode with this bijou tin for my half-pan Winsor & Newtons. The sketchbook page includes the dimensions of this tiny box, the colours I keep in it and a reminder to myself about pre-wetting pan colours.

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As well as sketching whatever catches my eye, I’m working my way through the hundred-plus EDM Challenges, in no particular order. Challenge #10 is Draw your hand (you can peruse the full list at Karen Winters’ blog, here).

A gesture of defiance – or was I simply trying to hide my bitten fingernails?