Paints and pomegranates


What a long, strange week it’s been. But enough about me.

Tuesday’s sketchjournal entry was really just playtime with a couple of colours I bought to celebrate the prettiness of the frosty autumnal weather: a half pan of dioxazine (Winsor Violet) watercolour and a tube of gold gouache. The scan doesn’t capture the shimmer, but I fell in love with the warm, pearlescent purple created by mixing the two.

I emptied out the student-grade watercolours from a lightweight Cotman box and squeezed gouache into the half pans: much faster and easier for sketching and journalling than having to faff around with the tubes every time, and my Winsor & Newton Designer’s Gouache seems to rewet pretty well.

As you can see, I decided to forget the ubiquitous pumpkin today and celebrate the fact that it’s pomegranate season. Pen, watercolour & gouache in Canson watercolour book.

26 Oct 2008


When a friend gave me a photograph of my daughter that she took back in August, I just had to try a drawing from it.

Alone downstairs this evening (with Melody tucked up to sleep, and her daddy away on business on the other side of the world), I spread my art things across the living-room floor, and got so absorbed in creating this spread that I spent a couple of hours longer on it than I would usually think of putting into a sketchbook page.

Sepia pen, gouache & gold leaf across 2 pages of Canson watercolour journal 

I may have made Miss M a little older than her two years, but that’s precisely what struck me about the original photo: how very grown up she looked, with her hair pulled back off her face with clips, and that studious expression on her little face.

My recent work on Artist Trading Cards for the CMP exchange is leading me to experiment more with mixed media; something that’s intensified since I spent time with Anita Davies this weekend, and saw how much use she has made of gouache in her Venezia sketchbook – and how fearlessly she approaches her pages, clearly valuing structure and composition but ultimately allowing the work to take her where it will. I also no longer have a misplaced purist reaction to the idea of combining in one sketchbook (or on a single page) work done from life with drawings inspired by photos and stuff sketched from my imagination or doodled in meditative moments. I wouldn’t have done this in the days before my beloved Canson watercolour journal, just 4 1/2 months ago. It’s exciting and pretty freeing.

By the time I finished this piece, I’d reflected so much on how much I love my little girl that I was strongly tempted to creep upstairs to gaze at her sleeping face. By contrast, this morning, when that same toddler decided that flicking water off a paintbrush across the kitchen table onto my open sketchbook was an enjoyable form of creative self-expression, I was strongly tempted to scream. Serves me right for attempting to use my Canson in such circumstances. I was forced to give bits of my painting an emergency rework, but have kept a few of the splots she contributed.

Old Year, New Year


I hadn’t sketched for a while, but Melody was given a xylophone for Christmas, and the areas of bright, solid colour seemed to invite a little playtime with my new set of Aquatone watercolour sticks. This is across 2 pages of my small hand*book journal. EDM Challenge #17: Draw a musical instrument.

Back in February/March 2007, I’d only just joined the EDM group, and I didn’t post the following sketches because I was trying out a Danny Gregoryesque mix of drawing and journalling, and felt uncomfortable exposing my clumsy, rambling thoughts to public view. I was also tentative with the no-pencil-first approach to drawing in ink.

My very first EDM sketch was of M’s Bumbo® seat (she couldn’t sit unaided back then); the second was a toy we knew as Adam Butterfly, sadly long since lost, who played a high-pitched version of “You Are My Sunshine” when you squeezed his bottom. The third in the montage came a little later: it’s a gum soother we used to chill in the fridge, and illustrates EDM #77: Draw something cold or cool

I’m fond of these pages now, as they conjure up a life dominated by a 6-month-old baby; and while life continues to be just as dominated by her as she toddles her way at high speed towards a year and a half, it’s odd to be reminded that the paraphernalia so familiar to one phase of a little one’s development has no place whatsoever in the next.