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Watercolor Paper Testing - Part 2

Hello and welcome back for Watercolor Paper Testing – Part 2! My last post I had done some small tests to get started, and explained about the fall I had. Well I’m pretty much healed from that and getting back on track.

Hello there!

Hello there!

First I want to say, if you just go by what I say worked for me, it might help you decide on a paper you’d like to use, BUT WAIT! I highly recommend doing some testing of your own, you can follow my example or try new things on your own. I made a list of the techniques I was most likely to use and then did a simple, similar picture on all of them. I used 11 different papers, all ordered from Jackson’s Art Supply, my test sizes varied from about 5″x6″ to 3″x 6″, so they were small. It took me several days, of sitting down when I could, to work on each test criteria.

1.First label all your test peices of paper with what the paper is, the weight, type etc. One nice thing I ordered was the St. Cuthbert’s Mill sample pack of seven different papers; it only cost .50p and the peices were large enough to really play around with. Each of them was fully labeled too.

2.Make a list of the techniques you want to test on notebook paper; I will include my criteria list below. I decided to do one character (snail) on each and a simple dirt path, green bushy background and a sky with clouds. The sky allowed me to do a big simple graded wash, drop water in for clouds, and test by lifting with clean wet brush.

Clouds

Clouds

3.Do one technique at a time on each one in succession. This way you’ve got the same colors mixed, and can use the same brushes to compare how they go on each paper. Write down what you thought after each thing you test or you’ll forget. I did this on note paper then after I was all done I wrote them down on the back of each paper test. So years from now you can dig around and find them you’ll know what’s what.

OK, here’s my list of criteria I tested:  (all done on dry, unstretched paper)

  1. Can you trace through the paper using a black ink line drawing underneath? I traced different snails on each one.
  2. Does pencil erase easily?
  3. Wash layers- do they stay or lift too easy when new layers go on? Tested in bush areas, ground and sky (I wet paper with a brush first for this one).
  4. Lifting- do dry watercolors lift off when you rub/lift using damp brush and paper towel? On each I lifted a tree shape, like “stems” in the green bushes. Then on most I also lifted some of the dry blue sky.
  5. Dry brush technique. Mostly the bushes and some ground areas on each.
  6. Draw with dip nib and ink. I drew each snail with dip ink and nib, going over the pencil lines I traced.
  7. Scratch wet paint areas to see if dark lines appear. You’ll see some thin lines of color in the bushes, these were made by scratching into the wet paper where paint was laid down.
  8. Color pencil on dry watercolor areas, how do they go on? I mostly did this in the bushes around the snail, some on the ground using dark browns.
  9. Permanent ink pen, ease of drawing on paper? Used to outline each snail and some details on the ground.
  10. Clouds on damp blue sky, drop clear water on and some lifting with paper towel.
  11. In general how does paper take the paint?
  12. (other things you may want to test that I did not: using masking fluid, scraping off dry layers of paper with sharp knife, dropping salt on wet paint, whatever you may usually do when painting)

Please click each picture to see it enlarged.

Testing ability to trace through the paper from my drawing.

Testing ability to trace through the paper from my drawing.

This is my simple set up for tracing I used on this project, (sorry for the dark picture) it’s a clear plastic flat “scrapbooking” type container. I like using these containers to hold my illustrations and lately have been using one as an easel/drawing table. I put a peice of rubber shelf liner underneath it, and can tuck reference photos and drawing stuff inside. I hold the top up with different sizes of masonite or plexiglas depending on the angle I want; here I used plexiglas so it lets more light through. I put a strong little lamp behind it on the table and set my drawing that I’ve inked in black on top. Next you lay your watercolor paper on top and trace! *Note- I taped a carpenters pencil along the bottom to keep papers and boards from sliding off, it works pretty good for now. *Note 2- you can also trace using a bright window; tape your inked drawing up and then your watercolor paper on top. Use light pencil lines, don’t score into the paper, you’ll want to erase most of your lines anyways so draw light!

Now I’ll post pictures of each sample and tell what paper it was along with what I thought about it. Prices listed were at the time I bought them. Click on pictures to see larger.

Beginning sample for watercolor paper test.

Beginning sample for watercolor paper test.

This sample has no number because it’s a scrap peice of watercolor paper I grabbed and for each technique I gave it a go on here 1st as a warm up! If you’re worried about messing up your paper don’t be afraid to loosen up on some scraps first! this helped me to think of what techniques I wanted to try.

#1 St. Cuthbert's Mill, Millford, 140lb, CP (NOT) White

#1 St. Cuthbert’s Mill, Millford, 140lb, CP (NOT) White

#1 St. Cuthbert’s Mill, Millford, 140lb, CP (NOT) White. 22″x30″ sheet = £ 4.10, 9″x12″ cut peice = .82p. (all papers with blue type on them are from the St. Cuthbert’s Mill sample pack) 1. Traced through well enough, a bit rough. 2. Erases well. 3. Washes went on great, no hard edges. 4. Lifting dry color- this paper worked well. You can see the little ‘tree’ stem area in the green bushes, that was done by lifting, and at the top in the sky.  5. Dry brush was good, rough areas in bushes. 6. Ink and Nib- went on well, a bit rough but good. 7. Scratch test-worked but wasn’t very strong, may need to try more. 8. Color pencil- great, bit of texture. 9. Permanent ink pen- ok, a bit rough for long drawn curved lines (snail shell). 10. Clouds- worked well, soft edges. 11. Paper took the paint really well, nice texture on ground edges, blue sky washes even.

#2 St. Cuthbert's Mill, Bockingford, 140lb, HP White

#2 St. Cuthbert’s Mill, Bockingford, 140lb, HP White

#2 St. Cuthbert’s Mill, Bockingford, 140lb, HP White. 22″x30″ sheet = £ 2.10, 9″x12″ cut peice = .42p. 1. Traced through very well, smooth. 2. Erases well. 3. Washes- went on blotchy or patchy, layers hard edged. 4. Lifting dry color- worked well, see ‘tree’ shape and tiny cloud at top. 5. Dry brush-ok, not bad but a bit blah because of paper smoothness. 6. Ink and Nib- went on well, smooth. 7. Scratch test- worked. 8. Color pencil-good. 9. Permanent ink pen- very easy to draw with, smooth. 10. Clouds-Interesting, with water dropped in it formed harder dark edges, which I could have softened with lifting, but it was neat.  11. Was harder to float washes, paint colors got patchy.

#3 St. Cuthbert's Mill, Bockingford, 140lb, CP (NOT) White

#3 St. Cuthbert’s Mill, Bockingford, 140lb, CP (NOT) White

#3 St. Cuthbert’s Mill, Bockingford, 140lb, CP (NOT) White. 22″x30″ sheet = £ 2.10, 9″x12″ cut peice = .42p. 1. Traces well, tiny bit rough. 2. Erases easy. 3. Washes- great, easy to add water to. 4. Lifting dry color- did well. 5. Dry brush- worked really well. 6. Ink and Nib- worked ok, tiny bit rough. 7. Scratch test- worked ok. 8. Color pencil-good. 9. Permanent ink pen- good, a bit bumpy for drawing. 10. Clouds-excellent! Soft edges were perfect and harder edges on bottom edges looked good. 11. Paper took paint nicely.

#4 St. Cuthbert's Mill, Bockingford, 140lb, Rough White

#4 St. Cuthbert’s Mill, Bockingford, 140lb, Rough White

#4 St. Cuthbert’s Mill, Bockingford, 140lb, Rough White 22″x30″ sheet = £ 2.10, 9″x12″ cut peice = .42p. 1. Traced through well enough, a bit rough. 2. Erases well. 3. Washes- layered well. 4. Lifting dry color- worked rather well.  5. Dry brush- pretty good, rough areas in bushes and ground. 6. Ink and Nib- worked ok, a bit rough. 7. Scratch test-worked, a bit pale. 8. Color pencil- not as good, a bit too rough for me. 9. Permanent ink pen- well, a bit rough. 10. Clouds- worked well, wash went on nice, made clouds really well. 11. Paper took the paint really well, nice textures too.

#5 St. Cuthbert's Mill, Saunders Waterford, 140lb, HP High White

#5 St. Cuthbert’s Mill, Saunders Waterford, 140lb, HP High White

#5 St. Cuthbert’s Mill, Saunders Waterford, 140lb, HP High White 22″x30″ sheet = £ 3.60, 9″x12″ cut peice = .72p. 1. Traced through well. 2. Erases well. 3. Washes- went on nicely. 4. Lifting dry color- ok, not as easy as others, lifting small patch on blue sky was bad.  5. Dry brush- worked great, rough areas above bushes. 6. Ink and Nib- worked ok, a bit bleedy. 7. Scratch test-worked really well. 8. Color pencil- worked well easy to draw on to paper. 9. Permanent ink pen- great. 10. Clouds- worked well, I put clouds on with a bit too much water. 11. Paper took the paint well.

#6 St. Cuthbert's Mill, Saunders Waterford, 140lb, CP (NOT) White

#6 St. Cuthbert’s Mill, Saunders Waterford, 140lb, CP (NOT) White

#6 St. Cuthbert’s Mill, Saunders Waterford, 140lb, CP (NOT) White 22″x30″ sheet = £ 3.60, 9″x12″ cut peice = .72p. 1. Trace through-a bit rough, not as thin, can trace but not as easy. 2. Erases well. 3. Washes- went on really well. 4. Lifting dry color- not so good, soft edges.  5. Dry brush- worked great, rough areas in bushes and ground. 6. Ink and Nib- worked ok, not too bad. 7. Scratch test-worked ok. 8. Color pencil- worked well, especially for rough textures. 9. Permanent ink pen- very well. 10. Clouds- worked well, nice and soft, blue wash went on really well. 11. Paper took the paint really well.

#7 St. Cuthbert's Mill, Saunders Waterford, 140lb, Rough White

#7 St. Cuthbert’s Mill, Saunders Waterford, 140lb, Rough White

#7 St. Cuthbert’s Mill, Saunders Waterford, 140lb, Rough White 22″x30″ sheet = £ 3.60, 9″x12″ cut peice = .72p.  1. Traces through well-a bit rough. 2. Erases well. 3. Washes- very good. 4. Lifting dry color- worked well but not with sky color.  5. Dry brush- worked great, rough areas in bushes and ground. 6. Ink and Nib- worked ok, a bit rough. 7. Scratch test-worked ok. 8. Color pencil- worked well, especially for rough textures. 9. Permanent ink pen- well but can be bumpy. 10. Clouds- blue wash went on well, clouds did really well. 11. Paper took the paint really well.

#8 Canson, Moulin du Roy, HP

#8 Canson, Moulin du Roy, HP

#8 Canson, Moulin du Roy, HP 22″x30″ sheet = £ 3.10, 9″x12″ cut peice = .62p. 1. Traces through really well, feels thinner. 2. Erases well. 3. Washes- beaded up a lot, wouldn’t go on in some areas! 4. Lifting dry color- worked very well, even on the sky patch.  5. Dry brush- worked ok to good. 6. Ink and Nib- draws well. 7. Scratch test-not great. 8. Color pencil- worked well. 9. Permanent ink pen- nice, easy to draw. 10. Clouds- worked well, don’t get too wet, it gets blotchy. Paper towel lifts easily because color doesn’t soak in too fast. 11. Paint beaded up at first then was ok.

#9 St. Cuthbert's Botanical Ultra Smooth, 140lb

#9 St. Cuthbert’s Botanical Ultra Smooth, 140lb

#9 St. Cuthbert’s Botanical Ultra Smooth, 140lb full sheet = £ 2.20 (slightly smaller than the others), 9″x12″ cut peice = .55p. 1. Traces through really well, smooth. 2. Erases well. 3. Washes- a bit patchy in areas. 4. Lifting dry color- worked well.  5. Dry brush- worked well. 6. Ink and Nib- ok, a bit bleedy. 7. Scratch test-ok to pretty good. 8. Color pencil- worked very well. 9. Permanent ink pen- nice, easy to draw. 10. Clouds- worked well, color lifted well, clouds a bit hard edged. 11. Paper takes paint ok to well.

#10 Royal Botanical Society 140lb, HP

#10 Royal Botanical Society 140lb, HP

#10 Royal Botanical Society 140lb, HP 22″x30″ sheet = £ 4.70, 9″x12″ cut peice = .94p.  1. Traces through well, smooth. 2. Erases well. 3. Washes- went on nice. 4. Lifting dry color- worked well, a bit pale on sky patch.  5. Dry brush- worked well. 6. Ink and Nib- works fine. 7. Scratch test-worked well. 8. Color pencil- worked well. 9. Permanent ink pen- great, easy to draw. 10. Clouds- blue color went on nice, clouds went on very well. 11. Paper takes paint very well.

#11 Arches Aquarelle, 140lb, HP

#11 Arches Aquarelle, 140lb, HP

#11 Arches Aquarelle, 140lb, HP 22″x30″ sheet = £ 5.40, 9″x12″ cut peice = £ 1.08. 1. Traces through very well, smooth. 2. Erases well. 3. Washes- went on well. 4. Lifting dry color- worked really well.  5. Dry brush- worked well. 6. Ink and Nib- worked ok to good. 7. Scratch test-worked well. 8. Color pencil- worked very well. 9. Permanent ink pen- very good, easy to draw. 10. Clouds- blue wash went on well, clouds lifted with brush and paper towel. 11. Paper takes paint nicely.

That was the last one! Whew! You can see this kept me busy for awhile. A few of the papers didn’t take the paint nicely at first, they beaded up or skipped areas. For those papers I think I would try wetting the paper first and stretch it, then see how they act. Or just take a larger peice and really wet it then play around on it. After I did the tests I wrote the price per full sheet on the backside, then figured out how much one cut 9″ x 12″ peice would be, depending on how many you could get out of a full sheet.

So what’s my verdict you’re wondering? I have to admit it’s still hard to say! For the price and how they performed for me, I have four I want to explore further.

  • Saunder’s Waterford HP High White- seems to work well, price moderate but a bit more than the others I liked.
  • Bockingford CP (NOT) white- worked well, rougher than what I’m used to, very affordable
  • St. Cuthbert’s Botanical Ultra Smooth- love the smoothness, low price, worked well but sometimes patchy, need further testing.
  • Moulin du Roy- I want to test some more, because it beaded up, but I like the feel of it and the price.

On the ones I liked I draw a little star and fill it in with really bright golden yellow, so it’s easy to spot when I’m digging in my folders.

PLEASE DO leave some comments about the paper you use and why you like it!! It would be great for everyone to share some ideas and papers that work for them here.

Happy Spring everyone, springtime posts coming soon!

Happy Spring from our village in Northumberland, England!

Happy Spring from our village in Northumberland, England!

Watercolor Studies of Moss on Trees

It’s been a long while since I posted! I’ve been busy with packing up and also selling things in my house for my eventual move. Wow I didn’t realize I had so much STUFF! I was also busy with my eldest son’s University Graduation, which was in Washington DC. and afforded me an entire day at two fine art galleries that would blow your mind. Well it did mine! I’m going to post about that visit next I think!

moss study in watercolor, of same tree

 Back to the moss now…  I did these studies in March (click pic to see detail) when it was sunny but still chilly and actually quite nice to be out on the land. Trees were still working on their buds; leaves, grasses and wild plants were all just coming up through the dead, wet leaves of winter. But everywhere I looked there was gorgeous moss growing on all the bases of my trees. I have very wet land and there is no shortage of moss!

I did these studies because of a little story I made up about a mouse…and I needed to do moss studies. Wow, a great excuse to go out and paint!! haha. This first study (above) I did the same tree twice; sometimes I do that, the second time going faster,  more bold or just trying a different technique. For the one on the right (the second study) I stepped back and just looked at darks and lights of the green, also tried to do the bark quicker. I’ve left a good amount of clean paper because I may be able to use it later to add in some characters or more trees.

moss study in watercolor on tree in Aspen Hall

The study above I was really happy with! I went to Aspen Hall, a special place on my land that my boys and I used to go to, and I picked this one tree because the moss had a different hue. When the mosses are ‘blooming’ or sporing (?) they have little rusty brownish reddish heads that come up on hairlike stalk. If you get in close you can see them; it’s these that give the moss a sort of rust patina on top of the green.

I firmly believe if you want to paint something right, the more you can study and understand your subject the better. You don’t have to scientifically understand all about it, but get up close and really look at it’s parts, ask yourself what those parts are maybe. I find the more you do this, the more you SEE, you will get really good at seeing details you would never have thought about before! That’s my two cents!

A beautiful fuzzy budding bush, close up

On my walk I took a few pictures (of course!!) Here’s a few beautiful, soft buds on a bush. Don’t they look like those fireworks that explode outward? There’s such symmetry in the unopened bud, like a pine cone and the opened ones are irresistible to stroke to feel their softness.

Here's a snail keeping company with the tiny frog eggs

And then there were frog eggs in the wet lane, some tadpoles that had hatched and a snail friend on top of them all.

This could be the mom or dad of those eggs!

I see countless Leopard Frogs while I walk, all jumping this way and that as I come along the lanes. This was a big one so I assume an adult that overwintered and had something to do with those eggs! Now (at the end of May) I go walking and see many young frogs leaping into the wet areas of the paths, new frogs of the year!

A male (American) Robin has his crest raised while looking at me

This male American Robin was in “Pasture Lane” as I walked, he has his crest raised like someone with big eyebrows would lift them to look at you! He’s on alert.

This is a typical pose for robins, with wings held slightly hanging

Here he is again, it’s a good pose to show you how they typically hang their wings a bit. He’s still looking at me you can see!

Well I couldn’t resist adding a few more pictures from my walk, so here they are:

Two beautiful Mourning Doves, watching me from a high branch.

A beautiful setting of moss, grasses and dried leaves on a tree.

And here's my view looking home, along "Pasture Lane", a very wet but ALIVE with creatures lane!

I hope you enjoyed my moss studies and nature pictures from my day out. Please leave me a comment or ask a question, I love getting comments! I promise to TRY to put aside packing for planned sketching time everyday and get back to my posting here!

Some of my pictures link to my Zazzle Shop, please have a look around as I put many photos there that aren’t on my blog.

Springtime Walk and Lane with Arched Branches

This walk was on April 13, 2012, all around on my land checking on how things were doing now that spring is well underway.  (please click pictures to see larger)

"Lane with Arched Branches" watercolor and ink

I did this watercolor study while standing in the lane, looking ahead through the natural arch formed by this one bush or small tree. Over the years as I would walk under it, I’d trim off branches hanging down right where you walk, so it formed a natural arch. The branches on top reach straight up like suckers do. I actually did most of it on one day then another time I was out I added the ink.

The first snail I met this year!

Now you can meet some of the critters I met on my walk. The first was a snail sliding along on this piece of dead grass floating in the water. I noticed this before on snails like this, his body color is blueish! Cool.

The second snail I met was this flat shaped coiled one.

Here’s a totally different kind, this one’s shell makes a coil but flat. Can you see the paler band of color at about 9 o’clock? Everything from there to the lip is new growth just from this year!

I took him home and he decided to come out to explore

Well, yes, I did tuck him into a little baggie I had with some of the water from where I found him! I stuck him in my pocket and brought him home to look at closer. I thought I’d have time to sketch him but when I realized I wouldn’t I released him right away.

Looking up to the spreading grandeur of this old oak!

Now here we are in “Oak Lane”, so named because of the very old, very huge oak trees growing there. They were probably planted some 200 years ago by the original owners of this farm as a land boundary. I love looking up at them as they tower over me, and marvel at how many years they’ve been looking down at people before me even. There are so many critters living in, on and under them!

Way up high this squirrel's tail was hanging out of it's hole.

When you’re out walking, if you keep your eyes open and maybe more importantly, stop sometimes and just stand still to listen and look, you may be surprised at what you see. As I was admiring my oaks and listening to birds I caught sight of something way, way up high, moving. It was just a stirring but it caught my eye; turns out it was a Grey Squirrels tail left hanging outside his/her hole!  How funny it was, just blowing around in the wind like a flag put out on a porch. I think it was sleeping!

This is the first butterfly of the year for me, the Mourning Cloak

Then all of a sudden in a flutter, a Mourning Cloak butterfly appeared and landed not far from me. It was sticking to the open lane where the sun was. Everytime I got too close it flew off but I was patient and followed it along, and the last shots I got were the best because I think, it was tired and didn’t want to fly as much. After that I left it alone, thank goodness for digital zoom!

I hope you enjoyed this little walk and my watercolor study. Stay tuned because I have some more posts in the works! And as always please share my blog with friends and visit my Shop at Zazzle where you’ll find TONS of my nature photos and artwork on all kinds of products.

“Walk with Peepers and Golden Snails”

(if you are viewing this from your email subscription, please visit my blog on the actual website to see the video and links properly)

Today I went for a walk with Ginger. We ventured forth out into the wet lanes and fields, the mud sucking at our feet, water swirling as we waded. Not all my land is wet mind you, but this time of year it certainly is in some areas.  I start my post off today with my drawings of the little snail I met while out walking, because I knew you’d be curious to see him.

Little Golden Snail Sketches

I did these studies actually back at my studio while looking at him under a magnifying glass. I did some while in the field (you’ll see below) but it was so small it was hard to really get a good look at him while I sat on a log! So he came home for a visit. I first lightly sketched him with pencil then drew with a permanent ink pen and then watercolor on that. After I drew the swirly curly border I drew over it with one watercolor pencil then just dragged a wet waterbrush over all of it to soften it and make the color bleed out a bit.

Now back to our walk.

Secret Circle Lane

This is “Secret Circle Lane”, as wet as it always is in springtime; (click it for high res. view in my shop) how pretty reflecting the sky like that! Ginger and I crept quietly along through this water because I heard an interesting call from some kind of frog along with the zillions of peepers that were singing.

Here’s a short video clip I shot while standing in the water,  just to let you hear the sound of the Peepers calling.

my boots

Ah yes, the trusty boots! Can’t go anywhere without these mud boots or “Wellies”. Well these boots weren’t made for “walkin” they were made for “sloshin”!! I did see some interesting little critters in the water before our feet disturbed it, some snails and a few water beetles.

me

Oh, and there’s me…had to show you my favorite hat of all time and my Dad’s hunting coat! The hat I bought in England at a farm supply shop, where they sell the expensive horsey equipment and clothes. Well it WAS expensive too, BUT well worth ever penny! It’s waterproof, lined for warmth, has a flap that drops down over your ears and makes it fit your head like a helmet and has an elastic cord that goes under your chin for high winds. When the wind blew hard on the high hills of Northumberland, my wonderful hat stayed put!! The other nifty thing is it has a little button on the brim you click and you get two settings of led lights! High power beams!! I’m telling you we’ve used it to find our way on paths past dusk and it’s great for visiting old castle ruins because you can point your beam into dark places that you wouldn’t have seen before. I should get paid money to promote this hat!

And the wonderful old Woolrich hunting coat my dad gave me so I love it. He used to put it on when going out hunting, I still remember seeing him in the kitchen with the pants on with bright red suspenders and laughing playing like he was Santa! It is covered with pockets and has a special pocket at the back for carrying your ‘game’ home in. I have been known to carry sketchbooks there and always keep a spare kitchen size garbage bag for sitting on wet ground.

Crocuses in Aspen Hall

I told you before that we planted flowers in “Aspen Hall”, here’s two little crocuses I wanted to sketch.  Click to see a note card of it where you can zoom in and see it bigger.

golden snail

I love the close up pictures of this pretty little golden snail. I spotted him on the ground amongst the leaf litter, but in the sun he glistened like gold. I took my tiny Olympus camera on the macro setting and shot this picture through a close up part of my magnifying glass! It really works at getting a little closer. Click on the pictures to view note cards that you can view close up.

golde snail pointy end up!

Here’s another shot of him, I love the form of the shell twisting up like that.

Studying the snail closely for sketches

Now this picture is important because it shows you how tiny he was and when you need reading glasses to see things better, it doesn’t help. The other thing that made it difficult to draw him in the field was sitting on one little log made my back hurt terribly so I was not comfortable. I wrote my notes and did some little sketches anyways.

golden snail peeking at me

Another great shot, I love the patterns in the shell that the sunlight catches. And notice the subtle color that runs up through those eye stalks? I notice how well it matches the dead stick he was crawling on.

My Journal page

Here’s my actual journal page from my time sitting in “Aspen Hall”, go ahead and click it to read it.

Tiny Golden Snail with metallic gold watercolor paint added.

Now I had a little more fun with the snail studies I did by using some metallic watercolor paint on them. I took some pictures of the snail paintings tipped at an angle to catch the sun and really show the metallic watercolor paint I added on top. It was a lot of fun using it and really made it look like the snail did, it sparkled in the sun!

Golden Snails in watercolor with gold metallic watercolor over.

And one more shot showing the glitter in the full sun.

I hope you enjoyed our walk today and you didn’t even have to get your feet wet! 😉 Don’t forget to visit my SHOP by clicking the pictures above to see note cards of the little golden snail or the landscape photos in this post.

Here’s a note card using the watercolor studies:

Speaking of snails I’m honored to say there’s a wonderful blog written by two talented women one of which was inspired by my posts about the snail I found and did studies of while I was in England! Have a look here: “The Dao of Doing”

“Limpets, Periwinkles and Bladder Wrack”

Limpets, Periwinkle and Bladder Wrack

Limpets, Periwinkle and Bladder Wrack

Well you can see by the date on my sketch page above, that I’m way behind on my posts! I had another very nice visit to the sea on this day, at Howick Haven in Northumberland England, one of our favorites. There are many rock pools to explore when the tide goes out and that’s just what I did before settling down on a rock perch to draw the above sketch. (Click on it to see it as a glossy note card with text removed) You can read my little note about how it’s damp and chilly, my hands got so stiff it was hard to draw. Then there were too many people walking around for my liking, when they see someone sitting alone on some rocks sketching they get curious and come out pretending to explore just to peek over your shoulder. Well I don’t mind really, many times I chat with nice folks this way. (Hey if you ever see someone out drawing in nature and you think it’s me, introduce yourself!!)

Limpets, Periwinkle and Bladder Wrack

Limpets, Periwinkle and Bladder Wrack full page

This is a picture of the whole sketch page to show you my list of what we saw there, I also listed my pencil colors. When you look closer at little things around you, you’ll be amazed at how much more you see. When you start to identify and learn about these things you will see them many more times. One of the new ‘discoveries’ of the day was a Green Chiton, wow it was so cool!  (see below)

Green Chiton in the water

Green Chiton in the water

This Chiton was a gorgeous green with black trimming. Gary found it when I coaxed him out to have a ‘play’ like me around the rock pools, looking for interesting things. It was settled under water in a shallow pool, looking similar to a Limpet that clings tightly to rocks. This was unique in that it was oval shaped, and segmented like a pill bug, it could curl it’s shell! I want to do a little color study of it when I have time.

Green Chiton curled up

Green Chiton curled up

This is what it looked like when touched, it curled slowly. Don’t worry, it was soon placed safely back into the tidal pool.

pencils + drawing of seaweed with limpet

pencils + drawing of seaweed with limpet

I wanted to show you my set up with the laptop because the weather was so damp and chilly it was impossible for me to finish my color sketch on the spot. I took lots of photos and then at home just referred to my laptop screen to finish details and colors. Those are all the watercolor pencils I used laid out on the side. I had the sketch book and pencils on a little board on top of the keyboard. I used a variety of watercolor pencil types, mostly Derwent with a few Prismcolor, both great brands to use. As I studied the colors in the Bladder Wrack, this sort of ugly seaweed became more interesting to me. I liked the subtle colors of olive and yellow, the form of the leaves as they lay curling on the rocks and the fascinating little ‘bladders’ of air sacs on them to help them float, with little bumps all over them. What perked up the painting was adding light blue washes here and there where the light was hitting the wet surfaces.

I ended up using the permanent black marker to really define the drawing forms, to ‘dig in’ to dark areas and make them stand out more. I also like the way ink can loosen up a drawing and keep it from looking stiff.

Below I’ve added lots of random photos from my short visit to the coast here in Northumberland England, please have a look and enjoy my day with me! (Some I’ve made note cards of, you’ll see them in my shop when you click on those photos; you can hover over them in the shop to see close up views!)

The Beach-Tides going Out

The Beach-Tides going Out

You see some of the pools here, the beach and high dunes where we park the car are in the distance. Not a very sunny day!

Limpets along a rock

Limpets along a rock

A nice photo showing the Limpets and Bladder Wrack (so named for the little ‘bladders’ on their leaves).

Wading bird

Dunlin wading in the water

My birdy expert friend Stuart over at “The Boulmer Birder” helped me out with this ID, it’s a Dunlin.

Wagtail

Immature Pied Wagtail

This Pied Wagtail had my scratching my head, I’m still new to the birds of England but thought this was a Wagtail but it had no bib. Thanks to Stuart for telling me it is a Wagtail but the immature ones lack the bib.

Cormorant + Friends

Cormorant + Friends

Some more popular shore birds, a Cormorant, Gulls and an Oystercatcher. I love the Oyster-catcher’s red beak and very black and white plumage when they fly.

Grey Heron and Oyster Catcher

Grey Heron and Oyster Catcher

Can’t forget the Grey Heron, sorry he’s a bit blurry, I had to zoom in a lot to get him. They are incredibly shy, hard to get near so the zoom comes in handy.

Dunstanburgh Castle

Dunstanburgh Castle

This is Dunstanburgh Castle, it’s just north of Craster along the coast. From Howick Haven you can see it in the distance, I zoomed again for this one.

My Boots at the Beach

My Boots at the Beach

Then there’s the ‘ol boot picture! Just to show I do kick back sometimes and take in the beautiful scenery. (I have a bunch of cool boot note cards for those people who like hiking, click on the picture to check ’em out in my shop, more coming all the time!)

I think its Pipit

Meadow Pipit singing up in the dunes

One more bird, we saw this one while we were walking up on the dunes and as the caption says, it’s a Meadow Pipit.

Small Tortoiseshell Butterfly

Small Tortoiseshell Butterfly

The final beautiful picture I leave you with today is the Small Tortoiseshell Butterfly. I spotted him flying around in the grasses, also up on the dunes. Just love his furry little body and gorgeous colors! Click on the picture to see many photos I’ve taken of these beauties!

I hope you’ve enjoyed the walk with me at the coast. I hope you visit my shop to see the note cards I made, explore my many categories there to see other photographs and paintings. http://www.zazzle.com/marymcandrew*

If you subscribe to my posts and read this in your email, please do visit my website to read it, it looks so much nicer!

Studies of the Coast near Cullernose Point

Come with me on a sunny, breezy stroll along the Northumberland coast of England, south of Cullernose Point and Dunstanburgh Castle.

South of Cullernose Point, Northumberland

This sketch is done looking northwards while I sat on the grass. I used one water soluble “Inktense” pencil (Ink Black) by Derwent, ; after doing a light sketch I wet it with my waterbrush to create tonal values. It’s like doing an ink wash sketch, great for quick sketches and you can go back over it later with color. The inktense pencils are relatively permanent once dry, so I’m experimenting with using the black then coloring later from photos. These colors of Inktense are very intense, so you need to practice and go lightly with your pressure. You can also achieve very black areas which I like.

Me Drawing near Cullernose Point

Drawing near Cullernose Point

Here I am with my field sketchbook, what a view! (click on the picture to see it as a note card with a quote by Pablo Picasso)

Enjoy the many photographs I took below, they show the things we discovered as we walked and some I used later to do sketches from at home.

Brown Lipped Snails on Cowslip Leaves

Brown Lipped Snails on Cowslip Leaves

It’s funny, once you learn about something you start noticing it more and more, as is the case with snails for me. Now when we walk I see them everywhere!

Brown Lipped Snails

Brown Lipped Snails

These are Brown Lipped Snails; notice the brown line at the edge of their shell. I just love the striped patterns they have.

Pool with Grey Heron

Pool with Grey Heron

This is looking down from the coastal path we walked on, there is a Grey Heron in that pool down there.

Grey Heron

Grey Heron

Well spotted! He’s a beauty; we watched him fish in the pool as I took pictures from afar.

View of the coastal rocks we explored

Here’s another view of the coast where we walked. You can see two figures walking on the path ahead, that’s where we’ll be going.

Common Limpets and a Sea Slater bug

Common Limpets and a Sea Slater bug

When we ‘clambered’ down to the shore, (hey it’s an old word but it fits here!), we found lots of Limpets, snails and Periwinkles. It wasn’t until I looked at my pictures on the computer later that I noticed the bug, a “Sea Slater”, how interesting! The Limpets are living creatures that cling very tightly to the rocks, you’ll see a watercolor sketch below of one I did.

Yellow Scales

Yellow Scales

This is called Yellow Scales, a type of lichen that grows near the coast on rocks. It’s very beautiful along with the whitish lichens and grey rocks.

Southern Marsh Orchid

Southern Marsh Orchid

When we returned to the top of the cliffs, we found these small unusual orchids growing here and there. I was surprised at how tiny they were and may have passed them by if Gary didn’t point them out. As near as I can tell they are Southern Marsh Orchids, if anyone knows better, please let me know!

Me Drawing near Cullernose Point

Me Drawing near Cullernose Point

This photo will show you how tiny they were, the orchid is just in front of my sketchbook. I just lay in the grass and did a tiny light, sketch with a pencil. (click to see this and other photos like this, in my shop)

Shell and Flower studies

Shell and Flower studies

When I got home I downloaded my photos and did these studies from the laptop. I used watercolors for these, but using Titanium White this time for the white highlights and ‘wet’ look. I don’t usually use white paint, I rub or scrape off to create lights, but I quite liked using the paint for the glaze look. You can read my list of things we saw while there that day on my page.

Studies of Grey Heron

Studies of Grey Heron

The little studies at the top of the page show my experiment with “Inktense” and just a black watercolor pencil, using watercolor pencil to color it. I wanted to see how much the blacks would lift or blend, hoping they wouldn’t. As I thought the Inktense didn’t lift as well and that’s exactly what I wanted.

The heron studies are also done from the laptop, just painted without sketching him out first. The little one in the left corner was an experiment of painting solid blue water then lifting color and using white paint to add the heron after. I’m not thrilled with how it came out but you should always experiment!

I hope you enjoyed coming along on this walk by the sea. Get outside and bring a small sketchpad with you, you’ll be surprised at how much you’ll see when you sit and start to draw things around you; a whole new world opens up before your eyes.

Here’s a little video clip of the waves washing over the rocks where we were, enjoy!

NOTE: Many of the photographs in this post have been made into beautiful glossy note cards and gifts and are in my shop (home page link). There are many more besides the links in this post, I hope you have a look and please pass it on to friends!

Large Snail Studies (step by step)

I’ve been studying my snail Cuthbert, and really learning a lot of interesting facts. I know they’re slimy, strange little creatures that eat your garden plants, but they still merit study in my opinion. So I went outside the strange thing was I just walked over to a huge Sycamore tree and felt directed to look right at it’s base in the long grasses, tucked between some big roots. I pulled the grass aside and there, lo and behold two snails! I must have felt the “Snail Vibes” hahah.

big snail photo

big snail photo

One of the snails was this big guy (or girl!) that has now been named “Jabba the Hut”! He’s munching on some sweet corn here. Enjoy the simple stages of painting in watercolor shown below, to give you an idea of how I paint them.

big snail stage 1- ink

big snail stage 1- ink

First I did drawings using light pencil, then go over it my micro permanent pen, keeping it simple and cartoon-like so I could add the detail with watercolor.

big snail stage 2

big snail stage 2

Then I look at the snails to see what pale color I see ‘underneath’ the other darker colors. I make a wash of this color and put it on, and while it’s wet, sometimes I drag a bit more of the wash or color into areas I want darker, with the tip of my brush.

big snail stage 3

big snail stage 3

Here you can see I’m just adding a bit more details and colors, keeping it simple. Look for dark patterns and be careful to leave light or white areas alone.

big snail stage 4

big snail stage 4

Sorry my stages kind of jumped here, I think I got busy and didn’t photograph any more stages! But all I did was kept looking for pattern, colors and shapes, let areas dry before adding new patterns so it doesn’t all blur together. If it does, take your paper towel tip and push it on the area to blot it, rub with brush tip and repeat until you get it lightened. You can add dappley marks with your brush tip for texture.

big snail stage 4 + paint

big snail stage 4 + paint

This is my sketch book along side my pan of watercolors, this is what I used to paint them.

Hope you enjoyed more snail studies!

More Snail Studies, Cuthbert Grows!

Well my snail has been named as I said before, “Cuthbert”, after St. Cuthbert the patron Saint of Northumberland. I did some more studies of him as he’s growing.

Cuthbert close-up, in color

Cuthbert close-up, in color

This is a close up of the watercolor study I did, it’s shown below first as a black and white ink.

Pages 2 + 3 studies in ink

Pages 2 + 3 studies in ink

Click on the images to read my notes. Cuthbert has already grown a few millimeters; the dark part on his shell is new growth.

Page 2 of colored studies

Page 2 of colored studies

Here’s the same studies colored in with watercolor.

Page 3 of colored studies

Page 3 of colored studies

This is the last page of my studies. I added to these pages on different days until I filled the two pages, but most was done in the first sitting.

Well Cuthbert says hello and goodbye, time to go and eat more carrots!  Don’t worry, more snail sketches coming again!  Don’t forget to visit my shop to see glossy note cards and other gifts with my sketches, paintings and photographs on them.

“I Made Friends with a Snail!” May 22, 2010

On the coffee pot

Today is a tale of meeting a snail, hmm…I feel a poem coming on…maybe later.

We went to Alnmouth and explored all around the dunes and on the beach. As we walked between the great high dunes to reach the beach, I couldn’t resist stopping to pick up so many pretty coiled shells.  I didn’t have my usual field painting bag with me so I ended up filling my little purse! Those that were packed with sand I plopped into a dish of water to soak once I got home.  Imagine my surprise when the next morning I found one of the ‘shells’ crawling up my coffee pot! (Lucky it wasn’t on!)

Well I quickly made his acquaintance and before you knew it he had food and shelter. At first he lived in a little plastic jar with the lid on very loosely on, but now he’s in a glass jar on it’s side with nice mosses to hide under.  Click on the page below and read the notes I wrote as I painted his picture that day.

Snail Studies pg 1

Snail Studies pg 1

My set up with the Model

My set up with the Model

Here’s my set up while I painted him, he was on the little plate with lettuce etc. but then slide off, and went up the brass lamp about halfway, this is when I took a bathroom break! When I returned I put him on top of my waterbottle, for this picture. I’m using the watercolor pan I take in the field with me all the time, it’s got a good selection of half pans. I used permanent ink marker to draw over my penciled sketches then used watercolor with regular brushes to color. On the right side you can see a rectangle shaped silver thing, that’s my little light up magnifier for reading maps; it’s great for field work.

Close up of snail studies

Close up of snail studies

Here’s a close up of two of the snail studies with notes.

"Escargo Escapee!"

"Escargo Escapee!"

This painting makes me laugh, I did it with just watercolors. He was escaping from the plate…so I called it “Escargo Escapee”…he didn’t want to give me any ideas when I was hungry! The funny thing is I think he’s a copse snail…so a copse snail is escaping…but shouldn’t he be a robber snail then? (Oh gosh I know that’s corny!)

Cuthbert the snail with the shells I found

Cuthbert the snail with the shells I found

One more picture for now, more to come soon. I love this shot of him with the empty shells I found…poor thing, he’s probably crawling around them saying,”Where’d everybody go?” I decided to name him Cuthbert after the Patron St. of Northumberland, we found him near the cross for St. Cuthbert in Alnmouth.

Here’s a great website I found on snails, this page has a diagram on shell parts and helps with identifying your snail:

http://www.petsnails.co.uk/documents/species/idyoursnail.html#start

And another one all about British wildlife and countryside that I’ll be using,UK Safari. Here’s the page that looks like my snail:

http://www.uksafari.com/gardensnail.htm

I have already drawn more pages of sketches and I’m recording changes in his shell growth. Please come back soon to see what happens to him!  I have created some really neat gifts with these snail images on them, please have a look and pass the link to my shop onto your friends!

http://www.zazzle.com/marymcandrew/gifts?cg=196997618923146905

More paintings and studies coming soon of new snails I found!

“Pet Shop Visit” March 3, 2008

Today I found myself at the mall, not usually where I find myself but I needed a haircut. So I decied to visit the pet shop because the last time I was there one of the employees had a gorgeous green boa snake wrapped around himself. I would love to paint it, but I learned he’s no longer there, along with the snake! I’ll have to go searching it seems for snakes. I remember when I was a zookeeper sometimes I’d get to walk around with a huge but tame boa constrictor wrapped around my waist. This was so people could touch it and I would talk to them about the boa. It was really cool.
So while I was there I pulled out my sketchpad and did some small drawings. Even with a nagging headache it gave me the idea that this would be fun on a day when I’m more in the mood! I thought it would be good to share with you all, it’s a great place to see lots of animals up close for free. The goldfish were a kick, their eyes are soooo weird, like blobs or half deflated balloons. The frog I drew at life size, it was so tiny! I did the sketches in pencil then at home I used a simple writing pen that when it is wet, will run. So I was able to make it like a wash.