I hope you find these pages inspirational enough to make you grab your sketch pad and paints and either increase your creativity or set you off on a life-long love affair with your inner artist.
Painting with WatercoloursI love dabbling in watercolours (oils are so much easier! – you can fix virtually ANY mistake …) – Watercolours offer a challenge and there are so many techniques that can be employed, from very wet-on-wet to dry, using fingernails and knuckles, masking tape, candle wax, salt, pointed sticks and cardboard strips. Spattering gives a fascinating finish and sponging can add incredible depth.
By just using the basic palette range of 7 colours : Raw Sienna, Lemon Yellow, Ultramarine, Burnt Umber, Light Red, Alizarin Crimson and Paynes Grey - a vast array of colours can be mixed.
Raw Sienna is an earth colour made from the mineral oxides found in natural soil and one of the oldest pigments known and is very transparent.
Ultramarine Blue is a permanent, warm, intense blue and good to work with.
Burnt Umber is a permanent earth brown and one of the cool colours – also an earth colour.
Alizarin Crimson is a cool, intense red and when mixed with Ultramarine, gives a rich purple and with Lemon Yellow it will make orange.
Light Red is another earth colour and very permanent.
Paynes Grey is a cool colour – very smooth and used to deepen other colours without losing clarity. By itself it's very flat and dull.
Lemon Yellow is a permanent, cool yellow.
I haven't included Veridian Green in my colour palette, for using it on it's own doesn't do justice to any colour from nature – I rather make up my own greens using blue and yellow, and by adding Paynes Grey, all the greens found in nature can be reproduced. Of course, you are welcome the use green totally on its own, as certain applications definitely require it.
Below is a perfect example of mixing your own greens in this painting done by Ron Ranson, which shows excellent clarity and depth.
White is very rarely used on its own as it is totally opaque. You lose transparency and you can tell where it has been used. Once again, rules are meant to be broken!
Then there’s the question of pans vs tubes, and all the different (not all necessary!) brushes is enough to give one sleepless nights –there’s the rigger, the hake, flat brushes, 1 inch, half-an-inch, No. 3, nylon, hog’s hair – the list is endless!
Various brush sizes
And as for easels, with their tiny wing nuts, they can be a nightmare – not only for transport, but for setting up as well. Find yourself an uncomplicated easel and you'll be off to a good start.
WHAT IS AN EASEL?
It is most often used to hold up a painter's canvas or large sketchbook while the artist is working or to hold a completed painting for exhibition. The simplest form of an artist's easel, a tripod, consists of three vertical posts joined at one end. A pivoting mechanism allows the centre-most post to pivot away from the other two, forming a tripod. The two non-pivoting posts have a horizontal cross member on which the canvas is placed. A similar model is fit to hold a blackboard, projection surface, placard etcetera. An easel can be full-height, designed for standing by itself on the floor. Shorter easels can also be designed for use on a table. Easels are typically made from wood, aluminum or steel.
There are two common designs for easels:
Tripod designs are based on three legs. Variations include crossbars to make the easel more stable and an independent mechanism to allow for the vertical adjustment of the working plane without sacrificing the stability of the three legs of the easel.
H-Frame designs are based on right angles. All posts are generally parallel to each other with the base of the easel being rectangular. The main portion of the easel consists of two vertical posts with a horizontal crossbar support, thus giving the design the general shape of an "H." Variations include additions that allow the easel's verticality to be adjusted.
There are three common usages for easels:
Studio easels are meant for use in the artist's studio with limited need for the easel to be portable. Studio easels may be simple in design or very complex including winches, multiple masts and casters. The largest easels are studio easels with some being able to support weights of over 200 lb. and panels over 7 feet in height.
Field easels are meant to be portable and for the creation of en plein air work. These easels are usually mid-sized or small, have telescopic or collapsible legs and are based on the tripod design. French box easels include a compartment in which to store art supplies conveniently along with a handle or straps so that the French box may be carried like a briefcase or a backpack.
Display easels are meant for the display of finished works. These easels tend to be very simple in design with less concern for the stability needed by a working artist. Display easels can vary in size and sturdiness depending upon the weight and size of the object to be placed on them.
An Aluminium easel is very light and easy to transport but, for me, there's nothing like wood - the look of it, the way it stands, holding your board with your painting on it...
"Setting up your easel in a landscape is an act of faith, a sacred event. The artist takes from nature without really taking."