Monday, February 25, 2013

Window Work

watercolour 8-12cm tall

It’s been a year since I’ve posted figure sketches so here’s the best of the last few months’ output.

I’ve never really mentioned the brushes I use for these, so I will now. They are oriental ‘calligraphy’ brushes, which I first discovered as a student and have continued to use for drawing and general watercolour ever since. The hair bundle is long, and tapers directly from the base, providing a large paint reservoir and a wide range of marks – very handy for rapid drawing.

They come in a variety of sizes, and blends of different hair are used – pony, goat, and weasel are some I’ve come across, though the makers use many types. Prices vary depending on the skill and complexity of construction, and I tend to go for the general purpose cheaper kinds. Goat hair is extremely soft and fragile but is very responsive, weasel hair has a stiffer touch and can be a little easier to use if you’re a bit ‘off’. When you get a new brush, the business end is likely to be rigid; the makers apply a weak gum to the hair to protect it. Just swizzle the brush in some water and this will loosen and dissolve in a couple of minutes. When finished with it, preserve the point by licking it sharp - the point is the whole point after all…

Now, an interesting snippet. if you go looking for these on the Interweb, you’ll find Wolf Hair brushes. These are not actually from the Wolf (Canis lupus); their hair is more like bristle and would be more use to buff your shoes with. Wolf Hair is from the tail of the weasel. Apparently the same Chinese character is used for both wolf and weasel, but the weasel is described as the Yellow Tail Wolf (or Mouse Wolf as I originally heard it) and the mistranslation has stuck.

Finally, if you’re in Edinburgh in March, pop into the SSA Open Exhibition at the Royal Scottish Academy building – the ‘Parthenon’ on Princes Street at the Mound. It’s free, and is a selected show of the best current artwork in Scotland.

And you can see White Calf and Copse in person…