Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Sky Study – Dunblane

watercolour 24x12cm

The two oil pieces are still on the go, so I dashed out a quick little watercolour exercise yesterday afternoon to catch the end of the month.

This particular little Sky Study is from a snap taken at Dunblane station last year, and features some very nice patches of backlit Altocumulus. My usual train gets in at about midday, so the Sun is as high as it’s going to get for September.

It’s been a while since I’ve worked up a watercolour, so I was a bit hesitant in starting. I’ve mucked up the masked border - hence the bleeding edges – which I’m a little annoyed about. I’m thinking that I didn’t press the bleeding masking tape down bleeding firmly enough. The sky went quite well though; the blue element is the Indanthrene Blue I bought last year - unlike Ultramarine it doesn’t granulate in watercolour. I tried scraping the paper under the Sun for pure whiteness, but as it’s only 200gm paper there’s only so much of that you can do, so I thought better of it and used white acrylic ink for the re-lightened bits. Looking close-up at the clouds, the acrylic marks are a bit hard, but the Sun and the soft atmospheric shine have come across quite well. From a reasonable distance it’s OK, and I think it might be worth having a look at the source photos again and maybe developing this into a larger oil piece. 

There was no music on, but I did listen to Richard Herring’s Stephen Fry interview podcast while working. Herring deploys his usual juvenile bonhomie and coaxes some good stories and repartee out of Fry. You can stream it or download the MP3 for later. A pre-listen heads-up: It does contain a lot of very bad language - still very funny though, and some of it’s in the best possible taste. There is a whole series of these conversations – ninety-six at the time of writing – with other comedians and writers, from relatively obscure ones to the likes of David Mitchell, Eddie Izzard, Phil Jupitus, and Dara O’Brien.

This was my third day of working with my new glasses. Up till now I’ve been wearing varifocals, which are fine but have a fairly narrow field of useful vision. I’ve now got a pair of bi-focals - inspired by seeing Peter Blake wearing them in a TV interview. Their focal lengths are much more defined – just near and far - but present a much wider field of vision without the need to move my head from side to side. They are great for working at the easel and the window work, and in general it’s a bit like taking the blinkers off. Which is nice.

And yes, I did go to Specsavers*…

* Specsavers is a popular high-street chain of opticians, well-known in Britain for their amusing adverts. Other opticians are also widely available, but have less memorable catchphrases.