Hello again , a lovely sunny Thursday in Mid Devon. It has seemed a blessing and a curse to have such glorious weather throughout this time of isolation. Who knows how we would have felt if it had been grey and dull, I am sure I would have felt much worse. However this sunshine reminds me of sunny days with family and friends, sipping a white wine in a sunny beer garden, messing about on the beach, all things we cannot do just now. A small sacrifice for the greater good, but all added together they make this time seem strange and other worldly.
We are getting used to new phrases, new ways to be. Who had ever heard of self isolation, social distancing or lock down a few months ago. My reality is similar to how it was before lock down, but subtly different, with 2 caged teenagers at home, I am very much aware of the freedoms taken away from them. My mum and sister live over 150 miles away and we see each other regularly throughout the year, but the fact I can't see them makes them feel further away. We all look at each other with a small element of fear, and step back from strangers on the path ahead. Strange times indeed.
However that said, kindness in my experience has blossomed under lock down. People are cooking meals for neighbours, we say hello to folk we have lived close to but not spoken to before. People ask if we need anything, flowers and cards pop through the letterbox, we are all checking up on each other , all hoping we are getting through it in one piece,'stay safe' has also become a frequently used phrase. We marvel collectively at our NHS, our carers , postmen, delivery drivers, funeral directors, shop assistants, bus drivers,cleaners, the list goes on and on. People who are stepping into the unknown to keep things going and look after us. Clapping seems woefully inadequate but we do it together , hopefully bringing communities closer.
And so to my world, what I do everyday, painting. I posted a painting of a black cat last week and it received a lot of attention I thought you might like to see how I painted a similar piece, I am trying to push my use of watercolours, and let them do their thing.....
Firstly I sketched out my little cat
Now I do the eyes and little nose, I use my smallest brushes and try to get as much detail into them as I can.
Look very carefully and see where the light hits, I add a little blue around the sockets of the eyes too to they sit in the fur better.
Now the ears
These are looser, but I want to get them right so they anchor the piece in reality. No masking fluid was used in the making of this piece except to do the whiskers. For that I use a paper clip dipped in the masking fluid so I can get very fine lines.
Now take a deep breath, stand up, loosen your arms , maybe leave the painting a while, as the next part requires a leap of faith.
I have cleaned my pallet, got some fresh water, cleaned my brushes, and taken a lot of glances out of my window.
Now wet the fur all over, and spray the edges with a water bottle. I sort of shield the cats eyes with my hand as I don't want to get them wet.
Then I paint the highlights first with cerulean blue and dioxazine purple. This is all very wet, don't be afraid of it, go confidently
Next I drop in Paynes Grey , leaving the highlights showing through. Now this is easier said than done. It all depends on the concentrations of paint on your brush and on the paper, experiment a bit before you start, but it has taken me years of practice. I can still end up with muddy puddles. But the best way to get it right is to give it a go
The face requites more control. especially around the eyes. Look where the light hits the coat, and add blue or purple. Add what you see, don't be attempted to guess what is right. trust your eyes.
Then let it settle, this painting works best if you can do it in one go, then you won't get edges you don't want. I am no pretending it is easy, but it is satisfying and a lot of fun when it works, and it is only watercolour that works quite like this.
Have fun x