Thursday, 31 December 2009

Happy 2010

Happy New Year to my Watery-Arty-Pals, thank you for the artistic support and encouragement.  I wish you all a very creative year, full of exciting challenges and extrodinary experiments.  I hope that in this new decade (blogger puts a spell check thing up) and we all get further along the path of paint and pastel, with pencil and pens as walking sticks.

Thursday, 24 December 2009

A star in the east

No, not another Christmas story.  This star is a sea star that I found on Middle Cove beach today.

We've had a couple of days of wild weather which whipped up the seas and sent waves crashing up the cliffs to the tree line.  It was too wet and windy to try to get photos yesterday so early this morning I bundled up and went down to the beach in Flatrock, Torbay and Middle Cove to watch the water and take some photos.

This little sea star was ripped from its ocean bed and placed on the beach, overlooked by seagulls and crows luckily.  I immediately thought - gyotaku printing! and the little fellow came home with me.

I've played around with prints on several papers, including watercolour, card, print paper and tissue.  I will continue to experiment over Christmas to see what I can come up with.  I rather like the effect on tissue paper and recall seeing some experimentation with a sort of collage technique using tissue and printing over it.  I just need to remember where I saw it!

I put a slideshow on my blog of some of the photos that were taken today and will try for a video once I can get it uploaded.

Have a wonderful holiday everyone and the best of new years.

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Monday, 21 December 2009

Cold and watery Norway!

On a ship traveling northward along the Norwegian coast, earlier this month, I made sketches of some of the wondrous things and some of the ordinary things I saw. Here are a few of these sketches. Norway, night harborView from the ship, coast of NorwayNorway, first day of my coastal voyageNorway, Alesund harbor lighthouseNorway, Bergen fishmarketEn route to Nordkap, Norway On this cold and wintry note, I wish you all happy holidays and a brisk, stimulating year of wonders ahead!

Monday, 14 December 2009

Winter blues

The north Atlantic in winter is a formidable place that has taken its toll on many ships and many lives. In winter, the ocean takes on a wilder, freer form in terms of strength, form and colour.

A visit to a local beach gave me inspiration for a sketch which then turned into a painting.  The sketch was started on a piece of gessoed terraskin paper that I hadn't meant to use, but was at hand at the moment.  I hadn't sanded the surface so the resulting lines almost make it look like it was raining.  However, as a sketch it worked to keep the scene fresh in my head.

The watercolour is a crop of this same wave.  The light was fading that day, nearing twilight and increasing the depth of colour in the water, turning it inky in the shadows.  The foam sprayed upward with the force of the wave hitting the shore and being carried by the wind.  It made me think of those lost at sea and how cold and impossible it would have seemed to be caught in that, making me glad I was standing on the shore.

There is a tangible reminder of the reality of such a situation on the province's north coast at Martin's Cove, where the skeleton of the SS Ethie still remains washed up on the beach and the legend of Hero, the phantom dog.
In 1919, the Reid Company steamer, Ethie, was transporting cargo and passengers up and down the West Coast of Newfoundland between Bonne Bay and Battle Harbour, Labrador. She left Cow Head fully laden at 8:00 p.m. on December 10, heading for Bonne Bay. Shortly afterwards, she ran into one of the worst blizzards ever recorded in that area. The crew slaved all night to keep the engines stoked, heading northwest away from rocky coastline, but at daybreak they had made no progress at all and fuel was low. The decks were swept clean of cargo, the life boats damaged or lost, and a thick rind of ice covered everything from deck to mast top, including livestock lashed to the deck. All seemed doomed. But Walter Young, the purser, knew of one spot where they might manage to beach. Captain Edward English made the courageous decision to steer for the sandy cove tucked behind Martin’s Point. Around noon, he thrust the ship on to the sharp-ridged reef, known as The Whaleback, at its entrance. A surging wave carried the ship up and over the reef and jammed it on the rocks; but a hundred yards of raging sea still boiled between ship and shore.

Sunday, 13 December 2009

Lavender, Viridian and Amber: Dawn


finished (?) painting

I've been incredibly stretched lately with family ill health, exams and not feeling great myself :>( so sorry for my absence.

Today was the first day painting for ages. This is a Christmas present for my eldest daughter who has moved to a new home and decided to have 'white walls and lots of seascapes'. mmmm

This is based on sketches done in Cornwall, combining elements of several - and choosing the images for the colours - to match her rather gorgeous eau de nil/pale jade curtains 8>O !

Unusually for me it's entirely in acrylic. I started out in acrylic inks and then moved on to acrylic paint. At some point I may do some canvasses based on the details as I like their simplicity. I think I would have to use oils for those ...... or .... maybe not. I actually quite liked using these today, whereas I don't normally complete a painting in them because I get to a stage where I just need oils.

It was done with Liquitex acrylics and I really like their texture for the way I work. I also like the way the plastic caps don't get grunged up and refuse to go on again like many metal tubes :>)

I know Tina loves her acrylics and gets incredibly subtle veils of paint with them - how about you?

Monday, 30 November 2009

Watermarks around Mont-Saint-Michel

Last week I had two posts about Mont-Saint-Michel which can be found just off the coast of Normandy:

Sketch and drawing studies of Mont-Saint-Michel
copyright Katherine Tyrrell

Plus I've posted my photos of the coastline around Mont-Saint-Michel on Flickr (see a slideshow).

I know I preferred Mont-Saint-Michel at a distance but I'm also in love with the watermarks in the estuary which could be seen from the place itself - as you'll be able to tell from the slideshow on Flickr.

photos of Normandy coastline around Mont-Saint-Michel
copyright Katherine Tyrrell

However I haven't yet worked out how to have a go at them - all suggestions are most welcome.

You can also expect to see my interpretations of them popping up on "Watermarks" at some point in the future.

Sunday, 29 November 2009

Seascapes and my ghost of time

while my own blog blogged for two weeks on autopilot, I've been eagerly waiting on the proofs for my first print-on-demand (pod) publication to arrive.

My ghost of time is a bit of poetry with some of my seascapes - the deliberate ones, often done en plein air, as well as the accidental ones - where abstract pieces took a turn to the water.

So, last Monday the book arrived, I made some more changes and put it on the public bookstore at Blurb.

I know others have published with them before and in terms of quality and price they seemed pretty competitive.

I tried to find some info on quality control of their publications. I came across this flickr discussion group and became a bit worried as to the lack of quality control and indeed the huge variation from print to print. The attractiveness with pod is that it doesn't require money provided up front, it's an easy and convenient ordering process regardless to where you are. But, if each copy turns out different and of variable quality, this can be a problem.

So, while Blurb does seem to have problems with quality control (colour variations, notably a magenta cast; and problems with binding seem far too common), their customer service seems very good and helpful. - Which means, if there is a problem with the copy, they are helpful in providing a new one.

Now, My ghost of time is not going to be the next bestseller neither do I intend to use it as marketing/portfolio material. It's a project that's been simmering for a while and was important to see to fruition. I ordered one hardback and one paperback. The paperback came out very nicely, the hardback has some issues with the binding.

But: the layout and the quality of images turned out very well. I chose their standard landscape format (25x20cm) which actually provides fairly sizeable images.

  • Have you published your artwork? As print-on-demand? Conventionally?
  • What are your experiences? With quality? As marketing material?
  • Do you have plans on publishing some of your artwork?

Monday, 23 November 2009

Waterways Project: November Catch Up

Gray Day
Ink and watercolor

This is my favorite time to sketch out doors. The bright light...the warm breezes...Just kidding. But I do like the linear quality of the trees and the filtered light. (No bugs helps too!) If you'd like to see a few more from the November sketchbook, I've posted them here on my blog.

Bright Day
ink and watercolor

Friday, 20 November 2009

Bring out Your Inner Artist and Shine!

As an artist you are probably very similar to me, bold and brash on the outside but full of self doubt and shy of "exposing" your work. I grew up with a wildly enthusiastic mother who's glass was always half full, well to be honest, overflowing! As a result I have a sunny disposition but inside I actually think that anyone who says that my work is "good" is just being nice!
Whats all this got to do with anything?
I started blogging in January 2006 and seriously posting my work up about six months later. It was very much a case of learning on the job and as a result I made many mistakes, more about them in a minute.
The very first thing that I realised was that having and maintaining an Internet "presence" is quite a lot of work but it pays off. I was able to supplement my income as an illustrator quite quickly.  Plus selling paintings was slowly chipping away at that self doubt voice.
Being English as well I was, and still am, a bit embarrassed by the "look at me" aspect of self promotion. I rush to tell people who I know that I do it because it helps to sell my work. Actually by far the best thing to come out of it is getting to know so many other artists, even if it is cybernetics!
Being an artist is a terribly solitary occupation, you wander lonely as a cloud, seeking inspiration, wanting to chew the fat with other artists by joining groups but also jealously guarding your solitude at the same time. Blogging enables you to have those conversations, to see other peoples work and to network. We don't have water coolers, coffee breaks or office parties you see.
Having and maintaining a web identity also gives you the chance to sell your work, and therefor make a living. Some people use E-bay, others Etsy, some favor Folksy and some Imagekind. Some systems are better that others and the best advice is to go and try them out, see which you like, browse and search for things, see who is selling and what they are selling, get your pricing right and don't forget to factor in post and the time it takes to pack everything up. Putting a nice note, or a little card in with purchases makes a lot of difference. Think what you would like from a shop or gallery and go one step further. The other thing to bear in mind is getting people to come to your virtual gallery.
Social networking sites are becoming very popular for that, I don't Twitter so I cant talk about that but I have recently started a "fan page" on Facebook. This lets people who are friends of friends of friends see your work as well as catching a few total strangers along the way. It is possible to link up very easily with your blogs and so the fan page, as well as the fans, can see what you are up to.  Easily is the word, you have to make it easy for people to find and see your work, stick links on your emails, put your website on your car, and network like mad on your blogs. (I am bad about that, too lazy, must try harder!)
I used to toy with the idea of being anonymous and enigmatic, like Banksey, but it doesn't fit with my personality, I think it is a rare person indeed who can maintain an identity on blogs that is not their own, it seems to bring out personalities and show them for what they are.
So in a nutshell:
Blog, it makes you work hard and gets you seen.
Sell, via which ever site you feel happy with.
Network, on Facebook, Flicker, Twitter etc.
Throw away your inhibitions and stop waiting for the world to knock on your studio door, get out there and strut your stuff, after all you put your heart and soul into it so why not let it shine.
Sarah's Etsy shop.  Sarah's Facebook fan page
Katherine's Making-A-Mark fan page on facebook
Vivien's Etsy shop
Jeanette's Etsy shop
Gesah's Etsy shop.

( I have only put this here because I dont like blog posts without pictures and because I like this painting and because it has just sold in the gallery, Beside The Wave, that sells my work in the flesh, as opposed to on the internet, so I am happy!)

Now I know that I haven't put all of us on here as links, so fellow watery ones, please add your networking, selling sites.  After all Christmas is coming, someone out there might well be on the lookout for something extra special...

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Sketching and drawing the water garden at Giverny

I've finally got to Giverny in terms of blogging my trip round France

This is the sketch I did while sat on the seat at the end of the pool in the water garden. I never know what to call the water in the water garden. It's too small to be a lake, too big to be a pond (and besides it's artificially created!). I've decided I'm calling it 'a pool' but there must be a French word which says it better!

I'm also more and more convinced that the vegetation around still water is really important to capturing 'the essence' of the place.

The Water Garden, Giverny
11.5" x 17", coloured pencil in sketchbook
copyright Katherine Tyrrell

The sketch was done using coloured pencils across a double page spread of my Daler Rowney sketchbook - while hordes of chattering tourists led by tour guides making inane comments came past about six inches in front of me! It's not conducive to good sketching. I think I've got to investigate the arrangements for visiting the garden when it's not open to the public.

Back home, armed with my photos and video, I know that the colours should be deeper than the sketch and not as deep as in the photos!

This is the drawing I'm working on at the moment. The left hand side is more finished than the right.

(Work in Progress) The Water Garden at Giverny
9" x 12", coloured pencils on Arches HP
copyright Katherine Tyrrell

You can read my blog posts here:
See my photos of the water garden here - Monet's water garden, Giverny

Plus this site provides information about visiting Giverny - Giverny - a great garden

....and one day soon You Tube might allow me to upload my 3 seconds short of 10 minute video of a complete circuit of the pool - with an emphasis on the reflections in the water!

[UPDATE: ....and here it is A walk around Giverny - #1 The Water Garden]

Monday, 9 November 2009

The River

I have just finished painting another few nocturnes. I realised as I was painting this one that it must be one of my favorite painting sites, tucked away from prying eyes with a commanding view. I paint here often and so I thought I would show a couple of other paintings of the River in other guises. By night as a winding ribbon of moonlight, with a troubled sky affording only glimpses of the wintry landscape. The old oaks are so thick going down to the water that even when they have lost most of their leaves they present a solid mass folding themselves down the gentle sloping fields towards the river.
In high summer under a blue sky she presents quite a different face, bright greens and yellows and air filled with bird song and insect noise.

Then in early spring, just waking up after a long winter, the tide far out leaving a few channels in the estuary mud and a soft purplish haze of budding leaves on the trees.
The other thing that I have been doing is making a "fan" page for my work on face-book. It is a test really to see how effective it is and although it is only two days old I have already got two commissions from it. I will report back on its effectiveness as a marketing tool later. So far I am pleased with it and it seems quite easy to use as far as putting images on goes. If it is worth doing I will let you know and in the meantime have a visit and become a fan, please!
It is on facebook and it is called Sarah Wimperis Paintings.

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

More from Brittany

The subtitle to this post should be The End, because I've come to the last of my Breton sketches. To see them all, check my blog. For now, you will have to scroll through recent posts, but I'm in the process of making a separate Brittany sketchbook there, as well.
Oh, how I miss that time and place already.
Brittany, Locmaria beach, late afternoonPoissonerie, Auray, Brittany, right side of sketchBrittany, Pont-Aven boats at low tide
I have one more, VERY exciting watery trip upcoming next month! See you here, with sketches, in midDecember!

Monday, 2 November 2009

Sketching in a slump?

When in Hawaii a few weeks ago, I was inspired and did a lot of sketches, which I thoroughly enjoyed. Here are three of the sketches and the rest can be seen in my Hawaii posts on Africantapestry.

...across the lagoon...

...colourful canoes...


Arriving back in Montlouis, I just suddenly had the creative door slammed into my face, fell right into a slump and I'm there ever since. It is as though nothing works - not a pen, not a pencil or a brush or even motivation. And it can't be said that I haven't tried, but everything ends up begin scratched out/over with frustration. And tears of course.

...La Loire...

This morning I grabbed my sketchbook and a pen and took off to the Loire. It was cold and windy, but I was determined to get soem sketches. Which I did. At home I couldn't resit the urge and added watercolour. I had the discipline to not start scratching it out again. So. Here they are. Overwashed. But still. sketches. Maybe now the spell will be broken. After all. Halloween is over.
the rest can be seen on Africantapestry.

...puddles at La Loire...

Monday, 26 October 2009

Dawn finished at last

Dawn, 40 inch canvas, oil. Vivien Blackburn

Finally finished. It proved a nightmare to photograph - the subtle colour changes just aren't picked up well enough. They show a little better in the details below.

I wanted to catch that early morning light as the darkness is chased away by the amber colours of dawn. The sea is calm and the rocks only half seen. The glow catches the top of the far cliffs and the tops of some of the wet rocks.

The horizon doesn't really slope - it's the photographer who had a bit of a list to port.

Below is a morning light painting I did plein air - one of the several sources that this developed from. The tide here is a little further out and daylight further advanced.

if you click on the above image you can see further work on Cornwall.

Saturday, 24 October 2009

Brittany sketches

I spent more than three glorious weeks in Brittany and became completely enamored of its tranquil beauty and its intimate scale. It is less dramatic than I'd imagined, less rugged than coastal Scotland and Ireland, less vertiginous than some of the places in Cornwall I remember, more temperate (there are palm trees and camellias and fig trees in the Golfe du Morbihan!), more feminine somehow, more French than I'd expected. May I please have another lifetime? I'd live in Quimper or on the Morbihan coast, I'd rear my children, I'd dine on the freshest oysters imaginable, and I'd paint every spare moment I could steal or borrow.
I'd originally planned to take acrylic paints and gessoboards to make rock and water studies on location. Due to my mother's precarious health, I had to travel as lightly as possible, knowing I might have to return home at any moment. Thus, these sketches, from which later paintings will ensue:Presqu'ile de Rhuys, beach with rocksRocky shore, Golfe du Morbihan, BrittanyPort Coton, Belle Ile en MerEbb tide, Brittany beachGolfe du Morbihan, tide's outBreton beach, rocks and water
I have more of these sketches and will post them here soon. I am in the process of sharing all my sketches from Brittany on my blog Laurelines, so please drop by and have a look!