Shells — the second study

As I mentioned last time I am studying how to paint shells and other beachy things for an upcoming exhibition.

I wanted to have another go at shells, to experiment with masking fluid. Masking fluid is a rubber latex solution, used to retain highlights and other light areas. Watercolour painting works from light to dark, so it is easy to cover up lighter areas and highlights. They are crucial because the highlights, reflected light and shadows give life to a painting. And they are easy to lose. Masking fluid can help out.

Shells have very definite rings (that I suspect are growth rings — am I right?). On my shells they are subtle but obvious, if that makes sense. I wanted to try to use the masking fluid to develop those rings by allowing their different colours to come through. I had to think through what parts of the shell I wanted to mask; that is, what parts I wanted to be lighter than the next layer of paint. I planned to layer the masking fluid as I layered on the washes.

The photo below shows my set up. Obviously the top three shells are the real ones! You can see small dabs of paint around them. This was to help me decide on the colour mixes. I had recently bought a new paint — Perylene Maroon — and it seems to be perfect for these shells. Mixed with Windsor Lemon it makes a very potent orange and Naples Yellow makes it opaque. The shadows were Perylene Maroon and Blue Black.

(Photo and art work: Copyright Anne Lawson, 2013)
(Photo and art work: Copyright Anne Lawson, 2013)

The next photo shows a close up of my work in progress, with a couple of layers of masking fluid already on. The right hand shell is the underside. You can see my drawing with some masking fluid on it. This shell had much less definition, so I wanted to see if I could create it by using washes of paint. The other two were built up by small brush strokes.

(Photo and art work: Copyright Anne Lawson, 2013)
(Photo and art work: Copyright Anne Lawson, 2013)

Of course, the masking fluid masks what is underneath and it can be difficult to remember what is there. So when I was removing it, and it peels off easily, I had a little heart flutter in case I had done a major stuff up. Fortunately I hadn’t. However, it leaves quite definite, obvious edges, so there is further work to refine and soften  them.

This is the finished work.

(Photo and art work: Copyright Anne Lawson, 2013)
(Photo and art work: Copyright Anne Lawson, 2013)

I love how the right hand shell has turned out. There are times when creations almost create themselves — and this was one of those times!

As for the masking fluid….I don’t know that I will use it in the final piece. I need to paint some other shells, so I may make a study of them with masking fluid. The masking fluid lines would need to be much finer than I have managed here. Also, I think it is too time consuming.

I have actually made prints of this study to sell in my Etsy shop. I usually sell the originals of my works, but  I want to have the original to use as a reference. Have a look here if you are interested.

Cheers!

Shells

It is a little while since I have posted anything about my art work, but I have been busy painting. I am intending to put a painting into an exhibition coming up in October. It has the title “From forest to foreshore”, and I was inspired by my recent get away in  Portarlington. The beach was a treasure trove for a beachcomber like me, so my painting is to be called ‘Portarlington Treasures’.

However, I have lots to learn about painting the treasures I want to include — so lots of studies. Unlike writing on the computer, there is no delete button on a lovely piece of watercolour paper. And no way to paint over it as you can with oils and acrylics. I didn’t want to be working on the final piece, panicking because I didn’t know how to go about painting seaweed or shells.

Before I start to paint something I look at it closely. Where does the light fall? Where are the shadows? Is there a hint of shadow there? Reflected light? What colours can I see?

But the most important question is what attracts me to this? I try to keep this in my mind as work.

Firstly I studied shell fragments. Scallop fishing is a big industry in Port Phillip Bay and the beach was littered with them. I did some quick studies while I was in the caravan. They helped me to realise the importance of the shadows.

(Photo and art work: Copyright Anne Lawson, 2013)
(Photo and art work: Copyright Anne Lawson, 2013)

sc00a8336f01At home I set up the shells, having decided on the front and back of the two halves. Then thought about my approach.  I loved the rich colours, and the shadows. I played about with different mixes, settling on Olive Green and Windsor Red. Adding Naples Yellow at times would give me the opaque look some parts needed.

The quick study also told me that the growth lines of the shells were really important to give shape and structure.

This is the finished work.

(Photo and art work: Copyright Anne Lawson, 2013)
(Photo and art work: Copyright Anne Lawson, 2013)

And the two halves

(Photo and art work: Copyright Anne Lawson, 2013)
(Photo and art work: Copyright Anne Lawson, 2013)
(Photo and art work: Copyright Anne Lawson, 2013)
(Photo and art work: Copyright Anne Lawson, 2013)

I was very happy with the work. (It sold within a few hours in my Etsy shop!) However, I have noted things that I have to be careful of when doing the good one. I know I haven’t really resolved the area where the ridges of the shells meet at the bottom. The shadow is not right in places; neither is the white line in on the left hand one.

Also, I wanted to try a different method, using masking fluid. More of that next time.

Portarlington with Alice

The Fella and I decided to go away in Alice the Caravan — down the Geelong Rd, through Geelong, down to Portarlington. In the non-summer months it is a little town on the beach of Port Phillip Bay. In summer the numbers swell. Apparently there are 5,000 residents a night at the caravan park in January! How nice to only have us and a handful of others when we were away.

For readers unfamiliar with my part of the world, I need to divert to a quick geography lesson — made easier, I hope, with a map! Hopefully an understanding will make my photos a bit more interesting.

Yep, when I was a girl I much preferred to colour in my maps for Geography than do my Maths homework! (Map and photo copyright: Anne Lawson, 2013)
Yep, when I was a girl I much preferred to colour in my maps for Geography than do my Maths homework! (Map and photo copyright: Anne Lawson, 2013)

Melbourne is situated on Port Phillip Bay, a very large body of water. Melbourne curves around its edges on the eastern side, while the western side leads to Geelong, Victoria’s second largest city. Beyond Geelong is the Bellarine Peninsula, where Portarlington is. The Bay is nearly enclosed, with only a very narrow opening at the Heads. On the western side is Queenscliff and on the eastern is Point Nepean; out through the Heads is Bass Strait.

Once we had Alice bedded down in the caravan park we wandered off to explore. There is a spot in Queenscliff, just past the fort, where you can watch the boats come through the Heads. Unfortunately, there weren’t any sailing past when we were there 😦 However, we did lunch on very yummy hamburgers with the lot!

I love this sign post -- complete with seagull! Point Nepean is the headland you can see on the other side of the Rip. (Photo copyright: Anne Lawson 2013)
I love this sign post — complete with seagull! Point Nepean is the headland you can see on the other side of the Rip, only 3.1 km away. (Photo copyright: Anne Lawson 2013)
the Rip is extrememely treacherous water, and this photo shows how the currents create rips and undertows. (Photo copyright: Anne Lawson 2013)
The Rip is extrememely treacherous water, and this photo shows how the currents create rips and undertows. (Photo copyright: Anne Lawson 2013)

This narrow, rocky opening is very difficult for ships to navigate successfully. Each one has to be escorted in and out by a pilot who knows the waters, hence the plaque dedicated to them.

(Photo copyright: Anne Lawson 2013)
(Photo copyright: Anne Lawson 2013)

Of course, there is a lighthouse at Queenscliff.

Queenscliff lighthouse (Photo copyright: Anne Lawson 2013)
Queenscliff lighthouse (Photo copyright: Anne Lawson 2013)

We also wandered to Barwon Heads, where the Barwon River enters the sea. The bridge there is fabulous, really old style.

(Photo copyright: Anne Lawson 2013)
(Photo copyright: Anne Lawson 2013)
(Photo copyright: Anne Lawson 2013)
(Photo copyright: Anne Lawson 2013)

The beach at Portarlington was heaven for a beachcomber like me. It is not very big, but so many shells and feathers, even a couple of sea urchin shells. I was never sure whether to look at the sand at my feet or the views across the Bay! As the caravan park is right on the beach I was able to wander at will.

The Portarlington jetty would be a perfect habitat for weedy seadragons. I looked hard, but couldn’t see any. I am sure that they must have been there, quietly wafting their way through the seaweed, talking to the starfish.

The weather turned when we were there and our last morning was showery and blustery. These photos were taken as we were leaving to head home.

Looking to the Portarlington Jetty (Photo copyright: Anne Lawson 2013)
Looking to the Portarlington Jetty (Photo copyright: Anne Lawson 2013)
The high rise building of Melbourne, across the showery Bay. (Photo copyright: Anne Lawson 2013)
The high rise building of Melbourne, across the showery Bay. (Photo copyright: Anne Lawson 2013)
Across the Bay to the You Yangs (Photo copyright: Anne Lawson 2013)
Across the Bay to the You Yangs (Photo copyright: Anne Lawson 2013)

Texture on Thursday — sand

Sand photos from Somers beach, late on a summer’s afternoon.

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(Photo copyright: Anne Lawson)
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(Photo copyright: Anne Lawson)
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(Photo copyright: Anne Lawson)
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(Photo copyright: Anne Lawson)
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(Photo copyright: Anne Lawson)
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(Photo copyright: Anne Lawson)
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(Photo copyright: Anne Lawson)
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(Photo copyright: Anne Lawson)
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(Photo copyright: Anne Lawson)
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(Photo copyright: Anne Lawson)

And what is a photo montage of sand without a child’s sandcastle?

(Photo copyright: Anne Lawson)
(Photo copyright: Anne Lawson)
(Photo copyright: Anne Lawson)
(Photo copyright: Anne Lawson)
(I was very jealous of them finding this sea urchin! I had to stop myself from quietly reaching down and ......)(Photo copyright: Anne Lawson)
(I was very jealous of them finding this sea urchin! I had to stop myself from quietly reaching down and ……)
(Photo copyright: Anne Lawson)