Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Woolsheds and Weed Paintings

Last Wednesday saw a few of my art group heading to Ashley Clinton to paint the Ashcott Station Woolshed. Marie S and her husband collected me and fortunately because the property is on State Highway 50 I didn’t really get us too badly lost. The woolshed was old, dark green and now serving as a slightly tumbledown pigeon residence. After wandering around and taking some photos Marie S and I sat with the sun on our backs, had morning tea, talked a bit and tried to look enthusiastic since it was both our first that way as the building turned out to be tricky to draw. I measured, I erased, I redrew, and by the time lunch had arrived had managed to get a pretty faint outline onto paper.

Like many large stations Ashcott has been broken up and the original homestead is no longer part of a working farm. We were lucky enough to have permission to have lunch in its grounds and saw close up the extensive renovation work taking place on this massive building. The front of the house belies what lies behind. According to Helen a whole wing had been taken down (I assume it was too damaged to repair) but even so the house must be a maze of rooms inside. As I went around snapping I kept finding more bay windows, more hidden balconies and more evidence of all the work the owner is undertaking to try and bring it back to life.

Apparently I am no better sketching homesteads than I am woolsheds. You’d think straight lines would be easier than bodies but apparently not. It’s all I assume a matter of practice. As I remarked to Marie- perhaps it might be easier to start on something simpler like my cottage (or the woodshed).

So I have finally-nearly-almost finished the painted book I have been working on as part of my Learning Connexion course for the past weeks (a friend says it’s months but I try not to think about that). The exercise was meant to be an illustrated poem so I took one of my own as it had floral imagery and edited it into page sized pieces. I prepared the calico with gesso before swirling colour onto it with acrylic but in thin glazes ala watercolour. After that I wrote the poem out with a calligraphy pen (an old fashioned job that you dipped into ink). This took a while as the calico soaked up the ink like Sponge Bob Squarepants so every letter meant a new dip.

I drew the flowers in pencil and then outlined them in ink before wetting each petal with water and swirling colour into it. I even managed to accomplish my first dew drop courtesy of one of the instruction books I bought at the Bookarama a couple of weeks ago. I used to paint flowers a great deal when I was younger until the cost of framing my watercolours drove me into the arms of acrylics and financial considerations meant I had to turn to pet portraiture. Long live flowers with their beautiful vibrant colours. They are so much easier to draw than woolsheds…

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