Ex 1.3 Quick and focused

I stood at my carefully setup working position;  my found (iPad) images on an easel close to me at eye level, painting support to the right on a horizontal surface at hand level, paint, brush, water and rag next to it.  Made some experimental lines in my sketchbook to get an idea what colours would work, how much paint and water to load on the brush etc.

The exercise was very enjoyable.  Spontaneous, expressive, uninhibited by expectations of a ‘good’ outcome.  I looked at the paintings of Gia Edzgeverade again, they have this quality of being dashed off regardless of convention, of someone simply following their thoughts and ideas with hand, brush and paint.

Drawing with the brush in this way you can produce a successful painting in its own right, but you can also use the process to learn the subject, by concentrating on its contours so closely, without looking at the drawing itself.

Water turtles


Prepared A3 background, using old highly absorbent hot pressed watercolour paper, with a coat of gesso and some watery acrylic colours swirled, merged, sponged, spattered.  When dry, using wetted watercolour pans, size 12 watercolour brush,  I drew lines of turtles in the water for one minute.  Let dry and repeated with four more turtle images, varying colours.

I found I was responsing to the flow of the lines as I painted.  I’d looked at the graphite & watercolour drawings by Rodin of Cambodian dancers and discovered he drew in this way, quick, focused, without looking at the paper, producing hundreds of expressive drawings in a short time.

My outcome isn’t recognisable as turtles, but has a flowing, watery quality of line that I’m pleased with. Some colours are stronger and opaque, some weaker and more transparent, giving variety and sense of depth.  

The loss of control through not looking at the paper was augmented by lack of feel – I couldn’t always tell whether my soft watercolour brush had contacted with the paper or not!  But, the large brush with varying pressure had produced lines of different thicknesses and some calligraphic marks.




Same support, finer brush, lines done using acrylic ink, magenta and Rowney blue.  Trying to capture the elegant lines of the figure & sweep of the arms and skirts, I swiped through a series of 9 photos, taking about 30 secs to quickly describe each one using arabesque brushstrokes.  I think the speed and multiple layering has helped catch the energy of the dance.

The brush chosen (long v short, firm v floppy etc) affects the feel which is so important when not using the eye.  A firm, medium shortish brush gives the best tactile connection from hand to paper.  If I was looking a the paper I’d use a rigger – but with touch only it was impossible to tell if brush and support were in contact with each other.

This painting has successfully captured a dynamic energy, compared to the Turtle painting which seems more peaceful and fluid.


Breakfast table


Started with broad brushed background of blue and orange.  When dry, I drew with the brush, using first white acrylic ink, then black paint, then blue-black, then white added, each time capturing more elements of the pattern made by birds eye views of the table with its many dishes.  I had 5 photos in front of me and flitted between them as I painted.  The painting needs more areas of light tone to let it breathe, I think the sketchbook trial on the right is actually more successful as a painting.


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