Our Peace Valley Guest Ranch Watercolour Retreat was fantastic! What was forecast to be a wet, cloudy weekend was in fact hot, sunny, and interspersed with some spectacular clouds and atmospheric fog. We thoroughly enjoyed the place, the people, the trail rides and the meals. Getting some half decent paintings was a bonus!
Here are Carolyn’s efforts from three days at the Ranch (not including dozens of photos):
I recycled a loom, a nine by twelve wood frame with nails all around, into a facsimile of Vincent van Gogh’s perspective frame. All it takes is four strings, strung from corner to corner and in a cross across the middle so that the large rectangle is divided into four smaller rectangles and four triangles. It has a centre line both horizontal and verticle, and the exact middle is indicated where all the strings cross each other. A basic guideline to help arrange the composition of a scene, and also to give lines of perspective.
Van Gogh practiced with his a lot, crediting it for helping his perspective immensely. These days, with phone screen photos and print outs, it’s easy to draw these lines right over a photo, mapping it out or even using a program to crop an image to your liking. However, it is still wonderful practice to draw or paint right on site, where nature or a street full of buildings can be confusing to put on paper. Van Gogh’s frame is easy to prop up, literally framing the scene as you like it, cropping out the excess space in your field of vision. It’s a great feeling to realize that you can condense all that information and focus only on what pleases you, and then you realize that, even within that frame, you are allowed to take out more of what you don’t find necessary to the feeling or message of the image. You are the artist!
Here’s my scene from a local picnic site. The photo shows the view as I could see it through the frame (without strings). Lot’s of trees, branches, leaves!
Below is a quick sketch. My frame doesn’t have legs yet so I had to hunch down on the picnic bench, adjusting my eyes to the frame rather than the way it’s supposed to work. My guide lines are faintly visible criss crossing roughly through the middle.
This frame helped quite a bit! I usually find that my drawings from photos are better than those done en plein air. That could be lack of practice, but I think I’ll practice a lot more with a nifty drawing frame to help me see the world.
I bought a square of printed burlap (hessian?) because it seemed to me like something other people might like. It wasn’t the nicest material to work with, especially since I had to use a paper underlayer because the holes are so see-through. However, now that it’s finished, I do like the look of this! The strap is a wonderfully simple device that I’ll definitely use again.
I used to be very diligent in keeping a sketchbook, especially in the summer. However, there is so much life outside a sketchbook! My current best used book has been in use since 2001. It might be about one quarter filled… But if I ever lost it I’d be sorry, so here are some of my digitized doodles.
This is Jackie Chan, the donkey who bit me. I know my thumb might look a little like a carrot though.