Friday, October 25, 2013

DIGITAL SEASCAPE painted with the iPad

This is a seascape created from memory - though it owes something to the view across Cardigan Bay The treatment is characterised by a struggle to achieve subtle blending of colours and expressive marks which engage the eye.

To give the painting more interest I created a new layer and imported a flight of Oystercatchers. The birds were taken from a watercolour I painted of a view across Morecambe Bay near Arnside.

I copied a rectangular selection which enclosed the birds and pasted it onto the new layer. The tricky part was removing the watercolour background from around the birds to reveal the iPad painting on the first layer.

Monday, October 21, 2013


I went to Nature in Art last week to meet Shelly Perkins who is a Digital Painter and was the artist in residence. After all the publicity given to David Hockney’s use of an iPad I was surprised to find that Shelly’s computer set up is simple – she currently uses a standard desktop PC and a scanner.

She starts her project by making a set of pencil or ink drawings. These may be of leaves, flowers, insects, or other wildlife. Then she prepares watercolour studies for background features or animals and birds that will be important elements in her composition. These studies are her working drawings which she imports onto separate layers in Photoshop. Using the software she is able to transform her layers by resizing or applying transforms - rotations or reflections. Colour can be added or modified as well. Interestingly she often adds colour onscreen with a standard mouse.

The final step is to merge the layers and save the file for printing. Two examples of her work are given below. Visit Shelly's website to see the full range of her digital creativity.
Yarrow Spread Flat
The Ugly Duckling

Friday, October 11, 2013

TALKING ABOUT RON RANSON - and a few others.

I can't resist browsing in OXFAM bookshops and there's a good on in Hereford where I came across a clean copy of Ron Ranson's book 'Watercolour Fast and Loose.' He gained popularity by his using a 2in Japanese Hake to quickly dash in the main features of his watercolours. I remember he was a favorite with many Ludlow Art Soc members who often asked me  if I was going to buy a hake. I never did because one of our tutor members had directed me to Jack Merriot's 'Discovering Watercolour' - long out of print I found a copy in a second hand bookshop in Tewkesbury.

I always thought the title of Ranson's book was unfortunate - nothing of quality is ever executed fast or loose. For me dear old Ron doesn't rate alongside Trevor Chamberlain and I note he included some reproductions of Trevor's watercolours in later chapters of his book. In fairness to him though he did introduce beginners in watercolour  to a brush that develops confidence to boldly apply first washes and build on them.

I never owned Ron's book and I was tempted to buy it for old times sake but – no – I was seduced by 'Nature's Engraver' a biography of Thomas Bewick. Just shows I can rarely escape from an OXFAM bookshop without buying something.