Painting the blues

Zoom used to be a photographer’s term. Lockdown has changed the way we meet and interact, and now I daren’t count up how many hours I spend talking to a screen; peering closely at a piece of artwork held up close to a camera in Kent or Canada to try and work out what isn’t working, or shouting out ‘unmute yourself!’ to a musician who’s started to play a song I can’t yet hear. Being slightly hard of hearing I find the phone stressful, like trying to talk underwater, but when I have a friend or business colleague full screen front of me I feel I can have a proper conversation.

I had a sudden urge to misbehave recently when I called by to drop something off at my friend’s house and found him in a serious zoom meeting with his employers. I really wanted to quickly change into some outrageous clothes, sneak up behind him and start doing a silly dance. You’ll be pleased to know I resisted and tiptoed quietly out again.

More zoom art workshops will be scheduled for April and May with www.artsafari.co.uk, so keep an eye on the website. I had a full house for the ‘Maritime Sketchbook’ day so we’re running that one again on 16th April if you fancy joining us. https://artsafari.co.uk/uk-workshop/maritime-sketchbook-ii-virtual/#mainText

I also promised those of you who came to my free ‘seascapes’ mini-zoom on wednesday that I’d put some details up about all those colour blues, so here they are…

If you want to paint the sea, collect as many blues as you can and get to know them. The sea is never just one colour as it’s always moving and reflecting light. A glass of water has no colour at all, but the sea has all the blues you can imagine. I will often use several blues in a sketch, as well as touches of yellow and red.

The bigger the waves, the more contrast there is between light and dark areas, as one side of the wave catches the light more than the other and there is often a dark shadow just underneath the white spray – a touch of indigo here will make the white stand out well. (the white here is white paper of course). This sketch was done very quickly on board ‘Tecla’ in interesting conditions on the way to Cape Horn – so it really was a matter of holding on tight and throwing some brushstrokes at the page. But I like that – what it lacks in accuracy a sketch often makes up for in liveliness and truth. There’s no time to be perfect when you’re on the move!

By contrast, the water outside my window is a tidal river – sometimes mud, sometimes water, different in colour every time. This morning I grabbed a quick sketch as this boat sailed past very fast, then added to the sketch later. I made a little video of the process in case it’s useful:

Here’s the finished sketch – well, as finished as it needs to be! The dark trees on the river bank are always useful as they provide a great contrast to the white sail. There’s a lot wrong with this technically – the far bank should be a lot lower for a start – but for me a sketch is all about reaching out and touching the moment.

Have fun with those blues, and keep in touch. It’s lovely to see so many friendly faces on my zoom workshops and I’m going to keep the free ones going for a while just because I enjoy them; it’s a way for me to test out various subjects and techniques, but more especially a great reminder that although we can’t meet up just yet we’re not alone and the world is full of good people. Stay inspired everyone.

Taking the real into the virtual… the Art Safari zoom room

2 thoughts on “Painting the blues”

  1. Sandy says:

    Thank you for this really helpful blog Claudia
    You are so generous with your knowledge and inspiring

  2. Colin George says:

    I found a mix of Cobalt and light red makes a useful shadow for architectural paintings. Under eaves or window sills. Great blogg,

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