Tag Archives: Drawing skills

Seaside Wildflowers – The Development of a new Fine Art Linocut

Lynette Weir - Seaside Wildflowers

SEASIDE WILDFLOWERS – CREATING A FINE ART LINOCUT

The centrepiece artwork for an exhibition at the Northern Rivers Art Gallery was a new linocut – Seaside Wildflowers.
Back in February I was approached by the Northern Rivers Art Gallery Director Ingrid Hedgcock, to exhibit alongside an exhibition of the Master Woods Craftsman & his students. For me it came at a time when recently becoming an ’empty nester’ & my shoulder was looking like it was going to recover after surgery & allow me to work – carve – again. It was also when I really need to get my arts practice back on track after a few years of life being too hectic to gain a consistent approach to my work.

I made the decision that I would work on finally completing many works I had been developing over many years as well as creating the centrepiece for the exhibition a work based around the Wildflowers synonymous with Ballina.
I will talk more about the other works in the exhibition in future posts but will start with the Seaside Wildflowers & where it all began.

In the process of creating this work I took some video footage & sill photographs with the idea of creating an education video showing my process from the inspiration through to the completion of the artwork.
I have always loved the seaside – the beach, the rock formations, the sea, the wildlife & of course the Wildflowers or flora. Even though I grew up in Sydney we spent every holidays by the sea at my grandparents in Yamba. Woody Head was another favourite place where my great uncle & Aunt lived, it is a truly beautiful natural place. We also spent a lot of time over where I now live on the ‘plateau’ region behind Ballina with my other grandparents – not that far from the seaside. As kids we would spend many hours going to the beach but also exploring the surrounding landscapes. So I know this region really well.


I start this particular genre of my work with research – some of this is ‘formal’ – flora studies of regions, plant identification lists but also I go & spend some time wherever possible wandering around the region taking photos. I like to see the flora/Wildflowers I am going to be drawing & document that in my own photos. By taking my own photos it also give me the opportunity to explore the process of visualising each wildflower or plant & how & where that might be represented within the initial concept of the artwork exploring different images of the particular plant. I look at things like the structure, colour & overall impression of each.
As I have talked about before, my work starts with ‘flashes’ of ideas scribbled into small sketchbooks, on post it notes or on scraps of paper.

For Seaside Wildflowers it began as a quick sketch on a post it note which I have now stuck into one of my small sketchbooks with additional notes & ideas. For this artwork I have drawn on the flora lists of the region, the council guides for flora in the Ballina Shire, books of flora of the region, my own explorations of the Ballina seaside region, my own photographs of specific species & finally my memories of childhood holidays alongside living in this region for over 20 years.
One of my abiding memories of the flora or Wildflowers of this area is the stunning Pandanus – Pandanus tectorius or Screwpine.

These strong ‘structural’ small trees are integral to my childhood memories & they are such a strong presence along the seaside of this region. The fruit which starts as a small green ‘ball-like’ structure & slowly moves to yellow tones & finally a vibrant orange colour is the aspect most people would recognise. For me the depiction of the pandanus would need to include the fruit. Less obvious for many people are the flowers – many would not be aware of the flowers. So I made the decision to make the ‘wildflower’ front & centre for this piece. The flower starts as cream bracts inside which the flower heads develop but the slowly the whole long spike of flowers emerge with the female flowers ending in long spikes of cream flowers & bracts.


The long strap like leaves emerge in a spiral from a central point & form a cluster on the end of the rather tortuous trunk & limbs. I think the pandanus reflects the very nature of growing by the season it’s tough ‘wildness’ & so it was for me to become the pivotal image for this artwork.


I started with many possible flora species I could incorporate into the piece, more than I could actually use & so this is where after setting out the pandanus I explore the size, structure, colours etc of all the possibilities. I see this is the fine art aspect of developing my Linocuts – this is where my training, skill & inspiration as an artist rather than a craftsperson comes into being. I bring my drawing & compositional skills to this process & it can be both the most frustrating as well as enjoyable part of the developing of my artwork.


Once I finish the detailed drawing I work through further developing this drawing into a form that can be carved in Lino which is my chosen medium for this piece.

For me this involves inking the design into shape & spaces.

11 Seaside Wildflowers - TEMPLATE FINAL 1

I then carve this into Lino to be printed. For me these two further processes again involve choices & changes in the translations from drawing to final artwork.


Once the Lino is finished being carved I then print it in black ink & handcolour with watercolour the final artwork.

The hand colouring is not simply a ‘fill in the spaces’ it involves again skill & training in watercolour as a medium including colour, contrast, tone etc alongside the application of the paint.


I have taken some video footage of the processes which is a quick look at the whole process and it is now on youtube.

Music – ‘The Temperature of the Air on the Bow of the Kaleetan’

by Chris Zabriskie

Used with Permission

https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/und…
http://chriszabriskie.com/

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Tutorials – Art Bytes from Lynette Weir’s Studio Practice

LYNETTE WEIR – PERMISSION FOR USE OF ARTWORK

Linocuts, design, drawing & illustrations by Australian Artist – Lynette Weir

These ‘tutorials’ are an insight into the working methods of Australian Artist – Lynette Weir.

All images, tutorial content on this site unless specified otherwise, are copyright to Lynette Weir and cannot be used without permission.

This tutorial site is a compilation of posts I have made to my Studio Diary – Soulsong Art. They are not a definitive way of producing a linocut or drawing. They are simply a guide based around my own working methods.

I have posted the tutorials here in an order that hopefully will make it easier for you to find information about linocuts or drawing.

Although a largely static site I will be posting additional tutorials and updates from time to time.

So if you want to keep up with these updates please follow this blog or any of my other links – SoulsongSoulsong Art, Lynette Weir

The linocut tutorials here are based on my own working methods. Artists/printmakers all work differently – some may work in a similar way to myself and others completely different. So the tutorials contained here should be seen within this context and as a guide to working or just as an example how one artist works.

All information is a guide only and is based on Lynette Weir’s own arts practice with Linocuts and Drawing – individuals should take their own due care in working with these and other artistic endeavours and mediums.

I would encourage everyone to take a look at how I work but develop your own style and way of working.

Copyright – Lynette Weir

DRAWING – Where do I start?

Essentially I see drawing at its most basic and simplest form as marks on a page.

You can make these marks with a variety of media such as pencil like this waratah sketch, charcoals, pen, watercolour, pastel, etc.

For me drawing beginning to draw involves finding a surface – usually a piece of paper – taking a for example, a 3 dimensional object such as a vase of flowers and taking time firstly to perceive the object in a proactive way.  Making an effort to pay particular attention to detail through your eye and into to your brain. The more you pay attention, the more you practice seeing with closer attention to detail and thinking how each section or part of the chosen object relates to every other section of the object – in size, proximity, texture etc.

Starting lightly with just exploring the overall shape of the object and then lowly working in the detail. Practice trying to represent what you see and translate that onto paper. Giving the brain time to organise the information and then practice working at incorporating what you have taken the extra time to look at in detail and develop that slowly into hand eye co-ordination to represent in some manner that object on a 2 dimensional piece of paper. It is in essence a skill building exercise not dissimilar to learning scales on the piano or developing the capacity to dance ballet.

You cannot expect to suddenly be able to draw an object correctly in proportion straight away – that is unrealistic. One of the best pieces of advice I was giving when working in life drawing classes as Art College was to keep all my practice drawings. To this day I still have some of them they remind me where I started and how far I have moved forward and are important so that you do not lose heart.  you may not always remember where you came from but if every 6 months or so you have a look back if you have been diligent you will se the improvement.

When I took art as an elective subject in Year 9 (I was about 14 years old) my family wondered why? I had not really been particularly good at drawing or painting, so fair enough. At the time this annoyed me – ‘how dare someone tell me I can’t draw’! It was at this point that things changed for me – I went from a passive observer to a keen observer who really wanted to draw well and I guess there was also the element of ‘I’ll show them’.

I spent the whole of those holidays copying cartoon illustrations, practicing until I could get them in proportion. Slowly over the next 3 years I spent many hours practicing and chose to do drawing and photographs in my HSC 3 Unit course. These are the pencil, watercolour and ink drawings.

   

 

At art college I majored in Drawing and Relief Printing – linocuts – both these things alongside photography have been the things to capture my interest imagination and passion and therefore have been the things that I have pursued since i was 14 years old.

I guess what I am saying is that drawing is skill – a skill that can be learned with practice. The biggest hurdle to learning to draw is to think ‘it is too hard and I can’t do it’. Nothing to fear really just have a go!

So essentially – where do I start?

Pick up a pencil and some paper – start observing, practicing and developing the hand eye co-ordination and slowly you will improve.

Copyright – Lynette Weir

Drawing – mistakes, learning and practise

Looking at this drawing “it is not quite right!” – it is a bit off centre and ‘wonky’. I can see that it isn’t and have posted it to highlight that things go wrong – not everything drawing/artwork you produce will be a success nor should it be. If you have that everything should be prefect then as in life you will be disappointed. So if it doesn’t work, file it in you arts journal etc, make some notes & maybe even have another go! The old saying is ‘practice makes perfect’ – well maybe not perfect but hopefully an improvement!

The secret is to be able to see the mistakes and then either fix them – or as in the case of this drawing which was beyond ‘going back’ noting what was wrong and possibilities in ‘fixing’ it. You can be sure that the next time I draw an emu I will take the ‘wrongness’ on board and seek to remedy it.

On the other hand, the wonky ‘wrongness’ goes with my image of these quite odd and unusual birds! This could be exploited to emphasise the ‘personality’ of the bird – especially from an illustration perspective. That being said, the purpose of the image and what an artist was trying to achieve is important – if you want to have a scientific illustration of an emu’s head this drawing simply would not do!

My aim was simply to draw an emu’s head and play around with a few ideas – there are aspects to this drawing I like but I also do like to ‘get it right’ in relation to things like his beak!

This is such an important thing for art students to understand – many students give up with the cry “I can’t draw” because they instantly want to be able to create realistic lifelike drawings around the 10 – 15 years age group without any practice. They will often carry this notion throughout their lives. When this just doesn’t happen then the “I can’t draw” and the giving up happens.

I always say if you can put a mark on a page you’re drawing! You may not be a Picasso but drawing is a skill that you can learn if you choose to pursue you can improve and sometimes may surprise yourself by actually succeeding.

I believe that drawing can be a process of visual memory – the more you draw a particular subject and commit it to your visual memory the easier it becomes to draw each time you approach the same or similar subjects.

I make the analogy with learning the scales on the piano – they can be boring, definitely repetitive but absolutely necessary – understanding scales and keys in music is a core skill in playing any instrument. Repetition with ‘intention’ – in other words you are paying attention and actually seeing to improve – is essential  no matter the task. In drawing a subject matter repetition with intention gives you an ever-increasing knowledge and ease with the subject matter.

I believe repeat drawing a subject matter and the ability to draw is a core art making skill. That is not to say that those who have not pursued this skill are not able to still produce wonderful work but having a strong base of drawing or draughtsmanship generally gives you a greater toolbox to draw upon in developing arts practice. It is also a lifetime skill that I don’t think ever ends – improving ones ability to represent a 3D subject in a 2D form and then being able to extend beyond the representational into abstraction or design work is intriguing and endlessly challenging!

I strongly believe the developing drawing skills is the single most important skill an artist can develop. Going to drawing classes with others just to draw – either guided or unguided – is a great way to increasingly develop your ability. Whether they be life drawing, still life, plein air, botanical or whatever subject takes your fancy, so long as you are drawing and working on developing your skills by practice you will find it increases your skills as an artist. Even if it takes a while for your eye to hand to paper co-ordination to develop the first step is actually ‘seeing’ more. All the great artists – Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Degas, Monet, Norman Lindsey, Arthur Boyd, Brett Whitely, Ken Done, Margaret Olley, Maragret Preston etc…all began with drawing and all are absolute master draughtsmen (people). Drawing skills underly their work even if that work is abstract – the ability to see more, be able to represent the image and take it into abstraction in a valid and spectacular way over a sustained lifetime of work is what underpins all these great artists and makes them timeless.

So quite simply – draw.

Copyright – Lynette Weir

Botanical illustration – Banksia serrata 1

My work with illustration – Botanical and Fauna Illustration uses a very fine Rotring pen and ink.

The drawing should be botanically correct which is a challenge in itself – preferably working from real specimens.

The image is made by slowly building up the surface image  is made up of a series of very small dots and lines using a very fine nibbed rotring pen.

This was the final set drawing for the short botanical illustration course. It is Banksia serrata – Saw banksia – or ‘Old Man Banksia’.

The challenge now is to try a variety of subjects in this illustrative style and improve my skill in this area.

       

Copyright – Lynette Weir

Botanical Illustration – Banksia serrata 2

This illustration/drawing of a Banksia serrata is probably about half way through but I am pleased with the way it is coming along. I have a couple more drawings sitting back in various states but none ready to ink.

The image below is the partially completed, it is a slow process but I quite like the slowness and being particular savouring each little section of the plant and ‘dotting’ it in on the paper.

And the final result.

Copyright – Lynette Weir

Botanical Illustration – Moreton Bay Fig

I did a short course on Botanical Illustration at the local adult community education.

I love going and doing short course – gets the brain working again!

Although I draw all my designs most of which are botanical and I see my linocuts as botanical linocuts, I have never done any formal training in botanical illustration. So I am doing a short 4 week course….here is my first botanical illustration.

It is a Moreton Bay Fig – one of my all time most favourite trees – we have one in the reserve nearby our house.

Copyright – Lynette Weir

Botanical Illustration – Waratah 2 – with colour

In this particular illustration of a Waratah – Telopia speciosissima – I have used a very light wash of watercolour and use fine dots (many many fine dots) with a Rotring pen to build up the image.

For those that may be interested in papers I have used an antique white rag based acid free watercolour paper. I like this paper with its slightly rough texture – it is cold pressed watercolour paper and so has a ‘bite’ on its surface. The hot pressed papers I mainly use for the linocuts has a smooth surface.

Copyright – Lynette Weir

Wildlife Illustration – Tawny Frogmouth 1

This was my first attempt in recent years at Fauna Illustration – a Tawny Frogmouth illustration using rotring pens and lots and lot and lots of dots! The basic technique involves using dots to create the image – the closer the dots the deeper the tone. I would like to try the Tawny Frogmouth illustrations with some light watercolour as well.

Copyright – Lynette Weir

WILDLIFE ILLUSTRATION – Tawny Frogmouth 2

Love these birds!

The first image shows the early stages of the Tawny Frogmouth Glare.

After drawing it up lightly on watercolour paper I added some light underwashes of colour with watercolour.

I have then been slowly working using a rotring pen with black ink with tiny (and sometimes what seems endless!) dots to create the detail…it’s getting there…slowly…

Below is the completed illustration/drawing.

Copyright – Lynette Weir