Urban sketching watercolour tutorial: Peratallada, Spain

urban sketching watercolour peratallada

Over the past few years, urban sketching seems to have become a popular activity among artists, both amateur and professional.

It is one of my favourite ways to spend a day, but sadly, with an 18 month old toddler, it is something I now rarely get the chance to do.

urban sketching watercolour peratallada

That’s why I must start this blog post off with a confession: I didn’t actually paint this weeks’ piece on location (gasp!). But… I have been there and the techniques I will be sharing are exactly the same as those I’d use if I had been painting from ‘real life’.

urban sketching watercolour peratallada

I decided to paint the beautiful Spanish town of Peratallada which Sam’s Aunty and Uncle took us to when we visited them in March. The meaning of Peratallada is ‘carved stone’ and it’s easy to see how it got its name. Narrow cobbled streets lead past honey coloured stone buildings which bask in the warmth of the Mediterranean sun.

Urban sketching watercolour tutorial

I did this painting over the course of an evening, taking photos as I went, so I apologise for the colours changing when I had to turn a lamp on!

I began with a sketch using purple coloured pencil on paper. It’s a tip I picked up a while ago from Alisa Vysochina of Alisa Draws, and I’ve used it ever since. The purple colour allows you to draw quickly and gives you a structure for your ink lines, but when you paint over it you’ll barely notice it’s there. Graphite tends to stand out more and can muddy your paint.

I drew over my purple lines with ink, using a Faber Castell Pitt artist pen in black. I really like this pen as it has a fine, rounded nib which draws smoothly and makes a consistent line. Also, importantly for watercolourists, it’s waterproof!

I accentuated some of the lines by drawing over them again – I feel it helps give the piece a bit of character.

Then it was time to paint. Starting with the sky and the paving, I applied a subtle wash, dropping in diluted yellow and Payne’s grey to the sky, and purple and yellow to the paving. Making sure colours are not completely flat brings a painting to life.

urban sketching watercolour peratallada

Bit by bit I worked my way around the painting, filling in initial washes, waiting until one area was dry before painting the area directly next to it.

urban sketching watercolour peratallada

Building up layers of washes helps to make colours richer, this is known as glazing. I’ve used this technique on most areas of the painting, so the changes between these photos might appear quite subtle.

urban sketching watercolour peratallada

urban sketching watercolour peratallada

I used diluted Payne’s grey with a touch of purple for the shadows (note black paint was not used at all in this painting). Shadows are one of the best ways to add depth and knock back darker areas so that brighter areas stand out.

urban sketching watercolour peratallada

Details such as hinting at the stonework here and there and the shadows on the trees, flowerpots and chairs, were the last things to be added.

urban sketching watercolour peratallada

urban sketching watercolour peratallada

urban sketching watercolour peratallada

urban sketching watercolour peratallada

urban sketching watercolour peratallada

I have a lot to learn myself when it comes to watercolour, but I hope this tutorial has helped to share some of the techniques and tips which I’ve found useful so far.

I’m sharing this post on the following blogs: Handmade Harbour and Paint Party Friday!

How to make a repeating pattern

how to draw a repeating pattern

It’s been a long while since I wrote a tutorial and since I’ve been interested on making patterns recently, I thought I’d share my step by step guide with you.

For some reason I find it immensely satisfying to make a pattern out of an original drawing or painting. It can give a whole new feel to a piece of artwork, anything from a doodle to a detailed painting can be converted into a beautiful design which you can use to make wrapping paper, fabric, phone covers – you name it!

It took me a little bit of research to find out how to make a continuous pattern, with no obvious start and end. It felt like an epiphany when I created my first shell design (see my post ‘Wildlife Illustrations‘) and it inspired me to try more. It’s amazingly simple when you’ve got the hang of it – here’s how to make a repeating pattern…

Step 1 – Illustrate your design

You can either use a piece of artwork you already have, or start from scratch on any size paper you like. The most important thing at this stage is keeping your design away from the edges of the page – none of the design should go over the edge.

how to make a repeating pattern

Step 2 – Scan your design

You’ll need to cut up your design, so unless you want to ruin your original artwork, it’s best to scan and print it.

Step 3 – Cut and stick

Cut your design in half, right down the middle vertically (be brave!).

how to make a repeating pattern

Swap the pieces over, so the right piece is on the left, and the left piece is on the right, and tape the join down the back.

how to make a repeating pattern

Step 4 – Cut and stick again

Cut the design in half again, this time across the middle vertically.

how to make a repeating pattern

Swap the pieces over so the top piece is on the bottom and vice versa. Tape the join down the back.

how to draw a repeating pattern

Step 5 – Fill in the gaps

There will be some noticeable gaps in the design you’re left with.

how to draw a repeating pattern

You can fill these with anything you like – patterns or shapes, doodles or extra illustrations for your pattern.

how to draw a repeating pattern

Step 6 – Scan and multiply

Scan the image into your computer and then repeat it over and over again, as many times as you like.

how to draw a repeating pattern

Of course, if you’re handy on the computer, you can do the cutting and sticking part digitally, which will make for a cleaner, more professional finish.

If you give this tutorial a go, I’d love to see the results – leave me a photo on my Facebook page and I might even include it in a blog post!

Take a look at my other tutorials if you’re feeling crafty!

I’m sharing this post on the following blogs: Handmade Harbour and Blue Chair Diary Illustrations!

Homemade jammie dodger recipe

jammie dodger recipe

jammie dodger recipe

Thought I’d mix things up a bit this week with a recipe! Besides art, I love baking. I’m not a very adventurous baker though, preferring to stick to sponge cakes and simple biscuits rather than fancy ‘bake-off-esque’ treats.

The other day I was walking through town and I caught a whiff of something which reminded me of the taste of Jammie Dodgers, and despite my best efforts, I couldn’t get them out of my head! Returning home to a Jammie Dodgerless house, I decided the only way to satisfy my biscuit craving was to make some myself.

jammie dodger recipe

I cobbled together this recipe by stealing bits from others, but it worked very well and the resulting 22 biscuits were demolished within a few days – always a sign of a good bake!

jammie dodger recipe

So, without further ado, here’s the recipe:

Clare’s Jammie Dodger Recipe

You will need…

FOR THE BISCUITS

250g butter or margarine (quite soft)

140g caster sugar

1 egg yolk

2tsp vanilla extract

400(ish)g plain flour

FOR THE FILLING

Strawberry jam

140g butter

280g icing sugar

1-2 tbsp milk

Method

BISCUITS

  1. Mix the butter and caster sugar in a big bowl.
  2. Add the egg yolk and vanilla essence, stir well to combine.
  3. Sift over the flour (I find 400g is about right, but add it slowly and stop when the mixture combines to form a dough which doesn’t stick to the bowl)
  4. Roll out the dough and cut approx 22, 2.5″ diameter circles with a cutter. Cut a small circle out of the middle of half of them (for the tops).
  5. Bake for about 15 mins, or until golden on top.

FILLING

  1. Mix icing sugar, butter and milk in a bowl until smooth and spreadable.
  2. Spread butter icing on the base biscuits. Top with jam and sandwich together. Yum!

This week I’m going to attempt to make Mary Berry’s carrot cake to take up to my brother-in-law’s weekend birthday celebrations. We’re all staying in a cottage near Bath, so I’m sure some cake will go down well!

PS. ‘The Wise Old Man’ has used my Jammie Dodger photo in the background of one of his videos – Failure – about failing to keep to his diet after being tempted by the biscuit jar!

Gouache painting: Step by step

gouache painting step by step

Last week I ordered some Windsor and Newton designers gouache paints as it’s a medium I have been meaning to try for a while. I was looking for something with more opacity than watercolour, but which could be applied in thin washes when required – gouache ticks both these boxes.

I experimented mixing a few colours and adding different amounts of water until I got a bit more used to how they work.

This is the result of my first whole painting – I love it! Very rarely am I completely satisfied with something I’ve painted (any artist will say the same!) so I’m so pleased that this one has gone so well!

gouache painting step by step

I took some step by step photos while I was doing it. Firstly I planned it out with a rough sketch – I had an idea in my mind so it was just a case of getting it down on paper.

gouache painting step by step

Then I drew it out onto some smooth mounting board, making the lines quite dark so they’d just show through the paint. The first layer is a gradient of colours from dark blue at the top to green at the bottom. I mixed all of the colours prior to painting so I could quickly switch from one to the other without them drying.

gouache painting step by step

I had to pick out some of the outlines again as they didn’t all show through, then I started blocking in colours.

gouache painting step by step

In hindsight I shouldn’t have started with the lamp because I needed to paint the bushes in the background. I built up the scene bit by bit, from background to foreground.

gouache painting step by step

gouache painting step by step

One of my favourite parts was adding the highlights, picking up the light from the lamp.

gouache painting step by step

gouache painting step by step

When everything was painted and dry, I outlined it with a fine, 005 black Pigma Micron pen. Et voilà!

gouache painting step by step

I’ve also been doing some more work on this paper cut commission which I started last week. Every time I have 10 minutes spare I cut a little bit more.

paper cut heart

Finally, I thought you might like to see my little work desk as it looked today! Got the essentials there – a cupcake and a cup of tea!

my drawing board

I’m sharing this post on the following blogs: Paint Party FridayHandmade Harbour and Blue Chair Diary Illustrations!

Making rubber stamps: Sugru review & tutorial

Sugru rubber stamp tutorial

Sugru rubber stamp tutorial

I have been meaning to write this post for ages, and I mean ages. I’ve had this ‘thing’ called Sugru for about six months now, and although I tried it out straight away, it has taken me a long time to get around to writing about my experiments.

I was sent some free and although I wasn’t asked to write a blog post about it, I really think it’s something worth sharing with you all.

Sugru rubber stamp tutorial

Firstly, a description. Sugru, in the manufacturer’s words, is ‘mouldable glue that turns into rubber’. In fact, it does exactly what it says on the tin (well, packet), which makes it an amazing invention with limitless possibilities.

I was intrigued by it at first as they sent me a link to a blog post about a paper cutting artist who uses it to mould around the handle of her scalpel to make cutting more comfortable. They also sent me a link to how to craft stamps with Sugru, which sounded right up my street, so I had a go!

Sugru comes in small packs as once it is exposed to air, it will start to cure. You have to mould the Sugru first to make it malleable and then can form it to make or fix whatever you like.

I made a stamp by moulding it to the end of a piece of dowel and smoothing the surface until it is flat. I found that if you smooth it with your fingers gently (like brushing away crumbs) it will eliminate fingerprints and make it flat and shiny.

Sugru rubber stamp tutorial

It has to cure for 24 hours, so I stood the dowel in a cup, because if the Sugru touches anything while curing, it will stick to it!

Once hard, it is solid with a slight give, like hard rubber. You can cut into it with a craft knife to carve a stamp. I drew my design out first, then used my scalpel to cut out the lines, slicing away the rubber in a v-shape.

Sugru rubber stamp tutorial

I didn’t make them quite thick enough at first, so had to cut a little more rubber away until I was happy with the way it stamped.

Sugru rubber stamp tutorial

Here’s how it turned out!

Sugru rubber stamp tutorial

I think that I may turn the other one into a stamp to use for Geocaching, as my Dad and I had a go at it for the first time today and really enjoyed it. If you’re wondering what I’m talking about, it’s a GPS treasure hunt which people do all over the world. You use the GPS to direct you to locations where  you will find ‘caches’ – little boxes or containers with a log book and sometimes a little trinket to swap.

We only found one of the three we set out to find, but I think with a little more practice we’ll get better at spotting them! Hopefully next time we go I’ll have a stamp to use in the log book.

Sam found a couple of other uses for the Sugru. He fixed his phone charger wire which was broken where it joins the connector, and also created a makeshift rest for some of his DJ gear (the little yellow bits in the photo) – ingenious!

uses for Sugru

52 faces

This week’s portrait for my 52 faces challenge is Benedict Cumberbatch as I read he was one of the most searched-for British celebrities in 2014.

Benedict Cumberbatch drawing

Benedict Cumberbatch drawing

I’ve also started another portrait as I want to work more on my coloured pencil skills. This is a work in progress of the actress Emma Watson.

Emma Watson drawing

I’m sharing this post on the following blogs: The Queen of Creativity, Handmade Monday and Blue Chair Diary Illustrations!