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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Flame koi (digital)

Flame koi  © Peter Gander
From water(colour) to fire today, experimenting with Flame Painter, designed by Peter Blaskovik over at EscapeMotions. If you’ve ever fancied playing with fire without getting burnt, this is the drawing package for you. I bought it thinking it would be a good tool to sketch out (real-life) fire sculpture pieces, another creative pursuit I am keen to look into. If there are any artists out there that know anything about fire sculpture by the way, do let me know. Flame Painter/Wacom Bamboo/Adobe Photoshop

Monday, November 28, 2011

Misty morning, Swalecliffe

Misty morning, Swalecliffe  © Peter Gander
A recent cool, early morning November cycle ride took me through the coastal area of Swalecliffe, in between Herne Bay and Tankerton, Whitstable. Visibility was poor, but atmosphere rich - dog walkers on the dirt track in this marshy area the loomed out of the fog which unfurled from the sea, merging into the grey sky in a horizonless vista. Despite the fog, I managed to spot my first white egret here in Swalecliffe Brook (on the left of the painting). Like a small albino heron, it stood ghostly and motionless in the water, probably on the lookout for eels. The absorbent paper is a weighty mould-made 560lb and made the merging of colours in the fog a dream, as the paper retains the water for ausefully long period. Winsor and Newton watercolour on Jackson’s 560lb Extra Rough Eco Handmade paper.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

The Old Yew Tree Inn pub sign designs

The favoured calligraphic design  © Peter Gander

I recently posted about my postcard painting at The Old Yew Tree Inn, near my club’s fly-fishing lake at Westbere, Kent. Well, chatting to Mark and Anna, the proprietors recently, I suddenly became involved in a project to design and paint a new pub sign for them to replace their weatherbeaten version which has seen better days. The tradition of pub signwriting is a dying art nowadays as pubs are dying out, especially in rural areas and pub chains produce digital signs with little regard for the provenance of the pub itself, often renaming them too, thus swathes of inns have little visible heritage but the building itself. From a design point of view, Mark and I were keen to reflect a contemporary attitude (food etc) within this 14th century pub (Kent’s oldest) whilst trying not to ride roughshod over its significant history. I looked at illustrative and calligraphic design icons that respected the pub’s historical roots (forgive the pun) with the Yew Tree on centre stage. I drew up five black and white sketches (or ‘scamps’ as we call them in the trade) for Mark and Anna to choose from.

Scamps A to E  © Peter Gander
Scamp (D) proved to be the favourite and next steps will be to look at the colour palette.

Monday, November 07, 2011

The pedalling painter 1: Reculver and back (12k)

The artist © Peter Gander
In little less than a year I will be doing a cycling tour along a portion of The Compostela di Santiago (The Pilgrim’s Route) -  in the south-west of France, with my brother and old art college friend Ben, a trip of at least 600 kilometers and today it was time to start something resembling a training regime. Admittedly a 12k round trip is no big deal at all, (even the paper boy would scoff) but not having cycled properly for some years I needed to set my sights, well, on Reculver Towers, 6 kilometers away and just visible from Herne Bay’s seafront. It’s an ancient Roman monument which bizarrely was only partly demolished in the 1920s. They left the towers to the front of the building in situ as a navigational aid to passing ships. Anyway, my wife Fiona is far fitter than I and regularly runs 5k or so which she takes, erm, in her stride. And she dutifully ushered me along the way with the odd reassuring word and the habit of disappearing over the horizon like a out-of-reach carrot to a hungry donkey, in a similar way that my brother did when we recently did a ride or two in France. Still, I was enjoying the 20mph cold north-easterly gale in my face, supressing my forward progress like I had the ‘bike handbrake’ on. And I use the title ‘The Pedalling Painter’ in a wishful sense, as it really was howling with wind, plus we had to be back for an appointment, so the chances of sketching en route were very unlikely (I’m hoping for more balmy weather too in France). Thus Fiona took this shot which I opened up on the Mac and sketched from a distance, freehand. Cheating perhaps, but better than nowt. Future Pedalling Painter posts will be from longer rides with a proper sketch stop built in, something I hope to carry on doing on our French trip at the end of the day or during a lunch-stop. Ink and brush with Winsor and Newton watercolour on 210gsm Khadi handmade sketchbook.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Chessell Pottery fish plate

Fly-fishing plate © Peter Gander
Last week during half-term, we took the kids over the water to the Isle of Wight, to Fiona’s bungalow in Ventnor, which is looked after by friends Helen and Frazer of Vintage Vacations. We were only there for a few days and the autumnal weather called for an afternoon’s leisure indoors. We picked out Chessell Pottery Barns near Calbourne on the island. We selected our blanks, a piece of slip-cast pottery, choosing from bowls and egg-cups to mugs and vases. I picked out a large 10 inch plate, the best and biggest ‘blank canvas’ available. I set out with a technique called ‘sgraffito’ in mind, where the paint is applied then scratched away by a metal tool called a fettling knife (just visible in the top photo).

Laying down successive layers of black paint (3 were used in total)

Hand-lettering the words with bottle of paint
Scratching in the scale design with the tailormade fettling tool
The final piece showing pallette, fettling knife and squeezy paint bottles

Lettering was done by squeezing a matching paint through  a fine-tipped plastic paint bottle, icing- bag-style. Cutting through the now-dried layers of rock-hard paint with the knife was hard going, fluid, curved lines must be very tricky but mine was a relatively simple design. I added a decorative couple of blocks of water and the fly and job done. As our plates needed firing to glaze the design and we were due to leave the island the next day before a firing day was due, we will have to wait until next year to collect our pieces! In any event, were soon distracted from that glitch by the Barn’s legendary cream tea to finish a great afternoon off!