I drew Owha last month, when we were lucky enough to have the beautiful leopard seal visit Island Prism. But I had a bit of a block when it came to colouring her. I put the drawing away until I had the urge to return to it. The pieces all came together and made sense- green and turquoise for the blues of Pacific Bay, and a touch of summer skies as the sun goes down- the time when we usually see Owha (in Maori, 'wh' is pronounced 'f', so Owha is pronounced 'Ofa')
I'm happy with how the paints have granulated, giving texture to the water. I think it gives the piece a bit of a flowing feeling!
Owha has left the Tutukaka Coast now, but is nearby at Marsden Cove. This will be our point of departure for our Pacific crossing, so we might see her again! Today we leave Tutukaka to cruise back to Whangarei where we can carry out the last few repairs and take on provisions- I have a LOT of shopping in my future as I'll need supplies for at least a month!
Click here to see Owha in my Redbubble shop, on t-shirts, bags, notebooks and stickers.
There she blows! This orca and humpback have swum over to my Redbubble shop, and they both have a Kiwi twist. Great voyagers, they'll come and visit you anywhere in the world- on t-shirts, hoodies, cushions, stickers and more. You don't even need to live near the ocean! Click the pictures to head over to andreaengland.redbubble.com and adopt a whale today!
The Tutukaka Coast is alive with birds- we often see and hear tui and fantails I've been playing with layering watercolours, ink, paint markers and gel pens. I put down the watercolour wash first, then overlaid the black ink with brush pen. Posca paint markers and gel pens created the patterns and swirls- the gel pens give the ethereal metallics and the Posca markers are brighter and bolder. Finally, I used watercolour to add shading and a little softness to some of the pen detail.
I've uploaded the designs to my Redbubble shop- click each photo for the link.
Excitement hit on Sunday morning, somewhere between loads of laundry, a final tidy of the boat and a visit from our friend Adrian. The stressful jobs were done and I was ready to go sailing! There was a total lack of wind, so the sails remained furled, but we maneuvered away from the dock easily and headed to Waiheke. Our night at Blackpool was quiet and uneventful. I made the most of having time to read, Jim worked on the drain pump which had already began to misbehave, and the next day we set sail to Kawau.
We had beautiful winds. All the work which Jim had done on the hull paid off as Island Prism cut through the water at 6.5 knots. We met heavy rainfall, with beautiful sunshine in between, and by the evening were anchored near the Governor's mansion at Kawau. The anchorage there is secure and very pretty. The island has a colourful history, having been home to cannibals, coppermines and Governor George Grey, who imported exotic plants and animals and drove around the island in a carriage drawn by four zebras. Some of the animals remain today- peacocks and wallabies roam alongside the native birds.
The island's birdlife are always happy to see people, especially if you come bearing bread. A flotilla of ducks swam out to see us as I sketched the view from the boat in the late afternoon, and the following day the peacocks and weka stalked the cafe in hope of edible gifts. The peacock's feathers were glorious in the sunlight, although he did seem to have trouble turning round in the confined space between tables!
I was experimanting with my new Noodler's Nib Creaper and Lexington Grey ink. The pen is a flex nib, which gives it a range of line variations as you change pressure, and Lexington grey is a lovely shading ink which goes from a light pencil shade to a deep grey. The two worked together beautifully as the pen allows the ink flow to vary- I think the duck sketches show it well. On the cream paper in my sketchbook, everything had a very gentle 19th Century air. Next time we're back I might need to try something a little more outrageous, but for now the greys and greens suit the beautiful mansion house and peaceful island very well.
Kawau is beautiful, and it was tempting to stay another night- maybe looking for wallabies at dusk and barbequing on the beach. But the wind was blowing well so we decided to take it to head up the coast to Leigh.
Do you ever find that your opinion of something you've done changes over time? Sometimes a finished painting leaves me very disappointed, then I pull it out years later and love it. Other times I can be really pleased with something, then later inspection leaves me feeling flat. My lionfish was one that gave me mixed feelings- I love the fish itself but worried that I should have painted the reef instead of leaving it white. I tucked it away for a couple of weeks and came back to it.
Part of me still regrets not painting the entire background turquoise, but I still love the graphic patterns and shading on the fish. So I scanned it in and decided to have a play digitally.
Cutting and copying the lionfish in Photoshop took quite a while, but when I added a solid turquoise background it all became worth it. The fish still has the watercolour feel I love, and the background lets its shine!
He's joined my orca and manta ray over on Redbubble. There's something very exciting about seeing my artwork out there on stuff- and feeling that both my watercolour and digital image skills are coming along nicely! Click the images below or the shop link above if you'd like a closer look!
Boat launch is less than three weeks away, and it's two months until the summer holidays. My feet are itchy and can't wait to swap shoes for dive fins. I've been revisiting old photos and using them to paint from- it's been good inspiration to work on watercolours. Yes, I know it's Inktober. No, I still can't stick to a single signature media.
About six years ago, we sailed Island Prism from Auckland to Abel Tasman National Park, at the top of the South Island. The passage was eventful, and we got slammed by a gale off Taranaki, but were eventually rewarded with amazing cruising. Our friends Jill and James joined us for a few days. We consumed copious amounts of wine, tried to catch a fish that wasn't a barracuda (we failed) and met a white dolphin and a colony of seals.
The seals were NZ fur seals, and the group consisted of a couple of males, dozens of females and some tiny pups. They were happy for us to approach the colony provided we stayed away from the pups. The females kept their distance but the males were much more playful and inquisitive, diving with James and swimming up to me and Jill to blow bubbles. They revelled in showing off their underwater acrobatics.
I came across some of the photos and relived our encounter in watercolours. I'm loving my tubes of Daniel Smith and finally seem to be achieving some reasonable darks.
That's probably it for painting this weekend- the epoxy paint we used this morning should be dry, so I'm off to slap some bottom paint onto the hull. I'd rather stick with watercolours, but it will all be worth it when the boat is afloat- and we have some great adventures planned for this summer!
I was very excited when my order of ink samples from Goulet Pens arrived, along with a couple of ink syringes. The syringes are supposed to be used to transfer ink into my fountain pens without creating an eco-disaster, but I soon got distracted by other possibilities! I made a video as I went- I've added more instructions and details about supplies below.
I started off by creating the bell shape with some water from a pipette- a water-loaded brush would work just as well. Then I pulled a very small amount of gold ink into the ink syringe and squirted it into the water bubble. It only took a few drops- and watching the ink swirl in the bubble is so pretty! I added the darker red, then used a brush to trail some water to make the tentacles. Once again I squirted ink into the water- occasionally a little too much would come out but I think the blobs add interest. In fact, the inspired me to try drawing straight from the syringe! It was also perfect for adding some little dots, then I used a brush and some water along with turquoise ink to paint the water. A few swirls with a white Posca paint marker was the perfect finishing touch.
If you fancy trying this yourself, ink syringes are available from Goulet, and you can pick up a whole rainbow in ink samples from them for about $1.25 per sample (I used Noodlers Apache Sunset, Ottoman Rose and Navajo Turquoise). They also ship worldwide and the samples are so well packaged they survive international transit (I am in no way affiliated with or sponsored by Goulet- I'm just a fan!).
You can also drop the ink in from an eyedropper or paintbrush. It will be a bit less precise but equally pretty!
If you give this a try, then please let me know how it goes in the comments, send me a link to your pictures or tag me on Facebook or Instagram- @andreaenglandart I'd love to see what you come up with!
On drizzly days, I've been pulling out my photos from diving and snorkeling trips, and painting watercolours of some of my favourite sea creatures.
The difficulty with taking photos when diving is that things often get a bluish cast, or backscatter from the flash unless you have external strobes. My budget definitely does not extend that far. So I figured I can take some of my favourite pictures and express them in water colour.
The aquatic backgrounds have also got me playing with negative painting. It's a relatively new concept to me, and one I stumbled upon in a Collins guide to painting flowers- suddenly I realised how many of the artists I love create their subtle layered backgrounds! I didn't pull it off so well with the clownfish, but I'm pretty happy with how it turned out on the nudibranch painting above.
With the lionfish, I committed the cardinal sin of completing the water and the fish before I touched the reef. Now I'm really worried about getting the reef colours wrong, unbalancing the image and losing the impact of the lionfish. Maybe some gentle green-grey outlines will suffice... or perhaps I'll leave it like this and enjoy the clean zing of what I've done. What do you think?
There's a wonderful sense of achievement when you finish a picture that you've been working on all week! I began drawing a word with illustrated letters last weekend. In my infinite wisdom I decided I'd work on it in ballpoint pen and would cross hatch the whole thing. This probably meets Andrea Joseph's success criteria for 'drawing like a barmpot'. I have worked in biro before, but this A4 drawing was the largest yet.
Some things I learned:
I'd love to hear what you think!
School holidays have rolled around. To kick mine off, I headed to Auckland Zoo with my friends Jill and Ethan. It was a clear and chilly day, with the side effect of upping the cuteness factor as we came across hugging gibbons, huddles of squirrel monkeys and a pile of lemurs. What looked like 3 animals in a tangle of tails and long legs turned out to be 6- who were overjoyed when the sun came out. They swiftly unpiled and began to bask in that wonderful sun worshipping way that lemurs and cormorants share. Despite looking like they were meditating, they didn't keep still for long and my brush pen and I had to work fast to get some sketches done! They weren't so keen when the sun went in. One even wrapped his friend's tail around his neck as a makeshift scarf.
The cheetahs and tigers also graced us with appearances, and we were lucky enough to see three kiwi in the nocturnal house (plus an occasional frenzied flurry of bat). The kiwi were also on the move as they scurried round in search of bugs. They were surprisingly quick, but lots of fun to draw. The dark provided an extra challenge!
Back home, the meditating lemurs stuck in my head. I drew one in a calm yogic pose, and decided that the monochromatic creature would look good in front of a warm coloured sun. I transferred the drawing onto acetate to create a stencil, then used a bowl to help me draw a circle. Cutting out the stencil was a little fiddly in parts, but no lemur limbs were lost. A lack of ink pads meant I ended up using acrylic paints for the stencilling. Either the material or my technique were not ideal- after three attempts I still seemed to get paint blobs under the stencil! It probably didn't help that I insisted on stroking rather than dabbing the paint- but I liked the effect more.
I had intended to try oil transfer printing over the top of my stencils, but the bright red and yellow suns seemed to call for something stronger- plus I wanted to hide the paint blobs if possible! I decided my Pentel pocket brush pen would probably be my friend. As hoped, I got lovely expressive lines and was able to hide the occasional blobby bit of paint. then I reached for my Pitt pens to add a relatively even grey.
Meanwhile the idea of scarves as tails was rattling round my head. This time I went straight for the pen to create a little hat and scarf-wearing lemur. Somehow, giving him an ice cream felt right. He was also the perfect creation to try out my new wacom tablet- Photoshop is a bit of a learning curve but an extra layer and some playing with brushes gave him a little extra polish.
An Artist Afloat- Painting the world one anchorage at a time.