An Artist Afloat
Sailing and sketching
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.
This week my Inktober aim was to continue getting to grips with my Platinum maki-e brush pen. I do love the expressive lines I can get from it, and reach for it quite often, but have not yet achieved the practice I need to get total control over my line variations.
Sunday was boat yard day- we had to put epoxy primer onto the stripped-back hull, then get the first layers of bottom paint on within a few hours. That meant a break in between coats- as the weather tried to decide whether or not to pour down and ruin our hard work. There was a Beaver seaplane at the shipyard for repairs on some of the brackets for its pontoons. Perfect material for a sketch break- as a cold wind blustered and rain spat down. Even De Atramentis Document ink gets blotched if the rain falls as it's being applied, and the flapping pages did nothing to help my line work. Note to self- learn to carry clips to hold my sketchbook open! Despite making my sketching uncomfortable, the weather held off enough that we could get more coats done. Now Island Prism's bottom is done and she is one step closer to getting in the water!
It was only Week 2 of term but between boat work, teaching and house pack up I felt knackered! Drawing didn't happen on Monday- a lovely friend gave me a bunch of poppies as a perk up because I was looking so tired. I left the flowers at school on Monday but took them home on Tuesday- they were the perfect inspiration pick-me-up! I cheated on my poor brush pen though, and grabbed my Lamy Safari. It's still got Lamy ink in it, which smudges when I add a wash. I do like the effect that the running ink adds to the watercolour, though most people just assume it's gone wrong! Sometimes it's fun to look at things differently.
On Wednesday I tried the poppies again- this time with the brush pen (after apologising to it for the double dating). I used some of my Noodlers sample inks to colour the flowers- Navajo Turquoise, Apache Sunset, Yellow and Army Green. I do love Noodlers' names, and love the shading I got from the turquoise and orange!
For the weekend, we went up to see our friends in Ngunguru. They are very tolerant when I sit there trying to sketch their guinea pigs (who were quite shy), or drew horses at the beach (my gesture drawings were not fast enough to adequately capture their flying visit, so I tried adding an ink wash later to improve the page!). However, I have to confess to swinging wildly between pens. Sorry, brush pen!
Alas, poor ink brush! It did not get the week of glory and relationship building that it deserved. Lazing in the sun on Kowharewa beach, I reached for the fineliners first. It does not mean our relationship is over- oh no- but maybe I'm just not meant to go steady with just one pen. Though I must be a bit of a flirt if I can't even manage one week! And sometimes, on a glorious sun-drenched afternoon at Kowharewa Bay, you just need to get down all the details.
(If this seems like a low-output sketch week, I have also been working on transferring some of my watercolours into digital form. I wrote about the process on my earlier blog post at www.andreaengland.net/blog/playing_with_lionfish - and you can see some of my new watercolour sea creature designs at Redbubble!
Today's post is a bit on the image heavy side- click on an image to expand it for a closer look.
I've been trying to follow along with Inktober. It's a month long drawing challenge where the aim is to draw every day in (yes, you guessed it) ink. There are optional prompts to follow, but I've decided to go the route of doing my own thing and using a different tool each week.
During Week 1 I focused on using fineliners- not the most adventurous start as I use them all the time, but it was school holidays and I had time to do lots of detailed drawings, so I figured I'd make the most of it. I'm enjoying mixing up pens of different sizes- it gives interesting variation in the hatching and line. On the days I had time to draw twice, I grabbed my Lamy Safari. Sorry fineliners, I love you but don't think we're about to enter an exclusive relationship.
On a boat note, Jim's polished up the anchors and we've been working on repairing the furler, which has required quite a bit of running around and ordering parts. Finding affordable steel rope proved a bit of an epic task, but Jim managed it, and my paperwork endeavours succeeded in getting Prism an extension here in NZ- meaning we can spend the summer in NZ waters.
Week 2 of Inktober saw me going back to work. Goodbye lunches at the boat yard with Jim, sketching and playing with watercolours. Hello, long days at school! For my tool, I picked my new Noodlers Konrad pen. I wanted to explore the flex nib, and be able to work quickly in case I was pushed for time (which I was).
I was a little nervous about the pen as I had read quite mixed reviews about it. Noodlers pens are handmade but are also very inexpensive- this can lead to a pen which requires some tinkering (it seems like the perfect instrument for people who like taking things apart). I lucked in and became the proud owner of a pen which wrote perfectly straight out of the box. The flex isn't as dramatic as you might get with a dip pen nib, but is enough to give decent line variation when sketching. I think it will take a bit of practice to optimise this, but for this week I found it fun to use.
I've been working my way through some of the ink samples I ordered along with the pen, with some pleasant discoveries. Noodlers Blue-Nosed Bear (the partly waterproof ink I used on the owl) showed beautiful colour variations when I added water, pulling turquoise tones out of the dark teal.
For more inky explorations, see my blog post inky jellyfish.
My ink samples come from Goulet Pens. It's been a great way of playing with different colours! (I am in no way connected to Goulet other than being a very happy customer!)
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!
An Artist Afloat- Painting the world one anchorage at a time.