The Log Book
Tales of an Artist Afloat
Christmas in Tutukaka was lovely. We spent Christmas Day with our friends Karen and Alex, their daughter Tilly and Karen's parents Jean and Ian. In true Kiwi fashion, we lazed in the sun and shared a magnum of bubbles whilst helping Tilly construct Lego planes and supermarkets. Lunch was roast lamb and an array of delicious salads, dessert was a pudding-shaped rocky road with cherries, maltesers and marshmallows, and a splash of white chocolate over the top. We made sure to brush our teeth well that night!
Boxing Day saw us raising the anchor and taking Prism out for a spin amongst plunging gannets and wave-skimming petrels and shearwaters. We didn't get too far, but returned to Rocky Bay for lunch. Karen, Tilly, Ian and I braved the water for our first swims of the season. Refreshing may be the best word for it- it certainly washed away a few cobwebs, and the sun warmed us up enough to get ice cream from Lickety Split afterwards!
We picked up provisions from Whangarei (grocery shopping isn't called grocery shopping when there's a boat involved). Back in Tutukaka, Karen and I explored the treasures in Toot Sweet and the Tutukaka Gallery. The gallery is well worth a look if you're in the area- it's currently full of incredible work by local artists Steve Moase, Paul Duflou and Shane Hansen. I tried to convince Jim that Island Prism NEEDS one of Shane's beautiful bird cushions from Toot Sweet, but he invoked a two cushion policy on the boat. I'm not convinced, and will be pulling out the Island Prism rule book to verify this. And hey- I'm the captain, I'm allowed to change the rules!
Art-wise it's been a few days of watercolour washes and Lexington Grey ink in my Noodler's nib creaper. Lots of blues, greens and pale ochres on this sun-drenched piece of coast. With Christmas over and provisions purchased, it was then time to head farther north, so we said a temporary good bye and turned the wheel towards the Bay of Islands.
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!)
An Artist Afloat- Painting the world one anchorage at a time.