Indian Ink and Gouache Print Effect

Here's a fun way to use Indian Ink and Gouache to create a print effect.

Step 1: paint the flower shapes in white gouache 

Step 2: scratch out lines and dots with a craft knife

Step 3: Let dry!

Step 4: when it is thoroughly dry paint the whole lot in waterproof indian ink

Step 5: Leave to dry

Step 6: Leave to dry a bit more 

Step 7: Now the fun part – wash the whole thing under the tap and using a soft brush rinse away all the gouache. 


Click on any of the photo's to view larger images and buy if you feel so inclined.

Reworking a mixed media painting

It's my local church summer fete and art exhibition at the end of June. Given that this is only 2 weeks away, I decided that it was time to rework one of my local subject mixed-media paintings, ready to offer for sale. It is of a path through a bluebell wood on the land next to the church. I know that the composition is good, but the painting itself is definitely lacking pizzazz!

Here is the original work, finished two years ago:

Pale, washed out and the bluebells are non-existent! 

The original was painted using watercolours at the end of my first year of a two year watercolour course. Tissue paper was applied using watered down PVA and then some gesso was painted over in a random way to give the watercolour texture. A very fine technique and one that I will try again someday - but it didn't work in this case. I was too afraid of the colour, and didn't create enough contrast.

I could have tried to add more watercolour, but with the greens already laid down in the woods I would never be able to achieve the vibrant blues and purples of the bluebells, so I chose to rework the whole painting with acrylics.

I'm sure you'll agree the end result if very much improved!

Thanks so much for dropping by, I do hope you enjoy reading my blog. Why not leave a comment to say hello so that I know you called? 

Commission of Ormskirk Parish Church

Ormskirk Parish Church of St Peter and St Paul is a local landmark. Many people driving to the Southport seaside on a sunny day will have driven past and cursed it, as it is a major bottle neck on the route from Manchester!

Here are a few interesting facts from the church website:

There has been a place of worship on this site since before 1170 which is the approximate date of the oldest part of the building, the Norman window in the Chancel.

The Chancel arcade dates from 1270 and the base of the spire from 1430. The great tower was completed in 1570. This is one of the only three churches with this feature of the tower and spire and is unique in having them both at the same end.

The building was greatly restored at the end of the 19th century. It has beautiful stain glass windows and carvings. Recently there has been further work done to the interior to create a more welcome entrance.

I've been wanting to paint this church for a while now, so was delighted to be asked to paint it for a lovely lady who already owns two of my local paintings. She will be giving this one to her daughter for her birthday.

Here's how I did it.

Sunday Afternoon
I began by taking several photos. It is a very difficult church to photograph as it is raised from street level, so I took my camera and my step ladders into town. I got some funny looks I can tell you!

Here is the view that my client chose:

Sunday evening
I sketched the outline of the church onto 300gsm "not surfaced" watercolour paper.

I used a black waterproof Pilot drawing pen with a 0.1 size nib for all the sketching in this piece.

As you can see, with all the lushious Spring growth my view of the church on this photo is not clear at all (!) Another visit was required.

Monday morning
I packed up a camping stool, my pen and my outline drawing, and headed off to the church grounds. I spent a happy morning sketching in the details. Luckily the rain held off and it was reasonably warm!

I used some artistic license to cut back and remove some trees to make sure that the church will be the focus of the painting.

Monday evening
I reinforced the sketch with more pen.

It is vital to plan a painting like this rather than jumping straight in. I realised before I began that if I wanted to maintain the freshness of the spring greenery then I would need to reserve some areas of the trees, so I loosely masked where I wanted the leaves to be using blue masking fluid on a small flat brush that had been protected with washing up liquid.

I also masked the apple blossom on the small trees, the highlights in the windows and the notice board on the outside of the church.

It is important that masking fluid is completely dry before you start to paint otherwise it can rip your paper when you try to remove it, so I left it to dry overnight.

Tuesday morning
Out came the paints. I used Winsor and Newton Artist quality paints throughout.

A quick examination of the pen work showed me that I had a problem. The value of pen in the bottom right hand corner was far too strong.

Luckily I have a magic eraser - and it really is magic, you just dampen it and very very gently dab it on the area you want to erase. It's far too easy to damage the paper so if you try this, tread carefully. You can get expensive art magic erasers but I just bought mine from the cleaning section of the supermarket - it's exactly the same thing.

Here is the picture with the heavy pen lifted off.

To paint the sky I began by wetting the whole of the sky area with quite a lot of water. I let this soak in for a minute or two, and then applied cerulean blue mixed with a touch of cobalt. I lifted the clouds in the sky while it was still very wet. Cerulean is a staining colour, so you have to be quick and lift it before it has a chance to soak into the paper too much.

Whilst still damp, I dropped in some cobalt / ultra marine under the clouds to give them depth.

The sky was going to take a while to dry, so I left it for an hour. When I came back I painted the grass using winsor yellow and olive green, mixed on the paper.

Next I used a hairdryer on the front and back to finish drying the sky (I didn't use a hairdryer straight away as I didn't want to disturb the granulation process). You will notice that I don't tape my paper down while painting - I like to be able to pick it up and turn it around quickly to help the water flow. Using the hairdryer on the back helps to flatten the paper again.

Onwards with the building. In real life the church is rather dirty - again I employed my artistic licence and cleaned it up a bit! I used a wet-in-wet technique and built up the structure using yellow ochre, French ultra marine and burnt umber, the latter two mixed in various strengths in the palette. The Spire is painted in very pale raw sienna.

When I was happy that I had achieved a 3D effect on the building I moved on to the trees. The trunk was painted in burnt umber / French ultra marine and olive green. Then when the paper was thoroughly dry, I removed the masking fluid by gently rubbing it with a clean finger.

I added the dappled leaves by wet-in-wet layering of winsor yellow, olive green, olive green / crimson and winsor green (blue shade) / crimson mixes. I stopped and checked my values (using the camera to condense the image) at this point:

And then completed the first tree. I also added in permanent rose for the apple blossom.

The next tree in the foreground was built up in the same way, using more of the winsor green / crimson mix to bring it forward. The far background tree and bushes were added using paler versions of the same green mixes.

Wednesday Morning
No paints required today, just touching up with the pen, reinforcing depth and adding definition where needed - some brickwork, a few tiles, round the windows, some shadows, and some definition in the leaves and bark of the trees. And of course add the all important signature!

Then into the mount:

And email off a photograph of the finished painting for approval.

Phew - smiles all round, my customer was delighted!

Thanks so much for dropping by, I do hope you enjoy reading my blog. Why not leave a comment to say hello so that I know you called?