Food colouring 2

Last blog post with holiday drawings, as promised.

I think the pictures speak for themselves. I became quite fond of food colouring over my holiday.

The only drawback is that I don’t want to use them outdoors: They are liquid, the bottles are small and fiddly, so … well, I don’t feel brave enough to try.

Nevertheless, I loved using them indoors. These are my last few drawings:


kitchen table


view from a window

I made a smudge when I painted over an area still damp. I could have retouched it, but sometimes mistakes look better left untouched.


table and chairs

window view

window view

In this drawing I made another mistake: I applied the grey to the curtains thinking the paper was dry. I only realised afterwards that it wasn’t fully dry, as it left dark patches in the shadow areas.

I don’t feel it spoils the picture too much but I’m glad I learned something for next time



sink detail

Some of these drawings are new versions of previous one like this one in crayons  and this one in felt tip pen

In a way, they are a series: a series of sketches, doodles, experiments in different media leading to a final piece. Like the ones above.

Thanks for reading this and keeping me company in this journey. I hope you enjoyed it too.

I plan to keep posting, perhaps about other things (experiments I did, books I read) that also contributed to the inspiration or execution of these drawings.

See you next time.


food colouring

This last section  (nearly the last post) I experimented with … food colouring.


food colouring

This is the way they sold them in the supermarket (in the baking section) I visited in Spain.

In London you find single bottles of 38ml, so you only buy the colour you plan to use -they last a long time, though, so I rarely have to buy them. Still, the little bottles (more like droppers) are rather useful so you can add one drop at a  time without having to use separate droppers.

(By the way, any attempt at refilling them from the larger bottles may leave you with food colouring dripping all over your fingers. Better wear gloves.)


This is the beginning of a love story with food colouring.

The story didn’t start out too promising.

I had experimented with food colouring previously, mostly to splash it on paper or to mix it with PVA glue and get dripping effects.

I had also used it, many years ago, to add touches of colour to black and white photographs. I loved the effect, and the colour is still vibrant… over 20 years later.

I digress…



This time I wanted to use the colours to paint a shell.

I mixed the colours one drop at a time in some pill boxes (handy from the discount store).

I couldn’t get the colours right. Also, my fingers got covered in paint and it didn’t wash out easily (doing dishes helped).

I became frustrated. It seems to be part of the learning process in my case.

food colouring


For the above drawing I tried this again with food colouring. I revisited a subject I’d painted before in different media.

I started to enjoy the challenge.


pen and food colouring

However, I felt that there could be better ways of using the food colouring.

This time I tried on my small sketchbook. I started with a biro pen drawing, adding the food colouring on top of it. I left the brighter areas untouched.

I also changed my pill boxes for an ice-cube tray for the mixing. The paint was contained better and I didn’t  have to handle any lids. I didn’t get any messy fingers. Well, only a little.

I felt quite chuffed at the possibilities I was uncovering…

The next blog post will show my last few drawings with pen and food colouring.

Thanks for reading this. I hope you liked it.






Hi again.

These posts are gonna keep coming for a bit longer yet.

This time I wanted to use pastels. I didn’t have any at home, so I went to the arts shop and picked what I thought were primary red, blue and yellow. When I got home I realised the red and the yellow were a darker tint than I had thought at the shop.

That’s the reason why the next two drawings look so vibrant and a bit golden.




I painted this whilst waiting for another painting (acrylics applied with paint knives) to dry between coats. I felt it was best not to waste the quality of light waiting. Basically, I didn’t want to watch paint dry.

Using the same subject and position I applied the soft pastels and a wash, to blend the colours and get a smoother finish.



self-portrait in pastels

For the portrait above I repeated the location I used on an earlier sketch. I decided to use the pastels I had at home and put up with the warm tone. The colours don’t quite match the colour of the fabric and skin. It doesn’t bother me at all.


self-portrait and wall.

I’d wanted to take a picture with this wall for ages. The light falls at a particular angle and you can see the change in tones of the shaded area against the brighter one, catching the reflections from a building nearby.

I decided to use dry pastels and a torchon (difumino) to blend the different tones. For this drawing I had some more primary colours available, this time I picked them in lighter hues.

I learned that dry soft pastels are too chunky to paint details. Next time I’d use a pastel pencil for the smaller areas.


self portrait and wall

This is a second version taken shortly after the first one. For this drawing I used the same colours and only changed the perspective slightly. I also used a wash to blend the colours and paint small details. My face is barely visible. That helps add prominence to the main subject, which is the white wall with its different tones.

Thanks for reading this. I hope you liked it.

See you on my next post with some more drawings.





felt tip and colour

Hi again.

This time I only have two drawings to share.


felt tip pen and watercolour pencils

For this drawing I was running out of ideas. I didn’t want to repeat something I’d already painted, and I looked around to see what might be interesting. I saw some books and put them on top of each other on a chair.

I used felt tip pen and watercolour pencils, blending the colours carefully with a wash.


felt tip pen soft pastels and wash

This was an experiment that failed miserably. I wanted to create interesting tones with a wash of felt tip pen.

I didn’t realise that wetting the pastels would drag some of the ink below to a nice smudged tone. On the other hand, it’s useful to make mistakes and learn what not to do next time. I also feel the portrait looks rather harsh with those thick lines.

But I love that blue bottle and the dress, and those nectarines tasted delicious.

I think I’m reaching the end of my finished drawings.

Just a few more blog posts to come: With some of my best images, those that challenged me and delighted me too.

I hope you enjoyed this.

Thanks for reading it, and see you again soon.


felt tip pen

Hello again.

When I bought some arts materials at the shop I picked also a couple of felt tip pens. I tried them on a spare piece of card and tested the effect when I applied a wash. I liked it.

I decided to do the same on my sketchbook.


self-portrait in black

I had seen some drawings from an illustrator and I fancied the idea of including part of me in a drawing. I also included the sketchbook.

Fail: I learned that felt tip pen and wash are not suitable for my small sketchbook: the paper is not thick enough to take it and it just looks dirty.


self-portrait in black

I gave up on felt tip pen for a while then I decided to give it another try.

This time I used a similar subject (my feet and the room) with a thicker, more absorbent paper. The wash created interesting effects against the textured paper.


self-portrait in the mirror

I liked the results of this technique and decided to have another self-portrait. This time one where I could see my face. I framed myself inside the thick mirror frame.

There are also interesting effects you can get with felt tip pen and colour. I’ll show you what I mean in the next blog post.

Thanks for reading this. I hope you enjoyed it.

On ways of exposure

Exposure and artists

Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe there’s some compelling reason why they do it. Maybe they have alternative ways to be noticed.

Whatever their reasons, I can’t understand why fledgling artists /recent art graduates do not have their own websites. Is this a rant? It sounds like one. That’s not my intention. I’ll explain some background to my story.

As you may know, in the last year I joined an arts course. I was encouraged to visit exhibitions and research new and old artists. I found several that I liked, and tried to find them online. Few had their own website or cards to give to visitors. A few were only mentioned on a magazine or website talking about the exhibition in questions.

It looked as if most wanted to hide from the online world. Many of them seemed to think that sharing an email address or a social media profile was enough to reveal themselves to the world. I found that some of those profiles had a confused identity where their personal lives and family and friends happily coexisted with their art work.

I know they are (usually) young. Their may know each other and share mutual friends, similar interests. They use applications and media that are fashionable at the moment. They’ve grown with internet, Facebook is old news to them. They are not technophobes.

Drawbacks of free

I also know that when you use (usually free) someone else’s platform you don’t have any control of how they are going to proceed in future. Will you find that they’ll start inserting promotional posts in between your updates? Do you know if some of them will be about issues that clash with your causes?

Alternatively: What if the platform you chose goes out of business, taking with them your posts and virtual connections built over years? What if they go out of fashion, and you have to start from scratch on the new one to take its place?

Free websites and social media are not truly yours. They only look as if they are, but they belong to someone else. Someone else owns their T&C. They may change any time and start charging, start using adverts, or cancel your account because of some complaint. You are on uncertain territory.

With social media my concern is even higher. They are the equivalent of posting an advert on a window shop or a weekly magazine. Anybody may place a larger advert next to yours, obscuring any chance of people to see you. Or alternatively many other people (business or not) will post their own updates until it’s nearly impossible to distinguish any message among the many others. All posted on someone else’s shop. Chosen and arranged by the shop owner, not by you. Moreover, when you try to keep up with all the updates it soon becomes a vicious circle, with more and more updates, comments, conversations posted one after the other. It’s a trap to eat your time. Selling you the fear of being left out.

I’d rather spend that time doing things instead of talking about things.

Pluses of websites

On the other hand, if I feel the need to share my news or my opinion on something (such as social media) a website gives me ample scope to speak at length. It doesn’t interrupt my post with flashing adverts. It doesn’t invite controversy (I chose not to make any comments public). It lets me post when I want without cramming the space with someone else’s news. And it also  allows me  to edit my posts (or delete them for good) when I revisit them. It works in practical terms like a printed book (minus the printing expenses or an editor to oversee my writing). In some ways it is even better than a printed book, because it’s accessible instantly and without cost to the visitors.

On the whole I prefer the format of the website. It doesn’t ‘mingle’ like social media does, but that can be a benefit when you are still learning the ropes. You can start using them simply, learning about design and content as you go, when you have few visitors and nothing to lose. My website doesn’t push people to see my updates and it doesn’t have distractions from my content either. It doesn’t limit the length of my updates or the format of my images. If visitors stay or leave it is up to them, not up to a third party with something to sell.

For this reason, above all, is that I don’t understand why a fledgling artist would neglect to have their own website and rely exclusively on free platforms.

I’d love to hear of someone (art student or recent graduate, perhaps?) who thinks different. Please feel free to send me your comments, I’d love to know what I’m missing out on.

Thank you for reading this rant.


By the way, there are still some more holiday drawings coming up soon. I hope you like them.





Hello again.

I planned to enjoy myself during my holiday. I bought some crayons, a small box. One of those I used to have as a child: few colours, intense tones, small and easy to carry.

These are the results:


sink detail

At home in London a sink full of dishes offers an amazing amount of details to draw. They always lay differently, and the combination of flat and round shapes, the different shadows and tones are an exciting challenge to capture.

I also have got many memories of sitting at a table seeing this corner. So I chose it as one of my first drawings.

For this one I used the crayons and the torchon (difumino) to blend the colours better on the paper.



I wanted to capture the figurine with crayons.

This time I blended the colours with turpentine (aguarras). Crayons are harder to blend than oil pastels, but you can still get some of the washed effect.



For this drawing I was inspired by some of the exercises in a book about colour. After I did some test drawings I got this image in my head. Somewhat surreal, as the seagulls are flying on top of my desk and the sky fills the room.

I painted the main dark areas over brightly coloured ones. Then I scratched the top layer with a key, using different kinds of lines to add textures.

I hope you enjoyed these pics. There are still a few more left to share on future posts

Thanks for reading this.