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  • Writer's pictureKaren Ruffles


This month has seen a lot of new things with my work. First, new glasses so I can focus on the detail better again - am still getting used to them but faster than I expected which is nice. I also just got some new paper - as followers of my Facebook page will know, the makers of my beloved Fabriano altered the surface to a softer, more textured finish which as you can imagine, was less than ideal for the sort of work that I do. I'm also vegetarian which means avoiding papers with a gelatin size - used on watercolour papers to stop the paint just sinking straight into the paper. I got some samples from Hahnemuhle this week so here are a couple of very short clips of me playing with one of them.

I chose a water droplet on a fern to try one of the samples out - partly because it involved a mix of detail and blending but also it's something I wanted to look at for the new Barghest commission. The fern, that is. I've been talking about the importance of lighting in pictures and the Barghest is to be backlit - mostly because I've discovered that's a great way to pick out outlines and details in an otherwise very dark image. I'm using local native plant life in the picture which includes bracken - one of the interesting things about that is that when lit from behind, the channels appear lighter than the rest of the leaf, unlike the veins in, say, an oak leaf which appear black. As the Barghest is out at night, that means there's likely to be more moisture around so the droplet was a good refresher also.

Overall, I quite like the paper - it's got a smooth surface so not lines or other unwanted texture showing through and is a good light colour so plenty of contrast but it's a bit softer than I'd like. That makes it hard to get a very sharp crisp line and the surface rubs up when blending which damages it, creating unwanted dark spots. Not to a huge extent, I think I could learn to work with this but it's not love at first scribble so I'll keep my options open for now. I have a couple of sheets of the good stuff still, one of which is being used for the Barghest so hopefully I'll be bringing you some images and time lapse of that under way next week so you can see me working on a 'final' drawing.


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