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Anna Brewster 15th March 2023
Reed & Inks Workshop

This was the follow-up to Anna's stimulating demo for OVAS last November. For a reminder of that and to avoid some repetition click HERE

A few people asked about her website and courses; they can all be found here: www.annabrewster.com – there’s a workshops page.  Sometimes they are booked up but there are also spaces offered by Anna's fellow artists.  There may also be a flyer, so why not sign up to her mailing list for first choice of dates!

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For the workshop morning we were focused on drawing with cut reeds using black Indian ink before adding washes and touches of colourful acrylic inks.The focus was on using a deliberately loose style in order to better capture the fleeting qualities of a springtime posy. (Or even, for some, a sprigtime posy, which was what I mistyped at first! )

And here we are, diving into a floral smorgasbord provided by Anna

A Smorgasbord

We began with some loosening up. First: Know your reeds!  Anna provided several reeds for us to try, all culled from the wild and cut obliquely just above a node to create a natural reservoir of ink.

Each reed seemed to have a slightly different feel and tendency to thicker, thinner, splotchier or neater habits.So we began with some Klee-style 'taking a line for a walk' practice.  We moved on to freeing our minds a little, and breaking that eye-hand co-ordination by holding up a leaf in one hand and without looking at the paper [!!!], drawing the leaf while relying on proprioception [non-visual muscle feedback]. The aim was to focus more on looking at the subject.  An accurate drawing was not the aim of this exercise. (later -see last in this batch - we watched Anna add colour when the ink was completely dry)

Anna's demonstrations

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Anna emailed later with the following [slightly edited]:

Here is the list of equipment we were using:

  • Paper: Bockingford 140lb NOT watercolour paper, 11”x15” (quarter imperial size) – I order mine in packs of 20 from www.artdiscount.co.uk

  • Inks: India Ink (waterproof – always check the bottle!) – available from any art shop, winsor and newton do an excellent little squat ink bottle of india ink that’s very hard to knock over.

  • Acrylic inks – FW range by Daler Rowney.  We used indigo, Prussian blue, indian yellow, process yellow, scarlet, crimson.  All of these are waterproof. With all inks do make sure you wash your brush thoroughly afterwards with a bit of soap/fairy liquid.

  • Reeds: Mine come from seaton wetlands, the river Axe and the Kiln end of Budleigh Salterton but you’ll find them all over the place.  I generally only collect reeds that are already broken off and the green new shoots are no good anyway, you want the older brown ones.

  • Brushes: I use ProArte prolene 101 brushes, usually a size 12 or bigger.  A big round brush with a really good point on it is all you need although it can be fun to experiment with flat or dagger shaped brushes too.  I buy them in Sidmouth and they have sets of three useful sizes in shop:  https://southwestartmaterials.co.uk/products/proarte-series-101-prolene-watercolour-brush-12

If anyone wants to flatten their painting, just wet the back with a damp paintbrush, and flatten the sheet of paper (sandwiched in kitchen roll or baking parchment) under a large book overnight – that usually does the trick for me.

And a little bit about blind contour drawing: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blind_contour_drawing

If any of the group do any more flower drawing I’d love to see and they’re very welcome to send me a photo via here or tag me on Instagram @sidmouthskies or facebook @annabrewsterart 😊  Happy painting!

Us at work!

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... and finally ...

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