Well hello 2024!

Happy New Year everyone! I hope that everyone has had a wonderful festive season and a great New Year.

I have had a wonderful time, though it does seem to have passed alarmingly quickly. My first post of this new year will be quite a short one for reasons that I shall endeavour to explain, whilst also craving your understanding!

At lunchtime today, as I was eating a homemade toasted sandwich on some form of seeded granary bread, I felt the unmistakable crack of a tooth splitting. I’m not talking about a little chip off a corner but splitting right down into the gum. I feel fortunate that I’ve been able to get an appointment with my dentist tomorrow when fingers crossed, I’ll be able to have it removed (I know I’m no dentist, but am 100% sure that there’s no saving it).

To compound matters, tomorrow is also my birthday! I had planned a long walk on the South Downs with the hound, to be followed by a marvellous pub lunch for one at a favourite hostelry in the countryside – all of which has now been usurped by a dental disaster! This means I’m in a much grumpier mood than I would like to be at this particular juncture, so early in the year, and so close to being yet another year older but none the wiser!

This is all such a shame, as the year had started off so well!

I had been feeling slightly frustrated over the festive season that I hadn’t managed to knuckle down to do much painting, but I had no driving motivation to do much painting either. I did, however, think about painting a lot, which I decided would have to suffice.

On New Year’s Eve, I finally decided that I couldn’t put it off any longer and started on a painting that I’d already done a preparatory study for with a set of Sakura Pigma brush pens in black, mid grey and light grey that I received for Christmas. I think these should be ideal for doing the kind of tonal studies that help to work out the composition of a painting and iron out any tricky areas before you start to put brush to paper.

Here’s my first efforts at using these new brush pens, on top of which I also used a bit of white Posca pen:

My new Sakura Pigma brush pens
A little tonal study

The view is of Brighton Beach at sunrise from one of my regular early morning walks with the dog. I enjoyed working with these pens, not to mention the reduced ‘pressure’ of just playing around in a little notebook. I also like to think that this study played its part in making the subsequent painting more of a success than it might otherwise have been:

Brighton Beach at Sunrise

Working on this also allowed me to play around with a couple more of my presents. First up was a 5ml tube of Lunar Black by Daniel Smith.

5ml tube of Lunar Black from Daniel Smith

I was keen to try this paint out for its granulation qualities. Although it’s a black pigment, it’s transparent, and I think it will mix well with other pigments and, with its granulation, will add texture to washes where appropriate.

Finally comes a ‘super absorbent sponge’ from the Italian manufacturer Borciani and Bonazzi.

Super absorbent sponge from Borciani and Bonazzi

I’d seen these recommended by a number of artists that I follow and was keen to try them out. Sadly I couldn’t find anywhere that supplied these in the UK, so I ended up ordering them direct from Italy. I think they cost about 5 euros each (for two sponges in each pack). I’m a little embarrassed to say, that because the shipping costs were about four times the cost, I decided that the only way I could make it worthwhile was to buy 4 packs of them, plus some other bits and bobs which I’ll be opening for my birthday tomorrow! (Sorry if this takes away the magic but I’m sure I’m not alone in buying myself the very specific type of present that no one else would know to buy for me!

I never thought you could get so geekily enthusiastic about a sponge but I have to say, after using it on this painting I’m hugely impressed! Managing the amount of water in a brush can often be a challenge, especially when you’re constantly washing your brushes out to change colours etc. I’ve normally just used bits of old kitchen sponge and, more recently, some form of bamboo sponge that I picked up from somewhere but this really does the job brilliantly (which is just as well as I now have so many of them!)

I had hoped that this painting might be some kind of sign that 2024 is going to be a great year – but today’s tooth-cracking episode has rather changed my outlook!

I hope that everyone else is enjoying a much smoother, less painful and more enjoyable start to the year. I’ll hopefully be back next week with a more positive outlook, and maybe even some ‘resolutions’ for the year ahead!

Thoughts on Well hello 2024!

7 thoughts on “Well hello 2024!”

    1. Hi Jo and thanks for this, so pleased you like that painting. I’ve since done another painting and have been using that sponge again and it’s great – I know it might sound weird but its without a doubt the best painting sponge I’ve ever had! (Which is more than can be said for my tooth! The good news is that there’s just about enough of it left for me to have a crown so I have a lot of root canal treatment to look forward to, not to mention another large dent in my finances!

  1. I empathise with the tooth problem, John. I seem to have dental disasters on a regular basis these days… Lovely painting and you seem to have got control of your brush-pens in no time at all. All the best for the coming year – though it doesn’t look as if you’ll need any encouragement from the likes of me!

    1. Ah many thanks Rob and I’m sorry that you’re all too familiar with such dental disasters! I’m just back from the dentist and strangely relieved. I’d expected to lose the whole tooth but he’s of the opinion that there’s enough of it left to be able to add another crown to my collection! Hope that your year is off to a much better start, and that it continues to get better and better!

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