Watercolour painting on the narrowboat

I usually get up first, not really by choice, but it seems to be a standoff between the wife and myself to see who can wait the longest for a morning beverage. I inevitably lose. I make coffee and tea, feed the cats, then I start a painting.

Pale tan outline.

First thing I do is outline the design in my head on to the paper. I’m not saying that this is the way that  it should always be done – but it works for me. That’s the great thing about painting – there are little tricks and techniques, but what it ultimately comes down to is practising what works for you. So, I mark off my design (like sketching) with a very light tan colour. If I go wrong at this stage the tan can easily be removed with a little water, or ignored later. This part usually takes anything up to an hour.

After that, I fill in some of the colour. I have to be careful not to work over a wet area of the painting or else the colour will run, and I don’t always want the colours to run. This, for me, is the hardest bit, because I’m a little impatient and I just want to keep painting.

Beginning to add colour
So I often have a little ‘doodle’ that I complete at the same time as the watercolour- so that I’m not tempted to overwork the colours whilst they are drying. 
Doodling to keep myself from being impatient

This part of the painting can take all morning- depending how distracted I get drawing the doodles and also how much detail and reworking the painting takes. If it is a new design that I haven’t practiced before this part takes a lot longer.

Once I’ve added in all of the paint detail, and once the painting is fully dry I outline with black ink.

The finished product 

This part is my favourite because it really makes all of the design pop. I am often tempted not to outline, but I just can’t help myself. Sometimes, recently, I’ve cross hatched, and that is quite rewarding too- though a little scary because you have to know when to stop!

That’s the process for my watercolour paintings. You can view them here on my etsy (Cygnet Silk) site. Hopefully this article has explained a little about the process and the time involved, but also how much I really love the process and product. I hope you enjoy looking at them too.

Comment below if you have any painting ideas or different tricks or techniques to do your painting.

Who will win? Me or her?

So summer is fast approaching, some say it is already here! Being from Australia, I’m still waiting for it to arrive. However, over summer I have a blissful 16 days straight on the canal.
To say that I’m excited is an understatement. I’m excited. The wife is excited. I even think the cats are excited. It’ll be their first big adventure on the canal.
Initially when we first  got the boat we took them with us- that was meant to be for 10 days non stop cruising and eating. But, as you may already know it turned in to a bit of canal type camping by the tow path while our engine got a whole re-loom.
So, this 16 days is something that we are looking forward to. However, it is also a bit of a bone of contention- as ‘where should be go?’ has popped up a few times.
The situation seems to be that the wife and I have recently discovered that we both view the canal and living on the canal in different ways. Two different views- the right way (mine) and her view (wrong).

So let’s start with her view: Wife thinks that the canal should be cruised, preferably for longish days, and rest stops should be far and few. She believes that the person on the tiller shouldn’t be left alone with their thoughts but should be brought cups of tea and biscuits.
On the other hand, the correct view is: The canals should be cruised for a maximum of one session a day (that can be up to, but shouldn’t exceed 4 hours). Tea should always be provided by the youngest member of the crew. When steering the boat, both wives are not obligated to staying on the stern and some quiet time can be enjoyed in solo mode by the captain.
So, who will win this summer? Will it be a race to Braunston and back? Or will it be a leisurely ‘putt putt putt’ and many a ‘cheers’ and bbq?
I’ll keep you posted!

Grown up size wellies (boating in the rain)

Narrowboat wives love the rain

Love it or hate it the rain in England is a constant. Like a nosey neighbour that just pops by when you happen to be hanging out your delicates, the rain has no intuition. However, I’m determined to embrace that neighbour, invite her in for a cup of tea and put on another load of dirty laundry.

I love the rain. My mum used to hate it. I think that is when I first formed the notion that the rain was something dangerous, something to be feared or something to be avoided at all cost. Yet, on most children’s programs there would be children in welly boots stomping around in the wet stuff and having what looked like an extreme amount of fun. At our house the closest I got to the rain was drawing in the condensation on the inside side of the windows.

So it comes as no surprised that I would want to put my grown up size wellies on and go stomping up and down a tow path in the rain. When other boaters are safely tucked away doing Sudoku or witling I much prefer to embark on a cruise. Because of the Sudoku and witling it usually means that the canal traffic is down to a minimum and you can cruise at a slow ‘got nowhere to be’ kind of speed. It means you don’t have to pull over, get caught in a shallow and have to use your push off stick to continue on your journey.

I recently bought a swanky, not cheap, waterproof jacket for just such the day. ‘Will this be completely waterproof?’ I asked the sales assistant a little suspiciously. I’m from the era when waterproof attire was like wearing a hard plastic bag.

‘Oh yes,’ he nodded enthusiastically. Then he paused, ‘how much rain do you think you’ll encounter?’

‘How much rain?’ I thought, ‘How much rain is in England? It’s like asking how long is a stick, how much rain?’ I internally shook my head.

‘A usual amount of British rain,’ I replied rather calmly!

‘Oh yes, that should be fine.’

And with that I bought my first grown up waterproof jacket. Last weekend I had the opportunity to really test out that jacket. After testing it for three hours of ‘British rain’ I then had the opportunity to throw it on the soggy ground and stomp on it. Then I further had the opportunity to write a harshly worded email to the selling agent about ‘British rain’ and ‘waterproof’ and ‘false-advertising’ while my third change of clothing dried in front of the fire.

When we first bought the boat we inherited whatever gifts were left behind by the previous owners. I random bar stool- very nice condition. A brand new sleeping bag- smelling a bit like mould. A closet full of ancient plastic wet weather gear- there were trousers made of plastic, jackets and hats. ‘I’ve no need for them now,’ I thought naively upon buying my swanky waterproof jacket, ‘I’ll just donate them.’

Fortunately for my laziness I hadn’t got around to donating the booty yet as my cruising in the rain day ended with me fully clad from head to toe in sunshine yellow waterproofs. Yes, sometimes old school is the best school. Sure- I made a sound like crackling thunder when I walked, and sure, I couldn’t sit down without splitting the snug-non-give material; but, I was dry and I was happy and I was sunshine yellow!