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Warm Up for Art!

We don't all work the same way, but I like to do some warm up exercises on paper or in a sketchbook before I start painting on a canvas. Some days the warm up work is all I do, but it is never time wasted. Sometimes it leads in an unplanned direction, or becomes a 'finished' work in itself. I did this one today on my best recent art purchase - 200 sheets of good quality A2 paper, which I'm finding very liberating. At the end of the day it's only a piece of paper, so I don't have to worry about the results! For this I just scribbled charcoal all over the paper and then used a rubber to 'draw' into it. I love the effects you can get by doing this.

This is another very quick charcoal sketch, looking at items I picked up on the beach. Another lovely way to start an art session is to use several different media on the same page, just mark making, smudging, overlaying and generally playing with the materials. You could use pastels, chalk, felt tips, paint or anything else to hand. Often the results can be surprisingly beautiful and you might discover a new way of making your art. Overprinting with ink or paint using a pen lid, corrugated card, string or anything else you can think of can be very satisfying!

For the ones below I used chalky pastels, charcoal and watered down acrylic. I like the way the pastels and charcoal react with the water.

I did this with artist Camilla Dixon when I was on an 'artists' retreat' in St Ives. She told us to simply draw a pencil line from left to right across both pages, following the lines in the harbour landscape we were observing. Then we were asked to start from the right of the page at a different place and follow the lines to the left. We kept repeating this, looking at some shapes in the distance and others quite close to us. I really like the result and can see how parts of this could be developed in different ways. You could try this anywhere, inside or out - I did several more versions while waiting for buses, trains and a plane. Good fun to do!

Marking making, colour mixing and very quick, sketchy paintings are other nice ways to warm up at the beginning of any art session. I can think of lots of other things to do, but would love to hear how other artists 'warm up'. If you send your ideas I'll add them to the blog so we can all share. Happy painting!

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