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We have had surprisingly good air quality this last week in Shanghai. Gorgeous blue sky with some clouds passing by. Normally you can not see either the sun or the clouds due to the pollution. Everything is just grey. Except for when it is storming, then it's dark and lovely. I am really looking forward to the arrival of autumn. But it is still around 27 degrees , so I guess I have to wait a little longer. I love autumn, it is my favourite time of the year.

I have filled up the small sketchbook I had with me home. I had planned to fill it with small landscapes paintings, but then I got bored of painting the same thing so I filled the last pages with bird sketches. I had a few new ideas for paintings that I wanted to get down from all the new reference material I was able to get while in Finland. Some of those ideas will get translated into bigger paintings.

The first thing I noticed with this small sketchbook was that the paper was not very good. It is watercolour paper, but definitely not cotton. Paint wouldn't lift or blend on the paper. Once a brushstroke was down, that's what you got. I had to change my approach to painting on it a little. But, it is only a sketchbook, so bad quality paper is not such a big deal in this case.

Rocks and cliffs.

Here I played with the same landscape but in two different ways. I prefer the more abstract page to the right.

The paper did not seem as bad with this more 'blocking in' approach.

Then on to painting birds. Here you can see how small the sketchbook is. I really like this small simple sketch. This will definitely become a bigger painting.

Grey Heron. Sitting on his watch post.

Another Grey Heron. Here I am playing with the background, and I am liking this idea for a watercolour painting.

Female mallard duck. Trying out some composition ideas. I like this very limited palette.

Muted swan in evening light. Swans are always a joy to paint. This one I think I would like to paint in oils.

And last, a gull. I think it is a Herring gull, but do not quote me on that. This design is very simple, but I think it works very well.

I love working small like this as you can get down many ideas quite fast. Working out composition and colour choices. Now the next step is to get out the bigger paints and the bigger sheets of paper and canvases and start working!


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