This isn’t something that I usually try. The example above is one of many hundreds of images by celebrated watercolour artist Judi Whitton. She starts with a line drawing in ink, and then uses watercolour. It would never have occured to me to imitate this style, had I not read her article in one of the recent painting magazines in which she outlined her method. It seemed like an invitation
The point that she was illustrating was what to leave out, as much as what to put in. In other words ” less is more”
That would be a useful lesson for me, as I never know when to stop, which is a common fault, so it might be worth me trying this exercise to see what I can learn. More importantly what will I remember for the future
Likewise, and this is something I have always tried to do, is the power of suggestion, rather than painting in every detail. If that comes out of this exercise, even better
For now I have done a line drawing from one of my old photographs of Venice. Quite a lot of her work is architectural, and she has written a book about Venice. In case anyone finds architectural work daunting, her method can be used on a variety of subjects. Probably best to look at her website.
I have used an old photograph from one of my visits, which looks like a corner of the Doge’s palace, and have drastically reduced the detail
I have used the grid method of transferring an image before, but was reminded of it when I went to the Hockney exhibition at the Lightbox in Woking recently. It is very useful especially when you want to enlarge a picture as I do with this one. This is how my drawing has turned out
I have now doubled the image size so that it is about the usual size that I paint, ie 30×40 centimetres. I have traced the drawing now and am about to transfer this image to watercolour paper
The nice thing about using this method is that once the grid is in place on both images, then there is very little, if any, measuring to be done. Drawing or copying within each small square is relatively simple, and gives you a check on perspective so very useful for anything architectural
There is no restriction on size so if you wanted to paint a mural and make it ten times or twenty times the photograph, then you could. You can work the other way, of course, and reduce the size of an image too.
I shall paint this when ready and probably use a completely different colourway than shown in the photograph. Not sure what yet, possibly an evening colour, and may even do two different colour ways from the same drawing, which will save me some time
I’ve just done this from the photograph. This is,of course, a commissioned work and I have to visit the site next week. Seasons have changed so may well look different, but this will do for now to work from. I will take some photographs of my own which I prefer, so that I can clear up some details which are ambiguous at the moment.
For now, there is little more that I can do before I see the actual building, and as I say, the colours have changed. The original photograph that I had was from the summer, and now everything is autumnal. As far as colour schemes are concerned, I prefer that. There should be some bare branches as well.
I just have to hope that the sun will be out, so that we get some lights and darks. For weeks now, the weather has been wet and the skies have been heavy. This is quite hopeless for painting, but as always we must work with what we have got.
Some news from the exhibition at the hospital. I have sold one painting entitled Canals of Venice, so not out for a duck, which is something
I have made a start. Bosham, always a favourite subject for exhibitions, and I don’t have one ready for my next exhibition which is in October, having sold Bosham Creek at the Guildford Institute.
The drawing is based on an old postcard, which gave me part of the composition, and helped with the relationship of the boat in the foreground, with the shoreline. The other boats I have added from my own library of sketches.
I have added some dark ink lines on the shadow sides of the two boats, and have masked out a tiny boat in the background.
I started to lay in a wash as a base colour. I used Cobalt Blue together with Vermillion. As they mixed on the paper, they have made grey as a basis for shadows to come. Still plenty of red in the sky and sea, although I can play with that when it has dried right out.
I have dabbed out a mark for the evening sun and its reflections across the water, which at the moment is not easy to see.
I am hoping this wash will be enough for background. I don’t want the sky competing with the foreground, but until the painting has dried right out, it will be impossible to say
Now that the dragon painting is completed, I am back to the attempt on the painting of the Church of the Sacred Family. I say attempt, because so far I have just done the drawing and trying to follow the detail is absolutely mind bending
Small wonder that building the church has been taking so long following the death of Gaudi, and still more than twenty years to go. What is there, is staggeringly beautiful, both outside and in.
My painting I think will be an impression only. Certainly it won’t be an architectural drawing
We shall see when we get some colour going, and that is for later
Not by a long way. On this occasion I am the student, and am preparing to follow a demo on Thursday at our local art club. We have been told to prepare in sketch form, a group of objects, and if we wanted to, put in some basic colour. The demonstration is to show how to provide an effective background wet-in-wet, which will one hopes transform this rather ordinary little group of objects into a painting
One of the many advantages of belonging to an art club, is that it gives you the opportunity to experiment with something totally different. Normally I paint town or seascape, so with this I shall be out of my comfort zone as it is called
More after Thursday
Still a lot more to do
We had the demonstration yesterday which really centred around negative painting. The spaces around the glass bottles were made wet, but only a manageable space at a time. Pigment was dropped in and allowed to spread, which gave quite a pleasing effect. Of course, as my subjects were glass, I had to allow the shadows to be visible through the bottles. My problem was that I didn’t have actual bottles to refer to, only a sketch from twenty years ago. I went darker than anyone else, looking for something dramatic, presumably.
The edges are finely masked with Frith masking fluid.
This exercise is by no means finished. Some more shadows need to go in around the base of the jars. The top of the lamp on the right is copper so some red needs to go on which will alleviate the green, and of course the masking needs to come off
I think I will try and finish it, although I don’t have to. it is one of those exercises where learning the method is the aim, not to produce a finished piece of work
Some more interesting topics to come from the art club, including painting with acrylic inks which I haven’t done for many years, so something to look forward to.
I have been working on the drawing of the Fountain of Love commission, which has been testing to say the least. I have just included a detail here, otherwise the image would be too faint to show
The photograph of the fountain itself was included in my last post, and I may have explained that the fountain is in the grounds of Cliveden House in Buckinghamshire. The house is magnificent and is now an hotel but the grounds are run by the National Trust and are extensive.
Over the ages, Cliveden was associated with powerful women. One of the more recent being Nancy Astor, American heiress as well as an MP in Westminster, possibly the first woman MP. More recently still, Cliveden was the scene of the scandalous liaison between Christine Keeler and John Profumo, a married government minister
Again I have been balancing two commission projects, as I have just finished the sketch study of a rather lovely yacht in St.Katherine’s Dock, just to agree the composition with the client before going on the finished painting. I drew this with the help of a grid but there is something about the sleek almost feminine lines of a boat which seem to elude me, no matter how many measurements I take.
As usual the camera leaches out the colour but the essence is there. I did find it useful to make a sketch on this occasion. So many mistakes could be made and were made. At least these have been cleared out of the way, hopefully not to reappear
There is something about highly polished surfaces like plastic or metal, which don’t work well in watercolour. Give me some rough old wood or rusty iron any day, and that will look realistic enough to touch. Still, if you owned a rusty old tub, you probably wouldn’t want it commemorated in a painting
We will await the client’s comment to see whether I have got the composition right as a first step
Since the last post on the subject of New Haw Lock, I started to come off the idea of just painting the lock keeper’s cottage with the lock gates. It was a little bit cliche d. very attractive and very popular but I decided to put my sketch aside, and ran through the photographs that I had taken during the course of the morning
There were many of them on the camera and also on the phone camera which was quicker to use if anything interesting came up
These two girls came up as possibles. They had jumped off their boat whilst boyfriends did the steering, and each manned the winding mechanism of a lock gate, really putting their backs into the work. I picked the best action shots that I could find, and compiled them into a drawing
I am sorry that the drawing is faint and I hope you can make out the figures. I drew them freehand from the screen onto tracing paper, and then moved them around the paper until they looked right, I hope.
What I like about them is that their tops are bright white which will stand out against the deep shadows behind them. It was a very hot day, one of the last of our heatwave, and they are wearing baseball caps with big peaks, which we nearly all wear nowadays as they are so effective against bright sun. So no faces to draw which is for me a great bonus.
This may prove to be a bad decision. I have actually started the painting and I will not publish an interim as it is such a mess but will post the finished item, no matter how it turns out
If anyone missed my previous post, this came from one of my very rare plein air painting days next to New Haw Lock on the Wey Navigation in Surrey. An ancient waterway from the c17, it connected Guildford and then Godalming commercially with the Thames right up to 1959. It still does but only for pleasure craft nowadays.
Something I rarely find time for is painting outdoors, but recently did, with our local art group at New Haw Lock, which is one of the many locks along the Wey Navigation in Surrey. The Navigation dates from the c17, and made the river Wey navigable by cutting canals across the meanders and shallows. Thus this mix of river and canal made the Wey navigable for barge traffic from Guildford to the Thames. Amazingly this traffic by horse drawn barge went on until 1959. By then the navigation had been cut through to Godalming in the south, and had been especially useful in carrying gunpowder from nearby Chilworth Mill through to the Thames and on into the Port of London
During the c18 the Wey Navigation linked with the River Arun, and on down to the south coast, but that leg was short lived and proved uneconomic to run. That section fell into disuse, although some sections have been revived by conservationists
In the picture, one of the many lock keeper’s cottages, very charming and very paintable still. New Haw is somewhat underrated and is easily missed when driving by.
We found shade to sit, as the day was hot and became hotter towards midday. The morning was enough for me, so for about 2-3 hours during which time, I worked out my composition, and just sketched putting in the shadows which of course changed quickly. Photography helps the sketch book and I recorded several stages. It is my intention to finish the painting in my “studio”, but for the moment need to finish my Alhambra painting
I shall look forward to painting the New Haw lock. This is a typical Surrey scene and a typical Surrey cottage. I will attach my drawing. I regretted afterwards only taking an A3 pad which didn’t give me enough space but at home i can use a half sheet which will enable me hopefully to include the lock in its entirety
Now all I have to do is to decide whether or not to include the foreground tree which obscures much of the cottage but nevertheless provides some interesting lights and darks
From the photograph, I have made a fairly quick sketch in black and white, just to give myself a tonal guide for when I attempt the actual painting
This is not intended to be an architectural drawing of any merit. The actual painting will, I trust, be better, but even then the detailing of the architecture is such that with the best will in the world, some simplification will have to be permissible. I am more interested at this stage in working out the light and dark areas. Hopefully the finished work will reflect the dazzling floor of the courtyard, and also suggest the intense heat from outside. It was about 35c whilst we were wandering around, but we were fine in the shaded areas. It must have been much the same for the original owners who built the citadel, and of course it would get much hotter in July/August
As I’m writing this in south-east England, the temperature is around 32c with no prospect of rain in the foreseeable future. It seems strange to be nostalgic for our unreliable climate of yesteryear, when the possibility of rain was always a worry when planning an event.
I didn’t use ink this time. I used Paynes Grey watercolour which I quite like. It is underrated, I think, and gives a pleasant blue/black shade to a sketch which I find preferable.
I have exaggerated the bleached out look of the arches on the other side of the courtyard. Whether I will get away with doing that in colour, remains to be seen. The small round fountain in the foreground does nothing for me and will be left out of the finished work
My poor sales record for the year received a boost at the week-end. I delivered successfully the Docklands Commission, and that will be going out to Sweden next month. The same day, I sold Bosham Panorama from my website and that is being collected next week. So very pleased about that.
It meant that I had to rush round and frame my latest painting of Bosham Creek, so that I had something to show on Saturday at the Railings Exhibition in Pirbright. That though is a happy problem