Thursday, 9 October 2014

Monotone Sketches

I painted these two monotone sketches on a recent painting holiday, during one of our indoor sessions.
When I meet a new group of painters I always ask what they find most problematic with watercolour painting. I can honestly say that the most popular (or unpopular) sticking point is 'loosening up'. If they're used to painting in a very detailed style, it can be difficult to overcome. I think the problem is partly the way they are viewing a particular subject. 
For instance, the magnificent steam locomotive in Paignton (The Sir Nigel Gresley) is, at first glance, quite complicated, with it's giant steel wheels, the rivets, the curves, the buffers, the tracks it stands on and even the figure peering at the wheels. However, when I look at it, I simplify what I see into shapes and tones.
By reducing it to a monotone study, I can join shapes of similar tone to make bigger, simplified shapes. But areas where there are more contrast must be made use of. All that detail around the wheel area is in deep shadow so, even though I can see the spokes of the wheels when I'm there, I don't feel the need to paint these in. As a rule, I don't put detail in shadow areas.
However, the engineer, bending down and peering into the wheel area, is strongly lit and, although I've rendered him as a simple shape, he is clear enough to identify and stands out from the shaded background. I've used the same effect to make the light-toned water tower stand out from the darker trees in the distance.

This sketch of stone pillars, supporting the roof of Totnes Guild Hall, shows areas of both great shadow and strong light. The roof timbers were given a light toned wash first, before building up some darker washes on top. These dark areas create the negative shapes around the lighter toned beams.
Making these small sketches enables me to show students how I view potential painting subjects and simplify them. I sometimes make small monotone sketches like these if I'm confronted with a complicated scene. Once I've done it in monotone, I then have the confidence to do a large, loose colour version, which leaves something to the imagination of the viewer.

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Painting at Malmsmead Exmoor

Yesterday I posted a demo painting from a recent painting holiday on Exmoor (Alpha Painting Holidays). I thought it might be interesting to show a photo of the scene (above), plus a couple of my group. The photo above shows the bridge plus a ford, which I didn't include in my demo.

Above: Ah, the concentration. A very popular subject, as you can see.
Below: While we painted, the ford was in constant use, either by cars or horses. Luckily for us, the river was pretty low, otherwise we might've got a little damp.

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

'Stone Bridge at Malmsmead, Exmoor'

Well, my last outdoor painting course of the year ended 2 weeks ago. We had a great few days painting on and around Exmoor, and this was one of my onsite demo' paintings from that trip.
This little stone bridge spans a narrow stretch of the Rive Exe, at Malmsmead. We had great weather for the duration of our trip. I did this painting in about 45 minutes. The light and shadows move pretty quick, which means that onsite paintings have to be simplified in order to get the gist of the scene before it changes completely.

Friday, 27 June 2014

'Watercolour Demonstration Painting'

I was tutoring a painting course at Art Holidays in Dorset last week. This was one of my evening demo's, a rocky scene in Torquay. It's one of those spots you can paint many times and it'll always look different. I'll be back there again next week for another painting break.

Friday, 16 May 2014

'Cretan Landscape'

I painted this watercolour yesterday. It was a reference sketch for a demonstration painting I did for Brixham Art Society last night. The sketch is 1/4 Imperial size (11x15"). I did the small painting to work out my colours and tones for the demo'. The demonstration painting was twice as large and, although I was pleased with the result, it's always a bit of a rush and I'm talking/answering questions while I work. So, on this occasion, I prefer the smaller, first version.

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Spring Exhibition at the Kitchen Gallery, Cockington

I will be exhibiting my watercolour paintings, alongside other members of Torbay Action for Art (TAA) at the Kitchen Gallery, Cockington Court. The exhibition runs from 8th-21st March, although my own paintings will not be on show until Saturday 15th.
Admission to the exhibition is free.

Monday, 3 March 2014

'We Want You!' for a new BBC art series...

The BBC is looking for amateur artists for a new series on painting. Details are sketchy at the moment. However, from what I've heard, this is going to be a competitive series along the lines of such current programmes as the 'Bake Off' show.
So, if you're an amateur artist in the UK and would like to apply, follow this link for more details.

Good Luck!

Sunday, 12 January 2014

Demonstration for Teignmouth Art Society

Did a demonstration on Friday night for Teignmouth Art Society. 'Still Life with Glass' was the subject, so I took along a few jars & bottles. One of the members also brought along a few items and, from these, I selected that lovely blue jug. Like many clubs these days, they had their own camera/screen, so the people in the cheap seats can also see what's going on. I did this one in about an hour and forty minutes, from blank sheet to finished painting.
Thanks to Felicity Hughes for the photo of me in mid-demo.