David Bellamy – Hand-bagged in Dubrovnik while painting

The sun beat down as I sat in a pleasant, shady spot beside Cavtat harbour demonstrating a watercolour, when Tarzan and Jane hove into view, both bronzed as they stood before us brazcavtat-harbourenly flexing their pectorals. Both were clad solely in thongs, otherwise naked and obligingly creating a combined landscape and life class all rolled into one. They moved round us, causing titters among the group, and at times my brush went distinctly wayward as I heaved with laughter at this incredible display of narcissistic clownery. Jane sat down in front of us, smiling like a Cheshire cat at the group, and presumably hoping someone would paint her.

This sort of distraction can un-nerve the alfresco artist, but the group chuckled valiantly and took it in their stride, producing some excellent work. Later in the week I demonstrated again in Dubrovnik, which unfortunately was so choked with cruise-ship tourists that there was hardly room to swing a sable, and as I painted I did get hand-bagged several times.

    So, it was with relief we sailed to the island of Sipan where I found a shady spot to demonstrate watercolour pencils. An old bicycle formed an excellent centre of interest – it was leaning against a wheelbarrow, which was leaning against the tree, so in the interests of simplicity I left out the barrow and about a million other equally exciting things lying around, to illustrate the need for keeping things simple. I faded out the buildings adjoining the old barn. The pencils were applied first in the various colours and then this was washed over with water, blending in the colours and then drawing into the wetness with a dark watercolour pencil where I wanted to emphasise details. If you feel your watercolours get a little out of control then try the watercolour pencils. This work was done on Bockingford 140-lb hot-pressed paper, an excellent surface for these pencils.

Our annual Watercolour Seminar is just about upon us, and this year we are back in The Settlement in Pontypool, a superb venue. It takes place on Saturday 1st October and there are still places left if you feel like coming along. The theme will be injecting mood and drama into a landscape and I will be using the exciting range of watercolours from Daniel Smith, demonstrating how to take advantage of these amazing colours and give your paintings some extra zip. As well as a demonstration I will be giving an illustrated talk on the same theme, covering a wide range of landscape subjects. Details of the seminar are on my website. We look forward to seeing you there.

David Bellamy – Using tonal effects to suggest mood and space

Injecting mood into a landscape painting not only makes the overall effect much more exciting, but can create a strong sense of space and distance in the work. Although this scene of Faversham Creek in Kent already had a feeling of great space I wanted to exaggerate the atmosphere even more in the finished painting.
I chose a blue-grey tinted paper for this watercolour and deliberately kept the distant wooded hillsides very faint in order to create a striking contrast with the foreground features. The strong tones on and around the buildings help to push the faint hills well into the background. If everything is given the same degree of tonal strength then it will be hard to distinguish various features from each other, even with contrasting colours. Masts, gulls and some white boats were rendered in white gouache, and I have only included the main part of the composition so that the distant hills can be seen better.

I shall be giving another of my annual seminars at the Settlement, Pontypool on Saturday 1st October, and it will be covering how to create mood and drama in a painting, beginning with a watercolour demonstration, and this will be followed by an illustrated talk on the subject, including a great many examples of different landscapes and coastal scenes. You can find details on my website http://www.davidbellamy.co.uk/seminar-pontypool-october-2016/  I shall be demonstrating the exciting Daniel Smith watercolours and Saunders Waterford paper, and there will be plenty of time for you to ask any questions, so I hope to see you there.

David Bellamy – The negative painting technique in watercolour

This weekend we had our annual watercolour seminar in Pontypool, and as usual we had a very enthusiastic audience. It’s always good when lots of questions are forthcoming and people create a real buzz with their obvious excitement about indulging in watercolour painting and learning new techniques. When they can see the techniques being demonstrated close-up on the screen it really fires them up.

One of the techniques I was questioned about this weekend was that of the negative painting method. In watercolour, because it is a transparent medium and we cannot effectively paint a light colour over a dark one, we need to resort to other ways of working. We can use masking fluid, which reserves the white paper, but can be clumsy at times. Another method is to rub a candle across the paper to form a resist, but this is hopeless if you need intricate detail. A third technique is to paint gouache or acrylic over the dark area, but here the opaque paint can appear intrusive often losing that lovely sense of watercolour transparency and spontaneity.

The picture shows part of a painting mainly completed out of doors. It reveals a number of negative painting examples: the trunk and branches of the birch tree; the right-hand boulder; where the dead bracken stands out against the dark background; and the edges of the falling and turbulent water. The sole method I have used here for each of these examples is to work round each feature with a darker colour. In the case of the red bracken, this was painted on first, allowed to dry, and then the dark background wash brought down to describe the birch tree, the boulder, the water and of course, the red bracken.

This techniques is extremely effective and well worth learning. I don’t normally put quite so much negative work into one painting, but this was meant as an illustration on how to apply it, and can be seen on my Painting Winter Landscapes DVD, which accompanies the book with the same title. For more information see my website or that of APV Films who produced the film.

Demonstrating in Pastel

Watercolour sketch of Llyn Gwynant

Below is the demonstration painting that I did for Sandpiper Studio last weekend. This event was organised by owner Julie McLean who also teaches painting. The subject of the demonstration was water and reflections so I chose this view of Llyn Gwynant which I had sketched on a damp day. (Above) You can see the speckles where the rain has fallen on the sketch whilst the wash was still wet. I quite like painting watercolour sketches in the rain. It keeps the washes fluid and prevents you fussing about with the detail. I emphasised to the audience the importance of sketching to capture mood and atmosphere. Something that is difficult to capture in a photograph.

Llyn Gwynant, pastel by Jenny Keal

The painting was done with Unison Pastels on Fisher 400 Art paper, which is an abrasive surface and extremely good for creating mood and atmosphere and for portraying reflections. The distant mountain was kept cooler in colour, lighter in tone and without any detail. These three tips will help with the illusion of recession. The autumn colours on the foreground trees also help with this illusion, as their bright, warm colours  and stronger tones stand out well against the soft blue grey background.
If you are anywhere near Llandrindod Wells this week please come along to Art in the Park on Wednesday 22nd August where I will be demonstrating in pastel and on Thursday 23rd August where David will be demonstrating in watercolour. You can even join in and do your own painting of the Rock Park for the exhibition at the weekend.

Pastel Painting Demonstrations

River Wye at Erwood

River Wye above Erwood, Pastel by Jenny Keal painted as a demonstration at the Summer of Great Events 2011

August is a busy month this year. I will be doing three demonstrations, two of which are free.

  1. 11th August at Erwood Station Craft Centre and Gallery near Builth Wells, as part of the Summer of Great Events. I will be at the station most of the day, demonstrating in pastel and leading a walk to the River Wye to sketch the scene above. This event is free.
  2. 17 August at The Sandpiper Studio on the Wirral. An afternoon in Julie McLean’s lovely studio learning how to portray water in pastel. I will be sharing my secrets on how to achieve atmosphere and recession in your landscape paintings. There is a charge for this session.
  3. 22 August at Art in the Park in Llandrindod Wells as part of their Victorian Festival. You are invited to come and watch me sketch and paint in the Rock Park and to try your hand at producing your own painting. Materials will be provided. This event is free of charge.

If you want to improve your painting, or if you just want to get started, then come along to one of the above events and join in the fun.  The painting above was a demonstration at last year’s Summer of Great Events at Erwood Station Craft Centre and Gallery. We had a lovely sunny day last year, let’s hope it is fine again this year.

Demonstrating at Erwood Station last year.