David Bellamy – Creating a wildlife montage

It was great to see so many familiar faces at Patchings Art Festival earlier this month, and exchange experiences with many of the artists and exhibitors. It’s a wonderful show that seems to get better every year, so if you’ve not been then put it in your diary for next July. As well as demonstrating the fabulous Waterford papers in the St Cuthberts marquee I had a stand next door. With just Jenny and myself on the stand we were run ragged and completely sold out of how-to-paint books by the third morning. We also ran out of some of the exciting Daniel Smith watercolour paints, despite an emergency deliver from DSHQ!

We almost sold out of my new Arctic Light book as well. It’s had some tremendous reviews, with its wide range of subjects, including several painting techniques that I haven’t featured in books before. I particularly enjoyed creating the wildlife paintings, especially those where I spent quite some time with the animals, studying both their form and ways. My favourite poseur was the walrus, generally an amiable fellow on land, especially when basking in the sunshine, though he can be rather vicious in the water if he takes a dislike to you!

At a bull walrus colony on Svalbard I found these beasts in a great many fascinating poses – many more than shown here – and in order to feature as many of these as I could in the book I decided to render them as a montage on one large sheet of Saunders Waterford hot-pressed paper. This paper really enhances the detail in the walrus’s extremely textured hide. It’s really worth thinking about creating a montage where you wish to display a variety of actions or features in a scene, and perhaps add a little bit of humour at the same time. I also did a similar montage depicting the amazing actions of a single polar bear. Great fun!

David Bellamy – Painting in all weathers

After a week of absolutely atrocious weather in the Italian Dolomites it’s nice to be back in sunny Wales for a day or two. Although I managed a number of useful sketches, without any views because of dense mist and lashing rain for much of the time it was a little annoying, especially when you know the scenery is spectacular. The previous week at Lake Garda we suffered from intense heat during a group painting holiday, but everyone remained cheerful, kept painting and put up with all that sunshine.

On Monday evening (10th July) I will be giving a talk at the launch of my Arctic Light book at Stanfords Map Shop in Covent Garden, London. It’s a fabulous place for maps and guidebooks for all over the world. There are still a number of places left, and if you wish to come along, then please get in touch with Mary Ellingham at Search Press on 01892 510 850, or marye@searchpress.com  

Although Arctic Light it is not a how-to-paint book, it is crammed with watercolours and sketches with a great many examples of the way atmosphere and light can be depicted in landscapes. This time I have also included many works showing wildlife, both animals and birds, which can make a real difference to a painting even if portrayed in a small scale within the composition. You can see more details at my website.

Next week I shall be demonstrating for St Cuthberts Mill at the annual Patchings Art Festival on the Thursday, Friday and Saturday, using the marvellous Saunders Waterford papers in the St Cuthberts Mill Marquee. The festival is on from 13th to 16th July inclusive and is highly recommended for its wealth of demonstrating artists, crafts and art materials, so do come along and have a chat. For further information on the event see Patchings Art Festival. We will also have a stand near the marquee with a number of my paintings, books, DVDs, etc, so hopefully I’ll see you there.

David Bellamy – Observing the Landscape

Learning to draw and observe properly are essential skills for the landscape artist in watercolour, and although most artists can see objects clearly, so many have appalling problems when trying to observe and record a scene. This is one of the fundamental skills I try to teach students on my painting courses, but it does take quite some application and determination to continue practising the skills once the course has ended.

This is a photograph of Skelwith Bridge, taken during my recent painting course in the Lake District. Whilst the lighting is a little flat, it is still pretty clear that the distant features viewed under the arch are a little darker in tone than the left-hand side of the bridge, though they are lighter than the underside of the arch to the right. Comparison of tones in this way is a vital method of working out these tonal relationships. Always think not just about the shapes before you, but the main tonal relationships as well. This will bring forward your art in leaps and bounds, and I would urge you to practice this with deliberate emphasis for at least the next month or so.

My rough sketch of the bridge on the right was done in about 12 to 15 minutes and this is the sort of drawing that will help you with your tones. Breaking away from a pure linear response to a subject is absolutely essential in your development as an artist.

I shall be demonstrating at the Patchings Art Festival  on Thursday 9th, Friday 10th and Saturday 11th June, in the St Cuthberts Mill Marquee, painting on the fabulous Saunders Waterford and Bockingford papers. Do come and chat. It’s always a great show with superb demonstrators, marvellous crafts, paintings and art materials. I will be painting with Daniel Smith watercolours and will have available the dot-card palette of the colours I mostly use in their range, so come along and pick one up.

David Bellamy – Demonstrating watercolours at Patchings Art Festival

June wouldn’t be quite the same without the Patchings Art Festival, which seems to get better every year thanks to the amazing Chas and Liz Wood who are the brains behind it all. This year was no exception and we had great enthusiastic crowds. It’s also a marvellous occasion to meet so many other artists, most of whom we only see once a year, as well as the manufacturers who produce all these mouth-watering artistic products.

It’s always a great pleasure to work with St Cuthberts Mill who make the outstanding Waterford and Bockingford papers, and demonstrate for them in the huge marquee. This year the demonstrations were limited to one hour, so there was no hanging around waiting for washes to dry! One of my demos was the scene on the left, not quite finished, but enough to give a flavour of what the completed work would be like. I have used Daniel Smith watercolours, and when used in combination with Saunders Waterford High White paper the whole thing tends to give an extra WOW!! factor.

This is a composition based on an illustration in my Winter Landscapes book, and I shall complete it in the studio before long. This leads me to the point of this post: I have scanned the painting as it stands, and will do so again once it is complete. You might like to do this yourself, photographing your painting at a stage where you are nearly at the end, but maybe a little unsure how much more detail to include. After photographing it on completion you will then be able to compare the two different stages. This will help you to judge if you are overworking your paintings during the final stages. It will not help your current painting if you have indeed over-cooked it, but gradually you will have a better idea when to put your brushes down.

Maybe I’ll see you next June at Patchings?

Demonstrating at Patchings Art Festival

June is that time in the year when the Patchings Arts Festival takes place near the village of Calverton, just north of Nottingham, and this year will be my 17th appearance there at the St Cuthberts Mill Celebrity Marquee. It’s a marvellous, summery art event in the countryside, with lots of fantastic artists demonstrating, and equally fantastic crafts-people displaying their wares, not to forget the band lending a festival note.

Jenny and I will both be demonstrating at Patchings this Thursday and Friday, 14th and 15th June, something we both enjoy as you can see above where I’m demonstrating sketching techniques to a few friends. Jenny will be in the Search Press tent demonstrating painting landscapes in pastels, while I will be in the St Cuthberts marquee using watercolours. St Cuthberts Mill produce the marvellous Saunders Waterford watercolour paper that I have loved using for a great many years now, not just for its attractive surface, but I really appreciate the robust nature of the paper, especially when I want to use techniques such as sponging, scratching and masking fluid, all of which work well without destroying the surface of the paper.
We will also be selling my new book, Skies, Light & Atmosphere, and the associated DVD, and these will be on special offer. Come along and enjoy the day.