David Bellamy – Making the most of poor weather

I hope all of you out there had a great festive season, or if Christmas isn’t your thing then you have been enjoying yourself. I seem to have been everywhere except by the laptop, hence the long silence. One place I did visit just before Christmas was sunny Devon, but as I found it gloomy and misty I decided to make the most of the atmosphere and capture some wet-into-wet mistiness. Whatever the weather is doing out there it always has something for the landscape painter.

This watercolour sketch was carried out on a cartridge sketch-pad. I chose this because firstly the smooth paper dries quicker than a rougher surface, which in the damp atmosphere would take some time to dry; and secondly I wanted to juxtapose the softness of the wet-in-wet technique with the hard sharpness that is accentuated on smooth paper. If you don’t like cartridge paper for quick washes try a hot pressed paper – Bockingford comes in ideal HP pads for this sort of work. First of all I laid on Naples yellow in the sky, then drifted it to the left where I blended in a light green wash where the two largest trees appear.

Without pausing I painted the fainter tree in with ultramarine and burnt umber using a strong mixture to keep the shape of the tree – working into the damp paper you really don’t want much water on the brush!  Again without pausing I then drew into the green wash with an indigo watercolour pencil while the wash was still damp. I sat back and drank a coffee while the sketch dried and then I laid a medium tone around the trunks of the tall trees, thus highlighting them. Note also how I have left the vegetation under the trees sharp-edged to counter the soft, misty background – much easier to achieve on a smooth surface. It’s only a rough sketch but it gave me great enjoyment and brightened up an otherwise gloomy day.

If you need cheering up then why not tune in to CBEEBIES on BBC Television on Saturday 9th January at 10.45am and 15.40 – Catherine, my daughter is doing some of her whacky stunts. She is out in Australia at the moment and next month will be performing in Adelaide.

A very Happy New Year to you all and may it be your best painting year yet!

15 thoughts on “David Bellamy – Making the most of poor weather

  1. Hi David & Jenny,
    Happy New Year to you both.
    I have found the emails from both of you very helpful and look forward to many more tips from you in the coming year

    Bernard Hartland

  2. I love your writing, almost as much as your painting !
    Wherever we are, you take us to the place where you are and show us what you see. Then you clearly explain how you achieved, and we can try to achieve, the lovely pictures you paint.

    I have been looking out for quite a while for any explanation describing how you used tissue, decorated with dots, on snow scenes, to achieve a really interesting effect.
    I understand that you may have written something about it in one of Leisure Painter magazines, but I can’t find it. Could you please tell me which edition it is in – I am getting desperate!

    Many thanks for your continuous encouragement to all of us who have such fun painting, and now and again achieving something which really pleases us!

    Catherine Ward-Penny

    • Thank you for your kind words, Catherine, I only wish I had more time for writing! The article you ask about is presumably the one I have written about using Oriental decorative papers in combination with watercolour. The reason you can’t find it is because it has not been published yet, but I expect it will appear in Leisure Painter magazine fairly soon, so I hope you find it OK, and also find it useful. Regards, David

  3. A very effective sketch. I cannot get out in this way so it is good to see a rel artist working with prevailing conditions.
    Evelyn Ralph/ Steward.

    • Evelyn, thank you for your comment. I have to admit that the sketch was actually done from the comfort of the inside of my car on this occasion – are you not able to work from a car? Regards, David

  4. Hi David
    I loved you cheerful email on a grey January day.
    I bought your book Skies, Light & Atmosphere before Christmas. I love the Cover Picture. Have you a Dvd that explains painting that picture, the colours used etc. I am a newbee to Watercolours..
    Love you work

    • Geraldine, I’m so glad the blog cheered up your ‘grey day.’ I hope you are finding ‘Skies, Light & Atmosphere’ useful. As for the cover there is no DVD on how it was painted, I’m afraid. What I will do, though is set up a blog post covering the methods used in the painting. I shall do that hopefully in the next few weeks, so keep watching this space. I might even get round to doing something similar on DVD in due course, but I can’t promise anything at the moment! Many thanks for your interest and I wish you well with your watercolours. Kind regards, David

  5. Hi David, sorry to here about your gloomy weather over their, ours is set to hit 39 degrees here tomorrow, in Perth Western Australia so we have the opposite problems, and don’t need to encourage faster drying. lovely soft water colour painting, love your work, you mentioned that your daughter was over her in Australia, clever girl, talking of witch, could easily arrange for demos and master classes for you to run should you ever venture this far yourself, through the water colour society of W.A, just a thought, any way love your news updates, and best wishes. Derek P.S website is under an update just now.

    • Hi Derek, Thank you for your comments. I am looking into coming out to Australia, as I get so many requests, so maybe I’ll make it one of these days! Hope to see you then, but I shall try to avoid the intense heat of the Australian summer. Best wishes,

  6. Hi David, thank you for the tip of using cartridge paper for sketches in damp conditions. I normally use standard watercolour paper, and it does take an age to dry. I am due to visit Devon in April, and will make sure I take some cartridge paper with me. Kind regards… Bill.

    • Bill, if you will be painting on cartridge paper for the first time you might well find it more difficult to control, as many of my students have experienced this. It takes some getting used to as you need to work fairly quickly, but it is worth perservering as it will help your watercolour painting along more rapidly. It would be worth taking a few sheets of hort pressed watercolour paper along with you as well. Best of luck, David

  7. Much enjoy reading and saving your articles. Dreaming of Wales from the depths of a Canadian winter! I’ve sent the hotel a deposit for your Wales course in July – will actual e-forms and info come from them at some point or from you? I’m curious as to what supplies I have to tote across the Pond. Thanks again for all the tips for this beginner! Brenda

    • HI Brenda, I’ve sent you an email with the booking forms. If you have any more questions just email me. Thanks Jenny

  8. First of all I would like to to thank and compliment you on your great article in the March issue of Leisure Painter. Since your suggestion in a previous blog of Daniel Smith’s w/cs, now thankfully available in 5ml size, I have been fortunate enough to acquire a few and absolutely love them. I have passed this on to several fellow artists and we find them most enjoyable and inspiring.
    However, I am in a terrible ‘lull’ with my painting at present, caused by the interruption of the festive season and all that it entails, finding it difficult to get painting again but I found such pleasure reading your article and also this blog again, I feel so much better. All I needed was my DB fix, thanks David !

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