In Turner’s Footsteps

If you enjoy autumn landscapes the October issue of Leisure Painter magazine has an excellent article by my adorable wife, Jenny Keal: pastel is such a striking medium to capture those vibrant colours, and Jenny utilises the medium to the full. In the same magazine I have an article on painting a waterfall scene in Yorkshire, on the same spot that JMW Turner stopped in 1816 to carry out his sketch on a lovely summer evening.

My visit, however, on a dismal April afternoon was met with steady rain that began the moment I opened my sketchbook. Without the excellent Derwent watercolour pencils, which I used to draw the linear image onto the wet paper, the sketch would have been completely washed away. The white highlights of the falling water have remained because the pencil line is fairly thick and physically holds back a wash that is not too wet, another useful attribute of these pencils when working in rain. The composition, as you can see, has two competing centres of interest, with the two attractive waterfalls. In the sketch I have rendered both with equal importance, but in the finished painting (which appears in the magazine) I gave the left-hand falls more prominence, and thus the main centre of interest.

One lesson here is that no matter how bad the sketch may be, so long as it is meaningful to you, then there is no reason why the finished painting should not be a good one. This sketch was done on a narrow ledge high above the beck, and above Turner’s viewpoint, and while sketching I also filmed myself working. The filming aspect worked really well, apart from one point: I accidentally pressed the backlighting button and the whole film was over-exposed and thus useless!

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