Including Life in your paintings

An excellent way of creating more interest in your paintings is by including some form of life, whether human, animal, bird, or whatever, and preferably of the sort that may well be found in the type of location you are painting. Scenes of farmyards, for instance, benefit enormously from a few hens, a cockerel or two, geese, sheepdogs, and even larger animals such as cattle and horses, not to mention the farmer. Building up a reservoir of sketches and photographs of these is fairly easy: I walk through a great many farms on public footpaths, and almost without exception stop to chat to the farmer if he or she is around. If the farm is especially attractive it’s worth asking for permission to sketch there, and I usually carry a few of my greetings cards around to give away as a thank you on these occasions.

The geese in this watercolour were reserved by applying masking fluid over them before laying any paint on the paper. Where you have intricate shapes like this, the rubbery fluid comes into its own. I painted the scene, positioning the geese where they would be juxtaposed against a shadow area, which would make them stand out. At the end I rubbed off the mask and painted in the beaks and legs. The farm itself was done from a sketch, but the geese and tractor came from photographs from other farms. Tractors can not only suggest life, but add a splash of colour to a drab farmyard.

The actual scene is in Cwm Senni in the Brecon Beacons, and I have just delivered the painting – this is only a part of it – to the Cornerhouse Gallery in Ammanford, with several of my other watercolours and Jenny’s pastel paintings. The gallery is at 38 Quay Street, Ammanford in Carmarthen shire, telephone 01269 594959. From a distance you might mistake it for a florists as Anthony Richards, the owner, has an amazing display of flowers and plants outside.

3 thoughts on “Including Life in your paintings

  1. Dear mr Bellamy
    I like your pictures and have learned much from your books. I also use Saunders Waterford and would like to have a question:
    I want to use a 300g, 560 x 760mm, hot pressed and St Cuthberts Mill writes:
    “Avoid soaking the smooth HP sheets because the surface will become slightly roughe”.
    Did you have experience with it? Dont you soaking the 300g HP? Normally I soak always.

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