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.

The Pure Watercolour Society Exhibition

This weekend I had a very pleasant sojourn in the Cotswolds, invited to join in the exhibition of the Pure Watercolour Society at the Windrush Gallery situated in the delightful village of Windrush, just west of Burford. This was formerly the studio and home of James Fletcher-Watson who was passionate about traditional watercolour painting, and became the first President of the PWS in 1999. This exhibition marks James’ centenary and includes a great many of his original paintings.

PWS Painting session sm

Pure Watercolour Society

The picture shows members of the PWS hard at work in a Cotswold farmyard. We were sketching the lovely old buildings, but what caught my eye was the wonderful collection of decaying rubbish hidden behind a barn: don’t ignore those rusting old drums and bits of machinery half-hidden in the weeds. There was even an old anvil lying in the midst of it all. These little features can add so much to a painting.

As well as James’ paintings the artists represented include David Curtis, Trevor Chamberlain, David Howell, Winston Oh, Tony Taylor, Peter Cronin, Andrew Hucklesby, John Yardley, Philip L Hobbs and Ian Piper. The exhibition continues until 28th May and is open 11 am to 5 pm daily. Tel: 01451 844425 The exhibition launches a new book commemorating James’ work, and in which several of us were privileged to include an example of our work. Try to get along and see the exhibition if you can, as it contains a wonderful variety of styles by a number of watercolour masters.