My exhibition at Erwood Station was a great success with sales, interest and raising money for the Campaign for the Protection of Rural Wales,although the initial part proved a little difficult as I was under the weather for a while. It’s great to have exhibitions in the major galleries, but this time I was really happy to do something locally.
Erwood Station will continue displaying some of my work, and it’s a lovely place to visit.The scene I am showing today is a watercolour of the Brecon Beacons where I have used lighting effects to create interest. Before carrying out a painting it really helps if you consider your ligting arrangement beforehand. This particular composition shows quite complicated lighting areas, and for this I did a preliminary studio sketch with emphasis on the tonal values of the various passages. Normally I prefer to let the main light flood over the focal point – in this case the farmhouse and outbuildings, but I strayed from the norm here by keeping an area of light in the middle distance, beyond the farm, with the farm itself not especially well-lit. Trying new variations from your usual approach can be exciting and lead to interesting effects. The light on the background peaks provides variation, though I did not want this to compete too strongly with the focal point. I love interesting skies and sometimes indulge in cloud-watching for some time, and although this composition could well have been served effectively with a simple sky, I often can’t resist working up a cloud mass that contains a striking patch of light as in this case. Do take time to consider your lighting treatment in your painting as it can make a terrific difference to a work.
One event in the year that I especially look forward to is the Patchings Art Festival, and I shall be demonstrating there once more on the fabulous Saunders Waterford and Bockingford papers, in the St Cuthberts Mill marquee on the mornings of 13th, 14th and 15th July. If you’ve never been, do treat yourself this year as it is a terrific show in lovely surroundings, and overflowing with artists demonstrating their various styles. There’s no place quite like it for being supercharged with artistic inspiration!
This is just part of a small watercolour as I want to highlight more of the detail, and some of the techniques used I will be showing at Patchings. The moody background was created with the wet-into-wet method, with the whole of the background carried out with just burnt umber. Whilst the wash was still wet I suggested the trees with a rigger, the larger ones with a number 4 brush, and with hardly any water on the brush – almost pure paint so that it did not run. Naturally I test it on the side first to check if the timing is right.
On this side of the bridge I introduced other colours: yellow ochre, cadmium red and French ultramarine. My aim was to keep the colours in harmony, all in the brown-ochre segment of the colour wheel. The ultramarine, of course is not in that category, but I’ve mixed it in such a way that it is simply darkening the effect with burnt umber, and not displaying any sign of its blueness. Adopting this approach will give your work a great feeling of unity.
I hope to see you at Patchings in July and for further information on the Patchings festival check out these links:
I don’t know about you, but I do love weathered stonework, whether it’s a humble dry-stone wall snaking across a windy hillside, or part of a monumental masterpiece of some ancient temple. When I visited the vast Roman site of Baalbec in Lebanon’s Hezbollah heartland the amount of outstanding weathered and sculptured stonework really took my breath away.
The illustration shows a small part of an enormous watercolour of the main courtyard at Baalbec. By keeping the edges fairly soft, this has imparted a weather-worn appearance. In the large side of the left-hand block of stone I began with a wash of alizarin crimson, dropped in some yellow ochre higher up and weak French ultramarine on the right. When the paper had dried I drew in the Roman lettering using a number one round sable, easing off the pressure in places to almost lose the outline of the letter, and in fact deliberately missed some parts. Again I allowed the work to dry before vigorously rubbing parts of some letters with a small flat brush to lose even more minor parts, before applying a wash of lunar black mainly over the right-hand side. This DanielSmith colour granulates with a vengeance, speckling the piece as in the original stonework. I applied it slightly unevenly and added the odd little blob here and there. I have created this in a traditional manner, building it up slowly overall, but there’s no reason why you shouldn’t include these techniques in combination with a more abstract design.
The original painting can be seen in my book Arabian Light which is not a practical guide, but nevertheless contains a wealth of inspirational watercolour techniques, with particular emphasis on capturing light and atmosphere. Why not put it on your Christmas list? You can find more details on my website
I have delivered new paintings to the Ardent Gallery in Brecon www.ardentgallery.co.uk so do pop in if you are in the area. I have also done a Christmas card which is sold in support of the Campaign for the Protection of Rural Wales, and details can be obtained at CPRW
As landscape artists we often see far too much in a scene for the good of our painting, and slavishly copy as much of the detail as we can. It really does pay to think about your need to include even what may seem to be an important part of the subject, and ask yourself if it does help to include the whole feature, or can you make subtle changes before that brush touches your paper?
In this view of Penyghent in Yorkshire, although I could see the entire mountain clearly, I felt that the profile was too stark: there was no mystery. So I introduced some lower cloud on the right to lose that strong curving edge of the peak by bringing down the shadow part of the cloud with French ultramarine and cadmium red over the yellow ochre of the mountainside. Then, by emphasising the shadowy shape of the lower part of the fell as it came out of the cloud, the overall shape of Penyghent was retained. The work was done on Saunders Waterford 140lb NOT paper.
I will be demonstrating at Patchings Art Festival on 14th, 15th and 16th July. The demonstrations will take place in the St Cuthberts Mill Marquee each morning. It will be great to return to Patchings after the two-year absence because of Covid. We will also have a small stand at the event, so do come along and see us.
Unfortunately my webinar with Painters On-line had to be cancelled because of my throat and chest infection which made it impossible for me to speak properly, but we are back on track now and the event is rescheduled for 11am on 4th August when I will be painting a Nile scene. I’m sorry for any inconvenience to anyone who booked. See details at Painters Online
Where I live we are blessed with countless streams and waterfalls tumbling down the hills and mountains, and I like nothing better than to wander beside a mountain stream with sketchbook, well away from the hurly-burly of life. One mountain stream is worth far more than a thousand mental health quacks for our well-being. In my short demonstration painting last week on the Shopkeeparty site I painted a mountain stream on a misty day, as seen below, and on Thursday 13th will be doing a much longer, more considered workshop on the site.
In the painting I aimed to lose much of the mountain and its detail in background mist, using the wet-in-wet technique, pulling out some of the colour on the left-hand buttresses with a damp brush to suggest light catching the boiler-plate slabs of rock. This was accentuated when the paper had dried by painting in the left-hand buttress which contrasts the softer-edged wet-in-wet approach used on the right-hand one. The central group of conifers was also painted wet-in-wet so that a real sense of distance was created when the dark-tones trees on the left were added. Notice on the cascade how the rocks are placed with hard edges at the tops and soft ones where the rocks rise out of the tumbling water.
Next Thursday at 3.30pm I will be running a 2 to 3- hour workshop on painting a waterfall with sunlight and autumn colours, and you are welcome to join me. I shall be showing you how to tackle many fascinating features:
how to introduce striking light effects
creating effective rock structures
making the most of exciting autumn colours
the magic of wet-in-wet passages
how to capture the energy of falling water
the importance of lost and found edges …..and so much more!