David Bellamy – Changing the mood in a landscape painting

I missed doing an intended blog last week as I had three short videos to produce in connection with the forthcoming Patchings Virtual Art Festival next week. It starts on July 9th which was the intended date for the original festival, and you can find information on www.patchingsartcentre.co.uk Of the other two videos I made, one was for Painters Online at  www.painters-online.co.uk  run by Leisure Painter and The Artist magazines, and this shows ten tips I’ve put together for landscapists, while the third one was for Search Press which you can find on  www.searchpress.com  and this features a number of my crazy anecdotes on sketching expeditions. All three videos are quite different and I hope you enjoy them.

 You’ve had to wait a little longer than intended for my version of Llyn Mymbyr, so here is my effort together with the two photographs shown in the earlier blog:

This is the original scene that shows afternoon light catching the Plas y Brenin Mountain Centre buildings on the far side of the lake. As some interesting crags dropped into the water to the right of this composition I wanted to include them in the painting and illustrate how I go about bringing two visual sources of reference together for one painting.

This is the shot of the crags to the right of the above view, though it’s in shadow, a common problem when we are working outdoors, but it’s easy enough to bring two prints together and even better when you have a sketch as well. Getting these to fuse together on a laptop for the purpose of showing you, however, is not so easy for a non-tech neanderthal……..

In my version I have reduced the buildings so that interest is focused on the craggy peak, Clogwyn Mawr, which I’ve featured in strong evening light, while bringing in some mist behind the line of trees. I often change the atmosphere of a scene completely, and that really is my main lesson here: you don’t need to paint the scene as you see it, but as you would like to see it. Try small versions as studio sketches before you make a start on the painting. There are so many different ways of tackling a scene with a variety of moods and seasonal changes. Enjoy your painting! 

David Bellamy – Introducing humour into your watercolours

I much appreciate the comments you make, and hope you are all keeping well and free from Covid-19. It’s certainly changing life at the moment, and surprisingly I’m managing to do more walking than normal, as I’m not travelling around with work. Getting out into nature is really the best thing we can do if possible, and May is a great time to be out on the hills with the sketchbook.

    Another vital ingredient at times like this is a touch of humour to counter the appalling news coming through every day, and relieve any worries about where it will all end. Adding a little visual humour into your paintings, even in a small way can appeal to many folk. A while back I was sketching by a farm track when no less than three red tractors came along, driven by three rotund, red-faced farmers. I grabbed my camera and waved as they rattled past, then carried on sketching as they disappeared over the horizon. After several minutes they reappeared, coming the other way, and I managed to get some more shots of them.

    I continued with my sketch, but then, back came the three tractors yet again, belching out fumes. This time they turned off at the junction where I stood and into the lane shown in the painting, which was my composition. Off past the farmhouse they roared and there was peace for a few minutes. Sure enough, shortly after they once again hove into view, still in perfect formation, coming back towards me, so I have included one of them in the painting. Unable to hold back my curiosity I stopped them as they approached to find out what they were up to. They were lost and were looking for a farm in the vicinity – probably for some agricultural soiree. I wasn’t familiar with the local area but I had a map and soon put them on the right course, and off they went.

    What I hadn’t noticed during all the coming and going was that the lead tractor had a little passenger on one side, which you can see in this close-up detail. Watch out for this sort of thing as it can enliven your work. I could have made the tractor a bit more wonky and the farmer more of a cartoon character, and these are things worth considering before you touch the paper. When out and about I do like to engage with farmers and other folk as I often learn a lot and have more time to notice any little gems like this. It’s also worth carrying a few of your greetings cards with you to give away as you sketch someone’s farmhouse. They might well buy a painting off you!  Mind how you go.

David Bellamy – With watercolours to Austria

September was another of those all-action months where there was no time to write blogs: sadly there are many things happening which I simply don’t have time to relate. On 14th September I had one of the proudest moments of my life when Catherine, my daughter, married Nicko. They met at clown school in Paris many years ago and had an amazing wedding with the reception in a delightful woodland setting. Overwhelmingly, the guests were actors, actresses, directors, producers, musicians, magicians, clowns (of course), singers, and folks from the entertainment industry. The Bollywood-style dance was truly jaw-dropping, and the church service rocked.

A few days later Austria beckoned: a painting group holiday arranged by Richard Cartwright of West Norfolk Arts with the assistance and local expertise of our friend Christof Hoelzl who found us some exciting locations to paint.

Based in the beautiful Stubaital valley we painted and sketched the surrounding peaks, and on a very wet day tackled a waterfall. Although I don’t do many city and town scenes we spent a day in Hall which has many splendid old buildings, and I found myself really enjoying the change. The watercolour of Rosengasse was done quickly in a cartridge sketchbook while it was spitting with rain. I could see much more than I’ve included, particularly beneath the church tower, but I did not want to over-work it, and eliminating distant detail further suggests distance.

I’ve run the colours of the walls into one another, assisted by the falling rain, while Christof gallantly held his umbrella over the sketchbook as I demonstrated. One feature I love about these Austrian towns is the ubiquitous hanging signs with their ornate metal hangers. I took the opportunity of photographing many of these to use elsewhere, possibly as collages. Note how I have vignetted the interesting stonework of the street so that only few stones are shown in the foreground.

 With autumn upon us do get ready for those glorious colours. Don’t wait just for those lovely sunny days, as the bright yellow and orange leaves reflecting in puddles can work wonders for your painting.