Wandering through the woodlands at this time is a real pleasure for the artist, with the great variety of warm colours as the leaves turn. I can’t resist picking up a handful of leaves and taking them back to the studio to play with. There’s nothing like the process of experimenting with artistic ideas for stimulating our work, even if you have tried the particular process before.
A branch of leaves – or perhaps I should say, a twig of leaves in case we get too carried away – can make a superlative still life subject, but here I have pushed the leaves into thick watercolour paint straight out of the tube, applying a few different colours for each leaf before placing them on the paper. With a sheet of tissue paper over the leaf I then rub it with fingers to create the image. It can be hit or miss, but when it works the result can be inspiring. You can work in two or three leaf images in this way and perhaps add some spatter and further detail, lettering, collage or whatever. The addition of a little thickener such as Winsor & Newton’s Aquapasta may help improve your results.
You can get ideas on painting autumn scenes in my Landscapes Through the Seasons book, available through my website
We are now planning painting courses for 2022, and details of these should be released before long. At the moment I’m spending a lot of the time away from the studio, so these blogs have been in short supply. Anyway, enjoy your autumn painting and do have a go at recording those stunning leaf shapes in one form or another!
I see my last blog was on 1st July, the long gap being the result of an all-action summer with little time for writing. In August I visited Germany, partly to do some research and partly as a holiday. Getting round the Covid tests proved quite a challenge, creating stress and uncertainty on occasion. In Wales I ordered a self-test from Boots, only to find I could not send it in time because there were no Priority Post-Boxes in the area, although the Royal Mail showed plenty of these around, including one apparently in Llanelwedd Quarry of all places! This is totally unacceptable behaviour.
In Pembrokeshire I’ve recently dropped off a number of paintings at the Waterfront Gallery in Milford Haven. The gallery shows a wide variety of paintings styles and is a very pleasant place to visit.
This is part of one of the paintings at the gallery, and shows a quiet corner of the composition. The centre of interest is away to the left, off-picture here, and the boat acts as a means to balance the composition. I did not wish to make it too prominent, so I lost the bottom of the blue hull in the muddy foreshore and dotted in white gouache blobs here and there to add interest in suggesting seagulls. On such a small scale it’s not easy to give the impression of birds, but I used a number one rigger and tested the white gouache on dark rough paper before applying it to the actual painting. This method also has the advantage of getting rid of excess white paint on the brush before doing it for real. If you over-blob and get a ghastly mess, simply wash it off with a damp brush, dry the area with a tissue and wait till the paper is dry and then try again. With practice you’ll find this will improve enormously.
I shall try to make my blogs more regular in future, but the call of the wild is hard to resist……..
As many of you will be aware, I love painting wild seas crashing on a rugged coast, but there is much to be said for the calmer moments. To emphasise this you need to concentrate on the horizontal elements as you will see in the painting below.
As you can see, the sky comprises a series of horizontal cloud effects of evening light, and this is further emphasised by the long, horizontal horizon, with the vertical features such as the mature trees pushed well into the distance. To further enhance the calm mood of the scene the washes laid over the estuary are flat, undetailed ones, and even the line of waders in the foreground conforms to a horizontal pattern. And what if you’re looking for a suitable animal to include in a calm scene – well for me none can compare with the dear old Friesian cow for suggesting a scene of utter calm and tranquility.
This painting can be found in my Seas & Shorelines in Watercolour book which is available from my website The original painting is on display in the Attic Galleryin Swansea, Tel. 01792 653387 The gallery is open from Wednesday to Saturday 10am to 4pm and can be found at 37 Pockett’s Wharf, Swansea, SA1 3XL where a number of my paintings are on display at the gallery with a lot of other exciting artwork.
This summer marks 40 years of my writing articles for Leisure Painter magazine, and the current issue (July 2021) contains an article celebrating this close relationship. Ingrid Lyon and her team are indeed lovely people to work with. The excellent Painters-online run by Leisure Painter and The Artist is also showing a film I recently made on how to paint a penguin, which you can see at https://www.painters-online.co.uk/tips-techniques/watercolour/articles/how-to-paint-a-penguin-in-watercolour/ This was done from an expedition to Chile many years ago, when I visited a penguin colony near Puntas Arenas on the way to the Andes.
I recently dropped some paintings in to the Waterfront Galleryin Milford Haven. It’s a lovely gallery on the quayside with plenty of parking and sketching space if you like painting boats and other things that bob about, so if you’re in or around Pembrokeshire do pop in if you have a moment.
This is part of one of the paintings I left at the gallery, showing huge Atlantic breakers hitting the cliffs at Linney Head in extremely wild seas. I achieved the white splashes by leaving that part as untouched paper, but wetting the area to float in the blue-grey colour of the cliffs to define the splashes wet-in-wet in a negative way. When the paper had dried I then sharpened up some of the edges with the blue-grey wash, thus creating a varied edge around the splash. Do be extremely careful if you go out on a day like this, as the sea can be really unforgiving!
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!