David Bellamy – Creating the effect of old stone walls

Writing blogs on a steam-driven laptop is an extremely slow process, and with extremely poor internet connections it can take me hours, which is the reason I’ve slowed down the number of blogs I do. Technology in Wales seems to be in some sort of reverse decline, and once the black-outs start hitting us it will be even worse. Progress is a funny thing!

Jenny and I enjoyed Patchings Art Festival, where I did two demonstrations in the St Cuthberts marquee to large, enthusiastic audiences. It’s always a joy to work with St Cuthberts Mill, and the Saunders Waterford High-White paper is superb for getting the best out of your watercolours.

I’ve just taken some new watercolours to Art Matters in White Lion Street in Tenby (Tel. 01834 843375) and this is one, showing a quiet corner of Tenby harbour. The lovely old stone walls provide an interesting backdrop, and these were done by laying an initial wash of Naples yellow over the entire area, and once this was dry painting in the stonework with cobalt blue plus cadmium red, to which I added a few drops of yellow ochre while the stones were still wet. I left some of the Naples yellow showing as light-coloured mortar between the stones. Once again I waited until the whole area had dried and then glazed it all with a weaker wash of cobalt blue and cadmium red. This both imparted a greater sense of unity and slightly softened off the edges of the stonework.

The background has been considerably simplified so that the emphasis is thrown onto the figures in conversation, and the surface was Waterford 140lb NOT, which is excellent for taking repeated washes if necessary.

David Bellamy – Lost and found tonal effects

Our recent trip to Scotland and subsequent workload have alas, inhibited new blog posts, as so much seems to be happening at once. Jenny and I experienced a glorious period of sunny weather in the Highlands, making for some really marvellous sketching experiences on the Fife coast and in the Cairngorm mountains. Fife has some lovely harbours that make for great painting compositions, and is a place I’ve missed out in the past because of my headlong rush always to get into the Highlands. It also gave us great pleasure to meet so many of our Scottish friends, a great many of whom turned up for my demonstration at the Pitlochry Festival Theatre.

This post’s illustration continues the Scottish theme, showing a part of a watercolour of a loch where a promontory is coming in from the left side. So often we see these features as a dark mass set against lighter water. Before you begin work on this consider how you might tackle it in terms of values. In this example I have painted in the promontory so that the top edge stands dark and hard against the light water of the loch, while the bottom edge is light and soft, and in fact lost altogether in places.

This approach avoids the promontory appearing to be cut out and stuck in place, setting it into the composition in a more natural way. Note also how I’ve dropped in a variety of colours in the lower edge, including permanent alizarin crimson and yellow ochre. Of course, these techniques can be applied to many situations and features in a painting, so give it a try. The illustration is part of a painting that is featured in my exhibition at the John Muir Trust Wild Space Gallery in Station Road, Pitlochry, until 18th June – telephone 01796 470080 or check my website

The one fly-in-the-ointment of our Scottish trip was the vast swathes of wind turbines now springing up all over the place, even encroaching on the stunning scenery of the Highlands themselves. If this continues it will totally destroy the reputation of Scotland for it’s outstanding and world-renowned scenery, and what to me is a truly tragic and criminal act simply aimed at vast profits for the energy corporations, and absolutely nothing to do with preserving the environment. I was so badly affected that for the first two nights there I could not sleep.