This afternoon, I worked up a watercolour painting from a photo I took yesterday at Mapperley Reservoir. The subject is the same as yesterday’s digital painting but I was at home and had more time to work on it.
Time was what it needed. I started boldly, wetting the paper and dropping in areas of gamboge and pale green. As the paper started to dry, I sketched in the clumps of lily pads with the green paint and circular motions. When dry, I created a darker and slightly neutralised green by working in a bit of violet for the pads, reserving shapes for the flowers and also sections where some of the pads had started to lose their colour. Next came negative painting of the water, with a mixture of violet and some dark green. At that point, the result was rather disappointing and I was tempted to leave it there.
I took a break and decided to keep working when I returned and that is when it started to come together. I was applying more paint, including some glazing with green and violet (separately this time) but the magic happened when I began lifting paint out with a damp brush and blotting those sections dry. I built in texture to the leaves and made the flower stems less blocky. Inspired by the process, I also dropped in fresh colour in places where the lifting had made it too light.
The second bit of magic was dropping in some reddy brown (a slightly neutralised red from the palette). Some of that was evident in the original photo but, as a foil for the predominant green and yellow, I took liberties in applying it more widely. For this second session, I wasn’t referring directly back to the photo but looking to see what the painting needed.
It could bear a bit more working but I think I’ll stop there for this one. Two more paintings to do for this 30x30directwatercolor2020 project but, even with the 28 so far, I think I’ve got a few that might their way up to my wall in future.
We had a longer stroll today at Shipley Country Park, about 16 miles north of home and I did some more digital painting, this time of waterlillies. By that point, the sun had come out so the real challenge was seeing what I was doing. Mind you, probably easier than it would have been if the rain was still coming down.
I’m going to count this towards my 30x30directwatercolor project.
Some plants are difficult to propagate but, with basil, you can take a 5-10cm cutting, remove the lower leaves and put it in a jar of water for a couple of weeks. If you buy a single plant from a supermarket, you can easily get several new plants going this way (plus you get to eat the leaves you removed). You can see the roots beginning to form and that is what I decided to paint today:
It wouldn’t pass muster as a botanical illustration but, for a quick and easy painting with no under-drawing, I am satisfied with the result.
This is another working of a view that I’ve covered before. Twice before, in fact – once as a direct watercolour painting earlier this month and previously as a direct digital work on my iPad. I will include both of those images below for comparison.
With this one, I started by painting the sky (ie. the negative shape above and to the right of the building) in clean water and then washing in phthalo blue. I did a bit of further work with adding water to adjust the intensity before unleashing the hairdryer to speed things up (essential watercolour tool, the hairdryer, if you are working on one fairly small piece at a time). I then painted the rest orange (a mix of various colours on the palette) and painted the rest before getting to the fun part of dropping in and lifting out various areas (including a bit more drying and glazing).
I think it is my favourite result so far – certainly the most vibrantly colourful.
For today’s painting, I decided just to play with the paint – mainly colours on the palette but also with some phthalo blue (from the Schmincke Horadam range). I added nine bits of masking tape in the centre, carrying on from yesterday’s piece and had at it. After washing the paper with water, I went back with the blue and then began to drop in other colours and manipulate the pigment with various techniques. A quick blast with the hairdryer, peeling off most of the tape, more play, more hairdryer, more play and then time to stop. This is what I got:
You need to rotate it anti-clockwise to a landscape orientation to see the way I did the painting but, once freed up, this was the direction which stood out most to me. I think it looks rather ominous – perhaps an angel of death? I can even make out a rather gruesome face in the red section that is top and centre although that is probably just pareidolia kicking in; I certainly hadn’t set out to paint a face!
I’m excited to post today’s piece for the 30x30directwatercolor project:
I think this is my best painting so far this month, demonstrating a range of techniques and with some good balances of colour and level of detail. If I visited an exhibition of all of my pieces so far and they were by someone else, I think this is the one I would choose to linger in front of. Well, perhaps the self portrait, because that would be plain spooky if someone else had painted it but you know what I mean!
Best of all, the location is close to hand, in the back garden. We mowed the grass this weekend but left some patches of longer grass and wildflowers. Those bits have lots of visual interest and also preserve a habit which is supporting bees and other creatures while the mown areas demonstrate that the garden is looked after rather than being left to go to wrack and ruin.
That red patch? In reality, it is a bare patch that is more of a neutral brown grey but, although it was more to do with what was on my palette than careful calculation, it makes a vivid foil to the green (as the complementary colour – note the satisfying neutral tones created where the two blend) and, as a large patch, to the small yellow flowers (masked with fragments of masking tape which I peeled off before finishing up).