Last August , I wrote about a painting I had found unfinished after reorganising my studio. I was struggling to re-engage with my former painting self, and , although doing a watercolour of the scene helped a bit, it still didn’t sort things out.
Finally, I have finished it – and am delighted with the result. (That’s two delights in a row, last week and this week, – I’m beginning to feel nervous). The crux of the matter was the shadow of the nearest building. Since this building is an addition from another picture with different lighting, I had to re-construct how far the shadow would stretch across the road – not a serious problem. However, I had quite forgotten what colours I had used to indicate the shadow on the sunny building. I found myself trying very hard to achieve the right tone and colour using Burnt Sienna and Ultramarine Violet to no avail. I had used Burnt Sienna in the watercolour, of course. All was resolved when I remembered I had used Raw Sienna in the oil. The moral of the story is, “Don’t wait so long before you finish a painting”.
It’s a pleasing composition too, the active diagonal lines leading the eye to the old dilapidated building in the centre of the picture, while the trudging fellow anchors everything there too. People in pictures always draw themselves to our attention, self-centred beings that we are!
I had so enjoyed painting this scene that it seemed imperative to finish it. There was not a lot to do – half an hour might do it. In the event it took three half hours but I am pleased enough to sign it.
I love the way the sunlight brightens the fells. It looks like the rain has just passed over towards the right of the picture and the little yachts are enjoying light breezes. Autumn is fast approaching – the colour in the trees tells you that.
It works as a composition too. The clouds seem to come together in the middle, then the eye follows the distant hills down to the fells which dip into a tiny valley. Then the break in the trees takes you to the water. The sails are just enough to break the horizontal line of the shore. I just noticed that the whole picture divides into approximate thirds! Boats and dip in the trees on the vertical ones and shoreline and the bottom of the clouds on the horizontal ones. Serendipity rules!
This is my latest watercolour pencil painting.
You may remember I showed it at an intermediate stage. I have made the picture smaller because it was beginning to get too busy. This is something I must guard against – it’s so easy using this method to get too detailed too early, so I’m thinking of trying other ways of using the pencils. Having spent years trying to loosen up, I don’t want undo all my hard work!
As far as this painting is concerned, the greens have been the most difficult to achieve (tell me something new!), and it is not an issue that I have resolved yet. Successes have been the actual drawing which is reasonably accurate (!), the bushes on the top near the wall, and the boat in the water. The steps are a bit wooden (no pun intended). The paint moves with water very quickly so some care is needed with brush strokes. Not every false move can be corrected.
I’m going to try using the black and white watercolour pencils as if they were chalk and charcoal. I have done one or two portraits using this method and got a good likeness, better than when using colour. I think this relates to tonal value. My other thought was to try line and wash.
Looking back at last January’s post, I found things I’d forgotten about(!), things still on the “to do” list, and two completed.
I did finish the portrait, though I am less than thrilled with it, – competent but uninspired. I thought that I could reprise it using mixed media, and I still intend to do so. In fact I have chosen the canvas and collect potential collage papers. I have even brooded about colour palette.
But the real success of the year has been the improvement in my drawing skills. This is something that I am truly pleased (and surprised) about, and it is so liberating. I’ve been intimidated about drawing all my life and now I fear no more. That has got to be a result!
This year I am going to continue working with watercolour pencils, but try to use them more freely. I’ve got one or two thoughts on how to achieve this but they are still hazy so I will feel my way slowly and hope something clicks!