The Gates of Chester – third stage

I’ve drawn much more with the wax crayons characterising the stonework, suggesting the undergrowth behind the tree and finishing the wrought iron gates.  I added Viridian to the tree both as paint and as crayon together with some brown and black.  I also intensified the colour washes on the wall but I was working in electric light, and may have been too enthusiastic.  The colours seem to be working better now.

Wolfgate 03
Wolfgate 03

I think I like the effect of the crayon, but the curvy tree trunk needs attention and something – but what? – needs to be done to join the “Brusho” part to the rest of the picture.  I seem to have painted myself into a corner.  Time to sleep on it, maybe.

I returned to my source photograph.  I have missed out the grass edge at the front of the picture, thinking that yet another horizontal line right across the picture is unhelpful.  But there is the ghost of neatly cut grass at the extreme right hand side of the flower border which might break up the horizontal I do have, at least suggesting why we have that edge.  Maybe a little more “Brusho”to take the yellow and purples over the line in places?

Wolfgate Complete
Wolfgate Complete

It doesn’t look very different, but I have straightened the wavy trunk, extended the roots to imply some continuity with the pansies in front, and added more “Brusho” yellow, lemon this time to  suggest distance,to the upper edge of that section.

This is as far as I want to take it in this picture, but I do like the different effect the wax crayon makes.  Contrary to my prejudiced expectations, the crayon has given a delicacy and airiness to the finished picture.  I shall certainly try this combination on media again!

 

The Gates of Chester – second stage

As you see, I have introduced my first washes, taking my colouring from those used in wax crayons.  I like the two textures together, and can see where more of the same will enhance the image.  It is helping me to move away from a strict representation of the scene, something I have been battling with for years.

However, I think the wax crayons are too emphatic, so I need to intensify the washes, and do more crayoning so that the marks don’t look like currants in a bun.

The Wolfgate 02
The Wolfgate 02

The foreground is rather interesting.  If you remember I had stuck down some crumpled tissue paper.  I then sprinkled that area with “Brusho” – how I wish they had thought of a better name – then sprayed with water.  I used only purple and yellow at first as being more appropriate for pansies then added green and brown to suggest foliage and shadow.  There was no variation in tone so that part stood up like a wall.  White gouache was floated over the upper edge penetrating into the garden a little which dulled the colour and made it lie down again.  I need to introduce Viridian into the tree.  It looks strident just careering around among the purples and yellows.

Extra Bridges of Dee

Grosvenor_fb

When I was researching for my book “The Bridges of Dee”, I took lots of photos to use as inspiration but didn’t use all of them by a long way.  So I revisit my album from time to time to find compositions that work.

This is a quick watercolour, about quarter of a hour with minimal drawing.  It’s the opposite bank of the river to the painting in the book, with the Dee out of picture to the right. I like the size of the people in contrast to the height of the arch, and the sweep of the fence takes you right there!  I think the shadows at the top are a bit too strong – maybe a rusty brown rather than purple would have been better allowing the drama of the arch to stand out more. The reds and greens are enjoying each others company as usual.

Sketches

Cross Ostrich
Cross Ostrich

This is one of the things I  enjoy about watercolour.  Just doodling, really, but they express movement and energy in the painted and in the painter!

So, we have a pretty cross ostrich, the penetrating stare, the tightly closed mouth (beak), looking altogether mean.  Such a dramatic face to paint, such a lot said in a small space.

Oranges
Oranges

Then, I have always been enchanted by Hazel Soan’s oranges, so this is my homage to Hazel, very derivative but great fun to do on a wet afternoon to get the painting juices going.  I love the bright orange and the free brush strokes.

In A Hurry
In A Hurry

Now how about these two fellows racing down the railway platform?  Wet-in-wet can work wonderfully well in these circumstances. The paint runs seem to enhance the hurry, everything incomplete suggesting no time to finish.  You can tell it’s a railway platform because of the chap in the back with a peaked cap on!  Little things mean a lot.

Christopher Robin
Christopher Robin

This little lad is wandering down the lanes of yesteryear, the pale tones, the misty background, the bright sunshine all conspiring to make an very Twenty First century young man reprise his Greatgrandad – such simple things creating atmosphere.

Summer flowers
Summer flowers

Flowers – this is more of a study than a sketch – have been a blind spot for me for years.  In all my years of painting I have achieve only two paintings of flowers that satisfied me despite numerous attempts in various media.  Then Hazel Soan rode in to the rescue again!  (I think you can tell I’m a fan of hers!).  She suggested that flowers have a basic shape, saucer, cone, plate, bell, etc., and that form can be expressed three dimensionally.  Paint that form first before you think of petals or stamens and your flowers come alive on the page.  Then you can have the fun of all the detail.  Brilliant!  And, dear reader, it works.   The sea holly had the white sparkles scratched in afterwards, adding a physical 3D effect, and just painting background where the white flowers needed to be defined keeps the whole thing airy.  The vase was painted last of all in a few sweeping strokes.