Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Watercolour Wreck

watercolour 18.5x11cm

With the watercolour stuff still set out on the worktop, it was just a matter of time before I had go at seeing how the medium could tackle a tank wreck.

I wanted to paint it in complete transparency - where highlights needed to be reintroduced they had to be washed out, rather than slipped in with gouache or acrylic. Luckily I didn’t have to correct that much, and a bit of washing out helped in getting that bright horizon, where over-painting in opaque would have drawn undue attention to itself. I think that the general idea of opposite qualities (air/solid, soft/hard, gentle/harsh etc) still comes across – so I count this little exercise as a success.

(And so fast…)

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Two Watercolours

watercolour 28x17cm

watercolour 19x12cm

I am waiting for two very, very oily pieces to dry, so I thought I’d get some watercolour practice in. I’m always roaming through Google Streetview looking for useful references, and there are a few landscapes I’ve been meaning to explore further. These two weren’t painted from prints or photos, but directly from the computer screen.

The autumn view was done first. It’s in Northern France, about 1.16km along Rue Houvin, heading southwest from Neuvillette to Occoches. It’s a lovely little wooded valley and there are some very interesting looking white cattle further along. I find the red trees and horizontal light very dramatic, and I love the rolling forms of this whole area. It’s quite similar to parts of southern England - but not as built-up, and the scale of everything is much smaller.

I don’t think it’s a bad piece, but the marks are a bit clumsy and some of the shadow a little too harsh. If I were to do it again I’d leave out the single tree on the right; it blocks the interesting stuff further away, weakens the negative space, and is just a bit too obvious and twee.

The other watercolour, with wheat and woods, is in Denmark. It’s postcard-sized, and, realising the cloddiness of the other one, I tried to be more concise and accurate. The paper wasn’t very absorbent, and the hard edges have helped in describing the texture of the foliage – a happy accident I’m quite pleased with.

The location is by Bronderslevvej, the road heading southwest from Frederikshavn. The land there is all rolling golden wheat fields and dark clumps of trees, and is dotted with ancient burial mounds straight out of Johan Thomas Lundbye (nice clouds, Mr Lundbye).

I think that recently I’ve maybe got a bit bogged down with the bigger paintings. Oil paint is lovely, lovely stuff, but sometimes slogging away at the same idea for weeks on end can get a bit monotonous and unrewarding. Dogged persistence is an overrated attribute and I think a stimulating change of media is quite healthy, and overdue.

Watercolour is immediate and mercurial, and it’s quite satisfying to see a row of finished wee paintings cut and dried before teatime…