Category Archives: Water Colour

Japanese Cherry Blossom

There’s a tree outside my window, currently full of blossom. On Sunday I went for a walk in the neighbourhood and saw blossom everywhere. On returning home, I remembered I had a winter tree sketch made a few weeks ago, sitting in my ‘unfinished business’ pile. I mixed up some pinks, whites, and reds, and carefully brought the winter tree into a new season.

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I shared this new Spring tree on Facebook, then put it in my Etsy shop, where it sold about fifteen seconds after I’d listed it. Head spinning stuff! I’ve since listed a short run, limited edition print of 30 which have started to sell too. Maybe it’s just the timeliness of the image, but whatever it is, I’ve not experienced such a strong and fast positive reaction to my work before now. Thank you to everyone who has shared this image online, and given such encouraging feedback. I appreciate your support.

I Thought It Was Supposed To Be Summer?

I think this painting wins the longest title competition, in my current body of work at least. The image is intended to represent the currently underwhelming June weather we are experiencing here in London.

Painted on an A4 sheet of watercolour paper using Cadmium Yellow and Ultramarine Blue paint in varying strengths, and with varying amounts of water on the paper. I used an empty biro tube for the blown effects.

I will leave this piece of art (unframed) in Wallington as part of my ongoing art drop experiment.

Signals : Part Three

I’ve just started experimenting with some new liquid watercolours, made by Winsor and Newton. My intention with these paints, is to use these primary colours to mix and blend other colours, shades and tones.

Winsor and Newton

I’m also experimenting with a more themed sense to my art. I’ve recently started following Anna Laurini and I am fascinated by how distinctive her work is. One of the things I am learning from following her is that there’s so much to explore within what at first glance, might mistakenly appear to be a single idea. My thoughts around the kind of art I want to create have drifted around a lot, seeing Anna’s work is helping me to realise I can explore ideas I come cross in much greater depth and breadth than I previously thought. Less hopping from idea to idea, more exploration of each idea. This will become evident as my work progresses.

Here are the first two pieces of work created with the new paints. I’m fascinated by the range of colour brought forth from just three tubes of paint.

Although there are two works here, together they are titled Signals : Part Three. They are painted onto A4 sized sheets of watercolour paper. One piece has been bought by a friend, and I gifted them the second one. They belong together.

Signature

As you can see, I made a slight modification to my signature to fit the style of these works.

Passing Strangers

I recently ran a creative workshop titled ‘The Art of Wellbeing’ at the Wellcome Collection in London. It was an interesting experiment, made even more so by the fact that the event is promoted only on the day, and whoever turns up, turns up. So there we were, around 20 strangers, gathered together for a creative inquiry. I’ve made some notes and taken some pictures of our work which you can find by clicking on this lovely sketch of the workshop, made by a participant.

Workshop Sketch

After the session – I kept thinking about the idea of passing strangers, and how we had come together, talked and shared openly. I made a few sketches before settling on this one. To me, the image represents an exchange between persons unknown, to us, and to each other.

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This piece of art is sold.

A Sense of Calm

I was out with a group of lovely people yesterday, February 29th 2016. Towards the end of our Leap Day 2016 adventures, we found ourselves in the foyer of The National Theatre. Those who felt like it, made some art. The intention is to give the art away, leaving behind a trace of Leap Day for others to discover. I’ve given some away and so have others, and I have a few more pieces to distribute around London very soon.

In addition to the art we made, I painted an extra piece, reflecting a sense of calm in the way we worked together. My recent river pictures have been very calming to make too, and I expect there is something of that in this painting too.

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This work is now sold.

Learning To Paint – With Matt Forster

This post doesn’t contain any of my art. It is a write up of a watercolour class I attended in London run by the very talented Matt Forster. This is only the second time I’ve featured someone else’s art on here, the first being a guest appearance by Robert Ordever.

Equipment

Matt usually works with just five Winsor and Newton artist quality watercolour paints. Alazarin Crimson, Cadmium Yellow, Cobalt Blue, Cerulean Blue and Ultramarine Blue. He can mix any other colour he needs from these basic colours. The paint is mixed in wine glasses so as to allow sufficient quantity to be made up to finish a piece of work, and a syringe is used to add water to dilute.

Mixing The Paint

Matt uses synthetic brushes, and large sheets of heavy weight paper, 450 gsm. He soaks the paper for at least an hour then sticks it to a thick mdf board using PVA glue and gumstrip before letting it dry for at least 24 hours. He then has a stretched, flat surface ready to paint on. The board with the paper attached then goes onto an old industrial easel – heavy and adjustable. This piece of kit reminded me of the drawing boards we used to use in school and in my first job as a draughtsman.

Tone and Contrast

We started looking at tone and contrast. Matt said that tone beats colour, and a good water colour should work well in black and white (you can check your own work by photographing then editing it on the computer). Matt took a large sheet of dry paper and on the left hand side he applied a blue wash to which he gradually added red, as he came down the paper. On the right side, he took the purple from the end of the previous wash (blue mixed with red) and diluted it as he came down the paper (leaving a small triangle of white paper on the way). On both sides, Matt worked down the page along straight horizontal lines because it’s the simplest, quickest way to create a wash over a whole/half page. He also made sure he moved quickly enough to ensure the paint didn’t dry on the page until the wash was finished. This ensures a smooth change of tone. Once the left hand side had dried, Matt added a darker shade of blue to create a mountain scape on the page. I didn’t photograph the picture before the mountains were added, but the gradation from blue to purple flowed nicely down the page.

Colour Washes

Dry Brush Work

Matt then showed us some dry brush work techniques – useful for adding more detail. He suggested that three things are important when working this way. The pressure applied, the volume of paint and the speed of the brush. A quick movement can leave useful dragged brush strokes. as seen in the lower part of this photograph, and a mix of dabbles and lines reveals a tree.

Dry Brush Work

Some dry brush work was added to both images, each layer a darker tone than the one before. The occasional white highlight is picked out afterwards using a scalpel and tweezers to score and carefully remove the top layer of paper.

Building the Images

Here are two close ups of the finished images.

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Wet on Wet

Next Matt showed us painting onto a wet surface. He took a large stretched sheet of dry paper and applied clean water to it using a syringe and a large brush. Moving really quickly he then added colours and we watched them blend and move through each other on the wet paper. Colours are lighter using this technique as the water on the paper dilutes the paint. You can get a sense of how the colours interact and flow into each other from this close up. Matt left some of the paper towards the top of the image dry, and these dry white areas became sunlight striking the clouds as the picture developed.

Wet on Wet Close Up

Matt worked at pace to finish the background before drying the paint using a hairdryer and carrying on – this time using some dry brush work to add the house and some foreground detail. The drifting, flowing nature of the wet paint on wet paper contrasts wonderfully with the later addition of dryer strokes.

Wet on Wet Landscape

What amazed me was how quickly this big landscape appeared – from start to finish in around fifteen/twenty minutes. I included my pencil case in this photo to give you an indication of the scale of this work.

This was an excellent opportunity to see an artist at work and to learn from him, thanks Matt.

Poppies

These two sketches came about as I practiced with mixing wet paint on wet paper, and wet paint on dry paper. To start, I took a big brush and painted a broad line of water across the top of the page before adding the flower heads. The flower stalks were put on after the paper was dry.

Poppies 1

In this first example I made the top of the page too wet, so that when I added the red/white mixture and the dark spot – things diffused too much. You can really see this on the left and right flower heads. With the two in the middle, I subsequently added a little more detail as the paper dried. I like the effect I got by going back and adding something as the paper dried.

Poppies 2

In this second example – I used less water to start which made it easier to get the softer effect of poppy petals.