Trees in Japan – A rescue

Trees in Japan 1 (watercolour WIP)
Trees in Japan 1 (watercolour WIP)

When I came back from Japan I had three very similar paintings in progress. One of them, Facing East,  is completed and has a serene feeling of vast space. This is the second one which stalled half way because of my pre-Christmas workload. I’ve come back to it once or twice since and added a bit of texture but wasn’t at all happy with it. It felt unbalanced and rather boring.

I keep a mirror in my studio as it can be a really useful way of getting a fresh look at a painting that’s stuck, or of checking one to see if it’s really done. Looking at this one in the mirror, I could see just how unbalanced the tonal values were, and how unrelenting the foreground.

Being in a fairly rash mood – and also being a little bit tired of working on this painting, I just let rip on it. (Apologies for the quality of the photos. I was working with my iPhone so the photos are a bit ‘quick and dirty’)

Trees in Japan 2 (watercolour WIP)
Trees in Japan 2 (watercolour WIP)

First I needed a dark in the sky to provide some balance. So I rewet the sky, dropped a big dark splodge of Indigo into the top right corner and tilted the paper 90 degrees to let the pigment fan out naturally.

Finally I got going with some bleach, water and a toothbrush. Splatters flew, and after a few sessions of flinging paint and chemicals around (all carefully directed I hasten to add) – I ended up with something I think is quite interesting.

Trees in Japan (watercolour 380 x 480)
Trees in Japan (watercolour 380 x 480)

At least it’s not boring.

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8 thoughts on “Trees in Japan – A rescue

  1. Wow Vandy, impressive work you have done here. I actually equally like the first and last image and think the final piece is a very well executed balance of dramatic and serene. Love the colors and interesting technique you have used here.

    1. I’m so pleased you like it, Sophia. You’ve absolutely hit the nail on the head with the idea of balancing mood as well as tones. I love the business of the foreground set against the very quiet distance in this painting. It’s exactly what I was going for.

    1. Hi Lisa. Yes, this one will go on exhibition. I am quite pleased with the way it turned out. Thanks for your comment.

  2. I totally agree; very impressive! The textures you’ve created in the foreground are powerful and really attractive.

    I would never have thought of using bleach but it’s worked briliantly … does it leave a smell at all?

    1. Thank you Theresa. The bleach is an idea I’ve been playing with for a while. Thought it was time to have a go. 🙂

  3. How beautiful!!! I love this kind of texture. But aren’t you worried about bleach on your paper – it eating through, causing harm, etc.? It would be a shame with a painting this goregous. And maybe it doesn’t make a difference because it’s just a few splatters?

    1. Hi Rhonda,

      That is always a risk, but bleach is used in calligraphy sometimes and my understanding from people who have used it is that they’ve not had any problems.

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