Wearable watercolours were the subject of my June post about a secret project I was working on. Six months in the making, the final reveal happened on Christmas Day.
As with many such ideas, there were a few iterations along the way. The project started with a conversation about Christopher’s wedding. We were playing with the idea of creating a design and printing the fabric for the usher’s waistcoats or cravats. A friend, Cong, owns Textiler a business that does the printing part of it, and I was going to paint the image.
Ultimately, the decision about wedding outfits for the ushers was that a plain colour would be more appropriate. But by then, the project had grown and Christmas gifts were being planned.
Preparing for wearable watercolours
Four paintings were done to suit their particular recipients
Citadels, forests, mountains and misty lakes for the Lord of the Rings enthusiast (with his Elvish name incorporated into the design).
Quill pens to make her words fly for the budding journalist and already-successful blogger
Soaring flocks of birds reflect a love of exotic animals and the drive to fly high for the veterinary student in the family.
The wild abandonment of paint at speed for the artist who can’t resist the excitement of spontaneous little painterly masterpieces within the world inside a watercolour painting. Her favourite colour is indigo so it featured loudly in this celebration of paint.
The final results
On Christmas morning, every painting was accompanied by its lengths of fabric, all of which were as vibrant the originals. Now the next challenge begins. Four people have to decide what to make of their wearable watercolours. A waistcoat will almost definitely be in the future for one of them. A dress and a summer jacket have been under consideration for two of the others. I can’t wait to see the final results.
I’ve written (probably quite often) about my block when it comes to painting people. It extends to just about all living things but I did manage to start breaking it down during the past year by painting a few animals. There was the frog, the lizard, and finally a rooster.
Then I was asked to painting a portrait via Running With Brushes for someone who wanted it as a Christmas gift for their partner. She knew portraits weren’t my forte, but was brave enough to let me have a go anyway. I had a couple of attempts but eventually got to a painting that captured the little girl’s likeness. It was a real breakthrough moment for me and it has made me want to do more.
Emboldened by my ability to paint an actual face, I went on and painted a whole person!
I really wanted to capture the dynamic energy of the sport in this painting. The approach I took with painting a figure was a little different to my usual way of working. As a general rule, we’re told to think about our work as just being blocks of colour. That way, once you’ve got the main masses of colour right in terms of their tonal values, you know you’ve got the most important element right. In this case, I felt it was important to get the structure of the body right. I needed to visualise the angles of the arms and particularly, the legs, before I could start laying down the colour.
This one is a gift for someone who loves to ski. I really hope he think’s I’ve captured the essence of the sport. Now that I’ve broken the barrier, who knows what till come next? I quite like the challenge of capturing movement so that may be my theme for a while.
In our house, when we the boys were young, we had early wake up calls every Christmas morning so that present unwrapping could start as soon as possible. These days, we have the luxury of a late start and an even later lunch since the present sessions can be done at a less urgent pace now. But for those who still have an early start on Christmas morning, here’s the Advent give away cockerel who is bound to crow at daybreak.
Advent Day Artist Day 24
Today’s advent artist is Marc Massey. Marc’s photographs have always provided great reference material. He’s going to be running photography workshops at The Old School Studio in the new year. On top of all that, Marc does all the mounting of the Running With Brushes paintings and my paintings. We’ve passed the 300 painting mark and every single one of them has been mounted and packaged by Marc.
Today’s advent give away painting is one that had to be painted at some stage in the series. The classic Christmas wreath on the front door is a welcome for friends and family. With only one more day until the Christmas turkey gets cooked, we’re all getting ready for the knock on the front door.
Advent Artist Day 23:
Australian watercolour artist, Anita Bentley is today’s advent artist. Her paintings capture the colour and clarity of light of Australia. Anita also has a Facebook page where she shares her art.
Not turned into jelly yet, but when they are, the meal will be delicious. The glorious colour and translucence of red currants makes them great subjects for watercolour. This is the Advent 22 give away.
Advent Artist Day 22:
Today’s Advent artist is Cambridge ceramicist, Katharina Klug. Her work is characterised by beautifully simple form and colour. She shares images and thoughts about her work on her Facebook page.
There’s a fascinating interview with Katharina here:
One of my favourite aspects of watercolour is the way the paint creates wonderful surprises. I think this is probably one of the greatest thrills of working in watercolour for most artists. This little fir tree is a perfect example – painted with only two colours. The first layer of paint in Daniel Smith Green Gold was applied reasonably dry so that the dry brushstrokes created the branch structure. Then a second layer of paint (Pthalo Turquoise – also Daniel Smith) was applied again using dry brushstroke. The final step was the risk and the thrill. Spraying water from a reasonable height softened the turquoise and filled out the tree. This is today’s Advent give away.
Advent Artists Day 19:
David Poxon is my advent artist for today. I first encountered David’s work at the Royal Watercolour Society’s annual exhibition at The Mall Galleries a couple of years ago. David’s painting of a barn door caught my attention and I started following his extraordinary work. David paints machinery and parts of buildings which have been abandoned by people and are showing a degree of decay. His realism is amazing and his paintings so evocative that I sometimes think I can smell the rust or the rotting wood.
Recently, David built a studio in which he will run a series of workshops starting next year. For more information about David’s workshops, you can drop him an email.
Hellebores (Christmas Rose) are found across Europe. One of the legends around them says that it emerged in the snow from the tears of a young girl who had no gift to give the baby Jesus in Bethlehem – hence their common name. This is today’s advent give away.
Advent Artist Day 20
Today’s Advent Artist is Val. My first forays into painting were a result of Val’s inspiration and enthusiasm. She only started painting quite late in life. Val loved her painting, joined in with other artists in the area, and created beautiful delicate watercolours.
Val’s funeral is today and I want to remember her joyfully for her lovely work as well as for her laughter and her go-ahead attitude. This is an opportunity to celebrate her love of art and in particular, painting.
Today’s Advent give away was another one that made me smile. This feels like one of those moment in every family when someone decides to have a little fun at the expense of a sibling.
Advent Artist Day 19
Cristina Dalla Valentina paints delicate, luminous watercolours of woodlands and plants. Her paintings have an ethereal quality that invites the viewer to explore her fantasy world. Cristina also has a Facebook page you could follow.
I’m starting to find it challenging to find mew ideas for paintings – and I have seven more days to go. As these paintings are all being given away I’m looking for subjects that aren’t so Christmassy that they couldn’t be enjoyed all year round. This was a suggestion from Helen when we were discussing the give away series on Sunday. I decided to have a bit of fun with it.
Advent Artist Day 18:
My Advent Artist today is Wendy Griffin. I met Wendy through a photo diary website where I was posting photographs of my paintings. I’ve got to see more of her work as she’s developed her Facebook page and it is extraordinary. Wendy is based in Guernsey so her seascapes are wonderful and evocative.
This one is a bit of fun. I saw a picture of choir boys ice skating and my initial thought was that their cassocks made wonderful shapes as they moved. You can almost see the speed of the air blowing through them as they skate. Then, for some reason, the image of a bunch of cardinals skating popped into my head. Made me laugh – and had to be painted. This is today’s Advent give away.
Advent Artist Day 17:
Another photographer today: Lukas Renlund. I love his Steal my Photograph project. It’s kinda like the advent give away – but a lot more hard work by the look of it. Check it out – and have a look at his Facebook page while you’re at it.