Cascade Watercolour, power and energy Cascade Watercolour
Cascade: Watercolour and acrylic medium 28 x 38 cm

Viewed from the bottom of the waterfall, the water is the star in this painting. Water is increasingly a feature in my work. I love its dynamic nature and its many facets: in this painting, the power and energy of the falling water as it crashes onto the rocks.

I treated sections of the painting differently to achieve the effects of energy in the water, and solidity in the rock face. The under-wash of acrylic medium in blocky shapes of the rocks was allowed to dry and treated as an adapted support for the image. Conversely, the acrylic medium was included at the wet stage for the cascading watercolour waterfall. This allowed the mediums to mingle and interact on the paper with breaks showing the rock face behind the cascade.

The Cascade watercolour has been added to my Artfinder page.

Cascade watercolour

Paper: 640gsm Arches
Medium: watercolour with some acrylic medium.



Painting atmospheric skies

For many artists there’s something quite seductive about a big, wide sky filled with clouds.  Painting atmospheric skies is something that calls us.Painting atmospheric skies

We all love a clear blue summer sky, but visually, they’re just not as interesting as one that’s filled with clouds. They lack something special – big moody atmosphere!

Painting atmospheric skies on two continents

The sunsets over Istanbul are spectacular. Its the combination of the sky line and the water seem to work perfectly together to create that atmospheric sky.  When in Istanbul, I can recommend a ferry ride across the Bosphorus at the end of the day. If you judge your time just right, you get to see the perfect harmony – and that’s what makes an artist want to get painting atmospheric skies.

Paintings atmospheric skies 2 And then there’s a sunrise sky in the United States. This painting is derived from a photograph sent to me by an athletic friend who noticed the beauty of the water and sky during his morning run in Wilmington.  The first attempt to capture the serenity of the scene was in pure watercolour. This first small Wilmington painting and the view from the Bosphorus image were both done for RunningWithBrushes

Painting atmospheric skies  - morning run

The mixed media version of the image took longer – it’s had a number of laters applied to get the right textures.  Its darker, and moodier, and it certainly has atmosphere. There’s a sort of ‘noir’ feeling about the final image. And despite being derived from the same photograph, they have very different feelings. Same water. Same sky. Different colours. Different textures. Very different mood.

Off Belle Ile (24 of 30)

Watercolour painting. Off Belle Ile (RWB0058). Artist: Vandy Massey
Off Belle Ile (RWB0058). Artist: Vandy Massey

A sailing holiday in the Bay of Biscay a couple of years ago took us island hopping from Hoedic to Belle Ile and back to the mainland. Sitting in the boat while we sailed gently between marinas, I noticed the depth of colour of the sea. Before then I had never appreciated the dark blue of deep water when you’re close to it – or in our case, sailing across it.

This solitary light house in miid channel contrasted starkly with the deep blue of the surrounding water. It kinda had to be painted. When I first painted it, I tried to capture the variation in choppiness of the water as it receded into the distance. Painting sea water well is notoriously difficult and that part of the painting had to go.

This is the 24th of 30 Paintings in 30 Days – even thought it’s being published on the final day of the month.

Off Belle Ile is available on the Running With Brushes website.





And then I did a proper grown up painting on Day 2 of the workshop.

Flow (acrylic painting 40 x 50cm)
Flow (acrylic 40 x 50cm)

I’m rather pleased with the way this turned out. The planning and execution all went the way it was meant to.
Acrylics are definitely firmly on the agenda.

Why to workshop

Landscape workshop WIP
Landscape workshop WIP

Every time I sign up for a painting workshop I go through a phase of being excited about learning new aspects of watercolour (generally). On the day, the tutor seems to create magical images on the paper with just a few sweeps of the brush and it all looks so easy – until I pick up my brush to start working on the assigned image. That’s when I reach the next phase of emotion – frustration with the fact that the work on my page isn’t capturing the scene that way it should.  I have the urge to hide my somewhat sad efforts under my pile of paper.

Then I reach the third stage – the one where other artists in the workshop are also bemoaning the shortcomings of their efforts. And I remember why we’re all here.  We’re here to learn. It’s all about developing as an artist. Every artist works slightly differently. They use different paints, different brushes and different papers. Over the years, they have developed techniques that work for them – their own style of working. And therein lies the value of workshops.

Workshops often feel really uncomfortable because we’re in a group, painting a scene we might not have chosen, in a style that is new to us, trying to master brushstrokes and elements of composition we’ve not done before, with a limited amount of time. But that’s all part of stretching ourselves – and that’s often where the fun lies in painting.

In an ideal world, we’d all have a couple of days to try, and try again. Repetition is the key to mastery.  That’s not always possible. So we bring home practice pieces and a work-in-progress to remind us. Here’s my effort from today’s Society of East Anglian Watercolourists landscape workshop with Roger Jones.

Roger gave us an enormous amount of information during the day. His demonstrations were inspiring and it was great to have the time to ask him questions about the way he works.  The paper he gave us all to use (Bockingford 200lb or Arches 200lb) was lovely to work on. It’s thicker than the paper I’m used to and I’ll definitely scale up to a heavier paper when I buy my next batch.

My thoughts on my work for the day: I think I’ll paint this again to practice the techniques we learned. This is an unfinished piece which doesn’t have any of the finishing touches I would normally put into a painting.  But its a great reminder of the day’s lessons.

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