This pair of Japanese mugs mark the beginning of another painting series. I took this photograph for Tracey Fletcher King’s Cuppa With Friends project.
That action sparked two watercolour ideas:
– Firstly I decided to have a go at painting them myself,
– and secondly it spawned the idea for my new Precious Artifacts collection.
I have emailed a few friends (and may ask them to nominate a few other) asking them to send me a photograph of one item that is precious to them (not a person or a place – an item) along with a very short description of why they love the item. I really want to know the story behind the image. I will then paint that item (almost certainly in watercolour) and it will go into the collection. The style of painting may vary as will the size. All of these factors will be guided by the photograph and the item itself.
So if you’d like to join in, please feel free to email me a photograph of your item and it’s story. I’ve got a few to do already.
Now I need to give you the story of the mugs in the watercolour.
These mugs were bought for me on a trip to Japan. I saw them and fell in love with just about everything about them. They have no handle – just a dent for the thumb which you can see on the right hand side of the blue mug. Each one is a slightly different shape and they feel fantastic to hold. There are iridescent coloured squares placed under the clear glaze so that they wrap around the mug, and there’s a wonderful black granulation effect from oxidisation during the firing process.
I am absolutely mad about the aesthetics of these mugs. The Asian melding of utility and style works perfectly. And they remind me of one of the best journeys I’ve ever taken. Everything about that trip was just right.
The next Perfect Artifacts watercolour will be done very soon. I’ve got two items in the pipeline.
This loose watercolour painting was a wonderfully liberating loose exploration of colour. Once the composition was planned and sketched in, the palette was selected for it’s vibrance.
The foreground provides a lush fresh green canvas for the summer hogweed heads and daisies. Then the viewer is led up the footpaths into the blue distance to the farm buildings on the hill above. And beyond the farm banks of trees fade off into the distance.
Watercolour painting – the things I love
– Paint textures. Look at how the pigments have created wonderful shapes and grassy textures in the foreground of this painting.
– Soft focus – the blues in the farm buildings, combined with their imprecise edges give a sense of hazy distance
– Tonal values – the pathways that lead the eye up to the farm buildings take the viewer on a journey into the heart of the scene.
The second of my watercolour sky studies. I was aiming for a very different mood in this painting. The sky study in blue has a more brooding stormy atmosphere. This painting still has storm clouds, but the pink in the sky and the more vibrant colours in the landscape element give it a warmer, less threatening feel. I’ve included more of the land element in this work which also slightly diminishes the scale of the overall image.
These watercolour landscapes were conceived two years ago on a road trip to the Umbria Jazz Festival. We drove across France and through Switzerland on our way down. One overnight stop was in a ski resort which was open for summer activities. High in the mountains we came across a lake – with the most spectacular blue water I have ever seen.
Getting to the lake from the village involved a steep walk through down through the thick forest. For much of the walk you can look down on the lake from a distance, watching sail boats and pedal boats and people relaxing around the water.
Being high in the alps, the beaches that surround the water aren’t traditional white sand. They’re dark grey – almost like volcanic sand.
Watercolour Landscapes available at Running With Brushes
Another small watercolour for Running With Brushes (I will post some larger pictures soon, I promise. I’m just heading for a milestone and then I’ll take a break from these for a while).
In this painting, I wanted to capture the feeling of being high up on a clifftop next to a copse of trees, looking down on a deserted beach. In my first draft of this painting, there were trees on both sides framing the beach below, creating a window the viewer was looking through. But that composition just didn’t really work – it was too symmetrical (and a little boring). For me this version evokes a sense of warmth with the red and yellow flowers in the foreground meadow and peace contributed by the deserted beach below.
The challenges of painting a small watercolour:
– There’s a tendency to try and cram too much information into a painting – one key message is enough.
– I sometimes have to remind myself that ‘simple is good’ so that I don’t overcomplicate a painting
– Detail isn’t always required. The eye interprets innuendo very well.
Watercolour sky studies can be enormously satisfying to paint. One of the best things about painting in watercolour is the element of happy accident – of the pigments creating their own unexpected effects. Perfect for painting loose skies.
Wonderful dramatic skies can be created using a combination of wet underpainting, with judiciously placed dry brushwork in a second layer once the first layer is properly dry.