Society of East Anglian Watercolourists

East Anglian Watercolourists

The art event in my August calendar is the summer exhibition of the Society of East Anglian Watercolourists.

It’s been a while since I’ve been in blogging mode.  July was a busy month with more than a few highlights:

We went off to Umbria for the annual Jazz Festival in Perugia. My head is filled with images of musicians, great buildings, and fantastic unspoiled scenery. There’s loads of painting subject material in that part of the world. Once I’ve sorted through my photos, I’ll have enough for a series. I’ve not managed to get back into the studio since I got back, but I will be picking up my brushes again soon.

I took part in Cambridge Open Studios for the first time this year. Our home was open to visitors on the first and last weekends of the month. Over the course of these two weekends I had 83 visitors, most of whom hadn’t seen my work before. I’ve taken part in Saffron Walden Open Studios for the past two years, which was a good way to get into the Open Studios groove. Being located half way between Saffron Walden and Cambridge presents some challenges for visitors at either of these events: we are in the outer regions from either direction.

The Society of East Anglian Watercolourists Summer Exhibition

This is the next event I’ll be taking part in. I’ll have six paintings on show at this event next week. Unfortunately, I’m not likely to be able to attend the preview evening, as I’m due to have a little operation two days beforehand.  Marc is (yet again) being wonderfully supportive and will deliver my paintings for me so that I can take part.

If you’re in the area and would like to attend the preview of this event, please let me know. The standard of work from these East Anglian Watercolourists is extremely high and it’s always a good exhibition.

 

 

South West Rocks inspires Spray on the Rocks

Spray on the Rocks (watercolour inspired by South West Rocks)
Spray on the Rocks (watercolour 27 x 39cm)

South West Rocks was the first stop on our road trip up the east coast of Australia a few years ago. We had to drive up the coast from Sydney to Byron Bay within 24 hours of doing the long haul flight from England. The plan was to do the 12 hour drive to meet up with Nic who was coming down the coast from Cairns. South West Rocks was roughly half way along the drive so chose this small coastal town as our overnight rest stop.

South West Rocks is situated at the mouth of the Macleay river and the estuary is a haven for waterbirds.  The colours were crisp and clear on this perfect day we spent there.

Rocks in South West Rocks

Whenever I’ve looked through my Marc’s photographs this image of the rocks near the beach have captivated me. I love the rich colours and striations. There’s aren’t too many places where you can stand below the trees and see them at this angle at the top of the rise. This outcrop was only about three metres high, but looks a fair amount higher.

South West Rocks painting inspiration

Spray on the Rocks uses the colours of the stones in South West Rocks. The combination of the clear blue sky, and the red tones in the rock race give the painting a feeling of summer heat. The waterfall is artistic licence – and is included to create a cool contrast to the warm areas of the painting. The misty foreground allows the viewer to see the rockface through the spray bringing the cooler feeling of the water closer to the forefront of the painting.

The South West Rocks have formed a cliff face in the painting, increasing the height so give a greater sense of distance to the trees at the top of the escarpment.

The original Spray on the Rocks painting will be on show at Saffron Walden Open Studios and a limited edition of fine art prints are available.

Precious Artifacts Paintings : Doug’s Watch

Artifacts paintings: Doug's Watch (watercolour 10 x 10 cm)
Doug’s Watch (watercolour 10 x 10 cm)

When I put out an email to a few friends about the Precious Artifacts paintings series, Doug Shaw was the first to respond.

Doug chose a photo of a watch which had belonged to his father and then had a history of being unknown, discovered, then lost.  Doug has a great blog. I’ve followed his writing for some time and he always hits the mark on people and connections.

Read the story of the Doug’s Lost and Found watch in his words – he says it so much better than I can. Clue: The place name on the watch face is significant.

Precious Artifacts Paintings

If you’d like to be part of this, please email me a photograph of your Precious Artifact and a snippet about why you love it.

Japanese Mugs in Watercolour

Japanese Mugs in watercolour
Japanese Mugs  (watercolour 12.5 cm x 12.5 cm)

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.

 

Watercolour painting: Hogweed and Daisies

watercolour painting.  Hogweed and Daisies
Hogweed and Daisies (watercolour)

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.

 

Landscape Painting: Misty Forest Walk

Landscape painting. Misty Forest Walk (watercolour 10 x 15)
Misty Forest Walk (watercolour 10 x 15)

This little landscape painting is a significant milestone for me. It is my 100th painting for Running With Brushes. Yes! That feels like a big mountain – and I climbed it.

This landscape painting  is a painting of two journeys.

It is a milestone on the way to the 1000 paintings goal, and there’s a journey in the painting itself as well. The gap in the fence creates a space for the viewer to step though, leaving the every-day grassy field to walk through the mist and up the pathway that leads over the hill – to who knows where.

I love putting pathways to somewhere unknown in my paintings, just to provide little glimpses of the possibilities that lie beyond. That’s the beauty of landscape painting.

 

Watercolour Sky Study – Pink

Watercolour Sky Study: Pink (watercolour 13 x 17 cm)
Sky Study: Pink (watercolour 13 x 17 cm)

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.

To compare the watercolour sky studies:

Here is the link to the study in blue.

I’d love to hear what mood you think each captures for you.

Watercolour Landscapes: Alpine Lake

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.

Watercolour landscapes. Alpine Lake (watercolour 10 x 15 cm)
Alpine Lake (watercolour 10 x 15 cm)

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.

Watercolour landscapes. Ice Blue Water (watercolour 10 x 15)
Ice Blue Water (watercolour 10 x 15)

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

– Alpine Lake

– Ice Blue Water

– Waiting for the Cows to Come Home

 

Small watercolour: Birds on the Beach

Small watercolour. Birds on the Beach (10 x 15cm)
Birds on the Beach (watercolour 10 x 15cm)

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 Study – Blue

Watercolour Sky Study - Blue. (12 x 17 cm)
Sky Study – Blue. (watercolour 12 x 17cm)

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.

Painting Watercolour Sky:

– Keep it loose

– There’s more than one way to paint skies.

– Here are some other examples of different styles of  sky painting