Stockbridge Main Street Sketch

There is a famous Norman Rockwell painting of Main Street in Stockbridge and, as the buildings look very similar today, the temptation was too much.    This is only part of the whole panorama that he did but sketchbooks are only so wide.

The original sketch.

Laid out on the floor – the paper was as unforgiving as usual.

And a screenshot of a print of his full painting.

3 Years of Painting

So here we have 3 years worth of painting.   I was light on the bloggage last year with only 65 posts compared to over a hundred each for 2012/2013 but I wasn’t taking the painting any less seriously.   If anything I was trying more things and failing more.   I spent at least a month trying on Joseph Zbuvic’s style for size with disastrous results.   This was one of the less awful ones I could bear to post :

(See original post

Another new thing was regular watercolor life classes.  These were originally so frustrating that I almost gave up but I kept on and occasionally something good emerges.  I’d like to say that my people drawing skills have benefitted but I’m not so sure.
For instance this is a recent one (from a bad session)

Whereas this was 6 months earlier and (in my opinion) vastly better :

One thing people go on about is style.  I’ve never really bothered about this and have blithely copied from other people left right and center (Charles Reid and John Lovett especially with a dash of Joseph Zbukvic and John Yardley).    I blatantly copy from people whose work I really love in the hope that I’ll get some understanding of what it is I really love about it.  The theory is that once I know that I can transfer it into my own painting.  In practice it’s not so clear cut and any gain in understanding is buried in the subconscious.   One thing I know is that this

or this

wouldn’t have been possible a year ago.     There’s obviously a lot of Charles Reid influence in there but it’s slowly getting to be something that’s mine.

Bird of the week – the plum-headed parakeet

I’m now bird-master for the facebook page ‘Paint Colorful Birds for Fun’  and so I now have to paint a bird a week.    This week was a brightly colored chappie and he was definitely fun to paint.
Last week’s capped heron was a disaster and no fun at all :

30 in 30 – the post-mortem

My favorite of the 30

Have I mentioned that I really enjoyed the 30 in 30?   I mean – I really enjoyed it.  I was waking up at 4 in the morning to post my picture of the day.   I was finding myself with a paintbrush in my hand at 6am ready to dash off a painting before going to work.    And I liked it!

My last set of meanderings on this was at the 15 day mark.  At that point it was still a novelty to have to get the brushes out every day.   The final 2 weeks flew by and I barely registered that I was painting every day.  It was just something I did like flossing or filling the dishwasher.  But more fun obviously.   These are some random thoughts about the whole thing.

This is stating the obvious but the more you paint the more efficient you become at all the little steps necessary.  Little steps that, when painting at more distant intervals,  are each a barrier to actually, you know,  painting.    Things like

   ‘Where is my artist’s tape?’
   ‘Oh damn – I have to rummage in the cupboard for a new tube of cerulean’
   ‘What kind of paper shall I use?’
   ‘How do I draw again?’
   ‘What size of paper shall I use?
   ‘Eeeek – how the hell do I start this painting?’

Keeping things simple – same paper,  same size,  keep the paint pans full,  keep your favorite drawing pencil handy – all these things help you actually get going on a painting.

This isn’t to say there was no thought involved in the painting.   Each painting fed into the next and I approached each one with a more carefully thought out plan than I usually do.   For instance I struggled with street scenes and the
first one

was bad.   I then went back and looked at some John Yardley paintings and tried to make some changes.   This actually made things

although at the time I was reasonably happy.    I reconsidered again and finally made some

.   This all happened over 2 or 3 days as opposed to the several months it would have taken previously. 

I have an extensive collection of painting DVD’s and I marvel at how someone like Alvaro Castagnet uses the brush like an extension of his arm.   By the very end (the last tiger painting) I was starting (starting note) to feel that way.

I didn’t get bored!  This was my greatest fear as my plan is to work less and paint more at some point in the future.  Only once did I rush to finish a painting (paint and brushes – blergh) and even then the painting was fine.

Time to experiment.   If it all goes wrong there’s only 24 hours before you’re doing a new one.


I haven’t painted a bird in a long while and this week’s ‘Paint Colorful Birds for Fun’ facebook bird is the gannet.   Not so colorful as it turns out but this photo caught my eye.  (Fabriano Artistico/140lb cold pressed/12×16)

The drawing.

I started on the white feathers in shadow as I wanted to get them right.  I had to put in some sky to make sure I wasn’t going too dark with them.

 Getting there – I muddied the white feathers a bit unfortunately but it was still going pretty well.

 The finish – I was toying with continuing the blue down to the bottom part of the picture too but decided against it so the tail feathers would stand out.  The modeling on the head came out well.  The shadows are very subtle on here and it could have gone horribly wrong.

Sketchbook Lighthouse

So this was done very quickly and I think I may be making headway in the sketchbook.  The lighthouse came out really well – look at that wonderful shadow.  The rest is ok – I’m dealing with the paper by just accepting what it will do and not trying to get round it.   You put the paint on and basically just leave it – messing with it really doesn’t work.