Bit of a departure in subject matter here but I’ve learned you just have to go with your gut on these things. Very enjoyable and a great combination of subjects.
Now this one I started last night and walked away half way through in disgust. I fully intended to put this in the ‘burn’ pile this morning. Looking at it afresh, however, I thought maybe there’s something worth rescuing. by the time I’d put in the boats I think it has redeemed itself
We went to Manchester-by-the-Sea last week and strolled down to singing beach. The sun was strong and, post labor day, only a few people were on the beach. Was almost perfect and deserved a painting. Annoyingly I got too involved with the foreground and overdid it. But it definitely captures the day.
Rather a lacklustre performance today. A very tricky photo and I got bogged down with too many greens.
The photo :
And Mr Lovett's version.
I rushed at this one somewhat and could definitely have benefitted from an initial value study.
Next John Lovett exercise. A little lethargic with this one for some reason but my lack of interest managed to result in something pretty loose.
The original photo:
And Mr Lovett's version from the end of the book:
Very nice. Simultaneously simpler and yet more detailed than mine.
I'm moving on through John Lovett's second watercolor book and now we're onto exercises for the reader! He gives a set of photos at the end of each chapter and we have to go away and paint them using the techniques we've learned. Here's the first photo :
Not very inspiring but let's see what we can do. First a sketch:
Seems like a good plan to me. Keep all the interest across the middle band, plain sky and distant mountains, and nice and loose in the foreground. Pretty much like we did yesterday but this time we're on our own for the details.
Ok off we go :
Amazingly I managed to screw up the sky again the first time round so I went back with a different brush and evened out the wash somewhat. Distant mountains in with a little more color variation than yesterday. So far so good.
Now the foreground.
I think we're still all right here. Making good use of my trusty 1/2" bristle brush and keeping some variation in the washes but not making it too dark.
Now the scary bit - trees!
The middle distance trees are pretty simple and the darks and contrast kept for the middle center of interest trees. Still happy.
Now for gussying up the center of interest and adding in some detail to finish it off.
Phew! Not too bad at all. Didn't overdo the detail which turned out to be a good thing and added in a few splashes of red in the middle panel. The final part was to put clear water on the river piece and drop in some color for reflections. It all came together well in the end.
Now at the end of the book Mr Lovett shows us his take on the pictures (I didn't peek honest). Here's his version :
Ooooh! Now his version bears even less resemblance to the photo than mine and he's obviously got a lot more contrast and simplified the shapes more. Maybe tomorrow I'll risk some glazing on each side on my version to see what happens.
I was rooting around on the bookshelf this morning and came across one of my favorite watercolor books: John Lovett's Textures, Techniques and Special Effects for Watercolor.
Now I think the title is a bit misleading as it's a first rate instruction book for watercolor full stop. Never mind the special effects. As i was feeling a little jaded I thought I'd start at the beginning and go straight through the book doing all the exercises. It'll keep me in practice but without troubling the brain cells too much. And frankly it's too hot for the brain cells to do anything anyway.
First up - landscapes. Start with a loose drawing :
No problem here. Trying to keep the shapes interesting and uneven without sacrificing what the subject it.
Next the sky wash :
Yeah. This was meant to be an even wash over the whole sky and I screwed this up royally. I should have my watercolorist badge stripped from me for this. But never mind. Onwards.
Light washes over the foreground to indicate some foliage and a little detail around the road (or is it a river?). Remembered to keep things pretty light and used my 1/2" bristle brush to keep the edges scruffy. Pretty happy so far.
Distant hills in a slightly greyed purple. Nothing fancy here and it'll be mostly covered by trees anyway.
Now the trees. It's amazing how hard I have to try to keep the trees uneven. It's almost as if the brush has a will of its own and physically resists me. I'm also building up the foreground a little here - again with the 1/2" bristle brush.
We're actually almost there now. Amazing how quickly things come together. A little shadow detail on the houses followed by some dark doors and windows. The foreground has yet another layer of detail. This time some red for interest and some dark lines for fences/grass.
The only remaining thing was to *very* delicately put in some white lines for branches in the trees. So easy to ruin everything here with some clumsy marks so less is more.
I'm liking the foreground very much. Feels good.
I keep coming back to this subject. Which is strange as I've never been there. This time I tried a mistier approach and, although not perfect, definitely has something.
I haven’t posted for a while but I have been painting. However, everything I’ve tried up until today has been terrible. Not pleased with anything at all. In fact last night, after stopping painting at 8.30pm, I was wondering whether I’d completely forgotten how to paint entirely. Here is some evidence :
I’ve wanted to do another version of Lake Bled for a while. This should have been a walk in the park but oh dear. Not quite what I’d intended at all. Very dreary and dull.
Ok let’s regroup - go back to the sketchbook and see if a smaller format helps at all.
Hmm no it didn’t. Although now I look back on this it’s not *too* bad. How about another?
Nope. Not this one either. I thought a simpler scene would help but obviously not. I quite like the sky though.
Ok back to a larger format with the same scene.
Arrrrgh! Look at all that green! All that overworking! What is wrong with me? Sigh.
So what to do. I wondered whether the composition was hindering me. A quick browse through Pixabay threw up a few much better pictures. I also went back to the master Charles Reid, watched a couple of his videos and took some notes.
Ok - so my plan was this :
- More white paper. You don’t have to cover everything. You’re not painting a room
- Keep things lighter in value. Except where it matters and then really have some juicy darks.
- Vary the color. Drop in pigment into wet paper.
- Keep an eye on those negative shapes.
And you know I think it worked. A little different for me but I’m happier than I’ve been in a long while.
Phew! I live to fight another day.