Tuesday, December 16, 2014

A Farm in Snow

"A Farm in Snow" - watercolour - 16 x 26 cm

Winter weather has properly established itself now, with cold winds and snow showers. Watercolour washes are taking a long time to dry, so I have changed to a more direct method of painting. This involves putting down colour at full strength first time, instead of building the painting in layers. Areas of similar tone are allowed to fuse softly at the edges. Of the two methods, 'Direct' and 'Controlled Wash', I think I prefer the speed and brushwork of painting directly. It's not ideal for soft, atmospheric effects, but it works well for subjects like this, where there are strong tonal contrasts and texture.


Sunday, December 7, 2014

The End of Autumn

"Strath Kildonan in Autumn" - watercolour - 24 x 36 cm

The calm sunny weather we had for much of the autumn seems to have ended now. Storms are on the way with icy winds, so scenes like this may be replaced with snow soon.


Monday, November 17, 2014

Memories and Imaginings

"Ruin Above Halkirk" - watercolour - 16 x 26 cm
Another of the old ruined crofts that are spread throughout the landscape of Caithness. For a few local people they hold memories of family or lost communities, while for others they are a source of romantic imaginings.


Friday, October 10, 2014

The value of keeping sketchbooks

Over the years I have built up a large collection of sketchbooks. Occasionally I look back through them, enjoying the flood of memories that come to me, as well as seeing how my sketching has developed. They are also a good source of fresh material for studio work, when my recent sketches don't inspire me.

Looking at some sketchbooks from 25 years ago, I found the sketch below, from the time that I spent on the Isle of Arran. I could still remember the colour scheme, so I decided to try a painting of it.


Pencil sketch made in Glen Catacol, Isle of Arran


'Glen Catacol, Arran' - watercolour - 25 x 36 cm

The crag on the left is called 'Creag na h'Iolaire', which means 'Crag of the Eagle', so I couldn't resist putting in an eagle soaring above the glen. It was useful for adding interest and balance anyhow.

After I finished the painting, I remembered that I had made a watercolour about the same time as the sketch. I managed to find an old pre-digital photo of it, which I photographed again to upload here, hence the poor quality. I was interested to see how my painting has developed in the 25 years between the two versions.


'Glen Catacol' - watercolour - 23 x 34 cm







Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Sunshine and Showers

My favourite weather for painting is a mixture of sunshine and rain showers. I love the contrast between the sunlit yellows of the landscape and the dark blue-greys of the heavy clouds. The cloud shadows are useful for composing the tonal values of the painting, allowing a kind of spotlight to be shone on certain features.

These are two versions of the same subject, with the sunlight used to provide different focal points.


"Dwarwick Head, Clouds Building" - watercolour - 16 x 26 cm

"Dwarwick Head, Rain Clouds" - watercolour - 16 x 26 cm