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A Little Old Man

"Sunlight on the Old Man" - watercolour - 13 x 18 cm

Another very small painting and probably the last one this small that I'll do for a while. The small size doesn't make them any easier to paint. If anything, the difficulty seems to increase as the size decreases. I feel the need for more space for freer brushstrokes.

The subject of the painting is the famous rock stack, known as The Old Man of Hoy, in the Orkney Isles.


  1. Keith, I feel the same about small paintings, they take just about the same amount of time... especially considering the time to get out there and set up! Best, Matt

    1. Yes, paintings are just as much about preparation as they are about brush-strokes.

  2. Good morning Keith!... An admirable and pleasing watercolour with warm colour!

    I agree with your take on the smaller formats. I need as much open space on my canvas ... as I need the wide outdoors to feel my greatest comfort while painting! Why fight that ?

    My most recent 5x7 pochade sketch so frustrated me... that last evening, I ceremoniously offered it to the Art Gods who reside in my fireplace. That act added more warmth and satisfaction to my evening! HA HA!!

    Good (larger) Painting to us both!

    Warmest regards,

    1. Hi Bruce, it's certainly a challenge painting so small. I'm not sure the effort of trying to produce more affordable pieces is worth it in the end. It takes a different technique and a certain kind of subject to make it work.

      All the best,

  3. Hi Keith I was reading your response to a question I had regarding your Color Palette dated November 25th 2010. I had printed it out and kept it with Maggie's Color wheel exercises she had set fellow bloggers at the time. Reading it this morning over a hearty porridge breakfast as I am walking later this morning. I noticed that all the colors you used are transparent. I am wondering now that some time has gone by since the discussion on color wheels and colors that individual artists will use, if you have made any changes to the colors and paper used? I was also wondering why you kept to purely transparent colors, naples yellow is a wonderful color for sandy area and for the sky too yet is opaque I would have been lost without that color. Thank you.

    1. Hi Caroline, yes I have made some changes. I chose transparent colours originally because it seemed the best way to avoid muddy mixes. However, as you know, even opaque colours are at least semi-transparent when laid down as watercolour washes. I have now become more interested in exploring texture, so I have changed some of the pigments for more granulating alternatives. I am using Viridian instead of Winsor (Pthalo) Green and Cerulean instead of Winsor (Pthalo) Blue. The Cerulean is of course an opaque colour, but it seems to work nicely in washes. I am even experimenting with Chromium Oxide Green, which is very opaque.

      One thing I look for in pigments is versatility. I don't like to have colours that can only be used for one thing. I wonder whether Naples Yellow might be like that. I have seen other watercolourists use it successfully, but I don't think I have ever seen it used in mixtures.

      I am also liking Saunders Waterford paper more now. I have found that wetting the paper all over, before painting, softens the sizing and allows the paint to go on better. At the moment I use Saunders, Fabriano Artistico or Bockingford, depending on the subject and the effect I want to achieve.

    2. Most interest, I think naples yellow works best on it's own though I have glazed over it once it is dry. It is very nice mixed with a touch of rose, but have had little success with it using other pigments though have discovered some nice greys.

  4. An interesting formation. You would probably like the Twelve Apostles (no longer twelve but still and all...) standing off the southern coast of Victoria. The impact of water on different elements of the landscape can be quite remarkable.

    1. Yes we only see things from our perspective Diane. Water is highly corrosive on a geological timescale.


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