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Showing posts from March, 2013

After the Thaw

"After the Thaw" - watercolour - 18 x 26 cm


It's been a long winter this year. There seem to have been hints of Spring for a while now, but it's stayed cold and occasional snow showers have covered everything in a blanket of white. The sun is getting warmer now though and any lying snow doesn't last long. We put the clocks forward one hour for British Summer Time this weekend and, as if on cue, we are having a spell of beautifully sunny days. Maybe Spring has finally arrived and will gain a foothold at last.


Brims Castle

Brims Castle, a few miles West of Thurso, is in a ruinous state now. It's rather overshadowed by the large, modern farm buildings next to it. Originally, I think, it would have consisted of a strong tower with a courtyard around it. The beach below would have formed a natural harbour. Later it seems to have had a large house added on to form a more comfortable dwelling. 
I used the controlled-wash method again for this painting and just three colours: French Ultramarine; Burnt Sienna; Raw Sienna.
Stage One Starting on damp paper, I applied Raw Sienna to the bottom of the sky and then mixes of Ultramarine and Burnt Sienna over the rest. While it was still wet, I dropped in stronger mixes in some areas to establish some of the colour and tone.
Stage One

Stage Two I let the whole painting dry and then I started to build up the mid-tones, still keeping everything fairly loose. I think, with hind-sight, I probably could have put more of these in at the first stage.
 Stage Two

Stage Three I put …

Ghost Washes

I've often heard stories of people holding failed watercolours under running water to wash the colour off. They then paint over the faint image that's left. Some artists make this part of their usual practice by starting with an overall variegated wash. Trevor Chamberlain calls this a “ghost wash”.
I haven't tried washing a painting off before. If it's that bad I usually just start again on a fresh piece of paper. I had been reading about the ghost wash idea, so I thought I would try it with an old reject. It worked well and I liked the idea of covering the paper and quickly establishing the general colours. It's definitely something that I am going to try a bit more.
I took some photographs while I was working on the painting to show the progress. The colours are a bit off because of the light, but the finished view is fairly accurate.
Stage One I held the painting under a running tap and gently wiped the paint off with a brush. This was Saunders Waterford Rough pape…

Dawn Light

"Sheep in the Light of Dawn" - watercolour - 25 x 36 cm


I had to be out earlier than usual recently, before dawn. I wasn't expecting to be doing any artwork but I always have my sketchbook with me, just in case. It was a cold grey morning and rather uninteresting, but then the sun rose above the clouds and lit up the landscape. A group of sheep were caught in the light, making a subject which I couldn't resist sketching, despite the freezing temperature. A few pencil lines and colour notes were all that I needed to make a painting back in the warmth of my studio.

Fifies off Wick

"Fifies off Wick" - watercolour - 35 x 51 cm

Having finished a few smaller paintings of the fishing boats, I felt confident enough to tackle something larger. This was the commissioned painting that all the preparatory work had been leading up to.