I was trawling through my images as I prepared an update to my website when I discovered this small watercolour I completed a couple of weeks ago. It was an imaginary scene based on recollections from my travels. I have painted a similar subject before using the same title. At the time it was just a bit of playing around, looking at textures and techniques – painting with no pressure. I hope you enjoy it.
This is a view I’ve presented before, but wasn’t too pleased with the execution. So I’m having another go: trying to get the smoky haze of a summer’s day. I also wanted a simplified foreground which pushes the focus on the deep ravine of the River Wear in Durham.
Most of the sky and background were done wet in wet so I lost control of the forms. I was able to do a bit of shaping when I added more darks to the bottom of the far trees and flattened the waterline. It has made me relook at some other river paintings. I thought I had better warn you.
I did a version of this in pastels a while ago. I regularly go through my painting portfolios in order to cull them and spotted the first version of this and thought I could improve it in watercolour. So off I went. In the end I think it came out a tie. I love the rich energetic foreground foliage illuminated by the low sunshine against the calm river below, pausing before it goes over the weir.
Perhaps it is the trees and their branches on the right which unsettle me. The actual branches did stretch out and disappeared into the sun, but in the painting they seem ungainly and clutter the place. In contrast the group of trees on the left provide a good coda and, as such, maybe I should echo them on the right and let the eye wander down the bank of trees that line the river.
Looking over recent output I realised I hadnt done a pastel in a while, so here is another view of the River Wear, in Durham. This one was glimpsed as I was hurrying past to do some painting in fields alongside the river, downstream. I suppose I could have done this scene, but it would have meant sitting in the road – and whenever I do that a lorry or tractor comes along, so I took a few photos and proceeded onwards.
I was struck by the light on the grasses and foliage which made them stand out against the shadows and reflections of the trees. I did some thumbnails of this and decided on a portrait format, but now its done perhaps a landscape format would be better.
In this painting I blocked in the darks with acrylics before starting out on the pastels. It does save a lot of time, and pastel, getting variegated darks in with paint and gives a great base to build up texture.
Despite obviously skipping their medication they are almost putting a sentence together, though the punctuation needs more work – perhaps when kindergarten resumes it will be a subject that will be covered.
As for the non-art: this is my Grande Jatte painting but without the monkeys. I loved the way the figures were lolling around by the side of the river, obviously taken by some action upstream. I added a fourth figure and have been fiddling around with the painting for a while and will probably continue to do so.
I was going to show something else I had done in pastels, but have been struggling with, probably because I am working too small. Anyway, here it is as I should show the problems as well as the other stuff.
Because of copyright I had to make alterations to the image and the painting hit the buffers. Maybe one to reprise in the future.
I did the original sitting by the river at the end of June and posted it at the beginning of July but thought that it might be worth having another go in the studio. I loved the different levels the river had created and their shadow lines and the light reflecting off the damp mud. I also scattered some animals about, all of which I had seen as I walked along the river. Having climbed over a fence to get there, solitude and calm abounded on this still summer’s morning.
This was done in my favourite three colours a warm red, yellow and blue and allowed wet colour mixing on the paper to get a myriad of subtle shades before picking out some recognisable shapes and forms.
Originally I had an image of a mountain river I took in New Hampshire one fall, but I felt the background was too dark. Recently I saw a woodland scene on the TV and it gave me an idea for a more interesting background. Both were contra jour so fitted well together and seemed to add up to more than the sum of the parts.
Another Nita Engle inspired painting. It was off a scene I saw on the television. I was taken by the brooding of the forest. Still finding that the painting isn’t ‘painting itself’ as the author claims, but you do get some interesting happenstance. I’ll keep plodding on.