Wednesday, 14 April 2010

A less than Successful Return to Watercolour

At the present time I don't seem to be able to get much time for my painting, life has a habit of getting in the way. So, a brief opportunity to break out the watercolours was very welcome. However that doesn't necessarily mean that the time spent is going to leave one with a sense of satisfaction. This was one of those times.

The first image is a partner piece to my picture of Joseph Skipsey, posted a while ago. I have a real interest in some of the old photographs depicting the world inhabited by my grandparents and in particular those with a relationship to the Durham coalfield. This is an attempt at a well known picture of the famous Durham coalfield songsmith, Tommy Armstrong.

Why dissatisfied? Well for me the harsh edge to the shadow on the left cheek, the lack of real dark tone in the eye passage and the slipshod finishing at the bottom of the page detract from the overall effect. As I look at it the coat could have had a better treatment by keeping the paint fluid while trying to introduce a range of balanced colours. How would you have done it?

Tommy Armstrong - watercolour on Fabriano Artistico 14" x 11"

The second piece is based on a photograph taken on our recent trip to the States. In this one, whilst I have achieved one aim, that of creating credible recession, the detailing of the main bluff is crude and the shadow work across the piece is less than impressive.

Monument Valley - watercolour on Fabriano Artistico 14" x 11"

Lessons have been registered in line with the comments above, but for me the main lesson is to maintain a regular contact with the medium so that I approach each excursion with some recent experience to strengthen the technique. Preparation of materials is also important, I still find myself avoiding putting out fresh paint as often as I should. Hopefully, these lessons will not be so quickly forgotten as they were the last time I 'learned' them.

13 comments:

rob ijbema said...

i like the old fellow,he looks quite a character,you do portraits well mick

Mick Carney said...

Rob - Thanks for stopping by and even more so for your kind comment. The old boy wrote some of the best songs about the lives of people in the mining communities of NE England.

Bill Cramer said...

Nice portrait. Cool Monument Valley also(?), however I'd be cautious about tilting the horizon like that. Try tiling it and cropping it in photoshop and see if it doesn't look better. Come to think of it you could try cropping your portrait as well to cut out the bottom you don't like so much. Cloud shadows are tough. I think you have the values about right, but maybe they could've been cooler in tone. Tough to say from my monitor viewpoint. Cheers, Bill

Mick Carney said...

Bill - Thanks a lot. I should have done what you suggest when I reduced the files for publication. If I were to mount the portrait I'd certainly crop off the bottom as you advise. What sort of palette do you use for your skies?

Peter Ward said...

Your Grand Canyon painting is the tops Mick so It's difficult to comment on these two very different subjects. I think the darks are possibly overdone in the portrait and should be lightened in places. Not sure about the dark blob on the chin. Who am I to say though as I'm still toiling away with my Indian portraits.
Do you not need more colour variation in the Monument Valley painting

Bill Cramer said...

I tend to favor cobalt and/or a turquoise blue, alizarin crimson, yellow light and white from which I can make all manor of sky tones. I keep things thin, simple and light. I'm not much into cloud paintings. I also tend to draw up some lighter versions of the earthbound colors into the clouds, keeping in mind that everything in the sky will be lighter than most anything on the ground. Of course there are exceptions to this.

Bill Cramer said...

Did I write "manor" in that last post? Make that "manner".

Mick Carney said...

Bill - Thanks for that. I've been using colours like Ultramarine, Venetian Red and Naples Yellow. That probably explains the difficulty in making cool tones.

Mick Carney said...

Peter- The dark blob is part of a beard and is very apparent in the original photograph.

Peter Ward said...

Ooops! Sorry Mick my mistake. Would it be possible to post the original photograph as well as your take on it? I've considered that with my indians but am cautious due to possible copyright problems.

Mick Carney said...

Peter - Will do.

Maggie Latham said...

Mick, I really like this portrait and think you are being way to hard and critical on yourself! The lack of dark passages around the eyes gives him a contemplative look ..... a kind of earnest feeling, and I think it reads fine. You should be pleased with this as the overall mood it creates pulls it all together.
Maggie

Mick Carney said...

Maggie - Thanks a lot. There are times when I can be self critical but hopefully that will be the stimulus to some improvement along with the advice given by my friends here and on WC. Nice to see you are still lurking and looking forward to when you begin posting again.