Tuesday, 6 December 2011


Not a lot of time this week so I decided to keep going by trying a couple of exercises. The first one is something I promised my friend Dan Corey that I'd be having a go at some time soon. The object of the exercise was to observe the range of values in an object and render them in monochrome. Value recognition and rendition are at the heart of producing convincing images in paint and concentration on colour often have one forgetting the importance of values.

To do this I first of all mixed a range of greys so that I had them to hand and could concentrate on observation. The concentration required was intense and I was totally absorbed maybe to the point of convincing myself that there were value shifts that weren't there.

As an aside, I produced this work on a gesso panel, the first time I'd used one, and was surprised at the way it sucked in the paint rendering it almost dry in a short space of time.

Value vase - Oil on gesso board 6" x 6"

The next exercise that I tried was more an attempt to familiarise myself with some new acquisitions, some squirrel mop brushes. I came to buy these after a conversation with fellow artists, Colin Joyce and Peter Dimmock. They came along to introduce themselves during the recent Art Fair. During the chat they enthused about having worked on courses with Alvaro Castagnet and also of their admiration for the work of Joseph Zbukvic. I also enjoy the work of these two so I dug around in my library and the various video clips on the internet to find out a little more about their working methods. Central to the approach seemed to be the creation of large washes of colour laid down with mops, particularly Castagnet. Never having used them I decided to pick up a couple of mops from my local art store.

Brushes in hand I discovered a Zbukvic demonstration in one of my books and decided to have a go. The brushes felt really unfamiliar, my usual tools being Kolinsky sables. Judging the amount of pigment to add to the large reservoirs of water held by these brushes was something of a trial. The one thing I learned was that it would take a bit of practice to get the hang of the technique. The feel of the softer fibres lends itself to a much looser approach and from that point of view make the effort well worth while so I'll persevere. Anyway the attempt is below, crude though it is.

Venice Fish Market after Zbukvic - Watercolour on Not paper 12" x 10"