Monday, 27 February 2012

February Project

Another shared project with Peter Ward (
This is a picture from a trip to Venice a couple of years ago. It's a view back to the Bridge of Sighs and the spot where most of the tourists gather to view it. Recommended it's less crowded.

I chose this as it presents a lot of different problems. perspective, recession and water just being three of the more obvious ones.
Bridge of Sighs - Photograph

Not an easy piece and as usual it bears a litany of deficiencies but it was another day at the brushes. On to the next challenge.

Bridge of Sighs - Watercolour on Rough paper 14" x 11"

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Another Experiment

I've been intrigued by the way the artist Alvaro Castagnet works and was fortunate to borrow a DVD of his and having tried something from a book before (posted a little while ago) was keen to have another go. The thing that interests me is the way many of his pictures are backlit and create a sense of drama in the scene while using the value extremes to get light into his images.

Having watched the DVD I selected an image to attempt an exploration of his technique. The resultant painting is below.

What did I learn? Well the exercise reinforced my belief in the importance of value range in providing impact, a hangover from my days as a monochrome photographer. The other important lessons are to do with the notion of leaving lots of work for the viewer. Detail is largely unnecessary and my own tendency to overwork is probably a hurdle to the viewers of my work.

Another day having fun.

Nice Street Scene (after Castagnet) - Watercolour on Not paper 12" x 9"

Saturday, 18 February 2012

Unexpected Opportunity

A visit to the wonderful Barter Books in Alnwick presented me with an unexpected opportunity. I spotted a small notice that advertised a life drawing class with a contact phone number. It's over a year since the life class that I used to attend folded for financial reasons, a victim of rising rents, so I rang the number to find out that I was just in time to attend a session that evening.

Attending a life class is a first rate way to hone drawing skills as well as explore the subtleties of tonal shifts in subject matter but I think it's a discipline that should be done on a regular basis to maintain the necessary skills. You'll probably have guessed by now that I found the session testing and my effort is a little wooden. As the only painting kit I had with me was my trusty watercolour sketch box the medium dictated itself.

I'll have to try and discover a life class nearer home if I'm to get any improvement in this type of work.

Life Class - Watercolour on Not paper 12" x 9"

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Another Set of Freezing Fingers

When you are away from home you've got to take the chances that arise. The family party were all well occupied in hitting beaches, local shops and little museums so I took myself to a favourite spot to take in the view. It is one of the most photographed, drawn and painted views in the North East of England but it never fails to thrill. Unfortunately the old wind chill made it a less than comfortable experience and I found myself having some difficulty making accurate marks. Never mind more fun was had.

Bamburgh - Watercolour on Not paper 12" x 10"

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Nithered in Northumberland

I've not posted here for a week or two, nothing worth troubling you with, just a few little attempts at different styles, none of which I'm comfortable with. I'll maybe put together a post at some date in the future but at the moment it would mean creating a huge amount of text and I'm currently having a break with one of the kids and the rest of her family. Needless to say my activity is currently dictated by an assertive three year old who fortunately for me declares me to be his 'best friend'.

We spent half a day in Warkworth and whilst the youth and their parents with Nana in attendance I sneaked off with the watercolour box and one of my sketchbooks. So excited was I that I embarked upon a silly project. I parked at the bottom of the hill and decided to draw the view up to the castle. Foolish boy. Not only was the drawing a sore trial but by the time I got to wetting the paper I was starting to feel the effects of the wind chill. Nithered is a local expression that covers the feeling. In English, so reduced by the feeling of cold that effective activity is difficult.

Anyway here it is with all its flaws, deficient perspective, ineffective value placement and limited control of the palette choices. Enough of that it was a fun session that blew away a few cobwebs.

Warkworth - Watercolour on Rough paper 14" x 11"