Wednesday, 21 August 2019

Liberate your painting with scraps of paper

    I often find that when I'm testing a wash or new colour on a scrap of watercolour paper that I produce some marvellous results, yet when I try to repeat the exercise in a proper painting it often falls far short of what I hope will happen. So why not try to capitalise on this perversity by now and then painting on a piece of scrap paper that you might otherwise throw away?

    This little watercolour was painted on a discarded piece of 300lb Saunders Waterford rough paper 9 inches by 4.5 inches, and I loved every moment painting it. With such a small, insignificant size you tend to lose any inhibitions, and it's certainly a liberating feeling, as you feel you have nothing to lose even if you make the most astounding mess!

    One of the main features I love is the soft wet-in-wet reflections in the water below the cottage. These were achieved by wetting the area of the water below the building and out as far as the central boats, leaving it for a few minutes to start drying, and then applying the dark green-grey reflections of the massed trees into the wet area, leaving the part directly below the cottage as white paper. At this stage it's vital to watch how the dark reflections creep outwards as though they deliberately want to annoy you. With a damp - a really 'thirsty' brush (a number 6 round brush is usually fine for this) - pull out any of the dark colour that edges its way beyond where the reflections should appear. You may need to do this more than once.

    This painting appears in my Seas & Shorelines in Watercolour book, recently published by Search Press, which not only covers a really wide variety of coastal scenery and features, but is also crammed with sky treatments of all kinds that you should find useful for adopting in your own work. Signed copies are available via my website  ....and don't forget to make full use of those bits of scrap paper lying around!


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  2. You really hit a point with this! Why is it when I start some doodle somewhere it always turns out magical but when you have a piece of proper paper in front of you and think: 'right, I must do a masterpiece' and it never has that same spark!?
    My theory is psychology, it's because with the doodle we let go, we don't care about the outcome and this somehow frees up ability to its full potential. However when you worry about it and fret over ' This is the correct way' etc. then it always falls short. Is the idea to treat every painting like an insignificant doodle so the outcome will be satisfying!? Maybe that's the key. Your paintings though are always quite amazing. Love your stuff...