There’s nothing like…

..having visitors come around to panic me into a bit of tidying up and housekeeping!

And so it is I’d like to welcome my regular guests, but also to extend a warm hand to those new followers that may have come across my blog after it was featured as a WordPress Editors’ Pick on WordPress’s Discover site. When you consider how many wordpress blogs are out there – some 65-70million as far as I could ascertain, with about 50K new ones every day! – it was a great honour to be featured, particularly as this is the second time that it’s happened for me! So, to visitors old and new alike – I’d like to take this opportunity to thank you so much for following and engaging with my brushes with watercolour – it really does mean a lot to me! Β In an effort to make everyone feel a little bit more comfortable and welcome, I tried to tidy up the all the various widgets at the bottom of my pages! WordPress have obviously introduced some new ones since I last tinkered with them and I particularly like the new ones for Facebook and Twitter. You can see them all by scrolling right to the bottom of this post or looking at the bottom of any other pages on the site. I’d also welcome any feedback or suggestions on any of these.

Screenshot from my phone of my Editors Pick feature!
Screenshot from my phone of my Editors Pick feature!

Unfortunately, this week’s painting efforts have been severely restricted by a DIY project that got a little out of hand! I was keen however to try to continue with last week’s sketchy attempt to capture a cafe scene outside Notre-Dame. This is from a slightly different viewpoint and still based on some of the reference photographs that I took.

Notre-Dame side street
Notre-Dame side street

Overall, I really enjoyed painting this and felt that I approached it with a healthy combination of freedom and confidence. I think this was helped in part by my choice of brushes. Most of this was tackled with a size 18 Escoda mop brush that encourages a much looser handling, with just a couple of smaller round brushes for some of the finer details.

I started out with the buildings on the right, just applying a loose base wash, then moved over to the buildings on the left, working my way down to the foreground, the pavement, then the van. I think I did manage to achieve a better ‘integration’ of the figures into the painting, which I did ‘as I went’, which is something I was aiming for, and generally I think the figures were handled more directly and confidently. I also got in a little more detailing to suggest vague facial features on some of the characters – admittedly some more successfully than others but for a quick-ish effort, I was quite pleased.

I was also happy that my darks were sufficiently dark without becoming muddy and, despite thinking that I might omit the van, it’s actually one of my favorite moments! The very last thing that I added was the sky. Strangely enough, considering this isn’t remotely a sky painting – I think this throws the entire painting off a little. The light wasn’t bright, but it was sufficient to cast a soft shadow, which I think I achieved for the figures on the pavement, but the sky doesn’t suggest to me at all this quality of light!

Still, I feel much encouraged by this painting and would like to tackle more paintings with a similar approach – all the while building my confidence at capturing people and distilling complex urban scenes into something simple enough to paint!

Here are this weeks and last side by side – which is the first time I’ve actually seen them next to each other!

Before seeing these side by side, had I been asked which one I prefer, or feel is most successful, I wouldn’t have hesitated in saying the more recent painting – I distinctly remember enjoying myself more as I painted this one!. Now that I have seen them side by side however, I’m less certain that this is necessarily the case! As ever, I’d love to hear what anyone else thinks.

Thoughts on There’s nothing like…

27 thoughts on “There’s nothing like…”

  1. Pingback: Town and Country

  2. Pingback: Town and Country

  3. Hey! Congratulations on being the WordPress Editor’s pick once again!! (That’s where I first came across your blog.) Both of your paintings are exceptionally beautiful, with a different feel of their own. Although I cannot move my eyes from the first painting, the second seems to reflect your confidence and independence in a different. So I think, I like the second one more 😊 Will be waiting to more of such wonderful paintings.

    1. Hi Jazz and thanks for this, and thanks for revisiting to check out this latest effort. I also like the first one but think I prefer the second, partly for exactly the reasons you identified, esp the confidence. I distinctly remember being hesitant and uncertain how to tackle certain elements in the first painting – which led to a lot of over-painting, whereas in the second, I just felt much more assured. Hopefully I’ll be able to carry that through to my next painting. Haven’t decided what it will be yet but I think I may have another cafe scene up my sleeve somewhere!

      1. I myself am into little bits of art, not paintings though. I am more into pencil shading and sketching, partly because the pencil shades give me a magical satisfaction, and partly because i could never gather up enough confidence to go for a painting πŸ˜› And this is one of the reasons why I always appreciate paintings, so that I can learn something from the way they are done, and hence, I find your blogs really motivating πŸ˜€ Though I must say (again), you have some exceptional thing for paintings. πŸ˜€ Looking forward to see your next painting πŸ™‚
        All the best for that πŸ˜€

  4. Hello! Congratulations on being featured in the WordPress Editor’s pick once more! That is how I found your blog and saw a sample of your beautiful art πŸ™‚ In regard to choosing between the two paintings, even though I like both, I think I prefer the second one because of the brighter light on the scene. I’m not sure if that is the exact way to express it, I’m more of an admirer than an art maker, even if I try my hand at photography a little πŸ˜‡ Looking forward to seeing more of your wonderful paintings! πŸ™‚

    1. Hi Sandra and thanks so much for your kind comments – they’re much appreciated. Glad you like the second one and, since posting it, I’m thinking about putting some more blue into the sky as I think it still looks a bit too overcast for the shadows that are on the pavement. I think your views as an art admirer rather than an art maker are in many ways more important to me! Reactions of admirers are often more instinctive, gut reactions. Art makers (and I inlcude myself in this!) often take something apart to understand how it was done before allowing themselves to decide if they like it or not! By the way, lovely site that you have, do you mind me asking what wordpress theme you have? I really like the full width format!

      1. I had no idea you were coming by, so sorry I didn’t tidy up a bit! πŸ˜… I’m glad you like my blog 😊 The current theme is Dyad. I liked that the menu (displayed at the bottom of the page) is more visible in Dyad than in Bushwick, the one I had before.

        1. haha – no need for you to worry about tidying up, it looks immaculate! I’ll add Dyad to my list of themes to explore next time I get bored of my current one and feel the need for a change!

  5. Congratulations John – for the pick and for your painting. You really deserve the pick – it is always a pleasure to read your posts and explore your beautiful watercolors. The composition of the 2nd attempt clearly wins. The strong perspective and the straight layout make it a pleasure to look at. And it gives me the feeling that it is about time to visit Paris again. πŸ™‚

    1. Hi Carsten and thanks so much for this, I really appreciate you kind words about the blog posts and the paintings. I’m pleased that you like the second version too. Now that I’ve spent a bit of time looking at it, I’m thinking that I might put a blue wash over the sky to see if I can marry the mood of the sky up a little more with shadows on the pavement. It might work, it might fail miserably – fortunately it’s only some paint and paper! As for visiting Paris again, I’d highly recommend it. Prior to this most recent visit I hadn’t been for so long I can’t remember – definitely more than 10 years. I’d forgotten what a stunningly beautiful city it is – there’s something jaw droppingly stunning at every turn – a real visual feast! Thanks again Carsten

      1. I love Paris, but although it is not too far from here I am not there too often. I should make it once a year at least, because the city is awesome and inspiring. You inspired me to look through my pictures (photos) from my last trip and I will probably try to paint a few of them. I am looking forward to hear, if you could enhance the sky in your painting… And I am looking forward to see your next paintings.

        1. Thanks Carsten – one thing I would say about our recent trip to Paris is that it reminded me why it had been so long since my last visit – I found it to be pretty expensive! I was looked at this painting again last and had second thoughts about running some blue over the sky – but your comment has just decided it for me – thank you! Look forward to seeing you next paintings too and, in due course, perhaps a Paris painting or two!?

          1. Yeah, Paris is damn expensive… and it always has been as far I can think back. Sometimes I am dreaming of winning the lottery and spend a whole year there. When I was younger and working as a comicbook artist I did go to France more often – and it was always connected with a 2-3 day trip to Paris.

          2. I’m jealous of the amount of time you must have spent there and how well you must know it! Good luck on the lottery win!

          3. No need to be jealous, John. Just some old memories. But last time I was there I had the feeling that my orientation was still pretty good. We did hike the whole day and did find everything we wanted to see. A win would be nice but I am lucky without. Happy painting!

          4. Thanks Carsten and happy painting to you too. I’m afraid I’ve fallen behind on other people’s posts of late so know that I’ve got quite a lot of your recent work to catch up on which I’m really looking forward to

          5. You are welcome, John. We are not in a hurry. I am happy when you find time to look at my stuff – whenever you like to. It is not going to be deleted (at least I hope so). πŸ™‚

  6. Congrats John on the Discover notice. The first notation is how I found your blog and I’m glad I did! BTW my heart is always with the first rendering of my sketches. They always have a relax, spontaneous feel I can never seem to recapture in a second (or third!) rendering. For me – when it comes to my work- love really happens at first sight.

    1. Thanks so much for your kind comments, they’re much appreciated. I completely understand your love at first sight analogy which is great! I think what I’m striving for is to narrow the gap between the spontaneity of my first efforts with the control and refinement of the second effort! Hopefully I’ll reach a point where the two meet in a single painting!

    1. Hi Jack and thanks so much for your kind comments! I’ve always felt drawn to the qualities of watercolour but I still find it so challenging that I can’t imagine even trying acrylics or oils – hats off to you!

  7. I want to first congratulate you on being the WP Editor’s pick once again, now that is impressive. πŸ™‚ I agree, I think that your second painting is the better of the two. I think that the colors are richer, bold and also I see confidence, that is always a plus. Happy Painting!

    1. Thanks so much for this Margaret. I’m really pleased that you thought the 2nd attempt was the more successful of the two – and especially for the reasons you singled out! With all the WordPress commotion of late I know I’ve missed some of your recent posts but I hope to catch up over the next few days!

I'd love to hear any thoughts you have about this

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