Unfinished watercolour business…

This past week was one of those where my hopes and expectations for painting were dashed upon the rocks of everyday life. In a nutshell – I barely managed to squeeze any painting in this week. I had it mind to revisit last week’s subject matter, with the aim of putting a warmer wash of yellows and oranges over most of the paper before beginning to add in any of the greys and mauves. This is still in my mind to do, but as my time was so pressured this week, I decided to tackle something new from my pile of Barcelona photos.

I’ve been feeling much encouraged by some of recent efforts, particularly in how I’ve been stripping out a lot of (hopefully) unnecessary detail to help simplify a scene. I’d had this view in mind for some time, but wasn’t 100% sure how best to tackle it. It’s a view looking down one of the side streets that surround La Boqueria, Barcelona’s brilliant food market. I liked the perspective of the view and the strong contrasts that conjure up the sense of light so well. I tried to sketch this out quite quickly as I was already in a rush to get painting!

Thinking back to my original plans, to create a ‘warmer’ version of last week’s painting, I started by applying a loose, warm wash over the entire paper. As usual, I’d intended to document the whole process, but fell at the first hurdle and didn’t event manage to take a picture of the drawing! Here’s the only ‘work in progress’ shot that I managed, whilst I was waiting for the first wash to dry.

Early stages showing the outline sketch and the first wash

Once this was fully dry, I started in on the buildings on the right hand side. This was probably the wrong area to start with as it features the darkest of tones – but it just felt the right thing to do at the time. In retrospect, I think the buildings on the right are a too heavy, especially at the further, most distant end of the building. From this point on, the whole painting flowed around the page pretty quickly and I was able to move from one passage of paint to another whilst another area dried with relative ease. I can tell that I got completely caught up in the painting because despite me best intentions – I completely forgot to take any more ‘wip’ photos!

Here’s what it looks like at the point I decided to stop, which was the point at which I could feel myself beginning to fiddle and to try to rescue areas that were pretty much beyond rescuing.

A watercolour painting of a sidestreet next to La Boqueria food market, Barcelona - by John Haywood
Sidestreet next to La Boqueria food market, Barcelona

As with some other recent paintings, I think I like the spirit of this more than I like the finished painting. There are quite a few elements that I think, having tried them once, I could do a lot better. I also think that a few of difficulties I encountered as I painted this could be ironed at during the initial sketching out process. One example is that the size, shape and perspective of the large umbrella looks a little out of sorts so I would hope that I can correct this second time round.

So, with that in mind, I’ve already sketched out this scene again – and have even remembered to photograph it:

Now I just need to find some time to paint it!

Thoughts on Unfinished watercolour business…

8 thoughts on “Unfinished watercolour business…”

  1. Pingback: La Boqueria side-street, Barcelona, in watercolour –

  2. I loved how,once again you capture interest and atmosphere the whole painting links together so that takes you some where I can understand that you got completely caught up when painting it.

    1. Thanks so much Evelyn! I was unsure about whether to show the latest outline sketch as it kind of means that there’s no going back (or rather no backing out!) on showing how I get on with it! Hopefully I’ll have something decent to show next week!

    1. Thanks so much for your kind comments Tim and I’m really pleased you find the process interesting – it really helps encourage me and makes up for how difficult/painful/challenging I often find it! Thanks again Tim 🙏🏻

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