A watercolour painting by John Haywood

Dieppe, Normandy, watercolour

I originally set out to tackle last week’s subject of Picadilly Circus in London again. I’ve been plumbing the depths of my watercolour knowledge with what I’d do differently and do have some sound ideas but as I started to sketch it out, my heart just sank. I just didn’t have any enthusiasm to take this on again, not right now anyway. This left me temporarily high and dry as this was all I’d been thinking about painting, and my time to paint was limited.

In search of inspiration I took to my most recent set of photos that I’ve had back from the printers and came across a selection from a wonderful few days that we spent in Dieppe at the end of our summer holiday. I knew that this particular scene had potential, but I wasn’t sure if I had what it would take to bring out that potential! By now, time was really pressing, and beginning to feel like pressure! I sketched this out incredibly quickly and loosely – avoiding all but what I thought to be the most essential details, especially when it came to the ornamental architectural details on the façade of the church and the other buildings.

This brevity of approach continued with my painting too. I made a conscious effort to hold my brushes high up the handle and I worked very wet, washing in loosely over the whole paper. While this first wash was still wet, I started to add in more paint and colour to begin adjusting the tones, allowing the paints to mix on the paper. This was all done super quick, moving across the paper and tackling different elements as the paper seemed at its optimum dry-ness for whatever I was doing – whether it was adding in wet in wet or dry brushing.

The whole thing happened in a bit of a blur to be honest. At intervals, I stood well away from the painting and just checked that it was coming together nicely from a distance which really helped. I was already liking this painting, and also conscious of not overdoing it. Fortunately, my resolve held firm and I was able to refrain from any dabbling. Here’s what it looked like when I downed brushes.

Watercolour painting of a summer's day in, Dieppe, Normandy, in the square of the Eglise Saint Remy by John Haywood
Summer’s day in, Dieppe, Normandy, in the square of the Eglise Saint Remy

The umbrellas are from a small Italian restaurant were we had a delightfully memorable lunch. I can’t help feeling that the sense of enjoyment I had that day has infused this painting which really was done in a most spontaneous and carefree way. Even though I did this really quickly, I feel that I learnt a great deal, and that this painting captures a certain little something that has been missing in some of my recent paintings. I think that the lightness of touch, the merest suggestion of detail and the way that paint has mixed on the paper have all played their part in making this one of my most successful paintings of late!

Thoughts on Dieppe, Normandy, watercolour

10 thoughts on “Dieppe, Normandy, watercolour”

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    1. Thanks so much Margaret and yes, it is amazing – sometimes frustrating too that what should often be so simple to do, can often be so hard to achieve! Reminds me of the ‘less is more’ adage which I find easier to say than I do to apply! 😁

    1. Thanks so much Carsten 🙏🏻 – so pleased you like this one. As for the ‘sketchy’ look – I think it’s always a case of trying to strike a balance: some you win, some you lose! My fingers are crossed that I can carry this forward into my next painting! Thanks again Carsten

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