A watercolour painting of the rooftops of Kotor, Montenegro by artist John Haywood

A watercolour jigsaw puzzle

I hope that everyone’s enjoying the festive season and managing to spend time with loved ones and to find the time to do the things you love too! I’ll keep this brief because it is Boxing Day and I’m sure that we all have things we’d rather be doing that reading (and writing) blog posts!

One of my childhood memories of spending the festive season with my family is jigsaw puzzles. It was before the vast proliferation of entertainment that exists today, but I remember fondly the time spent together taking on seemingly impossible tasks of jigsaw puzzlery!

All of this came flooding back to me as I undertook another seemingly impossible puzzle of another kind. I visited Montenegro about ten or so years ago with a friend and stayed in the old walled town of Kotor. Whilst rooting through some boxes recently, I came across some old photos and postcards from that trip and one of them, in particular, took my fancy.

About five minutes after starting to sketch this out, I was already regretting my choice but carried on regardless. It took an age to map this out, and I had to do a bit of delicate shading too just to help give some sense of forms.

When it came to the painting, I started with a really weak wash with mixes of burnt sienna, light red and raw sienna all over. These colours provided the unity that I tried to maintain as I gradually built up the patchwork of rooftops. It was as I was doing this that I was struck by a strange sense of deja vu from my childhood of festive jigsaw puzzling.

A watercolour painting of the rooftops of Kotor, Montenegro by artist John Haywood
Rooftops of Kotor, Montenegro

Painting this felt very different to my usual approach. Part of me quite enjoyed it, another part of me found it incredibly tiresome! I quite like the sense of pattern and semi-abstract quality of this image but it’s not one I’ll be tackling again any time soon.

One of the greatest challenges I had with this was knowing when to stop. There were so many little elements about this that it was just too easy to keep on going back to it again and again. I did leave some areas as loose indications, and some areas are probably a little overworked but hey ho (or should that be ‘hey ho ho ho!’)

This is my final post of 2018 – and marks another year of 52 consecutive Wednesday weekly posts. I’d like to take this opportunity to say thanks to everyone that follows / humours my adventures with watercolour, and especially to those that choose to like or comment. I really do appreciate everyone’s interest and support – thank you all so much, and all best wishes for a happy New Year.

Thoughts on A watercolour jigsaw puzzle

23 thoughts on “A watercolour jigsaw puzzle”

    1. Thanks Tim – I must confess that there’s always a slight sense of achievement when I manage to post during a holiday – usually because it entails trying to find wi-fi or an internet cafe in some remote part of France!

  1. Pingback: Watercolour deja-vu…

  2. Happy new Year John, hope that you are well and had a good Christmas. How are you getting on with the brushes (Alvaro Castgnet) Keith

    1. Happy New Year to you too Keith! After buying those brushes off you I also bought the smaller one which I use a lot because of late, I’m mainly been painting small quarter sheets and I find that size of brush suits me well. Definitely top quality brushes and I look forward to using the larger ones as and when I get back to painting some bigger half sheets! Hope there’ll be more painting for you too in 2019!

  3. I really like this John and I’m glad you didn’t give up. It’s fun and fresh and the colors and patterns are really interesting. Although you won’t be doing this again, I hope there were things you learned along the way that you might take in to a future painting. I find that subjects I don’t paint often or new approaches that I may never repeat, nonetheless prove instructive as I learn things that I would never learn painting the same things or using tried and true techniques. I look forward to your 2019 posts!

  4. Phew! That upper left corner with the tiny palm trees is a calm relief after such a busy, crowded city! Your persistance is to be admired but I can feel how chalenging all that confusion of roofs and building was…addictive, I’m sure! Good job!

    1. Haha – thanks so much for this Margery – your analysis is most accurate! Challenging yet addictive. Really makes me want to paint something very loose next time! Thanks so much for the comments Margery and all best wishes for New Year and for 2019!

  5. Great painting, John. At last some proper self control and none of this nonsense about letting the paint do it’s own thing! A new you for 2019 perhaps. Meanwhile, hope you’re having a great Christmas and all the best for 2019.

    1. Thanks so much for this Rob. Afraid I can’t promise that this self-control will last into the new year! (Although I’ve already sold this one so perhaps I should try to exert just a little more control in future!) All the very best for the New Year Rob and for 2019 – I’ve really enjoyed your comments and company in 2018!

  6. Hi John. Well what a patient man you are…well done indeed as I don’t think I would have persevered! I really like it and you have a lovely colour harmony throughout.
    Thank you for all your lovely posts and paintings and I shall look forward to more to come.
    Wishing you a very happy and creative 2019 …..wow, where did the time go?!

    1. Hi Carole and thanks so much for this, I really appreciate it! I hope that you have a great new year and a fabulous 2019 full of new creative adventures!

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