Happy in Hastings watercolour sketches

After spending so much time recently in the company of Ian Potts’s paintings, I was keen to break away from them even though I wasn’t feeling especially inspired to paint anything of my own!

I did however recently have some beautiful weather for my bike ride to work and took off across a field to capture a couple of photos that I thought could make for some suitable subject matter. Sadly they weren’t as great as I’d hoped but, nevertheless, I thought I needed to do something different to wean myself off Ian Potts paintings.

Here’s a selection of work in progress shots that will hopefully demonstrate how this painting evolved.

How I left it after strengthening the trees to the right of the main tree
And here’s s slightly different crop

There are moments in the painting that I really like – even though I find the overall painting quite underwhelming. I think this is largely to do with the subject matter as much as how I’ve painted it. (Haha, even as I wrote this the old adage “there’s no such thing as bad subjects, just bad paintings”!) Painting this did also feel a little strange. After a few weeks of basing my paintings on works by another artist – I felt as if I was trying to rediscover my own approach whilst also trying to adopt elements of the approach that I imagined Ian Potts might take. I have a suspicion that this tension, between following my own path and following too closely in the footsteps of others may take a few weeks to settle down.

Happy days in Hastings

I’m just back from a lovely few days spent in the seaside town of Hastings. It’s just over an hours drive away from where I live but, to my shame, I’ve not really spent any significant amount of time there. Aside from being steeped in English history, in particular the 1066 Battle of Hastings (which didn’t actually take place in Hastings but in neighbouring Battle) it’s also been the inspiration for many an artist, not least because it’s home to the UK’s largest ‘on-shore’ fishing fleet which makes for excellent subject material.

Unfortunately, two of the three days that we spent there were rather gloomy and overcast but the sun did come out on our final day and I did manage to spend some time around the boats capturing some images that I’m hoping will become the inspiration for a series of paintings. Here are a few quick studies that I did in an A5 sketchbook based on the views on the grey and gloomy days…

and this one is probably my pick of the bunch….

Boat RX89

What I really enjoyed about these sketches is that I painted them without much thought. I don’t mean without care, but that I painted them instinctively rather than trying to paint them as Ian Potts or anyone else might paint them – and this alone felt really refreshing and quite liberating!

I already have in mind the first view that I’ll be working up into a larger painting – and how I’m going to go about it –  so I’m really looking forward to getting started and will hopefully have something new to share next week!

Thoughts on Happy in Hastings watercolour sketches

23 thoughts on “Happy in Hastings watercolour sketches”

    1. Hi Caroline – thanks so much for visiting and for your kind comments, I really appreciate it – thank you! 😊🙏🏻

  1. Love the desaturation and deep blues and reds of the boat paintings, gives an otherwise industrial subject more of a somber/deeper feel if that makes sense? More so than the landscape, which felt flatter. Not that I’m one to talk! What with being a sticker artist haha. Happy arting 🙂

    1. Thanks for this and yes, that does all make sense and I thinks it’s a really accurate way of describing why the boats are more successful than the landscape. Thanks so much for dropping by and for the comments, all much appreciated. I did try to look for you WordPress couldn’t find you ☹️

  2. Pingback: Hastings watercolour

    1. Thanks Graham, I had no idea you hailed from Hastings (I feel under even more pressure now to do your hometown justice!) – Your Cambodia trip sounds and looks amazing!

  3. Hi John. I just wrote a long post but it seems to have disappeared into the ether….annoying! Anyhow I do like your new sketches and think the boats will make super bigger paintings. I am having a DVD by Andy Evansen for my birthday on Sunday filmed in the Cotswolds. He’s had one out in the USA but it was $107 Eeek! I wasn’t too keen on the Ian Potts ones but glad you’ve felt some inspiration by delving into another artists work…I think it can re-charge us sometimes! Happy to see you back doing your ‘own thing’ again though!
    Happy painting

  4. I really like your new sketches John and think the boat ones will make wonderful larger paintings. I’m glad your little foray into Ian Potts has given you more food for thought and inspiration. He isn’t one of my favourites. It’s my birthday on Sunday and Hubby is buying me the latest Andy Evaston DVD…I love his work but the only one he had out was in the USA and was $107, Eeek. He’s just recorded one in the Cotswolds for the usual sort of price. Exciting! I hope you’re still loving your beautiful new palette and this recent taste of warm weather makes one long to be painting out more….not so long to wait now.
    Happy painting

    1. Hi Carole and thanks so much for this. I can quite understand that if you love the work of Andy Evansen, that the work of Ian Potts wouldn’t be amongst your favourites! Andy Evansen is a marvellous watercolour painter and I particularly admire the value studies he does to help him plan his paintings. I know that I should do more of them really but just seem to lack the discipline for them! Totally coincidentally – I was listening to a podcast of Andy Evansen the other day – are you familiar with Eric Rhoads Plein Air Painters Podcast? Here’s a link that I hope will work – Andy Evansen’s podcast is number 45 and there’s also interviews with a whole host of other watercolour artists too: https://www.outdoorpainter.com/podcast/ – I really hope the Costwolds DVD is as good as it looks (and happy birthday for Sunday too!). I should also explain that the way I’ve got comments set up on the blog. Comments aren’t published automatically. I have to approve each comment before they’re published. This just helps me moderate what get’s published and also helps me keep on top of replying to comments. I get some comments that really aren’t appropriate for publishing that get by the wordpress spam filter – it’s just that it can sometimes take me a short time to review and reply to the comments, so I’m sorry for any confusion that this may have caused, please accept my apologies. All best wishes Carole – John

      1. Thank you John for latest link and the explanation for the confusion…no need at all to apologise. To explain, I thought I had spelt Evansen wrong…which I had…so I went back to check my spelling and thought I must have said something out of order in some way.! I realise they have to go to moderation first. So I am happy that’s resolved. It is a coincidence about Andy Evansen and I have loved the way he teaches tonal paintings by leaving the whites blank then adding everything else in mid tones then the darks at the end. It has really worked for me…when I have done them! Yes I do get the Eric Rhoads podcast but missed that one so thank you and will check it out.. and others too. I will report back on the DVD. I have wanted it for about 4 years but not at that price, so I probably have put too much anticipation into this. Thank you for the birthday wishes…they are coming round faster😳. Best wishes to you too John,

        1. Haha, I certianly know the feeling about birthday’s coming around quicker and quicker! I really hope that the DVD does live up to even your heightened expectations! I think it will be great if it does focus a little more on the thinking and planning stages of the paintings – many of the DVDs that I have often skip straight to the action of painting. Thanks Carole

  5. John I’m a Brighton native who has lived in the USA since the 70s. Your Sussex paintings evoke pleasure in the landscapes of my youth and provide inspiration for my own much less accomplished painting. I miss the South Downs. I particularly like your honesty in expressing a lack of inspiration some days. Thanks Greg Elmes

    1. Hi Gregory and thanks so much this comment – to evoke memories of your childhood spent in the Sussex landscape and provide inspiration!, well that’s an amazingly powerful and uplifting comment for me to receive! It is indeed a special place (but it’s one that I often take for granted in favour of inspiration from my trips elsewhere!). As for my inspiration-less days – I can’t help but think they’re inevitable but am gradually figuring out ways to deal with them that don’t entail stopping painting altogether! I have a deep fear that if I stopped for a while, I may never get started again! Thanks so much Greg, really appreciate you getting in touch

    1. Hi Amanda and thanks so much for this, I really appreciate it! Really hope that I’ll be able translate some of the feel of these into larger paintings – thanks again

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