This week’s efforts begin just a short distance from where last week’s watercolour left off.
For this view, I’m still on the Mawddach estuary in Snowdonia, Wales, but this time much nearer to the mouth of the estuary. My reference photo for this view was actually taken from the foot and rail bridge that links the south side of the estuary to the seaside town of Barmouth. Again, it’s low tide and what a liked about the view was the dramatic brooding sky and the broad open expanse at the mouth of the estuary. As I had done with last week’s painting, my plan was to develop much of this with layers of wash. Below are some of the work in progress photos that I took along the way.
So far, so good – so much potential at this stage!
Can anyone spot the really horrible run from the sky down across the foreground? I’d put a lot of pigment into the sky area and had then propped the painting up to have a look at it. Just as I did this, I was distracted by some domestic interruption and, when I looked back I was horrified to see this run. I did my best to mop it up but the damage was done!
I added in the water in the foreground here but did it so evenly that it was hard to tell whether it was water or tarmac!
At this point I went back into the sky with some titanium white watercolour, just to bring in a little more variance and definition to the clouds:
Then there was a little more darkening of the foreground and adding some movement in the surface of the water before calling it day:
This is one that I actually think looks better in real life than in these photos. bit maybe not that much better! I do quite like the subject – I often feel drawn to these often bleak and brooding views – and may return to it again, but if I do I like to think that I’d to try and tackle it differently and do it better!
I think when a subject is as deceptively pure and simple as this, all of the individual components need to be executed so well, and too many elements in this one feel laboured and overworked.
Time then for a complete change of scenery!
I don’t even remember taking the photograph that inspired this image but it’s definitely from one of my excursions in France. The original photo was portrait in format but I decided to crop it into a landscape image. I liked the way that composition-ally it made a very definite split on the horizontal third, along which I was able to position the farmhouse and the copse of trees etc. Again, I took some work in progress photos.
One of the things I particularly liked about this view was how quick it was to draw it out!
I had a plan to paint the sky in a different way to usual. My plan was to paint in the clouds first, beginning with the most distant clouds then work towards the foreground clouds. I then thought I’d wait for this to dry, and then put in the blue of the sky. That was the plan anyway. I started off by turning the painting upside down and pre-wetting the sky area just along the horizon line. As I started to drop the distant clouds in, I ended up drawing them further and further down the board as I applied more clean water. I decided to change tack and just wet the entire sky area. Once done, I turned the board the right way round again and then added my blue sky at the top of the sheet, allowing it to do pretty much whatever it wanted to do! Meanwhile, I started to add in some shadows beneath the clouds. All of this was done very quickly. Once done, I took a crumpled up sheet of kitchen towel and dabbed away a little of the still damp paint, mainly in the distant clouds, just to create a little more variety and distance. Although it wasn’t quite what I’d intended, I was quite pleased with the outcome.
Leaving the sky to dry, I moved on to the foreground grasses and laid in a flat pale wash of cadmium yellow. Apologies for the photo and how cockled the paper is. As you can see, it was very wet at this point!
Once both of these areas had dried off a little, I applied a strip of masking tape across the top edge of the yellow. I wanted to maintain as crisp a line as possible as I added in the distant hills and trees. Here’s how it looked after I’d added in these elements and removed the tape.
Next up, I started to work on the farm buildings.
When I came to work on the foreground grasses, I repeated the masking, this time applying the tape along the top edge of the field area. I wasn’t entirely sure how I was going to tackle the foreground grass. One thought was to dampen the paper and flick or splatter paint on (but in a more controlled way than this sounds!) to get an interesting texture. Another thought was to drybrush paint over the surface and then perhaps spray it… in the end, I drybrushed some paint over the surface and just left it! As I approached the bottom of the paper, I used a much wetter mix of the same colour across the entire sheet and then, while it dried but still had a sheen to it, I flicked clean water over this area and allowed it to create runs in the paint to try and convey tall grasses at the edge of the field.
Once this was done – it was just a case of finishing off a few things here and there, mainly on the farm buildings.
Even though this wasn’t quite as I’d envisaged it, I was quite pleased with this. If I were to single out any one thing, it would be the clusters of trees, especially the main one to the left of the farm buildings. I haven’t really ranked my ‘ favourite clusters of trees’ but if I were to do so, I think this one would rank quite highly!