A merry watercolour Christmas to all!

I sincerely hope that anyone reading this is having a wonderful festive season!

Personally, I’m a huge fan of Christmas and, historically, start playing my festive tunes quite early in December (so only about two months after the shops start playing theirs!)

A perennial favourite, and one that always makes me feel quite humble and, as often as not, quite useless, is the John Lennon classic, Happy Xmas (War is Over). Among the many lines that resonate with me, it’s often the opener that sets me off:

So this is Christmas,

and what have you done?

John lennon

Exactly. What have I done!? As ever, it rarely feels enough!

Well, in the hope that from small acorns mighty oaks grow, with this final post of 2019, I have racked up three consecutive years of publishing my weekly blog post. (The year before this run, I only published 48 posts as I used to allow myself the odd break for the holidays!)

This also means that I’ve managed to rack up another year of relatively consistent watercolour painting. Reflecting over the year, it feels like it’s been a bit of a strange one for my painting. Overall, I usually I feel each year that I take more steps forwards than I do backwards. This year however, I can’t help feeling that I’m probably nearer to a break even situation!

This isn’t to say, that there haven’t been any highlights during the course of the year. Now I’m sure that others may have their favourites but, for what it’s worth, here are a few of my personal highlights from 2019, spanning from January to December:

Two people chatting over coffee, watercolour painting by John Haywood
Morning coffee, Small Batch, Brighton: Watercolour painting by John Haywood
Watercolour painting of an anvil cloud over Brighton marina and it's reflection in the water.
Anvil cloud over Brighton Marina, watercolour painting by John Haywood
A tranquil scene from France
Brighton Station (a demo painting done during this years artists open houses exhibition)
The Set Restaurant at The Artists’ Residence Hotel, Brighton
Marina di Pietrasanta Beach (after Ian Potts)
The ‘Road to Choupeaux’ after Ian Potts (1936-2014) by John Haywood
View of the Weald in Sussex from Firle Beacon

Some of these mean something to me because I particularly like the end result, while with others, it just felt as if ‘something clicked’ that helped move me on a little, more of step change of some sort rather than just a little incremental development.

It’s only a handful really out of a whole year of painting, so it would be nice to think that I can improve on this quota come the same time next year!

Oh, last week I posted an image of a scene in Florence of the Galleria degli Uffizi that was intended as a Christmas gift. As I wasn’t entirely bowled over with it I did manage to squeeze another version in that I finished just in the nick of time on Christmas eve.

Here are the two side by side for comparison:

While still not 100% satisfied, I do like the most recent version more, if only fractionally! I do quite like the fact that (aside from the direction of the shadows being exactly the same) it looks like the same scene at very different times of day with different qualities of light. Hopefully I’ll know later on which of these the intended recipient prefers!

Finally, I’d like to take this seasonal opportunity of goodwill to thank you for reading this blog, and I reserve special thanks to those of you that choose to like or comment on my posts. It really does mean a great deal to me and is a tremendous source of inspiration and encouragement. I can tell, that I’m coming over all emotional now, so I’m going leave you with the magnificence of John Lennon. I hope that you all have a fabulous New Year, and I look forward to us hopefully reconvening in 2020.

Thoughts on A merry watercolour Christmas to all!

20 thoughts on “A merry watercolour Christmas to all!”

  1. Merry Christmas to you and your John. You know that I have been following along with your journey for several years, perhaps nearly from the start. For some reason I realized that your paintings are reminiscent of Edward Hopper. I find that interesting because I would not have thought about that of your style and approach. There is an overall obscurity and a mysterious light that emphasize a lonely dream. I think that you included your favorites in this post, if I remember correctly. I can see the progress that you have made. Regardless of the criticism that you are not following your own path, I believe that you are! Sometimes a person needs a path to follow that has been previously set upon. It is part of the creative serendipity. Nothing is new under the sun but I believe that we as artists can discover new paths. Haha sorry for the lengthy comment. Anyway enjoy the rest of your week!

    1. Happy New Year Margaret and apologies for such a tardy response to your wonderfully supportive and encouraging comment! First off, and belatedly, I hope you’ve had a great festive season and New Year! I’ve had a couple of people mention Hopper to me, mainly in relation I think to my interiors. It’s not in anyway an intentional reference that I’m making but I can’t deny being flattered by the comments. I do like the analogy of the path. The most interesting ones are rarely a direct route between two places, and the best often offer many other diversions and routes to wander down, perhaps taking you off in a totally different direction, or just taking you off the ‘main’ path for a while before re-joining it a little further along. It may well be that the path some of travel on is well trodden by others, but if it’s the first time that I’ve experienced it, then it’s still new and fresh to me. I think I’ve already labored this analogy for long enough now but I like it a lot and could certainly go at even greater length about it! Thanks so much for following my meanderings over the years Margaret. I’ve always valued your wise words which really have helped me to understand and navigate my path! All best wishes for 2020

      1. No worries John, I understand especially with the busyness of the Holidays. I have had my style of painting referenced to well known artists which I feel encourages me to research that particular artist. It is a mystery how my art can remind someone of an artist whose work I wasn’t trying to emulate. That fact alone pushes me to discover what was the artist intent or experiences, hoping that it would help me to shine a light on my own creative path. The search goes on indeed! I personally think that is part of why I am reluctant to critique the work of other artists. Obviously the basics should be addressed but I would leave that up to art teachers.

        Here I go again! I was intending to simply write “you are welcomed and no worries” ha! I guess I live in another world where painting and the creative life is a path of serendipity. Alright, enough said. I am looking forward to what you discover and learn this year. Cheers!

        1. Thanks so much for this Margaret. It’s interesting because I’m familiar with some of Hopper’s more famous images, but I’m slightly wary that if I start to explore more and study them in greater detail, I’ll find myself gradually trying to emulate his work more than I might otherwise (yep, that’s how susceptible I am to influence!) – I also think that that comparing one persons work to that of another is inevitable when so little is truly original – and personally, I’m not much of one for originality for the sake of originality! Thanks as always Margaret and I look forward to seeing what you discover and learn too in 2020!

  2. It’s gone 3 and I still haven ‘t had my lunch but there’s just time to wish you and yours a very happy Christmas and a visionary 20-20 (geddit?). See you next year,
    ps I much prefer the second version

    1. Thanks so much Rob – hope you’re feeling festively replete by the time you read this! Pleased that you prefer the second one – delighted to report that it went down better than the first one with the recipient too! All best wishes for the New Year Rob.

  3. A Merry Christmas to you and your family John! And a big thank you for sharing your wonderful paintings and thoughts that I find so encouraging!

    1. Hi Barry and thanks so much for this. Really appreciate your kind words about me sharing my thoughts and efforts – it’s the engagement and responses from people like your good self that make it all so worthwhile – so big thanks to you too, and all best wishes for the New Year.

  4. Happy Christmas to you and your family John. No time to read it yet but just wanted to pass on good wishes!

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