Same bar, similar view, different, watercolour painting

After last week’s watercolour painting I was in two minds about whether to tackle this subject again. After reasoning to myself that there were good elements to try to replicate, and other areas to try to improve on, I decided to have another go, but this time from a marginally different angle.

To start with, here’s a black and print out of my reference photo, which I’d already tinkered with to heighten the contrasts, alongside a version of the same photo that I’d played around with, mainly using and smudging a white gel pen.

Reference photo (left) and overworked (right)

Here’s the subsequent watercolour painting:

And for comparison, here’s last week’s and this week’s paintings side by side:

If I had done this second painting without having done the first one, I think I’d probably be pretty pleased with it. As it is, I can only go so far as liking some elements of it compared to the first one. Overall the first one remains, to my mind, the most satisfying of the two.

The areas that I do like on the second one tend to be the supporting elements. I like the indication of some of the background features, especially the sense of light coming into the rooms at the rear. I do also prefer the treatment of the figure. While the lit glasses above the bar are okay in the second one, they’re much more of a successful feature in the first painting.

There’s something about the composition of the second one that I originally thought was intriguing; the way that the image is split almost vertically down the middle with dark to the left and light to the right. The more I look at it however, the more it jars with me.

None of this is to say that I didn’t enjoy painting it. In fact, I think I probably had more fun painting this one than the first, and I do still like the feel and energy of it. Much of this second painting was done with a brush I bought a long time ago – a Da Vinci Series 5535 Top Mix B, but have used rather infrequently. After this outing, I think I will probably be using it a lot more.

Once again I was trying as much as possible to hold the brush high up the handle to avoid too much tightness and to allow for, or encourage, more expressive mark making. And while my use of colour in this painting still falls a long way short of what some may like to see, I’m quite happy with the touches of colour that I think add much more warmth than the first while still maintaining a strong colour harmony.

The Da Vinci Series 5535 Top Mix B brushes in sizes 16, 20 and 24.

Looking back over previous posts, I did mention these brushes almost exactly a year ago. There’s still not a lot of information online about these brushes but they come in three sizes, 16, 20 and 24 and are made from a combination of natural and synthetic hairs. They’re supposedly longer than most equivalent brushes, with more resilient tips.

From my experience, the 20 and 24 are good for paintings of half sheet upwards (they’re massive!) but the size 16 can work well on quarter imperial sheets upwards.

They do take a little getting used to but I think it’s time well spent.

Ad they arrived, with their silver tips. Be sure to wash these out before using them!

A quick aside…

I wrote much of this post whilst simultaneously trying to keep up with a programme that I inadvertently stumbled across: Life Drawing Live on BBC 4. It’s probably easier for UK residents to access than those overseas but, if you are able to access it, it’s well worth a watch – if only to remind oneself of the immense challenges of life drawing!

Thoughts on Same bar, similar view, different, watercolour painting

6 thoughts on “Same bar, similar view, different, watercolour painting”

  1. John, I understand your displeasure with my critiques. I have misjudged your ability to bear them in favor of all “ loves and wonderful!”. For some reason neither of us understands, I enjoy your weekly blogs and hope you’ll allow me to getting them. I will refrain from my critiques. I look forward to seeing what happens to you when you take Alvaros class later this summer…refresh my memory as to the date of the class please.
    I am struggling with my own issues re painting because I am tired of just painting from my own photos, experimenting with abstract painting as well as several other artists admire. It’s now a mishmash in my brain that will eventually resolve in a satisfying new, fresh style all my own???
    It is amazing how much can be learned from experimenting with abstracts and how much it can improve your traditional painting!
    It now becomes a fresh challenge; how do I absorb the various things I admire about different artists into my own ‘style’? I have learned so much from so many of them and it’s a matter of absorbing those things I have learned into my own work!
    Keep plugging along John as will I. I realize that we have different styles but still much can be learned, if you are only willing, from different ways and methods. I will refrain from imposing my thoughts on you until you may be more open to my crits. Until then, please allow me to stay on line? Marge

    1. Thanks so much for your very kind words and for following my adventures! I’ve learnt so much from others that are willing to share their knowledge and experience that it seems the least I can do is to share mine too.

  2. Hello John on this miserable grey winter day. So far we’ve had a bit of everything, rain, sleet and a brief snow. Sitting right on the freezing point (32) while 3 days ago it got up to 70! In spite of the dreary day, birds are busy at my 6 new feeders & I can sit here watching and identifying them all day! I have a new woodpecker visiting today, a large one, to greet my 2 other ones: a pair of Downeys, my favorites, and a Hairy. Glad I have no place I must go today it’s scheduled to get worse!
    I should tell you how much I look forward to Wednesdays when I know you’ll be there waiting! Then I also get the freeAmerican Watercolor Weekley (I think you also get it?) I liked all the selections for today but was especially impressed with something Arthur Miller wrote in1934:”The medium’s swift fluidity fits our experience & outlook. We go fast, we decide quickly. We may not go deep, but we are not as rooted in an acre or a belief as a European is likely to be”. I thought that was very appropriate to our relationship!
    We (St.Louis Watercolor Soc) is having a workshop the end of April with Thomas Schaaller! No I am not taking it since I have no interest in painting like him, but realize he’s probably familiar to you? I hope he’s also speaking to us.
    Now to your newest! I like it much better than its predecessor! I guess because it’s more intimate than your usual. I like the counter placement drawing the viewer right into the painting with the off-center vertical, and I like the light treatment on the floor and the suggestion of window panes. I also like the barmaid better. Of course I always have a critique too! I like the barstools with the metal backs and brown seats BUT… the backs seem to curve in at the top too far awhile the seats’ prespective seems wrong re the bar itself The place setting are spaced as they would be so then the actual seats would not be opposite them but below and forward of them Does that make sense? This is something I might have done until I saw it the next day!.
    I recall your saying last time, that the bar was so BRIGHT in fact, but neither rendition shows that other than the glasses and lights hanging above which are well done.
    Well, a lot of emergency trucks were going by when I started this and now the ambulances! Ihave not one but 2 major hospitals 2 and 3 blocks south of me, a major interstate highway immediately to the west!
    Want to add that this latest ‘bar scene makes you feel that YOU are right in there and not as the earlier one did, as if you were not ‘involved’ but outside looking in as if unwelcome. Just a feeling though I’d have had a pint, not a coffee!
    Nice Job!

    1. Thanks Margery. Obviously pleased you like this one more than the other. I’m still torn between the two but I don’t have a problem with liking different bits of both of them. I am familiar with Tom Schaller and we’ve exchanged messages sometimes on twitter which is always a pleasure. I’m sure he’d be an interesting speaker to hear and again, as if to highlight our differences, even though I don’t wish to paint ‘exactly’ like him – if he was doing a workshop anywhere near me, I’d be clamoring for a place!

I'd love to hear any thoughts you have about this

Shopping Basket

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website.