Watercolour painting of telegraph poles and wires silhouetted against a twilight sky

The lines that connect us – watercolour paintings

This week’s watercolour paintings were proof of the old adage that necessity is the mother of invention!

The necessity in this case was time. Since the pandemic took hold, I now have less time than ever before for painting! I won’t bore you with the details of why this is the case but it really is a challenge at the moment to make time for my painting.

I thought that the reference photo for these paintings would provide the opportunity to combine a number of things that I like to work on – delicately graduated sky washes, bold dry brushwork, rich darks and some fine lines, all with the added advantage that it shouldn’t take long to sketch it out!

It is not, of course, complete yet – but some sentences were understood this afternoon… I feel that I have at last struck the solution of a great problem – and the day is coming when telegraph wires will be laid onto houses just like water or gas – and friends converse with each other without leaving home.

Alexander Graham Bell
The lines that connect us (a)

I had so much fun painting this that I couldn’t resist having another bash at it. I liked a lot of the qualities of this painting, but I was a little disappointed with the sky. I wanted to try to create a better sense of a dusky twilight. I also wanted to create a more delicate and intricate web of wires.

Here’s how I got on:

The lines that connect us (b)

This second painting did end up becoming a little more involved than the first. First up, I was much happier with the sky wash which has a lot more colour and subtlety to it than the first and more accurately reflects the time of day that I was after. The poles and wires also have a greater sense of confidence and refinement to them too.

What caused me a little more trouble here was going in too dark in the buildings and then having to try to recover the situation! Eventually, I think I managed to reach a point that I was happy with. Something that was suggestive and evocative without distracting from the telegraph poles and the wires!

I put these two versions to the vote on my Instagram. On reflection, they were probably too similar to get a properly definitive vote but, of those people that did vote, 52% preferred the first painting while 48% preferred the second. Here’s the ‘results image’ from Instagram:

After all the votes were counted

Here are the two side by side for ease of comparison.

Even though my time may be more pressured than ever before, my time spent painting is so important to me. It’s still a place where I can escape to and put aside everything else that’s going on.

I hope that you all have your own activities or places to which you can also escape to – even if only briefly. It feels almost more important for us to have these now than ever before.

Thoughts on The lines that connect us – watercolour paintings

15 thoughts on “The lines that connect us – watercolour paintings”

  1. I love them both. They are just the kind/style that “speak to me”. Exactly the style I would like to be able to do.
    Cities intrigue me, but often its the detail that i love that does me in. I’m too impatient. I know its hard to say but about how long does it take to do one of these? Are your fine lines and detail with watercolor and a brush or pen and ink.
    Thanks…I really enjoy your writing almost as much as your artistic creations. I’m very new and often very discouraged. But not giving up

    1. Wow Trisha – thanks so much for such kind and generous comments, it really does mean a great deal to me! One of the (many) reasons that I like watercolour is because of its immediacy. I prefer to paint quickly and, when possible, to finish a painting in one sitting (this should be standing as I prefer to paint standing up!). I’d say that most of my paintings take about 90 minutes to two hours (largely depending on if there’s a lot of drying time between washes). I’d also say that I’ve become a quicker as time’s gone on and I’ve become more confident with at least some aspects of what I’m doing! As for the fine lines on this one, they’re all done with brush and watercolour. I have a few ‘rigger’ brushes (originally designed for painting the rigging on boats) that make these lines a lot easier. So pleased that you like the blog and hope that you can use it as some form of encouragement too. I know it’s difficult at times, but if it wasn’t, where would the fun/challenge be, not to mention the sense of achievement when you get something right – even if it may only be a single brushstroke, or a tiny area where some colours have mixed on the paper to create the most wonderful effect! Over time, all of these little moments will gradually accumulate to add up to something beyond what you may possibly be able to imagine at the moment!
      Thanks so much for taking the time to get in touch Trisha – it’s much appreciated!

  2. These are gorgeous! I have the same issue with having less time to be creative since the pandemic started which I find rather strange as I would have thought it would be the opposite.

    1. Thanks so much for the kind comments although sorry to hear that your time is also more pressured rather than less during these trying times! Hope you can take some crumbs of comfort from knowing that you’re not alone!

  3. Both sooper, John. The few random dabs of ultramarine(?) in the foreground of picture ‘a’ work well. You could do a similar thing with ‘b’ if you wanted but you’d have to be careful not to make it too colourful – god forbid! I imagine that sort of scene will be history in the fairly near future. Love the sky and the brave wire painting.

      1. Haha, that’s progress for you! I think I’d come up with the title before I started the second one so was keen to make even more of them. I was also feeling a bit more sure of hand too! If it helps, the amount of wiring in the second one is more accurate to my source material!

    1. Thanks for this Rob, I was actually a bit annoyed at how strong those dabs of blue came out so am glad someone likes them! The wires were pretty good test of how brave of heart and steady of hand I was feeling at the time! It’s certainly not always the case!

  4. John, definitely #1! BECAUSE I really like your title: The Lines That Connect Us. Therefore, I think that rat’s nest of lINES should be prominent! The buildings certainly don’t stand out, it’s the LINES that are the star here! In the 2nd one, I like what the spotlight does in the mist/fog but what else does it do? Not much since it doesn’t really light things us on the ground, just the fog…the rest of the scene is just a suggestion but that scumble of lines trellis the story! Bravo!

    1. Thanks for this Margery! I often really struggle with titles as my work is so obviously representational that titles often seem a bit unnecessary. On this occasion though the title and image feel a little more mutually complementary. Thanks again Margery.

    1. Thanks for this Janet – so pleased you liked the post! I’ve come to the conclusion that they’re both fine individually. It’s only when you see them side by side that you can’t help making comparisons!

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

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