Sunburst and stormclouds watercolour painting

A dramatic watercolour sky to start with this week’s post!

Many years ago, (the photo tells me that it was back in 2009!) we spent a few days exploring The Witterings in West Sussex, near Chichester.

On one of the days we ended up at the beach at West Wittering, which is an enormous expanse of beach. We were treated to the most amazing and dramatic of skies as this glowering pitch black band of storm clouds rolled in. It really was one of those skies that I wouldn’t have believed had I not seen it with my own eyes.

It’s long been on my mind to try to paint it one day and, follow the fun I’ve had recently working on some skies, that day finally came!

Sunburst and storm clouds at West Wittering beach

Often, I find that seeing my paintings on a screen improves them, because of the bright back-lighting of the screen. This is one of those rare occasions when I actually think that the painting looks better in real life than on the screen!

The #anonartproject

Keeping my fingers crossed that people will have now received their artworks from this year’s Heart Research UK Anonymous Art Project and that this won’t be spoiling the surprise for anyone!

Just as a reminder from last week’s post, this year’s auction was the most successful yet for Heart Research UK, raising over £53,500. For my part, my contributions raised a total of £374, which is wonderful.

This means that over the past three years my contributions have raised £1,164.65 to support the amazing and important work of Heart Research UK.

The deadline for submissions for this year’s auction came at time of particularly low creative ebb and confidence. I just couldn’t summon up the wherewithal to paint anything new and I was on the brink of pulling out altogether.

It was only thinking about how difficult it must be for the charity sector to raise the money needed to support such a massive range of important, life changing causes, that I realised the least I could do was make a little bit of an effort and pull my finger out!

The criteria for the auction is that all works should be two dimensional and A5. I cut an A5 window out of a piece of card and set about going through some of my recent paintings, which were all quarter imperial size, and looking to see if I could come up with any interesting crops that I could submit.

I’ve shown below the full size image and the crop for the three images I submitted this year:

I did quite enjoy this process, and I actually think that some of the crops are an improvement on the original image. You can see below the final scores on the door for each image.

I can only hope that the people that won these images are happy with them! I’d love to hear from anyone that has won one. It would be nice to be able to thank them in person!

In other exciting news

In a moment of light-headed frivolity, I decided to book onto an online workshop with Alvaro Castagnet!

From Alvaro Castagnet’s website…

As many of you may recall, 2020 started off with me excitedly booking on to a weekend Masterclass with Alvaro Castagnet that was due to take place in the UK in May. I think this was at the back of my mind when I decided to book this course – a little consolation treat to myself to round the year off!

I’ve seen quite a lot of artists turning to delivering online courses and tuition in the absence of being able to deliver physical workshops and I’ve been tempted to try quite a few but just never really made that final commitment.

I’m really excited at the prospect of this paint along with Alvaro session. I do have quite a few logistical things to sort out to do with setting up my easel where I can see the screen and be out of the way of family etc but nothing that I can’t overcome in the next week or two. One of the nice things is that I don’t actually have to wait that long until the 12th December – I’m terribly impatient at the best of times!

I’ve already seen the image that we’ll be working from and, I’m tempted to do a version of it before the workshop. I thought it would be nice to compare and contrast how I tackle it without any guidance, versus the version I do on the day!

Naturally, I’ll be sharing my experiences here on the blog sometime after the event. Who knows, maybe I’ll even ‘see’ some of you there!?

Thoughts on Sunburst and stormclouds watercolour painting

10 thoughts on “Sunburst and stormclouds watercolour painting”

  1. Hi John
    I had enrolled for that Alvaro workshop too, I too think I may have a go beforehand too. I did in 2019 spend a week in Norfolk with Herman Pekel which was terrific, such a talent and a really nice chap.
    I was due to be at JZ workshop with big Sky arts last September which got cancelled but I hope to be at it next year, who knows!

    1. Hi Brian! Great to hear that you’ll be on the same workshop – maybe we should compare notes afterwards!? I’ve envious of your time with Herman Pekel – I’ve seen a few of his solo videos and those where he’s painting with JZ. I like the freedom and slightly more loose and painterly approach that he pursues. Such a shame about missing out on the JZ workshop. My one with Alvaro Castagnet is supposed to be going ahead again next May, and my booking has been transferred over but I’m still half expecting it to get postponed again. Hopefully by next September though! Good luck with Alvaro workshop preparations! Thanks Brian

  2. Great sky, and the simple treatment of the foreground adds to the impact, John! Love the depth of colour. Congratulations again on the auction of your paintings, really well done.

    And an adventure with Alvaro to look forward to…I really hope you do tackle the associated painting beforehand too, to see how your thinking and approach changes as a result of the ‘adventure’.

    1. Hi Ray and thanks for all of this! Yes, I think I will try to do the painting beforehand, even if it’s just as a loose sketch to get a feel for it! I’m already feeling quite nervous though! I so want to enjoy the workshop, but I also really want to do a half decent painting too!

  3. That sky is a bit of a “showstopper” as they say somewhere or other. Funnily enough, it’s the bit between the black cloud and the horizon that I like most of all. It’s a great sky; very free but definitely under control.
    Good luck with the on-line tutorial. If I had the source photo in advance, I’d have decided exactly how I wanted to paint it before the class started and I would find it very hard to budge. I have the same problem in the watercolour class I attend (Covid willing); I can’t stand just doing what the teacher tells us to do! The trouble is I’ll never learn anything new if I carry on like that. You are far more open to input than I am. I imagine you’ll get a lot out of it.
    Congratulations again on your auction results; could you have predicted which painting would make most and which least? I’m not sure I could have.

    1. Hi Rob and thanks for this. This latest sky painting was again done using a splash of ox gall in my water bucket and totally soaking the paper at the outset. This seemed to give me a lot more time to keep playing around with the sky which seems to really help.
      I wish I had your certainty vision Rob! I’ve seen the photo we’ll be using in the workshop and I really can’t decide how best to approach it! The way things are going, I’ll probably end up leaving it until the workshop!
      As for the auction, had I been a gambler, I’d probably have gone for the flowers doing better than they did compared to the other two. It’s not because I liked it more, but just thought it might have the widest appeal. There’s part of me that can’t help wonder if people think they’re actually getting something by a much better known artist than they really are! I have to balance out in my mind their disappointment with the money raised for a great cause!

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

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