Watercolour painting of St Nicholas Church, Brighton, by artist John Haywood

Winter light, watercolour

This week’s watercolour painting was based on a scene that I saw the day before Christmas Eve. I was taking a less well trodden path into Brighton to do a few last minute festive errands. As I nipped down a road that runs behind St. Nicholas Church the afternoon sun was glinting off the sea, just visible in the distance and creating some wonderful diffused contre-jour light effects. I stopped to take a few photos and was fortunate that a few people passed by, taking a short cut that runs down behind the church so that I could get a selection of images to work from.

Winter light. St Nicholas Church, Brighton, watercolour painting by artist John Haywood
Winter light. St Nicholas Church, Brighton

I think I must have been totally ‘in the zone’ when I painted this as I can’t actually recall much about it now! I know that I painted it after a few days of traditional Christmas excess – and I do remember how good it felt to be focussing on painting again. I also recall that I was totally engrossed in what I was doing. (I was tempted to title this Cinderalla as that’s what everyone else was engrossed in watching while I painted this).

It was painted pretty quickly but not, I feel, rushed. I tried to pay particular attention throughout to the moisture level of the paper, focussing on what edges I wanted where, sometimes sharp and defined, sometimes soft and suggested. I was also conscious throughout of trying to hold my brushes high up the handle, to try to keep the brushstrokes loose, energetic and expressive. Even when I had occasion to hold the brush a little more closely to the tip – such as painting the figure with their bag of shopping and dog – I still managed to paint with a degree of economy and without tightening up too much.

I’m really pleased with how this turned out. I think I like it all the more because it feels as though it came out of nothing. Well, nothing more than a quick trip to the shops and a bit of paint splashing whilst the family watched a film!

My final post…

As this will be my final post of the year, I feel I ought to express something profound, or at least remotely meaningful. Trouble is, I just don’t think I have it in me. Like so many people around the world I expect, I’m just too shattered. I’ve arrived at the end of 2020 mentally, physically and emotionally exhausted. There’s no getting around the fact that 2020 has been an absolute shocker!

In a year during which Covid has cast its increasingly long and dark shadow over everything and everyone, I will remember it forever as the year that I had to say goodbye to my mum, who I loved so dearly.

Even silver linings have felt in short supply this year – but there have been a few. It’s been a year that has reminded me of what I do have, and that I need to appreciate every bit of it! I have my family – which is the bedrock of everything. The picture below is one of my Christmas presents from my daughter, showing the three of us with my mum, aka ‘Gran Kay’ – needless to say I shed a tear or two on opening this!

I also feel fortunate to live in place that I love and which nourishes me in so many ways. And I have my painting, and this blog.

Despite personal loss and grief, a global pandemic and the odd motivational malaise, this is the 52nd weekly post of 2020, and the fifth year in succession* that I’ve posted something – usually a watercolour – every week. My painting, this blog and the people that I’ve met on the way all feel intrinsically linked to me in some way.

Year on year, I continue to see my painting develop and, as much as it can so often frustrate me, it’s become a much more important part of my life than I could ever have imagined. And this blog, the people that follow it , those that interact with it, and anyone that is sufficiently moved to buy my paintings are all part of that ‘importance’ to me. Thank you all so much for being such a large part of what keeps me going, not just through the thick and thin of watercolour painting, but through the thick and thin of life too! Please know that your support makes a world of difference to me.

I wish you all a wonderful New Year and, as we turn our back on 2020, I hope that we can all look forward to a much better, brighter year ahead.

* In 2016 I only posted 48 posts as, at first, I allowed myself the odd break over various holidays!

Thoughts on Winter light, watercolour

26 thoughts on “Winter light, watercolour”

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  5. Hi John, your watercolour reached out and snagged my heart. Those leafless branches, the sun and the green of grass… even in the bleakness of life, Someone watches over us.
    God bless you.

  6. Love this painting John, the sparkle on the sea and the slight shock of the green grass! The figure and little doggy are perfect too.
    Thanks for keeping going through the worst of the pandemic during the year, and for keeping me (us) going too.
    I can only wish you a super productive 2021 surrounded by loved family members and your box of paints. Looking forward to more next year.
    Take good care and stay safe and well,
    Carole 😍 xx

    1. Hi Carole and thanks so much for this – I’m so pleased you like this one! Thanks too for all your kind words, empathy support and encouragement this year Carole – it’s all meant a great deal to me! Hope that you have a wonderful New Year and that we can all look forward to brighter times ahead!

  7. Superb painting to end the year on, John: the grass green against the sun is spot on; the dog is one of the doggiest I’ve ever seen and the human is very convincing right down to the feet(!!) and their shadows not at all over-done. The sea shines in the distance and the paving is hinted at masterfully. Great tree-trunk and major branches (though I’m never quite convinced by people’s twigs – apart from my own, of course!)
    Thanks for helping to give my weeks some purpose this year and I look forward to the next 52.

    1. Hi Rob and thanks so much for such an overwhelmingly positive critique! I’m even happy to take on board your twigs comment and would welcome any advice you might have! I started off all loose and confident with the trunks and larger branches but my confidence waned in the face of so many tiny twigs! Thanks so much for all your support, encouragement and gentle chides throughout the year Rob – it’s been a pleasure! Hope you have a great New Year and look forward to resuming in 2021.

        1. Haha! I should have known better! I’ll need to revisit this spot with my trusty Observer book of trees if you want anything more specific from me than it’s a ‘tree’!

  8. I think this is one of your best watercolours!
    Have a wonderful New Year and many more terrific paintings, always look forward to reading them!

    1. Hi Barry and thanks so much for this! I think you might be right about this being one of my best! Definitely feels like a good one to bow out of 2020 on! Thanks for all your support and encouragement this year and hope you have a great New Year!

  9. Sweet, lovely ending to a good year of following (and sometimes aggravating you) year. Rough as it was, I think many of us got something positive out of the experience. I know I did! By the way, i like your daughter’s painting too! How old is she?

    1. Thanks so much Margery! There have undoubtedly been some positives from the year (though I don’t think I can count my rapidly expanding waistline as one of them!) Flora’s nine. She struggles with her reading and writing but I’ve always loved her painting and drawing! Happy New Margery – look forward to being in touch in 2021!

  10. Hi John
    A very nice post with many well said words and an extremely nice watercolour to finish of this year!
    I love the light coming through the painting and the clever representation of the town too
    Many thanks for all your posts
    Best wishes for a better for us all 2021!

    1. Hi Brian and thanks so much for these kind words and your support and encouragement throughout the year – it’s all much appreciated! Let’s hope that 2021 is indeed a better year for us all in every respect!

  11. Happy New Year John,
    That’s a cracking image to end 2020 on. The tones on the background and foreground are excellent. Did your session with Alvaro provide any inspiration?

    Looking forward to 2021 paintings, you’ll have to rmo up to 2 per week :-)
    Best wishes,

    1. Hi Warren and thanks so much for this. My session with Alvaro was definitely on my mind when I painted this! Be great to see if can carry this spirit through to my next few paintings too! As for two posts per week – I’m afraid I find sustaining weekly posts quite challenging enough! Hope you have a great New Year Warren.

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