Country lane watercolour

Happy New Year everyone! I hope that everyone has had as enjoyable and relaxing a time as whatever rules apply where you are allow!

This post will be brief. Just as I was delighted to sign off from 2020 in the knowledge that, for another year, I’d managed 52 consecutive weekly posts – so it is with nervous trepidation and brimming with doubt, that I set out to do the same all over again!

Also, as I’m sure will be the case for many, my start to the year has been marked by my return to work, the return to home-schooling until at least the middle of February, and a move into even tighter restrictions to try to wrestle some control back over the rapidly rising number of Covid-19 cases. Oh, and it was my birthday too.

All in all, it’s feeling like a pretty somber start to 2021!

Over the past year, I’ve found myself living more vicariously through the exploits of others, and finding inspiration from their photos. This even stretches to enjoying the country walks that others go on!

Inspiration for this week’s painting came from a walk that my artist friend Sarah Mitchener recently went on in the South Downs, not far from Brighton. Here’s my painting:

Country lane

I was hoping to apply some of the same approaches and some of the things I learnt from my other most recent forest scene. This included a ‘less is more’ approach my use of drybrush for the trees and trying to create the depth by a greater variation of tone in the trees. Everything else was done in a similar vein – beginning with the judicious application and splattering of masking fluid in some areas.

Woodland watercolour

I also couldn’t help but smile to myself as I painted this latest scene while thinking about a comment that had been left on last week’s post about the challenges of painting tiny twigs and how unconvincing they often are. And here I was once again faced with scene full of tiny twigs and desperately looking for convincing shortcuts!

There’s something about the expression ‘can’t see the wood for the trees’ that feels quite apt for how I’m feeling at the start 2021. Fingers crossed this will only improve as the year progresses.

New Year. New Resolutions.

If anyone has any artistic resolutions for the year ahead, I’d love to hear them.

I think mine are still percolating so there’s still plenty of time for me to be inspired by others. So far, my only firm commitment is to try to use my camera more. I’ve become incredibly reliant on my phone for capturing images – mainly due to its convenience and the fact that it’s always on hand.

A year or two ago I splashed out on a new camera (new to me but second hand of course!) and I’ve barely used it. In the right hands, it’s capable of producing photographs of exceptional quality. Sadly, mine aren’t the right hands at the moment, but I’m hoping some practice may help.

The ultimate aim is still for the photographs to benefit my painting and I hope that the photographic considerations around lighting, composition, contrast and storytelling will hopefully all come into play in my paintings.

I feel it only fair to say, and in the interests of openness and transparency, that this isn’t the first year that I’ve made this resolution! So, in addition to finding out what your resolutions may be, I’d also welcome any thoughts on how I might best stick to the only resolution that I have so far!

In the meantime, best wishes to all for 2021.

Thoughts on Country lane watercolour

19 thoughts on “Country lane watercolour”

  1. Pingback: West Street, Brighton, Watercolour

  2. Great painting, John! I have two ‘resolutions’…one to improve my edges (!) the other to be seen more.

    I’ve been reading Joseph Zbukvic who says “…every watercolor should contain every edge possible in order to fully exploit the medium…”. Your paintings are very edgy in that respect, much lovely dry brush, for example.

    Gallery wise, I’m in two local ones, have an exhibition in a third in July, have joined a North Wales arts group that will arrange a show in Chester later in the year (hopefully) and have a single painting in a group show in March…but this doesn’t feel like enough and I want to do more! That may be competition entry, not sure as yet.

    As a possible hird resolution, I could with a support group that truly critiques my work, I may have to set one up on Facebook or some such!

    1. Hi Ray – I definitely think there’s a lot of truth in that JZ adage about successful paintings tending to feature the full range of edges, and it’s now something I’m much more conscious of in my own work. I’m impressed that you’re showing in proper bona-fide galleries! I’m yet to hit those heights! Every year I promise to enter my work into more things, but often when the entries are open, I don’t feel I I have anything worthy of submitting! There are a few entries on the near horizon however so I’m hopeful that I’ll at least be able to enter one or two this time around!
      As for a critique / support group, I know what you mean, but I also tend to shy away from them as I often find such groups fraught with other stuff, way beyond what they’re original purpose is! (But I’ve never been much of a joiner-inner with any groups to be honest so it’s probably just me!)

        1. I know just what you mean! Y equivalent is to try to get down to the seafront, a full horizon line to look out towards and lots of space to breath in every sense!

    1. haha – yes, you’re quite right! This is a fundamental point that I’ve fallen foul of far too many times! Shall endeavour to always have camera to hand – preferably with a battery that has some charge left on it too!

  3. Happy new year John and fingers tightly crossed for a better one!
    I love your painting, it’s a lovely composition and the shadows are so effective.
    My new year resolution is simply to paint ‘en Plein air’ more. I actually achieved this about 10 days before Christmas and was unusually happy with my painting. Yes it was cold, but I went with a friend and we were wrapped up warm with fingerless gloves. I did the initial drawing and 1st washes but completed the painting at home, in the warm, later. I found it so satisfying to have started it, at least, on the spot.
    So that is my resolution for this year…it’s still a bit too cold for me at the moment though!😱
    Happy painting.

    1. Hi Carole – I deeply impressed at your middle of winter plein air painting adventures! Shockingly, painting plein air is usually high up on my list. I think the fact that it barely occured to me this year is a sign of just how confined I’m feeling! Your message though has reminded me that painting in situ does belong on my list for 2021 so thanks very much for that! As you say though, too cold at the moment – I’m freezing cold inside let alone when I go out!

  4. Interestingly John, I have been moving in the completely opposite direction. After doing a LOT of thinking over the holidays, I’ve become even more convinced that all of us have been seriously MISTAUGHT about ART. We have been convinced that to be ‘good’ it must look exactly like the object it represents. The closer to the object or photograph the better it must be. For instance, when a young child gets his first crayons everyone ohs and awes over his scribbles. Suddenly Mom sees him scribbling on the walls, table, dog and shrieks BAD BOY! NO!NO! And he is confused of course. Mom has been taught to stay in the lines; he’s given a coloring book with LINES to fill in and no longer are the free scribbles allowed. People have been so brainwashed about how they are supposed to see art! This misinformed attitude being about Rules leaves no room for creativity, no room to examine the softer things surrounding us daily or the 3rd dimension of life. Life is NOT 2 dimensional. It’s poetry, music which examine life differently from a rigid drawing. When we find an opening in the fence surrounding us, we are afraid to explore the vast outside. Fearing to taste the apple, we shelter within the level of ignorance and safety, afraid and fearing failure, sticking instead to the fine lines of familiarity, repeating them over and over again. I’m concerned about the essence of things, not how botanically accurately I can pint/draw a rose. There’s a NEED for that, but it is NOT the point of painting. I’ll be working toward this goal probably never achieving it!

    1. Hi Margery and thanks for this. Your comments don’t surprise me at all as they seem to chime with the direction you’ve been moving in for some time. My ambitions lie somewhere in between! I’m firmly a figurative painter, but I’m not seeking photo-realism or exact representation. Maybe I’ll become more interested in abstraction further down the line, but for the moment, I’m still pursuing an atmospheric, figurative approach! Good to hear where you’re aiming for and I think for both of us, the old adage the it’s about the journey, not the destination is worth us bearing in mind!
      All the best for 2021 Margery

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