What a difference a mount makes

I hit a little bit of in impasse this week. Nothing too dramatic but one upshot was that I found myself quite lacking in inspiration and motivation for painting! A lot of this was due to external factors such as the new start of term and the inevitable new school timetables, drop off times, pick up times, after school clubs and my own gradual phased return to the workplace.

In addition to this ‘new normal’, I’m also trying to dedicate time each day for stretches and exercises. This is already paying great dividends in terms of my recent back injury, but it also seems to have left precious little time for any painting.

Here’s the sum total of this week’s brushwork, which I’m showing not because I’m particularly proud of it, but more to demonstrate quite how off-key I’ve felt about painting this week!

A rather paltry week of painting!

I hope that some of you may, however, have noticed the mount on this?

After last week’s post, I did receive quite a few enquries about whether any of my recent A5 sketches were for sale. Now while they weren’t painted with that intention in mind, I was incredibly flattered by the interest. I wasn’t particularly keen to just tear them out of my sketchbook and stick them in an envelope though, so thought I’d see what they might look like with a mount around them.

The images below aren’t ‘finished’, they’re just the pages of my sketchbook with a mount that I’ve cut to fit into an A4 frame, balanced on top of them! What’s pleasing is that quite a few of them scrub up pretty well with a mount on them!

One thing that I’m going to change straight away as a result of this, is to start painting on only one side of each page of my sketchbook! If I should produce something of any note, then I won’t paint on the reverse.

I haven’t mentioned this in any detail yet – much more to come in a future post – but I have a little exhibition of sorts planned for December and I think these smaller works may be a nice addition to the range of sizes and prices that I already offer.

A new addition to the library

When my interest in watercolour painting was rekindled many years ago, one of the first books that I bought was Ron Ranson’s compilation of ‘watercolour impressionists’. I particularly enjoyed it because it showcased a wide range of artists whose work I found really compelling.

Ron Ranson’s anthology of Watercolour Impressionists

This book was a great introduction to artists that I would go on to spend a lot more time looking at and learning from, most notably perhaps, Edward Wesson, John Yardley, Jack Merriot and Trevor Chamberlain. I have subsequently purchased books by each of these artists.

I can now add the name of Tony Couch to this list. I have recently received his book ‘Watercolor, You Can Do It!’ Now it won’t surprise regular readers to learn that his particular style of painting isn’t as appealing to me as work by a good many other artists. Nevertheless, there’s a lot about his work that I admire and can most definitely learn from. I haven’t had the opportunity to read the book in any detail (please note my comments at the beginning of this post!) but am looking forward to when time permits me to peruse this book more thoroughly!

As ever, if anyone else has any artists or book suggestions that they think might be of interest to me, please do let me know. While I’m fast running out of shelf space for my watercolour books, I always like to think that there’s room for just one or two more!

Thoughts on What a difference a mount makes

10 thoughts on “What a difference a mount makes”

  1. A mat does make a big difference. I usually tape around the edges of my paper to bring it close to finished size, that way when I remove the tape I see a bit of what it would look like matted.

    I think painting on only one side is a good idea. Yes, it wastes paper but as you’ve decided, if you have some really fine paintings you might want to remove, mat and sell, if they are back to back, you are going to have to choose. You can always use the backs for notes or sketches.

    I only paint on one side, plus I have them in a removable system where I can add or remove pages or rearrange them. I use “Circa” discs and I have a punch so I make my own sketchbooks out of the same Arches paper I use for full size paintings. I also have some sketchbooks, mostly Stillman and Birn, but if I removed pages they’d fall apart. Plus, sometimes there aren’t enough pages or I only partially use a book for a particular subject, event or location.

    1. Hi Mary and thanks for this! Like you, I normally mask off the edges, (or I’m using the Ken Bromley paper stretcher so I know what the finished size is most likely to be. I’m so pleased to hear that you don’t always finish a sketchbook too! My shelves are littered with half finished ones! I was thinking that the one I’m using now might be amongst a very small collection of ‘complete sketchbooks’! (save of course for the odd page here and there should I decide to remove some for framing!)

  2. I just lost a longish post to you so will make this shortish! Yes John what a difference a mount makes indeed and your paintings look wonderful mounted. I am in the habit of always having two ‘L’s available to put around my painting whilst it is in progress, and do find this helps me see how the finished painting will look when mounted and framed….every little bit of help is needed!
    So glad it sounds like your back is recovering well.
    Have a good and fruitful painting week,
    Warm wishes,
    Ps I have that Ronson book too. I’ll try and think of a book you might like. I have many of the same as you but do you have the Jack Merriott one ‘Discovering Watercolour’ ?

    1. Hi Carole and thanks for this. so pleased you like these mounted sketches! I think I’ve also got a couple of ‘L’s under the bed somewhere for this exact reason and have often found it helpful (especially when I’ve been trying to isolate something interesting from an unsuccessful larger painting!
      I think I do Jack Merriott’s ‘Discovering Watercolour’ but, to my shame, it’s not one that I’ve ever spent that much time with! Now that you’ve mentioned it, I’ll be sure to take in out over the next few days and have another look at it! Thanks so much (and yes, the back is recovering nicely thank you and I’m gradually coming to terms with the need for daily stretches!)

  3. The Ranson book was one I found on my late father’s shelves and found very useful a few years later when I started painting watercolours myself. Now I know that our tastes differ, John, but one book I might add to your list and which I think you might be interested in is “Country Landscapes in Watercolour” by John Blockley (Phaidon 82 in US and 89 here). He produces some breath-taking textures and darks generally by using waterproof inks which he allows to half dry – as I remember, but you’ll have to read it for yourself. His daughter writes about watercolour, too.
    The mounts do make a difference (but corners are a bugger, aren’t they?) Of course, I’ve just started framing all my paintings without mounts and using non-reflective glass to fool people into thinking they might be oils or something more arty than watercolour! Variety is the spice of life…

    1. Hi Rob and thanks for this. I know John Blockley by name (and is his daughter Anne?) and I’m sure that somewhere in my archives I’ve got a small mini guide to watercolour painting by him that was done is association with Winsor and Newton. I know him to be a master of texture (so completely understand his appeal to you!) but I’m not familiar with this book but I’ll add it to my wish list!
      As for the mounts, I fear I made some schoolboy errors when I cut this one! I think the blade needs replacing and I should have had another piece of card underneath this one when I did the cut! I’ve got quite a lot of left over mounts from larger paintings that are ideal for this size so I’ve got plenty to practice on. I like your idea of no mount and non-reflective glass but not sure that I can make this work for my distinctly ‘off-the shelf’ painting!

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

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