Pleased as punch watercolour paintings

Things are a little frenetic at the moment, mainly for reasons far too dull to expand on here, but it means that my time for painting and blogging is even tighter than usual. In some ways this makes this post all the more surprising because, despite these circumstances, I’m delighted to be able to post about some watercolour paintings that I’m actually really pleased with!

It all started with this sketch, which you can see and hear below as I remove the masking tape.

And here’s what it looks like as a static image. I was pleased with how this sketch turned out with a nice mix of strong contrasts along with a variety of lost and found edges.

City light watercolour sketch

Pleased with the sketch, I was keen to see whether I could translate this into something larger. My usual go-to would be a quarter sheet but I’d recently stretched up a half sheet that was waiting to be used so thought I’d chance my arm with it.

Here’s how I got on:

Watercolour painting of a shaft of light between buildings in a city by artist John Haywood.
City light

This started off rather inauspiciously as I wasn’t quite sure where it was going, or indeed if it was going anywhere at all! As I worked my way through though, working from lighter to darker, big shapes to smaller shapes, it gradually began to emerge. By the end – and I had to be careful not to overwork it with unnecessary details – I was really pleased with how this turned out.

I think what pleased me most was scaling this sketch up without feeling the need to overcomplicate it. Often, when you have more paper or space to work with, the tendency is to feel the need to ‘fill it’ somehow. What I liked in this effort is that the paint and the light does all the hard work and I don’t think it required that much more.

Here’s the sketch and painting showed side by side for comparison:

While I like the immediacy of the sketch, I think that the colours and tones of the larger painting are much more successful. While they’re the same subject – it’s almost as if the two paintings capture a different time of day and even a different time of year.

I’m sure some may wonder why the car is approaching in the sketch, but driving away in the larger painting! Well, the scene is in Montreal, where the cars drive on the right. As I thought the painting was more about an overall city feel, rather than anywhere specific, I decided to put the car driving on the left-hand side of the road.

The other thing that I changed, which is quite minor but to my mind quite funny – is that in the sketch, I put some wires going across the street from the buildings on either side. It was only afterwards, as I contemplated scaling this up, that I realised those wires didn’t actually exist and that I’d based them on a scratch that runs across the screen of my phone! While I think they work fine, I decided to omit these from the larger painting!

Plein-air paint out in Brighton

This Saturday, from 10.00am – 1.30pm, artists will be gathering on Brighton seafront to paint plein-air – and I hope to be one of them!

The idea is being led Brighton based artist Elliot Troworth and I for one am really excited by it. The premise is to establish an untutored plein air painting group that meets every second Saturday of the month. Elliot has set up a page on Instagram where you can find out more and keep up to date with future gatherings of the Brighton Painting Group.

This Saturday will the first meeting and I’m feeling both excited and nervous about it! Excited at the prospect of painting plein-air, nervous because I don’t do much of it, plus I’ll be doing it on my home turf which feels like an added pressure! Another thing that’s preying on my mind is that I know the seafront area really well and as much as I enjoy walking it, I’ve really struggled to identify subjects for painting there. I know that there should be a multitude of opportunities, but I’ve never really hit it off with any of the ones that I’ve tried to date – and that’s been from the comfort of my own home!

I fear it could be quite a chastening experience – but there’s also an outside chance it could be a wonderful experience too! Either way, it will be nice to meet up with other artists from in and around Brighton, and I’m really hopeful that this could lead to something regular.

Please do feel free to circulate this information to anyone that you think might be interested – and I’ll hopefully share my experiences from the day next week!

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