More green and a break from green!

Unfinished business

At the end of last week’s post, after having made two attempts at the homework I’d been set on Paul Talbot-Greaves’ course ‘using green in watercolour’, I was deliberating a third effort.

I had in mind some changes that I’d like to try to achieve, which I hoped might improve on the efforts I’d made so far. Here’s that third attempt:

Third and final homework attempt

I was glad that I made the third attempt. It still didn’t work out as well as I’d anticipated, and parts of it still really frustrated me, especially the foreground area between the road and the wall. Overall though, I felt the colours, balance, and textures in the greens in this painting were the most successful of the three.

All the paintings I did based on our first demonstration and assignment have now been submitted to Paul. I’m now eagerly awaiting his comments and suggestions for how I could have done this more successfully. I daresay it will echo many a school report along the lines of could do better. Perhaps one of the main differences all these decades on, is that I actually do want to do better, whereas I was never really that bothered about doing better at badminton or rugby!

A little city break

After all this time spent immersed in the greens of the countryside, I found myself hankering for a bit of an urban break. Where better to indulge myself then but a little trip to New York! Here’s a little souvenir of my visit. I should probably add that this was all a complete flight of fancy. Not only did I not go to New York, but I never actually left the flat!

I continued to test positive all week and have been entirely housebound! Only today, Wednesday, did I venture out for the first time in ten days! So, here’s where I went in my head:

New York crossing

I enjoyed painting this, especially the many various abstractions that make watercolour such a pleasure for me. I was pleased with the simplification of the background buildings. From the outset, I’d planned on the left-hand buildings being cool and the right-hand foreground buildings being much warmer in colour.

I was also a little nervous about handling the cars in the foreground as they were so prominent. My usual tendency would be to tighten up in a search for accuracy, but I managed to steer myself in almost the opposite direction and work loosely with lots of water and lots of pigment and not to fuss things too much.

When you see the detail below, you get a clearer idea of just how little control I exerted over the paint:

Close up detail

I so enjoyed this little city break that I took another:

City break

I really like some areas in this painting, especially on the left-hand side with the tree, coach and the energy in some of the brushwork on the foreground shadow. I’m not sure I’ve tackled many people on motorbikes, so I’m not going to complain about this, much as I’d like to! I do, however, wish that I’d given more thought and attention to the placement of the other figures, which I find a little unsatisfactory!

It was nice to visit another city and continue my break from the greens!

I already have a new landscape sketched out to practice some of what I’ve learned so far. I am a little nervous about starting it because, from a perspective point of view, it feels pretty challenging but hopefully, I’ll be ready to share it with you next week.

Thoughts on More green and a break from green!

7 thoughts on “More green and a break from green!”

    1. Thanks David and no, it’s not gouache. A while back I did use white gouache to add touches of highlights but when it ran out or dried up, I switched to using just W&N Titianium white and this is what I used on this painting (and have been using in other paintings too of late to vary the texture and bring some variety into darker passages).

  1. Hi John, very impressive painting of NY. Particularly love the way you’ve handled the simplification. And the cars are a treat! One thing I notice with the Castagnet style of people painting is that they often look rather menacing. I think it’s partly to do with the fact that they nearly always are walking towards you. Perhaps you might also consider having a few walking away. Just a suggestion. V impressive painting all round! About the greens, yes, I decided to scrap the second ref and go with my own. That shadow just sank the whole enterprise for me, even after three attempts. My new ref makes me positively green to the point of sea sickness, but it means a lot to me. Let’s see what Paul has to say!

    1. Hi David and many thanks for this. So pleased you like the recent NY painting but I totally take your point about the row of figures bearing down on the viewer, it’s something that I’m repeatedly guilty of! This is something I need to work on, so that there’s far greater variety with figures walking in all different directions, and importantly too to improve my gender balance! I’ll be adding this to my homework list! Like you, I’m really looking forward to Paul’s feedback. It’ll be interesting to see how much detail he’s able to go into with his feedback as there’s a lot of people on the course!

    1. Thanks so much Hilda, I must confess that’s the part that I’ve struggled with most throughout! It still feels a bit overworked but at least there’s some variety and textures in there now! I’d really like to see how Paul would have handled that area!

      1. Yes, imagine your struggle might have to do with the subject of how to ‘suggest’ blades of grass, without actually painting them individually – or something along those lines??! But, whatever you did, it really works for me!!!

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