Brighton Painting Group – February meet up

Using green in watercolour – assignment 2 continued

First up this week is a quick continuation of where I left off last week! If you recall, I’d made two attempts at the ‘using green in watercolour’ homework I’d been set but was keen to see if I could improve on both of them with a third effort.

Here’re are the first two efforts again:

Take 1
Take 2
Take 3

I was quite pleased with how this third effort turned out and, while there are individual elements in my first to paintings that I prefer, I think as an overall painting, this third one is the most successful. I was keen to keep in the touches of the red/orange foliage in the background (though I think this was done more successfully on my second attempt) and suggest the bluebells in the left foreground. The shadows across the path also feel more natural and not as heavy in this most recent version.

Here are the three side by side:

all three efforts side by side

I’ve submitted all three to Paul but, as with our last assignment, he’ll most likely choose one to comment on (and I’ve already indicated that I think version three is the best of the lot) so it will be interesting to get his feedback.

What’s great is that my confidence and understanding of greens does feel to be improving and, what’s great is that I had an ideal opportunity to put this to the test!

Brighton Painting Group – February meet up

On Saturday 12th February the Brighton Painting Group descended on Palmeira Square, Hove. This was perfect for me as it’s only about 5 minutes walk from my house to the square – although this didn’t stop me from being one of the last artists to arrive. As it’s so close to me, I already know the square well and, a few days ago had the opportunity to do a recce of the square in the most glorious sunshine, so I already had a few ideas in mind.

The weather on Saturday was bright, but there was a cold wind coming in off the sea. One of my main priorities was to try to find a vantage point that had a little bit of shelter! I also knew that one of my challenges would be to find a view that I could simplify. Palmeira Square is surrounded by architecturally beautiful buildings and I could have easily found myself tied up in knots of details.

Instead, I opted for this view, looking across the square through some trees and out to the horizon, where the light was bouncing off the sea. I thought this view had some great contrasts to it with the lightest of lights to the dark silhouettes of the trees.

Usually, have chosen a view, I just get straight on with painting it. On this occasion though, I’d taken my A5 sketchbook along with me with the express intention of doing a quick preparatory study that I hoped would help me to simplify the view a little and help prepare the way for a larger painting.

Here’s my quick A5 study:

The view and the sketch

By the time I’d found this location, chosen a view and done the sketch, I still had two and half hours left to do the painting in, which was just as well because the cold weather meant that it was taking ages for the paints to dry on the paper!

I’m pleased to say that I did find doing the sketch really helpful in simplifying the scene. This meant that sketching out the larger painting was relatively straightforward. Here I am all set up and ready to start painting.

It was also nice to use my new sunshade! I made this a while ago but this was the first occasion that the weather’s been bright enough to justify using it! It’s made up of some offcuts of mountboard and has a number of holes cut in it that allow me to move the position of it slightly on the easel.

All set up and ready to paint

It wasn’t the brightest of days to test it on but I’m pleased that it did work in shielding light from bouncing off the paper. Something else that I’m particularly pleased about is my new glasses! Although the way I’m leaning in towards my easel in this photo might suggest that they don’t actually work very well, the truth is that having clear (non-transition lenses) was a great improvement for me!

Terrible posture! I really must learn to paint upright, shoulders back, chest out!

As I’d hoped, the clear lenses made judging the tones much easier. I still have to do a bit of taking them on and off for switching between looking long-distance and painting at close range, but that’s fine and a great improvement on trying to navigate everything with the equivalent of sunglasses on!

Here’s the painting once I’d finished it:

The painting and the view
My finished effort

It was amazing how much and how often the light changed during the time that I was painting this. The sketch was really helpful in creating the foundations for this painting and is something that I’ll definitely try to do again whenever I’m next able to join the group.

While there’s a lot that niggles me about this painting, I think for a plein air effort in the freezing cold, I’m quite happy with the outcome.

At the end of the session, the painters regrouped to compare notes and share their efforts:

The Brighton Painting Group (showing signs of expansion!)

I think there were about 16 painters in total this month which is great. It is really nice to see this growing little community of people. Everyone is very supportive of each others’ work and it’s always an eye-opening treat to see what other people choose to focus on in their paintings.

The next meeting of the Brighton Painting Group will be on Saturday 12th March at the usual time of 10am-1.30pm. As the weather gets warmer and word gets around I think the group might get even more people joining in. If it’s of any encouragement to anyone considering coming along, I can only say please do give it a go – I know that I’m enjoying it tremendously and I think everyone else that’s come along so far would say the same.

Thoughts on Brighton Painting Group – February meet up

4 thoughts on “Brighton Painting Group – February meet up”

  1. You’ve got a really nice group going there. Glad there are enough people still involved to make a nice sized group and that new people are joining. You have a wide range of mediums and styles there which must be a lot of fun when it is time to share at the end.

    I’m still preferring number two for the spontaneity. But now that you say there are bluebells in the foreground, I like that and the particularly dark blue-green in the foreground on the left of the third painting.

    I think I must work on back lit, shadows and people. You make it look so effortless but I know it’s not.

    1. Hi Mary and thanks for this. Yes, the plein air group is developing into a really nice little community and, from a personal perspective, I’m really enjoying the challenge and discipline of painting plein air on a more regular basis (though can’t deny I’m looking forward to doing it even more when the weather’s a little warmer!)

      Thanks too for the comments about the ‘contrejour’/into the light paintings – I do like the approach as I think the views have such drama about them but I do also worry a little about becoming a bit of a ‘one-trick painter’ (another reason that I wanted to do the course on greens!)

  2. Yes, I like the lighter touch in the foreground of your latest version of the green-pic and the range of colour is lovely.
    You wouldn’t catch me out there in the freezing cold – give me a nice computer and a photo every time – so congratulations on your heroics! Being an incorrigible contre-jourist like yourself, you must be boosting your vitamin D greatly, too. Personally, I just get my legs out when I go for a run.
    Thanks for bothering to post this, John. It’s a great read.

    1. Hi Rob and thanks for this, all much appreciated. Funny you should mention the vitamin D – it’s probably a sign of just how fair skinned I am that I actually returned from this February outing with the distinctly red nose and cheeks of someone that has caught the sun!
      Thanks to for the comment about ‘bothering to post this’. I described the importance of my blog to the person that’s working on my new website as being ‘the stick that keeps this donkey painting’ – It’s a wonderful bonus if anyone actually bothers to read it too!

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