A new Watercolour challenge and Competition from Jem Bowden

My approach to Christmas is taking it’s usual well-worn path. One of the features is dragging myself exhausted to the finish line only to then be struck down by whatever cold is doing the rounds at the time and needing to put my feet up for few days but being unable to do so because it’s only a few days to Christmas and there’s just so much to be done!

This year, my painting feels the same. I’m so seriously lacking in time, motivation and painterly joie de vivre that I’m hardly able to get any painting done at all, but know that I’ve only got a make it a few more posts to complete another year of weekly blog posts (before it starts all over again in January!)

This week was more challenging than most! While I wanted to paint, I struggled to settle on a subject matter so ended up doing various other chores instead, on the basis that at least I’d be able to tick a few things of my relentless to do list.

I was saved, and not for the first time, by a little watercolour challenge by the great Jem Bowden. Jem recently posted a YouTube video demonstration of a backlit landscape scene.

Shortly after posting this video Jem issued a little watercolour challenge and competitions in his most recent blog post. Jem is inviting people to have a go at the same scene and one lucky person can walk away with Jem’s original painting.

I’ve often spoken of my admiration for Jem and his abilities as a painter and, under the pressurised time constraints at the weekend, and otherwise devoid of inspiration other than the desire to paint, this challenge came to my rescue.

I’d already watched the video in its entirety some time ago so was familiar with the scene. I also already had a quarter sheet of paper taped up (that had been sat around taunting me for a couple of days already!). The great thing about views like this is that they don’t take too long at all to sketch out!

This was all just as well because I had to try to paint this while also simultaneously preparing a Sunday roast! I used Jem’s final painting as the basis for my initial sketch, and then went back to the beginning of the video. Jem painted his version in about 50 minutes and my aim was to try to paint along and keep pace with him as best I could.

Here’s how I got along:

My first effort at Jem’s watercolour challenge!

So, quite a lot to improve on here! The first lesson, which is as basic as they come, is that it’s really difficult to judge colour and tone in the dark! (I started painting this at about 5pm in the afternoon when it was dark outside and by electric light inside and it was quite a challenge to see what on earth I was doing!)

My next excuse is that we paint with different colour palettes, so I found trying to get my colour mixes as similar to Jems quite a challenge. I wasn’t looking for exact matches, but they did at least have to work together. Now I don’t think that these colours are too bad, but it was a challenge trying to mix them at the same speed that Jem was working! The speed of Jem’s approach is what struck me most, it really is fast and furious. It really makes you admire all the more the speed and fluidity with which he paints!

This meant that I quite often found myself trying to paint over paper that we still too damp from a previous wash, which is especially noticeable in the tree where I got quite frustrated. At the time of painting this, I was actually quite pleased with how it turned out but now, looking at again in the cold light of day, I can see that it does leave a lot to be desired!

The great thing was that I did really enjoy painting this. Rattling along with a kind of wild abandon felt wonderful and was the perfect balm to my painting paralysis! I won’t be submitting this to Jem, but I do have until the end of February to send something in for contention! My plan is to do another half-sheet version of this, and perhaps take just a little bit more time over it.

I’m delighted to say that, by comparison, the roast dinner on which I was multitasking alongside this painting was, though I say it myself, an absolute triumph!

Is anyone else up for joining in with Jem’s challenge?

Thoughts on A new Watercolour challenge and Competition from Jem Bowden

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

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