Stanmer Park – studio watercolour painting

A few weeks ago I shared the plein air painting that I did with Brighton Painting Group during our visit to Stanmer Park on the outskirts of Brighton:

Stanmer Park Brighton, painted plein air (quarter imperial size)

I commented at the time that I thought this was probably my most successful plein air painting to date, and that I had it in mind to try to paint a larger version of this view, but from the comfort of the studio! This plein air effort was on a quarter imperial sized sheet of paper but I was keen to scale up to a half imperial sized sheet.

Here’s how I got on:

Stanmer Park, Brighton painted in the Studio (painted half imperial size)

I purposefully avoided referring back to my first effort, preferring instead to rely on a reference photo and my memories of the day, and what appealed to me most about the view.

I found it both interesting and frustrating that when I painted the plein air version, the painting seemed to come together quite naturally. This studio version, by contrast, often felt like a bit of a struggle and, right up until the end of the painting, I had serious reservations about it. It was only when I’d finally completed it, and had left it alone for a while that my attitude toward it began to soften.

Removed from the trials and tribulations of the experience I had in painting it, I now think it’s a really successful painting! For ease of comparison, here are the two paintings side by side:

I’ll always like and appreciate my first effort because it was done on location and in the elements. I am, however, still really pleased with my second attempt. It still captures the light and mood that I recall from the day and the addition of the figures and dog provides some additional interest that I think is needed at this larger scale. I think there’s also some greater subtleties with the colours and edges that also add to the interest.

I’d love to hear anyone else’s thoughts on this latest one and how it compares to the original.

Thoughts on Stanmer Park – studio watercolour painting

19 thoughts on “Stanmer Park – studio watercolour painting”

  1. I just saw this post.and well – Wow! Both paintings are absolutely stunning. Which is better? That’s like asking what’s better – an awesome pizza or a great burger. I know – American food. 😂

    But seriously, they are both great. I like the people and dog as it adds a feeling of comfort – like how it would be to walk down this lane. But then, I also like the original. I like the shadows and the sky better in the original. Both are awesome!

    Maybe you should publish a book – I’d buy that too!

    1. Ah, thanks so much for this Tim and I know exactly what you mean! Although they’re very similarly in so many ways, they’re also completely different too, but I’m so pleased you like them both! As for publishing a book? I’d just settle for some more time to spend painting to be honest!

  2. Bonjour John, bravo pour les deux versions. Toutefois, j’apprécie tout particulièrement la version studio, pour l’atmosphère en général, cette légèreté de l’air, sa transparence, par exemple dans le rendu des arbres du fond, les ombres également des arbres à droite, plus subtiles enfin, oui les personnages sont un plus pour l’ensemble. Bravo John. Cordialement Serge

    1. Bonjour Serge et merci beaucoup pour vos gentils et généreux mots de soutien – je suis ravi que vous aimiez la version studio et j’apprécie vraiment vos commentaires ! Meilleurs voeux, John.

  3. I think both paintings are excellent, each in their own way. But I especially like the freshness of your plein air version. The tree on the right hand side seems more crisply rendered, the dry brush ruts in the road sparkle, and the foreground shadows are nice and bold. Well done, both versions.

    1. Hi Bill and many thanks for your kind comments – they’re much appreciated and I completely understand how the plein air version has a freshness and spontaneity to it that’s a bit lacking on the second version. I think I’ll just need to make sure that I never display these two paintings next to each other!

  4. Hi John
    I think the addition if the people and dog is great but somehwo the spontaneity of the forst paint8ng appeals to me more,especially the dark wall of the barn and the trees.
    Both great though
    Thanks for showing us
    Cheers
    Brian

    1. Hi Brian and many thanks for this which I completely understand! I’m going to interpret it all as a sign of progress that one of my plein air paintings can more than hold it’s own when compared to a studio painting! All the best Brian!

    1. Thanks for this Al! I rarely feel that I achieve a ‘finished’ plein air painting but really hope that if I keep on practising I might one day reach that holy grail!

  5. I prefer most things about the second version apart, perhaps, from the right-hand trees and their shadows. Certainly the distant depth works better in the studio version and also the figures. It’s a superb painting!

    1. Thanks so much for this Rob, I really appreciate it! Your comment makes me feel as warm as if I was wearing that lovely fleecy top you painted recently (though obviously a grown up version!)

    1. Thanks Rukshana – I can completely understand that! Sometimes it’s probably best for me not to compare side by side and to let each attempt exist in its own right a little more – but I usually find it so interesting that I just can’t help it!

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

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