Thursday, March 13, 2003

Jack Merriot was an inspiration when I began to paint in watercolour and I still get ideas from the techniques which he advocated. He was asked to devise a correspondence course in Watercolour and this gave him the chance to describe his methods.The material was subsequently revised by his associate Ernest Savage and published as a book 'Discovering Watercolour' which sadly has been out of print for years. After having it recommended I was lucky to find a good copy in a second hand bookshop and snapped it up. Over the years it has become my watercolour 'Bible'.

Feeling the need to get back to basics I turned to it today to refresh my knowledge of Line and Wash This was the first technique Merriot recommended for the beginner. The painting is developed in three stages, first a pencil lay in, followed by a fully developed ink drawing. The job was virtually complete after the ink stage all that remains is to add simple washes of colour. I never cease to get enjoyment from using the method although I have varied my use of it over the years, sometimes beginning with loose washes and then firming up the drawing with the ink linework. Further variety can be introduced if both pencil and ink linework are allowed to play their part in the final image.

The ink linework is usually done with a pen although the likes of Edward Wesson would happily draw with sharpened matchsticks or twigs. Merriot on the other hand was a firm advocate of the use of a fine brush for the ink linework and with good reason – it develops facility and control of the brush.. Watercolourists of the Seago, Wesson school used a french polisher's mop to produce loose understated albeit very attractive paintings and Wesson's style has been widely, imitated often with poor results. Wesson had a trained eye and could draw many beginners who try to emulate him lack these necessary pre-requisite for success.

I went back to Merriot's line and wash technique to experiment with a Pentel Brush Pen. This is a terrific tool.It has a finely pointed brush inserted into a pen loaded with a cartridge of black waterproof ink. The brush is capable of producing an amazing variety of marks – It will hold me engrossed for some time.

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