Saturday, September 23, 2006

More Candidates for reworking

Although these two pastels started as ‘plein air’ sketches one ended up as a finished pastel. It was a mistake though to work over the original sketch – the first fresh vision has gone. At the time I was rushing to find work for an exhibition – as it turned out I need not have got in a froth because I’m still enjoying 'Pennine Summer at home!

At the end of day crit. Moira didn’t seem very taken with ‘Pennine Summer’ and preferred ‘Jack Beck 2’. I think perhaps she thought it caught the brooding mood of the Pennine moors better and the drawing was more direct.

With Moira’s comments in mind I decided to use ‘Jack Beck 2’ as the foundation for a new painting in water media – leaving the options open for a pure watercolour treatment, or acrylic, or a combination of the two. There were features in ‘Pennine Summer’ that I was reluctant to lose. I decided to retain the barn and some of the trees in any future reworking.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Second Thoughts - reworking in a different medium.

I’m currently taking a look at some paintings I did a few years ago with the idea of reworking them. It’s not that that I’m dissatisfied with my past work or that they are particularly bad paintings. I want to explore the idea that something new could be said by reworking a subject in a different medium. A few years ago I did relatively few watercolours and worked mostly in pastel so the choice was virtually a faite accompli – what could be discovered about a place by transforming a pastel study into a watercolour.

The first work I chose for reworking was a little pastel of a hill farm above the Mawddach estuary in Wales. It’s a small work done in 2002 measuring 15cm x 21cm. on a buff Ingres paper. I found pastel a difficult medium to use on such a small scale – though Diana Armfield has produced some little gems which are no bigger! She has the talent to focus on the most significant forms and colours leaving areas of the paper untouched. On a small intimate scale this approach works better than the full painterly treatment that I used.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

“This guy can draw anything.”

In Ludlow we were entertained by John Palmer who gave a presentation to Art Society members at our September social meeting. John sprouts up almost like a hardy annual in Ludlow, it was his third visit and judging by the large attendance he came by popular request.

John is based in Bristol and has worked all his life as a graphic designer producing advertising art work and magazine illustrations. He always brings a huge portfolio of his graphic work in watercolour, gouache and acrylic and is happy to have this passed around. The range of style and subject matter is staggering. “This guy can draw anything.” said one of our young members as she looked at the next piece of art work that came to hand.

For his demonstrations John brings three or four large watercolours at various stages of finish and works on each in turn – sometimes adding more drawing as well as new washes. It’s an interesting way to work; it emphasises that sound draughtsmanship lies at the heart of good watercolour and forms an integral part of the finished work.

I first got to know John’s work from a book he wrote back in 1993. The title was ‘Drawing and Sketching’ and was published as a title in the Ron Ranson’s Painting School series. The series has long since been out of print and I picked up my copy at a bargain price in a publishers remaindered bookshop. I always intend to get him to autograph my copy perhaps on a future visit I will remember
to ask him.

Incidentally I was surprised to find copies of the book are still available via Amazon.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Drenched but Ecstatic

Last week I paid a visit to ‘The Stiperstones’ – these are striking outcrops of rocks on a hilltop in Shropshire. The outcrops consist of Precambrian quartzite – old, metamorphosed and hard they have been eroded into fantastic shapes which have given rise to legend hence the largest and most northerly outcrop has been named ‘The Devil’s Chair.’

I wasn’t fearful of the devil on this occasion I was more apprehensive about the shower clouds blowing in from the west. I had my sketching gear in the rucksack and wondered if I would get a chance to make use of it. Apart from the threat of rain it was a wonderful day of changing light which threw shadows across the rocks, the heather was in bloom reflecting bright purple when in sunlight. All these transient effects had to be captured on camera in the uncertain weather conditions.

The first shower arrived as I approached the summit outcrop which provided some shelter but not sufficient to make a drawing. At the next bright interval I moved out to look around for a sketching viewpoint and was made ecstatic by the effect of sunlight on wet rocks – just got to grab that – another job for the digital camera.

There was just time to settle on a viewpoint and get the sketchbook out when the next shower arrived. Caught on an open hillside and drenched in the first minute of driving rain the only option was to retreat back to the car. Not a wasted day though my trusty Canon digital camera had captured several images that could be used as reference material for paintings. Here’s my favourite:-