Workshop 2nd Day – Watercolour Jacaranda Challenge

Jacaranda Challenge (Watercolour)

Jacaranda Challenge (Watercolour)

It was back to work yesterday, but I still have a few moments to share from Sunday’s workshop… we started the day with an impromptu watercolour Jacaranda challenge to see who could get the closest colour to these stunning blossoms. I don’t think I won the colour match with mine (pictured here), mixed from Quinachridone Magenta and Phthalo Blue, but I did get a ‘Wow’ for the brush work and looseness which was very exciting 🙂 .

Following on from this we watched a number of superb demonstrations of Jean’s renowned animal eyes, both of cats and dogs, watching as she worked from a photo of a King Charles Spaniel someone had brought along.

After lunch we got to indulge our own enthusiasm and splashed some paint around and I now have several part finished pieces to continue working on now I’m home. We also watched while Jean tackled some of the problems that were being faced around the room using attendees photos, demonstrating and explaining how she would approach the subject. It was really useful to hear her thought processes and problem solving methods as she worked through each one – pretty brave of her too… most instructors won’t stray from the set pieces they have prepared beforehand.

Now it’s back to my quiet spare room and the challenge of keeping that spark of excitement going. I will certainly be looking our for a class or a painting group to join now, it was so inspirational to have like minded people in the room for encouragement and an experienced tutor for guidance!

 

Sheep Shape…

Sheep Sketch (Watercolour)

Sheep Sketch (Watercolour)

I was extremely pleased with how my painting of Rhona at the wedding turned out, but still aware that I would love to paint more freely and loosely I spent more than half of last week trying to capture impressions of the Bluebells in our front garden. They failed terribly several times and so, after some hair tearing, I looked back at my Jean Haines books and videos hoping to gain inspiration and insight.

This afternoon I spent an hour or two following a tutorial from her book Atmospheric Watercolours on painting sheep. The first go wasn’t very good but I’m quite pleased with this one – I wish my Cadmium Orange had more yellow tones, as Jean’s does, and it needs a bit more detail around the faces but otherwise I feel this is a great start.. or recovery, depending on how you look at it.

Day 245: Exercising Looseness

Loose Narcissi (Watercolour)

Loose Narcissi (Watercolour)

You can probably tell I’ve been dipping into my new book again by Jean Haines today, with this exercise on painting positive and negative shapes – something I need lots of help and practice with!

I really should finish the Bluebells, but I’ve let it drag on too long and made so much of the background that, unfortunately, I’m a bit unenthusiastic now. I don’t know how I’m going to make the pale flowers stand out against such a busy background – I know, it’s a bit late to realise that now, after spending so long on it.

So I jumped into something else 🙂 This was great fun to do, beautifully explained and simple enough that I was almost able to stop myself fiddling and overworking it while it was drying. I’m very pleased with the results, even though if you look carefully you’ll see I didn’t analyse my subjects properly and we have one Narcissus with too many petals!

Day 240: Brush Handling Exercises

Experimental Brushstrokes (Watercolour)

Experimental Brushstrokes (Watercolour)

I’ve been following some watercolour exercises today, experiments designed to practice the way I hold my brush to create different strokes and textures. The exercises are courtesy of Jean Haines’ latest book: “Atmospheric Watercolours” which I received yesterday for my birthday. I’ve owned the accompanying DVD for some time and find it inspirational, but I was very surprised to discover how much more there is packed into the book.

So, this was fun… the emphasis was absolutely not on the colours, and I went a bit mad – the sky looks very stormy! I also overdid the water in the trees, but after all, that’s what practice and exercises are for: to experiment and learn. I’ve been hanging out for some structured workouts like the ones she offers and I’m going to enjoy working through them – and when I try this again I’m hoping the results will show an improvement :-).

Day 47: Rainbow Lorikeet, part 2

Rainbow Lorikeet (Watercolour)

Rainbow Lorikeet (Watercolour)

Does anyone have any enlightening and wise advice on painting backgrounds? I spent an hour or so this afternoon trying to make the one here work and I’m less than thrilled with the results…

I began with a simple plan in mind, as mentioned yesterday, not to think too much during the process and just throw some paint in, not getting hung up on detail. A few areas of the bird received another glaze and some extra detail without any pain and he got a branch to hold with his new foot.

Unfortunately, despite (or maybe because of!) lots of mixing, all the greens of the leaves came out the same and I lost the brilliance of the earlier stage.  A (dubious) benefit of this was the opportunity to experiment with some repair work, lifting out a few areas with clean water and a little cotton wool to suggest lighter leaves.

That’s where I stopped. I think my idea of not planning needs to be planned better as I’m not seeing well enough for it to work instinctively. I realised too late that leaves needed to go across his belly as his second leg was behind foliage that I hadn’t accounted for. I’m also beginning to see that the lighter values of yesterday’s wash actually made the lorikeet pop out more and painting a darker background, as in the photo, doesn’t work nearly as well.

So, I’m looking forward to the next challenge, and the chance to develop these skills. A great quote I read today by Jean Haines is reminding me to stay positive:

No matter who you are as an artist or where you are in your art journey, you always believe your next painting will be better!