Friday, 26 February 2016

Of Painting Progress

          As regular readers here will know, I have reduced the frequency of posting of late. Combined with my narrowing of the focus of my studies, this has left me more time to concentrate on trying (desperately!) to improve my ability - if any there be - to paint waterclour pictures. My first task of late, after consulting with Lucy, was to determine whether or not I had even a minimum of ability worth developing. If I have, I am determined to become at least reasonably proficient. This matters to me.
          The first task, on Lucy's advice, was to reduce the number of pigments in my palette. I have tried to do this before, but this time I really did try......hard! For source material, I turned to the work of an artist I greatly admire, Mr. Ray Campbell Smith. I selected two pictures from his, "Watercolour Work-Out" to see if I could make reasonable copies of them. The first picture I managed quite well, and the second picture also even though I began to change the colours he'd used. (Why I chose to change some colours is perhaps more detail than is necessary here.) Below are my efforts. Incidentally, that is a punched hole at the top, not the sun or moon.

The Quayside
Fishermen's Cottages

          My second task was to see if I could make a reasonable fist of painting from a photograph. For this purpose I chose an offered photograph from David Bellamy's, "Watercolour Landscape Course," another artist I greatly admire. The advantage of choosing this photograph was that he also produces a painting (which I took care not to study) for comparison purpose. I show my effort below.

Galway Thatch
          My paintings were about 26 x 18 cm., and proving to be rather restrictive. There began to emerge a tendency to use small brushes, and include too much detail as a result. Throwing caution to the winds (well not really) I chose to paint a picture from a photograph I took in New Zealand some years ago, the picture size being 36 x 51 cm., about four times the area of my initial test paintings. Sweeping, translucent washes were the order of the day; and I had fun. Below are the photograph, and my treatment of it.



Afternoon Light

          Frankly, I am staggered at the change that has taken place in my approach to painting, triggered by what I feel is a modicum of success. Instead of discarding an effort before it is finished, I now find myself eager to get onto the next one. From a short chat with Lucy to a final execution of my first "big" painting has been very short in time, but long in confidence building. Now excuse me; I have another piece to be getting on with.

30 comments:

  1. how wonderful! i love these, tom! funny thing, i've been drawing my whole life (well, aside from the last decade or so when being a grown-up - ptooie! - took up most of my time) but i've always found watercolours terrifying because they're so hard to control!

    maybe one day you could share a little painting with me? i'd love to have something up on my wall made by you, as a companion piece to lucy's wonderful scarf....i know, i am pretty demanding!

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    1. A free commission huh? I'll think about it.

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  2. Well done! You are a master with colour washes - I love your skies most. Will you try some outdoors when the weather warms?

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    1. Marja-Leena, you almost make me blush with pleasure. Glad you love the skies, because for me they are a major obstacle overcome. Not sure about the outdoors idea. I do so hate feeling people breathing down my neck.

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  3. Bravo, Tom!! Keep going, for sure!

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    1. Hi Beth; That is certainly my intent.

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  4. There is a soft clarity in these images you've chosen to paint, Tom. It's a world of peace and calm inviting us to enter.

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    1. Hullo Susan; Thank you. That was certainly the feeling we had when we visited this spot in New Zealand.

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  5. Julia! I have been trying to contact you but the email addresses I have for you do not work anymore. Hope you see this and get in touch!

    Sorry about this, Tom!

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    1. No need to be sorry, Marja-Leena.

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  6. Ah, I'm reminded by the 1957 novel by Richard Mason, The World of Suzie Wong. One of my favourite scenes: a man is painting a portrait of a lady and she takes a look at the almost-finished canvas, "doesn't look much like me. Why don't you just take my picture?" He responds with that a painting captures the way the painter sees the subject. When I read this as a young girl, it was one of those moments. I felt a great truth descend upon me. So I loved seeing the NZ photo and your painting side by side. And your naming it "Afternoon Light" is brilliant.

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    1. Hullo RW; I'm so pleased my painting triggered such a delightful memory.

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  7. Tom, I forgot to add that hooray to Lucy for her part in inspiring you with her suggestions!

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    1. Thank you. I'm glad my mate received a mention. :)

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  8. Tom, these are lovely and of course you must proceed in whatever way suits you. But, if I may be forgiven for citing my experience as artist and teacher, if I were at your home right now, I would drag you (by force if necessary) outside, sit you down in front of anywhere in your surroundings and bid you take up your brushes and watercolours and look! Look and paint. And if the weather is bad, I'd set something up on your kitchen table for you to paint. You really do not need to copy anyone or to work from photographs. Nature, plus your eyes, plus your own individual vision are the best teachers. Of course you can indeed pick up technical tips from others and from books, but the real challenge is to look! Hope you don't mind my contrariness, dear Tom.

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    1. Dear Natalie; There are reasons why I choose to paint from my own photographs, not the least of which is........OK, your points are noted. I certainly do not mind your contrariness(?), and I do so look forward to the day you drag me (by force if necessary) anyway at all! :] :), unless it's by my ear.

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  9. As a musician, there comes a time when I finally 'own' an instrument I am learning to play. By that, I mean that my fingers and my breathing and mouth position adjust without conscious thought as I see the music. Tom I find myself wondering if there is any parallel to this for your painting progress?
    I enjoy looking at the contrast between the photograph and your imaginative use of new elements and exaggeration to show us what you saw in that scene.

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    1. Hi Halle; Yes, I believe you would be correct in seeing a possible parallel between music and painting. I think there comes a point of familiarity when one "wears" the process, not unlike "wearing" a car, rather than simply driving a machine.

      I am glad you enjoyed my post.

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  10. Oh my, another post I had missed through my sloth. Tom, you are doing extremely well. As a non-talented member of an extended family of artists . . SWMBO, the BRD and her Little Sister, and then the grand-kids . . . all of whom are great in many areas of art . . . I will say "Right On"! Keep experimenting and you may try Natalie's Plein Art suggestion as well.

    I'm jealous!

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  11. Thank you Bruce. Clearly, I'm in good company.

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  12. I was so delighted when I read at Marja-Leena's blog that you have a new dog I had to come by to offer congratulations. So many places to walk and such delightful scents to sniff out.
    Happy Easter to all three of you!

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    1. Thank you Susan. She really is quite an amazing dog, particularly for a rescue dog. Lucy has just posted about her on Box Elder.

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  13. I wold say there's ample talent there to pursue this as a serious hobby. It must be a nice break from the cerebral exploration, and will likely benefit that, as well.

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  14. Thank you. Certainly, I feel a greater commitment and urge to follow up what I have done. It is indeed a useful balance to other - as you say - more cerebral exploration. But it does also have its own mind exercising function as well, and that's good.

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