I received a new large-sized sword liner watercolour brush the other day and, in retrospect, think that this must have been in my mind when it came to selecting this week’s inspiration. Here’s a quick snap of my two pro arte sword liner brushes – the larger one being the newest addition. I’ve had the other one for so long now that the text has worn off so I can’t tell whether it’s small or a medium. They’re ideal for painting loose, fluid lines with a great variety of width.
First up was a local landscape view. I work not far from the small village of Falmer, just outside Brighton and it has a certain quintessential Englishness to it. Everything is grouped around an idyllic looking pond that is home to resident wildlife as well as being a regular stopping point for other birds on their migratory travels. I often visit for a little lunchtime walk but, certainly of late, the light has rarely been in my favour. Also, despite its undoubted picturesque-ness – I’ve struggled to envisage how I might paint it.
I also feel so unfamiliar with more landscape focused subjects that I was actually quite nervous about painting this scene! I was however quite excited about the prospect of tackling the sky!
This was painted in three or maybe four pretty distinct phases. First up was the sky which was done really quickly and energetically – then left alone. Second came the trees and church etc down to the water’s edge. The third was the pond and reflections, which again was painted in one hit, wet in wet, and then left alone apart from dabbing out some of the wash to represent the reflections of the clouds. I was really tempted to fiddle with the reflections some more as I noticed a few areas that I wasn’t quite happy with but, I think everything had dried out too much and I really risked ruining the overall effect with any meddling. Finally were the finishing elements such as the odd dry brushed ripple across the surface of the water and all of the branches on the left-hand side that enabled me to have a play with the new sword liner brush!
This was one of those ones that, rather fortuitously, came together quite quickly and, much to my surprise considering my early apprehension, quite pleasingly. It definitely made me want to do a few more ‘big sky’ paintings! If I was to tackle this again, I’d be sure to move the ivy-covered tree that’s slap bang in the middle of this composition. It was only after painting it that I realised quite how central this was and now I can’t stop thinking about it when I look at it!
Encouraged by this effort and with some time still on my hands, I decided to go for a scene that I photographed the other week in my local park. It was early in the morning and I needed to run an errand so took my camera along for company. The weather was cold and bright, a lovely early spring day. The light was streaming across the park and the grass was a lush emerald green with dark cast shadows and a hazy light in the distance. As I was taking a few pictures, a lady strolled into view and provided a valuable sense of interest and scale.
I didn’t quite manage to capture everything that I’d hoped for in this painting and some of the colours are too muted and muddy. There are nevertheless some pleasing elements. The park does have a sense of depth, and a feeling of light flooding through. As a fleeting captured moment I think it’s ok – but it’s left me with a slight niggling sense of frustration that I can’t quite put my finger on!
Still, it was nice to ‘break in’ the new brush with some serious branch work and I really enjoyed painting with this new addition to the family.