After last week’s somewhat disappointing watercolour efforts, I was casting around in a rather directionless fashion when I came across the YouTube channel of watercolour artist Nitin Singh. I was already familiar with his work from following him on Instagram but had no idea about his many YouTube videos and tutorials.
I subscribed to his channel on the spot and was particularly taken with one particular exercise/demonstration. I think it appealed to me because of it’s back to basics nature. I suppose there’s something in the premise that if you can make an image work in one colour, you can certainly make it work in many colours. I don’t know why, perhaps because of it’s immediacy and simple effectiveness, but I must have watched this two or three times before feeling compelled to have a go it myself.
Aside from the obvious skill, I really enjoyed watching how Nitin (I hope he’ll forgive my first name informality!) handled his brush. It’s always held high up the handle, and often very upright, much like I’ve seen many calligraphers hold their brushes. I have tried a few Chinese brushes but I’ve rarely got on with them. Seeing him paint so deftly using his Chinese brush did remind me of some Da Vinci series 5535 brushes I bought a while back that I have been using on and off but hadn’t mentioned on the blog.
As is so often the case, they were one of my EBay indulgencies/bargains. An indulgence because I probably don’t need them but a bargain because, well, they were an absolutely brilliant bargain!
It appears that they come in only three sizes, 16, 20 and 24 – so all quite large! They’re made of a mix of natural and synthetic hair but are longer than most brushes and, reputedly, have a firmer and more resilient tip than other similar brushes. I’ve mainly been using the size 16 and thought it would be a good exercise to limit myself to this brush.
For the quarter sheet studies below I only used the size 16 brush and, for the pigment, some neutral tint.
Each of these only took about 15-20 minutes to complete and I really enjoyed painting them. Neither are masterpieces but nevertheless, these quick simple exercises brought back a joie de vivre to my painting that I feared may have gone for a walkabout!
Long term followers of this blog may recall me mentioning an artist by the name of Ian Potts. His work is very different to what I’m usually drawn to but I love the saturated colours and graphic quality of his paintings and I’ve often marvelled at his technique, which I’ve never quite been able to figure out!
It seems to consist of some amazing planning, the building up of transparent layers of wash and the best and most effective use of masking fluid or some other form of resist that I’ve ever seen!
I’m still not sure what led me to embark on an Ian Potts painting and I’ve long since given up trying to reason with myself on such matters!
I also rarely use masking fluid. When I have, I’ve usually used Winsor and Newton masking fluid. On this occasion, however, the first make that I found was by Vallejo. First off, it’s blue, so easy to see where you’ve applied it. Even more importantly though is how it behaves. It seems ‘thinner’ and much more fluid than the Winsor and Newton. I actually quite enjoyed working with this and was even able to get some quite expressive brush strokes with it!
Here’s a quick gallery of how I got on (you can see on the Pinterest board the image that I took for my inspiration):
Once I had the initial sketch and the masking fluid applied, there was a considerable amount of planning to be done. What order to approach the painting in, what colours to use, when should the masking fluid be removed etc.
Once I’d started, however, everything rolled along rather nicely. I really enjoyed mixing up such a variety of greens, from those barely-there yellows and greens to really dark juicy mixes. I also really enjoyed playing around with different brushstrokes to create variety in the foliage and tree forms. At this point, I wasn’t trying to strictly copy the original, only to capture the feel of it, but in my own manner.
I really enjoyed painting this, am pretty pleased with how it turned out and it’s a bonus that I feel as if I learnt a great deal in the process!