The subject I opted for this week is based on one of a series of paintings he did entitled ‘The Road to Choupeau’. If you’d like to see the original painting however and read a little more about Ian Potts, I found some useful information on a website called VADS, which describes itself ‘The online resource for the visual arts’.
Here is some quick work in progress shots that I hope will show the different stages:
To summarise the steps, I first did an all over wash, starting with Raw Sienna across the middle of the painting, then allowing a mix of French Ultramarine and Cobalt Blue run into the Raw Sienna mix. The Raw Sienna mix was then brought down into the foreground and then it was all left to dry thoroughly. I then applied the masking fluid (shout out to my new found favourite masking fluid: Vallejo), again leaving this to dry completely.
Next up was the distant horizon, and then gradually working down from the horizon line into the foreground. As this was drying, I put in the first wash into the mass of trees. For this, I used a brush that I rarely ever use, a flat, about ½ an inch wide. I used this mainly to mimic the type of brushstrokes I see in many of Ian Potts’ paintings. For the colours, it was a mish-mash of Ultramarine and Cobalt Blue along with Raw Sienna, Turner’s Yellow and Transparent Yellow. I gradually built the washes up, often allowing one brush stroke dry before applying the next. I was trying to control how different shades and tones of green ran together in some areas, but also left visible distinct brushstrokes in other areas.
Once this wash was completely dry, I repeated this process but this time working with a much stronger tone in both the tress and some of the foreground areas.
Again, this was left to dry, almost completely, before I realised that some of tone in the trees was perhaps a little too strong. As there was still a little bit of moisture in the paint, I pressed my finger and thumb into the paint to lift off some of the paint. This created a little more variety and texture into the foliage, as well as acting as a rather unique signature!
Once everything was dry, I took off the masking fluid and then, tree trunk by trunk, I gradually added in the remaining elements. There was a bit of to-ing and fro-ing at this point while I tried to get everything just as I wanted it. Finally, I put in the dark shadow across the foreground area, trying again to create a variety of colour and tone within the shadow area.
Here’s the finished painting:
I have to confess that I’m really pleased with this painting. I particularly liked treating that mass of foliage from lots and lots of trees in such a bold and unfussy manner – and how this texture contrasts with the smooth graduated wash of the sky and the simplicity of foreground. I appreciate that this style and approach may not be to everyone’s liking, but I suppose that’s true of any painting!
As well as completing this effort, I also did a little more exploring and added a few more images to my Ian Potts’ Pinterest board, should anyone feel inclined to have a closer look:
The more I look at his work, the more I appreciate the skill in these paintings. I particularly like that while they are strongly figurative and representational, there are also elements of abstraction within each of the paintings. Similarly, in the application of the paint, there is a great combination of complete control and apparent spontaneity (I say apparent because it may all have been completely planned!)
I think compositionally, they are all particularly strong and dramatic, boldly painted and with real contrast. I’m really enjoying trying to immerse myself in someone else’s brilliance. I think it’s partly because I feel like I’m learning so much, and partly because it rather conveniently coincides with a particular lack of my own inspiration.
As time goes on, it’ll be really interesting to see whether any of what I’m learning now has any influence on my own work. In the meantime, I’m going to continue enjoying this little diversion.
This post was corrected following its publication on 13 February. My research led me to copy someone else’s error – incorrectly titling Ian Potts’ painting ‘The Road to Choupeaux’ and then lamenting that I couldn’t find anywhere by the name of Choupeaux!
Thanks to an eagle-eyed and much more knowledgeable reader than myself – it was pointed out to me that the place name is actually ‘Choupeau’. I was delighted then to not only find Choupeau, but to also find what I believe to be the exact location of this painting.