This first offering is a combination of last week’s John Yardley diversion and having spent time at my mother’s house while visiting her in hospital.

This study is a view of mum’s red chair. I tried to paint this view in my own style but with an obvious nod to John Yardley.

Watercolour painting of the interior of a room by artist John Haywood
Mum’s red chair

I can’t say that I particularly like it but it was a really good exercise. It was an odd one to paint. I found it difficult to focus on it without being distracted by the poignancy that I may never see her sitting in this chair again.

Painting this also helped to further strengthen the bond I’m developing with my new Da Vinci Maestro brush!

Unlike John Yardley’s approach – and mainly due to a lack of skill – this was built up with a number of washes rather than in his ‘direct’ style. I think one of the things I struggled with was the light and the fact that the shadows weren’t particularly strong.

No such lack of strong shadows on this next sketch. The view is a local one to me, looking down West Street in Brighton towards the sea front. Again, not one that I’m bowled over by, but I like elements of it.

Looking down Watercolour painting of the view looking down West Street from the Clocktower, Brighton, by artist John Haywood
Looking down West Street from the Clocktower, Brighton

My main aim with this was to simplify the scene and break it down into a number of larger shapes. Then, as I painted it, it was about trying to keep some life and energy within those shapes.

This scene led quite naturally onto another similar view down another Brighton street.

Watercolour painting of a Streamline taxi on North Road, Brighton, by watercolour artist John Haywood
Streamline taxi, North road, Brighton

I really enjoyed painting both of these images and, even though I have reservations about each of them – I feel that they’re also full of positives. They were both completed quickly and started with only the barest and roughest bit of pencil work.

I think, at the back of my mind on both of these two city scenes, was Alvaro Castagnet. As some of you my recall, my year started off with me managing to book a place on a weekend Masterclass with Alvaro Castagnet which was due to take place in mid May.

Naturally this has had to be cancelled but I was delighted to hear last week that, rather than a complete cancellation – the workshop has been postponed. My place on this workshop is being held over until a time when new dates can be arranged, most likely sometime in May 2021.

Under the circumstances, this is the best possible outcome that I could have hoped for and I can’t help but thinking that I had Alvaro on my mind as I painted these two!

14 thoughts on “Contrasting watercolour paintings

  1. Hi John! I missed this entry by doing something wrong on my iPad but just discovered it on my phone so am trying to pick at these tiny letters. My mom always draped herself on her chaise long, not sit upright in a chair! I too have my feet up! Now my grandmother had a chair like that which I remember so well! I like your painting and love those windows behind it! I understand about copying others then trying to discover your own style from that practice! Am in that struggle now! Looking forward to this wed’s newest one. Am staying confined for now & am great full for MY painting now to keep me sane!

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  2. The painting of the room is very atmospheric.
    I see everyone in Brighton has a nice sun-tan.
    I’ve just been browsing through the Mall Gallery RI exhibition which is on-line rather than in-gallery this year. Some nice paintings.
    Best wishes.

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    1. I can’t tell whether the suntanned people in these paintings are a reflection of Brighton’s mediterranean climate, how I like to percieve myself (tanned rather than pasty!) or too much of a dependence on burnt sienna for flesh tones! I haven’t explored the RI exhibition yet but I probably should do – I usually find quite a few paintings that I like in this exhibition (I can’t deny that it’s one of the open submission exhibitions that I would most like to feature one day!)

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  3. John,
    I, too have painted something similar…a red chair facing a roaring fire…something my Mum would have sat in. ..facing a warm embrace of warmth. The title: Conversation Cul-De-Sac. Much like your own circumstance, my Mum was also in hospital. Our conversations were thus limited.
    On a more up-beat note: you spoke of, and semi-reviewed one of the John Yardley publications…for you a personal library acquisition. I always explore and research the books you mention, and I’m never disappointed. As in…my own new (but used) purchase of My Personal View by John Yardley. Thank you. It is most interesting to “clock” the progress of your watercolour “voice” as you hone artistic mastery of this rather frustrating (for me at this stage) artistic medium.
    Well done. Keep the faith. Stay safe…stay home. In appreciation for not only your art images but your words. Raye

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    1. Hi Raye and thanks so much for this. I can’t deny that I derive some perspective – if not necessarily comfort – from knowing that what I’m experiencing with my mum at the moment has been shared by so many others before me! As for the John Yardley book – I can’t tell you how pleased I am that my post inspired the purchase (mine was also a second hand purchase – I very rarely buy anything new these days!). I think his work is wonderfully fresh and distinctive. Hopefully all of this will be constantly feeding into our own individual watercolour melting pots! Thanks again for your kind comments Raye, they really are much appreciated!

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  4. Hi John, I too love your red chair and the emotions that go with it. It is very poignant. I had a caring job looking after an elderly lady with dementia for 5 years and she would sit in a very similar chair!
    I enjoyed your Brighton paintings too.
    I have the same John Yardley book as you showed and love it…I tried painting in his style but it just didn’t suit me. I do love his work.
    Stay safe and enjoy the extra painting time!
    Carole

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    1. Hi Carole and thanks so much for this – I had little idea that the ‘red chair’ would strike such a chord with so many people! I think I’m a bit like you with John Yardley – I love his work, but it’s not necessarily ‘me’. I suppose it’s only by trying these things though that we find out and find our own path. Thanks so much Carole, hope you’re also managing to keep safe and find silver linings to this dreadful cloud!

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  5. John, I think ALL 3 had many positives ! And the 2 street scenes have a lovely quality of light in them , as well as nice contrast , freshness and energy ! ! 👍🏼👍🏼

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  6. A lovely post. I particularly like the interior with your Mother’s chair. Very poignant for me – because I oversaw the care for my Mother for 11 years…three of them in her. home – and she would also sit in a red chair very similar to your Mothers.
    I am so glad I have many sketch books filled with images of her during her final years, I including some of her in the red chair.
    The street scenes of Brighton also energetic and capture for me the feeling of the place.
    Janet.:)

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    1. Hi Janet and thanks so much for these wonderful comments. Such a co-incidence about the similarity of our mums’ red chairs! It’s funny that even though she’s not at the house at the moment, when I’ve been there I still don’t dare to sit in it! I wish I had more images of my mum sat in it! sadly she would always get quite agitated if she thought I was every trying to draw or photograph her! I can quite understand how much you must treasure those sketchbooks. Thanks again Janet – all best wishes

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