As we were due to be in Valencia this week – it seems appropriate to post something Spanish. I can’t quite recall what set this particular thought pattern in motion – sometimes things just call out to you – on this occasion, it was palm trees.

I started off my research with one of my favourite watercolour artists, Ian Potts, recalling a wonderful palm tree painting that I’d seen – ‘cool shadows on a warm path‘. This painting was based on a view in Cartegena, in Spain. I’m not familiar with Cartegena but, after having a look at images of the city, I’d certainly like to become familiar with it!

I settled on an image on the harbour front that I thought I could make work, that would satisfy my palm tree craving and that would remind me of the country I’m ‘supposed’ to be in right now!

Palm trees, Cartagena (take 1)

I really like scenes like this, largely I think because they’re quick to sketch out! I also really enjoyed painting this but, on completion, I couldn’t help thinking that I’d like to paint it again but this time to improve on a few areas.

I was mainly keen to get a little more contrast and interest in the sky. It doesn’t look too bad when back-lit on a screen, but in reality, I think it looks a little flat.

I was also keen to soften some of the edges. Whilst the sharpness and contrast may be accurate in some ways, I think their harshness is distracting.

As it was pretty quick to draw out, I felt compelled to have another go.

Palm trees, Cartagena, Murcia, Spain

Overall, I’m much more satisfied with this second painting. What I often like about painting something twice, is how I feel more relaxed on the second version. I know that the ultimate would be to have the confidence and ability to feel relaxed on the first attempt – but I’m still some way off that – and that’s just fine!

The sky does have a more interest and I do like the softer harbour wall too. Other areas I’m a little less keen on, but these are mainly the secondary elements. I should say that I like the palm trees on both of these. I enjoyed painting them and, on the whole, they look like palm trees.

It’s nice to imagine that one day, I’ll get to visit Cartagena and see this view for myself.

New gallery pages

Whilst life has been more restricted of late. I had a little scoot around my website and was slightly horrified at what I found!

I discovered that my gallery pages didn’t include a single painting that I’d done in 2019. I was also a little underwhelmed at how they looked. Here, for a limited time only, is a link to my ‘old gallery pages‘. I’ll remove this link shortly but wanted to leave it live for a short while in case anyone would like to compare, contrast, and maybe even let me know what they think about my attempt to upgrade.

Here’s a link to my new gallery pages, I’ve decided to organise my paintings into landscapes, cityscapes and interiors. These broad categories cover just about everything except my sketches, which I think merit a section of their own – even if only for interest – but this will have to wait for another time!

As ever, I’d love to hear any thoughts, opinions or suggestions that anyone may have on these pages.

In the meantime, I hope that everyone is keeping safe, keeping well and keeping their distance.

15 thoughts on “Palm trees watercolour

  1. Me again. Did you ever purchase the book, “The Artist’s Journey” by Nancy Hollis, MD.? I keep referring to it often. I feel I have finally understood some of her deep meanings! You need to TRUST YOURSELF! (You CAN paint so beautifully but are trapped into constant copying…I’ve been doing some of that too) Do you anticipate negativity from outside? If you paint for OTHERS you’ll CHASE APPROVAL, whipped around by a fickle audience! One frown, dismisssive response, 1 negative review and you are stopped cold! Fear causes you to paint in predictable ways…STALE ways. Fear stifles investigation & inquiry. Art is NOT about finding a replicable system to produce ‘perfect paintings’. It is about NOT KNOWING. Always evolving. Seeking YOUR truth, not century old ones of someone else. It does not come from initiating commercial success. Explore the reaches of YOUR vision and imagination. It is NOT about ‘words’, it is beyond words. Just a small excerpt form her valuable wisdom that have helped me so much. I know they aren’t the ‘approval’ you need so much, but you have the ability to stop copying and move on. Please, don’t be offended by these words. I’ve been painting daily to cope with the virus confinement (feel sorry for those who have no hobby or interests) and following these ideas have finally ‘broken free’! I painted a totally my own abstract yesterday that is wild, full of color and confusion which I suddenly realized reflects the ME as I cope with the total confusion of this epidemic! It just came OUT of ME! And I can see how the colors I chose perfectly define the virus! A great yellow, orange and red ball of fire surrounded by murky violets, Dara greens, a brigh hopeful blue with gel pen lines going in a million confusing directions…just like all the confusion of
    Confusing orders we are given each day! I could not have painted this subject better if it had been an assignment! Think about it, which I could show you the painting! Try to understand, not be offended!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Margery and thanks for this, no offence taken whatsoever and I’m really pleased for you that you’ve found someone that really ‘speaks’ to you and where you are on your journey. I did, on your recommendation, purchase this book (and I had a nice email exchange with Nancy too). It was part of my stack of holiday reading books that I took with me to France last year. I did glean some things from it, but overall – I didn’t find it quite ‘for me’ – and I hope that you can understand this too and also not be offended! Thanks again Margery and so pleased that you’ve had one of those special ‘breakthroughs’!

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  2. John, you have made me want to visit Spain. What a beautiful painting! I do love the second one more. It’s kind of like you used an “anti-haze” filter. And I noticed the wall you mentioned. I totally agree. I can feel the warmth of the sun. Just georgeous!

    The new Gallery is better, but your work as always is stunning. Too bad I am thousands of miles away. When this virus mess clears, I would love to see your work in real life.

    Wishing you all the best, and stay healthy. Life will be normal again someday.

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    1. Hi Tim and thanks for such kind and generous comments! So glad that you feel like visiting Spain – the weather here today is glorious so we’re doing out best to imagine ourselves there! Really pleased that you prefer the new gallery layouts – this is really helpful feedback. Hope that you’re managing to find some positives amidst all the current uncertainty and turmoil.

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      1. Hi John, I think I had a WordPress glitch as I thought I had responded to your reply, but I see no evidence of it.

        Anyway, you are welcome. Your work always brightens my days. Trying to say sane seems to be the toughest. Going on some car cruises, finding photo opportunities when I can. We are all in the same boat though. So we just need to stick together. Best wishes and I hope you are staying healthy and happy.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Thanks Tim – I think we’re all just trying to muddle through this in the best way we can and I’m sure that like you, sometimes I have good days – sometimes they’re not so good. I have to keep reminding myself that this will pass. All best wishes Tim

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  3. I really like your second version better too John. For me it’s all about the edges and I much prefer the softer ones. I just love and admire Trevor Chamberlain’s paintings and his work is awesome when you study the edges, in both watercolour and oils.
    You have been busy and I think you should be really proud of your achievements so far! I think it’s wonderful to be on a mission to constantly improve…I am on the same mission and I guess all ’passionate’ artists are. It’s an exciting way to be I think. I hope you’re finding lots of time to paint in these strange times; the days seem to be flying by so fast and I wonder if it’s to do with not having so many outside distractions?
    Anyway, stay safe and well John.
    Carole

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Carole and thanks for this – really pleased that you like that second version of this. I’m familiar with Trevor Chamberlain’s work and you’re right about his edges! He somehow manages to create edges without having edges – really magical! My day’s are also flying by, although I can’t say that I feel to be achieving as much with them as I’d like! I am however enjoying a more sedate pace – makes me realise how much of rush I’m usually in! Hope that you’re also managing to stay safe and well, and it’s great that we have our ‘passion’ to help us through these tough times.

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  4. Wow John! Your blog today is a treat! After studying them both carefully…I like the 1st one better for several reasons: I like the sky, it’s simple, doesn’t interfere with the subject yet does it’s job. I also much prefer the surface of the quay with the subtle lines leading you into the picture. The sailboats are so well done (you sure do boats in general beautifully!). I like the definition of the mountains much better than #2. The REAL downer for me in #2 is that bollard on the left of center; It stops you dead and becomes the focus! The one on the right is OK but is it necessary or just fussy?
    I really enjoyed browsing on the earlier MORE COLORFUL paintings! The Road to Choupeaux especially! Love the simple no fuss way you/Potts did the trees, and also liked Wesson’s St. Ives. I really wanted to SEE St Ives but when we got to the turnoff my husband refused to go down another damned narrow windy road and we had a big argument. I did not see it. Big disappointment ! He also refused Mousehole!
    Rooftops of Kotor must’ve driven you mad…but it’s make a challenging jig saw puzzle!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Margery and thanks for this, so pleased that you like this week’s post! Having spent a little time in Cornwall, I can quite understand your husband’s reluctance to journey down yet another narrow long and winding road – though it’s shame you didn’t get to see St Ives.

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