This isn’t at all the post I had planned to share today – but sometimes needs must!
The watercolour departure
A week or so ago I gained a new follower on Instagram and, as I usually try to do, I went to have a look at the feed of my new follower. The person wasn’t a painter, but they did have on their feed a collection of photographs that I thought were quite wonderful.
Although very different to my usual choice of subject, I found them to be incredibly painterly. I exchanged messages with the person, to the effect that I’d love to try to paint like that.
I was excited about painting in a way that I haven’t been for a while and couldn’t stop thinking about how I would achieve a similar result in watercolour to the photographs that I’d seen.
First up, was my choice of paper! Since I first picked up my watercolour brushes again, I’ve used rough paper pretty much without exception. For this departure in style and approach however I felt that smooth paper would work best and I happened to have some smooth Arches paper that I’ve had for years. I seem to remember buying a job lot of various papers on Ebay some time ago and this smooth stuff has been languishing at the back of a cupboard ever since.
I knew that I’d be working wet, so wanted to give myself the best chance of success by stretching the paper. And this is where it all started to go wrong!
I hope you can see this but after being soaked in water, the paper showed a peculiar mottling. I’d previously seen something similar to this when painting on paper that was made of wood pulp rather than cotton, but I was surprised to see this occur with Arches paper. I can only assume that it’s old and that this has affected the sizing on the paper.
I wasn’t overly disappointed and, if anything, it made me think that I had absolutely nothing to lose by having a play around on this imperfect paper.
So, the paper was new and entirely different to what I was used to, but what else?
I usually start each painting by sketching an outline of some sort onto the paper. On this occasion however, there were no pencil lines to work to. I just painted directly from the source images.
What else? well I usually try to start and finish a painting in one sitting (or as close as possible to one sitting). Not this time! I was working on two paintings simultaneously, applying thin wet washes and then having to allow them to dry completely before applying the next.
Well here’s the rub. I finished two paintings. As they were based directly on someone else’s photographs, the right thing to do in my mind is to seek that person’s approval and permission to share these images.
So far, I’ve yet to receive this! I have contacted the person over the weekend and sent images of my paintings, but at the time of writing this, I’ve yet to receive a response! Hopefully I will get some form of response in due course and I really hope that I’ll be allowed to share these two new paintings – I’m really keen to hear what people think of them!
In the meantime, here’s a little watercolour diversion.
The watercolour diversion
As many of you will know, I’m a tremendous admirer of the work of John Yardley. Back in 2015 I even had the pleasure of being able to express my respect and appreciation to John Yardley in person!
Below are two images of the same book: John Yardley, a personal view. The one on the left is the original hardback original copy. The one on the right, a more recent softcover reprint.
‘So why two copies?’ I quite rightly hear you ask.
Well I already had the hardback edition, so I didn’t actually ‘need’ another copy. Although to be honest, since when has ‘need’ actually dictated any of my purchasing decisions?
No, it wasn’t need at all. What made this second copy so attractive to me was that it was a signed copy… and not only that, it contained a little inscription: ‘To John with best wishes’ – well it’s fair to say that I couldn’t resist it! Okay, it wasn’t written ‘to’ me, but I do love his work… and I have met him, even if only briefly… and my name is John…
In years to come, no-one will know whether this was written to me, or another John. Admittedly, no one will care either but to have a copy that’s personally inscribed to yours truly brings me no end of amusement! Sometimes it’s the little things in life!
Anyway, here are a couple of other John Yardley focused posts:
And lest there be any doubt about my respect and admiration for his work, here’s a link to some of my favourite John Yardley images that I’ve collected together on Pinterest: