Last weekend was a bank holiday in the UK, which meant we had a most welcome extra day of leisure time!
Sometimes, one of the many upsides of such events is that I’m able to spend a little more time painting. The downside every time, however, is that I always have less time to spend pulling my posts together, hence this rather last minute posting to scrape into my traditional Wednesday slot. This may not be a bad thing from a readers’ perspective as it means I have less time to go rambling on and have to let the pictures do all the heavy lifting!
I did this first painting one evening by electric light! I started it and was just enjoying it so much I couldn’t stop!
The view is in Paris from our holiday there back in 2016. I went out early one evening as the sun was going down. I seem to recall that I had to get something from the local supermarket and took my camera along with me for company. This image is of quite a large intersection, probably about 15-20 mins walk from the Gare Du Nord if I remember correctly. I took quite a few photos of this view, but this is my first attempt at painting it. I can deny that I’m really pleased with how it turned out.
As I was having such a nice time in Paris, I decided to stay there with this next watercolour of the Eglise Saint Sulpice.
I’m really torn with this one. On the one hand, I quite like how the building turned out. It’s a challenge to try to simplify the amount of architectural detail on such a vast building like this, but still provide sufficient information to suggest all the detail. On the other hand however, I’d like the building to be even better! I’m a little disappointed with how I handled the top spire of the building, which feels a little unconvincing.
What I do like is the contrast between the warmth of this building against the cool buildings in the background. I’m going to live with this one for a while and think that I might return to it again and try to tackle it slightly differently.
A new brush
There was a short break in my painting proceedings while I took delivery of a new brush – delivery of which I’d been eagerly waiting for!
The brush in question is from Escoda, one of a new line of brushes developed in consultation with and to the specifications of Joseph Zbukvic. This new ‘Aquario Gold Series’ are all made from natural squirrel hair. The distinctive shape of the crimped ferrule is the same as on other Escoda brushes but, instead of being a matt grey/silver finish, it’s a polished gold.
None of this affects how it paints though so, I hear you ask, ‘why did you want this brush?’
True, I have enough brushes to last me (probably the rest of my lifetime!) but this range is slightly different to previous brushes by Escoda and I was keen to try it out. The main reason I liked the Alvaro Castagnet range of brushes by Neef is because of the length of their bristles and the point that they come to. A lot of my mop brushes by, for instance, Winsor and Newton and Raphael, are much shorter in length in proportion to the width at the ‘belly’; great for water holding capacity but, in my opinion, less ideal for any detailed work.
I’d seen Joseph Zbukvic mention this new range of brushes during an interview and his description of them really piqued my interest. After looking for a UK supplier in vain, I ended up ordering directly from Escoda in Spain. I had to spend a little more on postage costs but not that much more than UK shipping costs really.
Here’s a quick tour that I hope will give you a flavour!
Once I’d opened it, I was keen to have a little play with it, just for fun. I already had a sheet of paper stretched so I drew a line across to suggest the horizon, and then painted the rest of this simple scene freehand.
My reference, remaining in France, is a landscape view captured as we sped home on the Eurostar. It’s felt nice and free to do a view like this as I got to use my new brush – which I used solely on this quick study – in a range of different ways, from fully laden for washes to just dropping pigment in using its tip, to a bit of dry brush for the trees just using the side of the belly of the brush.
The upshot was that I’m delighted with my new purchase and couldn’t wait to try it out on something a little more interesting.
I’m pleased to report that I am increasingly carrying my camera with me when I’m out and about. During the recent spell of warm weather we’ve had, I’ve made a number of walks out in my local neighbourhood as the sun has been setting. This has coincided with the recent relaxation of Covid restrictions in the UK and, even though I haven’t taken advantage of these relaxations – it has been a joy to see others doing so.
This is a view looking down Church Road in Hove, just a few minutes from where I live:
It’s great to see families and friends sit outside together and enjoy a drink and a meal in each others company once again.
I was pretty pleased with how this turned out. It’s not something that people may recognise as this exact location, but I’m more interested in its feel. I was pleased with a lot of the simplification, especially of the buildings on the left receding into the distance. Some parts of it do feel a little heavy and overly monochromatic, the figures in particular – but there is a good harmony of colour running throughout.
Aside from the first wash – which was done with a one-inch flat squirrel hair mottler brush – again from Escoda – most of this was done with the new Gold Series brush, which is rapidly establishing itself as one of my favourites!