Sunday, 25 December 2011

Happy Christmas 2011

Happy Christmas 2011
Watercolour on Paper
13.5cm x 9cm (5.5" x 3.5")

Happy Christmas and Best Wishes for the New Year.

All the best,


Sunday, 18 December 2011

Snowy Lane

Snowy Lane
Watercolour on Paper
38cm x 27cm (15" x 10.5")

No - we haven’t had a dump of snow, but it feels like it might be on the way. I painted this scene at Tony Slater’s December workshop for the Shelford Group of Artists - the subject for the day was winter trees.

As with all of Tony’s workshops - I enjoyed working with a larger brush and at faster pace than normal. These workshops are definitely improving my brush control.

I’ve been travelling a lot recently and as a result I am a few days behind with my exercises for the Natural Way to Draw. I am going to make a determined effort to be back on schedule before Christmas and to be ahead of the plan for the start of the New Year.

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Beach Huts

Beach Huts
Watercolour on Paper
24cm x 34cm (9.5" x 13.5")

A couple of weeks ago, I said that I wanted to spend more time working on composition (see Ye Old Dog & Partridge).

The next day John Lovett posted a description of his recent workshop, which focused on selecting subjects to paint and composing pictures (see It is an excellent post with a number of paintings to demonstrate the concepts he taught - it is a perfect study plan.

This picture uses the first technique from John’s post – it has a large simple foreground leading the eye in to the centre of interest.

Before starting the picture, I drew a number of thumbnails to explore the subject and decide on the composition. On the first page, I experimented with portrait and landscape formats and decided where to position the huts. This is the second page on which I refined the sizing and positioning of the huts.

Beach Huts - Thumbnails
This is the first time I've used thumbnails and the process was very helpful. I was working away from home during the week and drawing thumbnails was a useful and relaxing way to spend an evening in the hotel.

John is at least partly responsible for the existence of this blog. I nearly gave up on the idea of learning to paint until I found his book (Starting Watercolour) and DVD (Splashing Paint), (see

Sunday, 4 December 2011

The Return of Modelled Drawing in Water Color

The Comfy Chair Again
Modelled Drawing - 2 December 2011
Watercolour on Paper
35.5cm x 38cm (14" x 15")

Section 10 of The Natural Way to Draw features the return of the modelled drawing in water color. The basic instructions are the same (see Modelled Drawing in Water Color), but some of the drawings are completed over two sessions.  At the start of the second session, you use a damp brush to lighten some parts of the drawing and to prepare them to receive more paint.

This is a challenging exercise - Kimon Nicolaides suggests most people find the exercise difficult and experience with watercolour is more of a hindrance than a benefit. He stresses the objective is not to produce a painting, but to draw with the brush as though it were a crayon – easier said than done.

The chair at the top of the post appeared as a sketch in my first post (The Natural Way To Draw). I drew the original sketch just over a year ago. It provides a good opportunity to reflect on my progress and ask whether I am getting any benefit from the time I am spending on the course.

A quick comparison of the pictures suggests I am not seeing much improvement. The original sketch is more pleasing and in certain aspects more accurate and more detailed, but there are other things to consider.

When I drew the original sketch, I was thinking about the chair as though it were a 2 dimensional image trapped on a TV screen, which I was trying to reproduce on paper. It was all about relative angles and dimensions.

When I drew the modelled drawing I was thinking about the chair as though it were a soft comfortable 3 dimensional object that would be nice to sit on. This may sound a bit fanciful and the benefit may not be immediately obvious in this drawing, but it is important because you can’t draw comfy just by getting the dimensions right.

When I started the Natural Way to Draw, I wanted to be able to draw more accurately, with greater confidence and more speed. I am getting something different. I am looking at the world in a different way. The title of the blog is more appropriate than I ever imagined it would be.

The photo at the bottom of the post is a Joanne Cooke sculpture that Elaine bought with her birthday fund from the Rostra Gallery. Elaine says thank you to everyone that contributed to her present.

Sculpture by Joanne Cooke