This is the first watercolour painting I ever did, so many years ago, and I have just had it framed. It was painted on a full sheet of watercolour paper.
At that time, a friend and I went to Art in Action, a weekend of workshops held annually by the Combined Art Societies of New South Wales. In visiting other classes at the venue, we came across Lyn Butchart, and decided we would like to do some classes with her. Lyn had a studio in Manly at the time, so it was quite a trek across the bridge in peak hour traffic, but worth it.
Lyn teaches ‘creative watercolour techniques’. This was my first introduction to watercolour painting (I was an acrylic painter at the time) so consequentlyI have never learnt traditional watercolour. In Lyn’s classes, you decided what you would paint, and everyone painted something different. I wanted to try her underwater techniques, so she directed me to a big stash of source books. I found the big fish in one photo, the weed in another and the small fish in a third photo.
First, I masked everything. Then added some watercolour texture mediums at the bottom and allowed to dry. Next, the background was put on, very wet indeed. Time for a walk to the art shop and probably lunch as well, while this dried. It had to be very dry before the masking fluid was taken off.
So then there was a layer on the leaves, and more masking. It went on and on. It look me a lot of time to finish this painting at home, layering, and under each water drop on a leaf, I had to paint a shadow. Finally it was finished and has been sitting in one of my art bags for at least fifteen years, maybe more. Big paintings like this are expensive to frame, but now it is done and on the wall. My new teal wing chair comes today and will sit below it.
While I was away, a friend gave me this wonderful book by John Lovett. I think it is the best how-to watercolour book I have ever seen. It is so full of information.
This is the first project. You are guided through by a very detailed step-by-step, as well as lots of hints and tips. So much more useful than many other books I have. I have only showed it to two people and they both have bought it.
I am working through the book from the beginning. Each project builds on what goes before it, and I don’t want to miss anything. I took a couple of days to paint this. I waited till each step was totally dry (and it’s cold here now), and I kept re-reading so saw not to miss anything.
John Lovett is an Australian artist, so the book starts with Australian landscape. I don’t normally paint landscape. I’m a city girl and I don’t have the opportunity. I prefer urban landscape, but soon the book moves on to that also. Gorgeous!
I did this painting in my sketchbook on Canaletto paper. I am keen to fill up this sketchbook because my next one will be Fabriano Hot Press. I have been a fan of Canaletto paper for a few years now and it is a wonderfully robust paper. It is fine for pen-and-wash sketching, but if you want watercolour to behave like watercolour, then Canaletto paper allows the paint to soak in fraction too quickly. It doesn’t hold up well to multiple washes either.
Not blogging as often as I’d like, but don’t think for a minute I’m not making art. I have been busy with a friend making samples for workshops we are going to teach.
I did it about fifteen years ago (maybe longer), under tuition with Lyn Butchart whose studio used to be in Manly. Lyn lives in Grafton now, but she does travel teach. I recommend taking classes with her if you can. She’s a star in the field of creative watercolour techniques.
We used to struggle over there against the peak hour traffic early in the morning. Lyn had many huge reference books to browse though. The first time I went, though daunted, I found two different images, combined them, and drew this up, even though I couldn’t really draw back then. Lyn guided me through the various techniques to put the painting together – creative techniques. It is ‘full sheet’ size, and it took me a long time to finish it (at home) because each little water drop had to be individually masked and have a shadow painted under it.
The lotus one was done from my own photos from Bali, also under tuition from Lyn (more and different creative techniques). This photo is so old it was taken with a film camera and the photo scanned, so the colour is slightly off. Also a full sheet.
The jellyfish (full sheet again) I did at a friend’s place. Very bravely going it alone without Lyn, but using her techniques.
The orchids were done at home. There are a lot more of these paintings, mostly florals or marine life, but you don’t want to see them all.
You might be thinking ‘Why is Wendy showing us this stuff? What happened to the One Drawing a Day”. It hasn’t gone away, but trip preparation has had to come first. Bottles of black ink don’t mix with making sketchbooks. All the pristine white paper and decorative covers. We had a paste paper day, but time and weather haven’t co-operated in photographing that. And now the table is covered with half made sketchbooks (three) and I don’t want to get ink on them.
Jeffrey Smart’s exhibition at Sydney University is not to be missed. Before you read any more, have a look at the image, ‘Night Stop, Bombay’ (1981) on the university web page about the exhibition. This one interested me, because the travellers among us have all seen things like this. (Urban Sketchers always sketch the cabin of the aircraft. I don’t because I’m perverse like that).
Jeffrey Smart was an Australian artist who lived in Italy. He died last year while I was in Bali. I think he is my favourite artist of all. He painted those hard edged things that I have come to sketch and paint in the years since I left art school (2007).
So what do I draw on the aircraft? My drink. It started when I did my first trip after a long time without travel. I was going to Bali on Garuda Indonesia, and I ordered a Bintang beer and drew that. So much associated with Bali. Then my next trip I was flying Finnair. That airline uses Ittala glassware, so another sketch closely associated with the country of origin. Next trip will be on Cathay Pacific. I wonder what that will bring.
But this image from the aircraft window interested me. It was painted before the advent of readily available digital cameras. Now, what we would do is sketch, then take a photo to aid in developing the painting. Not then. The sketchbook associated with the painting was there. Smart had done three sketches. There were also some notes which said he had used a truck tyre to finish his work for the painting because they were more readily available.
If you are in Sydney, don’t miss this exhibition. It is on until 2nd March. If not, Google Jeffrey Smart and look at the images. You will see why I like his paintings so much. Urban landscape, clear clean colours, interesting skies, not necessarily blue.
Every winter The Art Scene has a series of lunchtime demonstrations on a Thursday. You can download a PDF of all the upcoming demonstrations from their website. I usually do a demonstration for Matisse Derivan. This year I am using the Matisse Inks. They are absolutely loaded with pigment so they are a pleasure to use, and they have new bottles that have a dropper and are bottom-heavy, so they are better than ever.
So I had to come up with something new. Eliza, who works at Derivan now, showed me some good tricks, and I went through my trusty art books to find a few more things. As far as inks and mixed media are concerned, I think Maxine Masterfield is the go-to person. I found something in her book In Harmony with Nature: Painting Techniques for the New Ageand something else in her other book Painting the Spirit of Nature combined the two, and this is the result. Well, one of the results. This technique is fun and easy and something even children could do. If you can doodle, you can do it. This is ‘Guilin Landscape’. It reminds me of the scenery when I sailed down the river in China.
As well as that I will be demonstrating another fun way of making a painting with inks. Lots to cram in, in just two hours. It’s on 18th July, starting midday. Come along!
I had fun doing this one. I used a different technique with lots of layers and lots of medium. I’ll be taking this one along to my demo at The Art Scene and explaining the process. Won’t be demonstrating it though, because the layers each take some time to dry and we only have two hours.
In fact there are not so many layers. It came together sooner than I thought and ‘in the flesh’ it is quite dynamic.
Later this month I am doing a two hour demo of Matisse Dry Mediums at The Art Scene in West Ryde. This landscape came out of my head. I first put the texture on with a number of the dry mediums mixed with Matisse Mat Gel Medium. Then when it was dry I went through the processes that I’ll talk about to finish the painting.
I will be demonstrating the putting on of the mediums, and I’ve also prepared some boards of actual real landscapes and if I get time I will start to paint one of them. I’ve also done another painting with the Dry Mediums put on in the same way, but I’ve used entirely different processes to paint the picture. I’ll show you soon.
More details here.