After a good nights sleep and a superb breakfast we are now ready to walk to the River Usk and spend the morning making quick sketches.
Remember to always carry a small sketch book so that you can take quick notes…
Quick sketches get our creative juices flowing….For those who have taken my courses you will know that I consider ‘warming up’ to be a very important part of the painting process. These little sketches/notes open our eyes and hearts to the world around us.
Tombow pen and watercolour wash – a gang of lambs…..Remember to keep things simple. A small palette of watercolours, a couple of. brushes, a Tombow pen, two or more containers for water. (the river will provide all the water we need) and something to drink.
We will paint until one o’clock ish and then enjoy a pub lunch at the Bridge End Inn on this side of the river. The following pictures were taken on the Glen Usk Estate (about one mile from Crickhowell) where I was giving a workshop some years ago. I have used one of the pics as a ‘jumping off point’ for a demo.
Children were frolicking in the river….it was quite lovely…and of course they were fascinated by the group painting. One of my demonstrations that day was to express the joy and movement of the children. This sketch was very fast (a few minutes) – trying to capture the essence of the moment.
In an ideal world it is best to do several spontaneous sketches….this helps us to understand what it is we are looking at and get beyond the obvious.
It’s a good idea to take photographs, but only to use them as ‘jumping off points‘ not to copy them …….
People come to me to loosen up and bring spontaneity to their work. To help achieve this I often suggest doing some physical exercises before painting. It’s surprising how much it helps.
This is the picture I am using for my ‘jumping off point‘ demo today. I liked it because it emphasised the strong darks and lights – with very little detail.
Mixing Prussian Blue and Burnt Sienna for my darks (I don’t use black when working in watercolour) I throw on some juicy colour in all the shadow areas – leaving DRY WHITE PAPER for my highlights.
I indicate the dark shadows on the rocks using the same Prussian blue/burnt Sienna mix.
I then add some Winsor & Newton Green Gold plus Daniel Smith Undersea Green….into some of the dry white areas. allowing the paint to bleed and do its own magic. (when using a transparent pigment like W & N Green Gold…a little paint goes a long way.)
One of the many things I love about watercolour is that it teaches us to ‘let go and get out of the driver’s seat’….When we do this magic happens. ‘
Here I have added some burnt Sienna around the rocks. Any time I add a colour, I apply it to other areas of the picture to achieve a sense of balance and harmony. With a clean wet brush I blend some of the areas together.
I suggest that you put in your own figures – maybe others in the group who are posing on rocks in the middle of the river.?Like this sketch of Claudia Notalle – a dear friend from France who visited me shortly after I moved to Crickhowell. The river was running very low that day and so I was able to catch her lying on a rock in the middle of the river, reading a book.
Rapid watercolour sketch. Everywhere we walk we are surrounded with the magnificent landscape of the Black Mountains and Brecon Beacons which is why it’s so important to carry a little sketch book and pen to take notes . The light and colours can change so rapidly,
There is much drama in the landscape here……Be spontaneous and use your imagination a well as recording what you see. Wild Welsh hill ponies. – Tombow pen on a qouache ground with watercolour wash.
After a day at the river and lunch in the pub and more sketching I am sure we are ready for tea and cake at the Courtroom Cafe located close to the war memorial.
It is run by a group of local farmer’s wives and all the food is home cooked. They used to be in the Cheesepress..which is now Bookish – another place I will take you to later in the week.
When I used to have people for a meal these wonderful women would cook the food for me and put it in my dishes so it looked as if I had done the work! I always ended up telling the truth:). I visited them when I was in Crikchowell a year or so ago and was so pleased that they all remembered me……
Dinner at The Dragon this evening….and then everyone can walk home to their respective accommodations and collapse – or take a taxi if necessary……
Tomorrow morning we meet at the Dragon and then, along with other delights, we will walk the beautiful Monmouthshire Brecon Canal...something I did every day when I lived there.
ps…..For those who like a good gin and tonic….make sure to ask for BRECON GIN...it’s excellent.