Tag Archives: http://www.janetweightreed.co.uk

Less is More.

Perhaps a real understanding of less being more, comes with age.    I have certainly found this to be true with painting and life in general. 

I met someone yesterday who is at a turning point, and wanting to put more emphasis on being an artist rather than endlessly driving from A to B and organising a house full of STUFF.

This quick watercolour study of a model at the Boathouse Studio is an example of less being more.    Note that all the techniques I have been showing in my tutorials are in this quick sketch. 

Image

 

 

Perhaps one of the many lessons we learn with watercolour painting is the art of letting go.    Getting out of the way and allowing the paint to do its own thing. 

It was only when I began to understand this concept in my own life that I was able to let go of all the unnecessary stuff, which in turn freed me up to immerse myself into the creative process. 

In today’s fast paced world, it’s very easy to live our lives in boxes, all the time being plugged into some sort of technology.    A little of this is necessary, however, too much of it deadens the senses….and consequently our creativity. 

This quote from the book Buddhist Offerings, says it all. 

‘Our five senses are like openings through which we receive all the perceptions that are then transformed into concepts and ideas.’ 

Wishing everyone a magical hummingbird weekend:)

Image

 

A Bientôt

 

 

Tutoria 11 – Seeing vs looking.

As we go about our daily lives….we spend a lot of time looking, but how much do we actually see?

The play of light and shadow with its constant change, needs to be acutely observed.

Frame 1.

In this image, using watercolour  and a felt tip pen to sketch pen – I am acutely aware of the play of light and shadow.   The addition of felt tip pen over the watercolour gives a sense of energy.

Scribbling, or cross hatching on newspaper with a felt tip pen….can be very liberating and is an excellent warm up exercise. 

Image

The more we see, the more likely we are to observe triggers which feed the imagination. 

For example.    This weekend, I read about the annual elephant festival in Jaipur, Rajasthan.    Immediately in my mind’s eye, I imagined hummingbirds painted onto the elephants…which in turn symbolised for me the interconnectedness of life.    

I was also reminded of a time when I saw an elephant in captivity, and to this day, the sadness in that elephant’s eye haunts me.

In this image, I wanted to give the elephant back its dignity with a eye full of wisdom and life.

Frame 2.

Painted elephant.

Image

Triggers are an important reason to carry a sketch/notebook at all times.

Begin to feed your imagination as you would feed your body with nourishing food.

‘Those who dream by day are cognisant of many things that escape those who dream only at night’.  Edgar Allan Poe. 

A Bientôt

 

Tutorial 10: – Seeing Differently

What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think of an apple?

It could be the iconic Apple Mac symbol…or the shiny red apple that children take for their favourite teacher:)

What The Apple Exercise demonstrates is that the apple, along with everything else in life, can be seen in a myriad of different ways. 

Upside down and inside out…..

Image

If we were able to time travel back to our earliest formative years, from 1 to 3, when our world was a kaleidoscope of colour and shapes and our young minds were full of wonder, we could regain our natural curiosity and love for colour and form. 

If we are able to see the apple in many different ways, we will begin to see everything else differently. 

Image

A collage of apple exercise sketches. 

Image

 

This week along with a couple of watercolour demonstrations and more information about brushes and paper,   I will talk about the imagination, and how we can encourage it to blossom. 

Think left and think right and think low and think high.   Oh, the thinks you can think up if only you try.’   Dr. Seuss. 

A Bientôt

 

 

The Flying goose.

I leave you this weekend with a flying goose.

Image

 

From the book, ‘The Apple Exercise’

‘Given the fast pace of our lives today, and the fact that so many of us are plugged into technology of one kind or another, our collective sense are being deadened. 

Along with this comes a feeling of loss.    A loss that in many ways we are unable to identify. 

As we constantly try to fill the ever widening holes within us, with more and more frenetic activity and stuff, our frustration levels grow even more. 

Feeding our sense through the creative process, in all its many forms, can produce almost miraculous changes, which lead to a sense of well being and fulfilment.’

 

Next week, more tutorials and information about watercolour brushes and paper. 

Wishing everyone a beautiful and creative weekend.

A Bientôt 

 

Tutorial 9 – The tree

I am using all the same techniques I have demonstrated in the previous tutorials to paint this tree. Image

Frame 1.  

Having loaded my brush with a juicy mix of Burnt Sienna and Prussian Blue, I suggest the shadow side of the tree….and then with a clean, wet brush pull out the paint. 

Image

 

Frame 2. 

Using a rigger brush and  the same mix of Burnt Sienna and Prussian blue I begin to suggest branches. 

Image

 

Frame 3. 

I now begin to add foliage…and at the same time move the colour to the bottom of the image.

Image

 

Frame 4.

For the finished tree, I add more darks and lights to the foliage and then scrape out with my knife.   Note that at all times, I am moving colour around the image.

Image

 

Frame 5.

This is another example of a tree trunk, using all the same techniques as above.

Image

 

Remember that fifteen minutes a day of regular practise is better than 5 hour binges once a month.

My book, The Apple Exercise, which talks about all these techniques is available through my website at http://www.janetweightreed.co.uk

Happy painting.

A Bientôt

 

Tutorial 8. Wet brush no paint.

In this short video, I load my big brush with juicy paint, and then making sure to remove all paint from the brush, I use the clean wet brush to pull out the colour.

I am working on a dry surface, and by using this technique, I am able to avoid muddiness, which is the enemy of all water-colour painters:)

Once again I can’t stress how important it is to have a minimum of four pots of clean water always at hand.

A Bientôt

Tutorial 7. Basic materials for watercolour painting.

This post is about basic watercolour materials.   

Something I have noticed over the years is that many people arrive at workshops, or go out for a day’s painting armed with everything and the kitchen sink:).     

Keeping life simple is definitely a good rule to live by, and this also applies to art materials. 

Frame 1 and 2 – Palettes

When painting indoors, I have used the same palette for over thirty years.     You will note that when I finish a day’s painting, I don’t scrub the palette clean…..to do so is to throw away good paint and money.     Rather, I hold it under a slow running tap and then with a watercolour brush clean off any areas where I have mixed paint.   

Even if the palette has been left to dry for several days, all I need to do is wet the remaining paint on the palette and the paint is activated again. 

My favourite watercolour palette:-

Image

 

I was given this little travelling palette about thirty years ago by a dear friend in the States.     The original blocks of paint have long gone, and so I simply fill the wells with tube paint.   Yes, it looks a little sad, however, after holding it under a running tap for a few seconds, it’s ready to go….

Image

 

Frame 3 and 4 –  Sketch books and paper. 

When travelling, I always carry a small sketchbook.    This is for recording quick images and writing notes.   This one is 5 inches square.      Note, one brush will do, plus a credit card with the corner cut off….also the credit card allows me through customs. 

Image

 

I will write a separate blog about watercolour papers, but today we are talking about papers and sketchbooks for playing and experimenting.      

I highly recommend that you purchase a ‘sample pack’ of watercolour papers from your supplier.    The packs are not expensive, and will allow you to play with different weights and types of papers.     

One of the suppliers I use, sells packs of 50 off cuts.    This is a very affordable way to purchase paper…for playing purposes.  Note I have put a colour ground on two of these. 

Image

 

Frame 5.   Watercolour Pencils

In my last demonstration using the Calla Lily as a subject, I sketched out the the Lily using a watercolour pencil.    To be honest, I hardly ever use them, but it reminded me how useful they can be.

In the first example, I have pulled out paint with a clean, wet brush from the hard line.    In the second example, I scribbled colour and then added water.   In the third if mixed blue and brown together and then added water. 

Watercolour pencils can be purchased from an art supplier. 

Image

 

Frame 6. – Brushes and knife. 

Note that I like to use a big brush and would suggest that when playing, you do the same.   It frees you up.    In this frame there is an uncharacteristically small brush for me, however, for demonstration purposes I used it to make the fine line.     The Rigger Brush (so called because it was used by Maritime artists to paint the rigging on ships) has a much longer head on it…and is very effective for fine lines.     

I have had this knife for about 17 years, since I absconded with it from a friend’s kitchen in San Francisco:)    I become attached to my materials and this knife is no exception. 

Note I made the broad marks, using the big brush and a mix of Burnt Sienna and Prussian Blue, and then pulled out with my knife. 

Image

 

Frame 7.   Juicy paint vs Transparent paint.

I often refer to juicy paint when I am teaching.     This means that I load my brush with tube paint, and very little water.

When I want the pigment to be transparent and light, I use much more water and very little pigment.    In the first example, I have used a mix of Burnt Sienna, Prussian blue….I loaded my big brush and applied directly to dry paper.     I then took a clean, wet brush and teased out the edge.    

In the second example, I have applied Winsor & Newton Green Gold, using my big brush and lots of water….very little pigment is needed.     I have then taken a clean, wet brush and pulled out the edge. 

Using my knife, I have then scraped through.      This is the kind of exercise that I highly recommend.   

Image

 

Frames 8, 9 and 10  –   Watercolours. 

These are what the Winsor & Newton Cotman series watercolours look like.     They are very reasonably priced and are excellent for beginners and advanced painters, alike.       I purchase the big tubes, however, they also have smaller tubes.    

Image

 

When working on a colour ground, I use Winsor & Newton Designer Gouache Permanent White.   There are some pigments where I choose to use the Winsor & Newton artist’s grade colour which is more expensive.      By the way, Winsor & Newton has recently changed their tubes and so don’t be thrown by this. 

Image

 

A few years ago, I was introduced to the Daniel Smith range of watercolours and I love them.    They are more expensive, but absolutely worth it. 

Image

 

The following are some of the pigments I use.    

Winsor & Newton, Cotman series. – Burnt Sienna, Prussian Blue, Dioxazine Violet, Yellow Ochre, Cadmium Orange, Alizarin Crimson, Turquoise, Sepia, cadmium yellow hue, Burnt Umber 

Winsor & Newton – Artists grade – Green Gold, Burnt Sienna 

Winsor & Newton – Designer Gouache – Cobalt Turquoise Light, Opera Rose, Naples Yellow. 

Daniel Smith – Raw Umber Violet, Carmine.

Here are the websites for my favourite suppliers.

http://www.jacksonsart.com      http://www.kenbromleyartsupplies.co.uk     http://www.danielsmith.com  http://www.winsornewton.com

When I travel, as I did recently to the States, I order my paper from a supplier in the country where I will be working (in the States, Daniel Smith).    There are many excellent suppliers worldwide….the four that I have given here, I highly recommend.     All supplies can be ordered on line and delivered to your door.

Happy painting.

A Bientôt   

 

 

 

Tutorial 6 – Moving colour around the painting.

Frame 1.

I am using another calla lily for this demonstration, and once again will be focusing on the negative space, and the importance of moving colour around a painting. 

I am working on a white surface, and have sketched out the lily using a watercolour pencil.     By adding a little water to the pencil mark, the line bleeds.

I then apply juicy paint around the lily, and then immediately start pulling the colour to the edge of the paper using a clean, wet brush.  It is important to note that several pots of clean water should be available at all times.

Image

Frame 2.

In this frame I have covered all of the negative space, using a mix of Winsor & Newton Cotman series – Burnt Umber, Turquoise Blue and Dioxazine Violet.     Any colours can be used.

In an ideal world it’s best to work on two or three images at one time.      When you get to the point with one image where you don’t know what to do next….do nothing, and move onto the next one.    By the time you return to the original image, the answers will  be there for you.

Image

Frame 3.

The only tool I use other than a brush, is a knife.    In this frame after the paint has dried a little, I have scraped out areas of the negative space.      This breaks up the area, and at the same time brings back some light areas, which help to balance the image.  A credit card also works quite well.

Image

Frame 4.

I now begin to add small amounts of colour to the lily.    I am using Winsor & Newton Green Gold, plus some of the turquoise which is in the background.  I am also using Cotman series, Cadmium Orange and burnt sienna.     Moving colour around the image brings balance and a sense of integration.

Image

Frame 5.

In this final frame, I have applied some Gold Green, Turqoise and Cadmium Orange to the areas where I have scraped out with the knife.    As I work any image, whether a small watercolour or a huge oil painting,  I am always aware of the whole, and am constantly moving colour around to achieve a sense of balance in the overall composition.

Image

‘Play is the highest form of research’   Albert Einstein. 

More about some basic materials tomorrow.

A Bientôt

Hummingbirds symbolising resilience and courage.

I just received a message from one of my friends in the Philippines, Margarita Lim, saying that this image of a Magical Hummingbird, symbolises for her, the sun that shines after a storm.    A message of hope for the Philippine people. 

Image

 

The Hummingbird symbolises for me, resilience and courage, two characteristics shown so clearly by the Philippine people. 

I have been in awe of the dignity and courage shown as I watch the BBC coverage, and yes the sun will shine again. 

A Bientôt

 

 

 

 

 

Tutorial 5. Warm up landscape.

In this short video, I am using the same techniques used in the Calla Lily tutorial.

This is a warm up exercise that I have used for many years. You end up with a little landscape painting, which again can be modified in many different ways, by changing the horizon line, adding some mountains, etc. The key is that it’s all about warming up and playing. By the way any colours can be used.

Before e mail, when I would send lots of snail mail around the world, I would paint these little landscapes on the envelopes. A great way to warm up, and the receivers always enjoyed.

For the sky area I am using – Winsor & Newton Cotman series, Turquoise and Dioxazine Violet.

Between the sky and land, Winsor & Newton Gold Green, and a mix of Prussian Blue and Burnt Sienna for the foreground.

I use a knife or credit card to scrape out grasses in the foreground.

It’s important to note that I don’t use black in my watercolours. Rather I mix Prussian Blue and Burnt Sienna for my darks. I would suggest that you play with swatches of this combination.

Note that I bring colour from the top of the painting into the foreground….because the sky naturally reflects upon the land. Everything reflects and everything is interconnected. This also helps to balance and bring harmony to the image.

This little story points out how our minds are conditioned by what we are taught, rather than what we actually see or experience.

When giving a workshop in Wales one beautiful sunny January morning, one of the participants painted a landscape he had seen on the way to the workshop. He explained that the fields in the landscape was actually blue, and then went onto say that as there are no blue fields in winter, he painted them brown……..

The fact was, the man had seen blue fields. He had seen the reflection of the clear blue sky onto the white frost covering the fields. Rather than believe what he actually observed, he instinctively chose to go with what he had been taught.

When we first enter the world, we are naturally full of curiosity and wonder.

By the time we come to the end of our formative years, at around seven, the narrow definition that our culture has imposed upon us has taken hold.

Happy warming up and playing.

All these exercises can be found in my book The Apple Exercise. The book is available through the products page of my website at http://www.janetweightreed.co.uk

A Bientôt