Tag Archives: rapid watercolour sketches

watercolour exercise – Olhao, Portugal

David, (AKA Bazil) owns a restaurant and wine bar, 7 Imeio Wine Bar, just a few minutes walk from the Art School in Alhao.    I used a photograph of the restaurant (thank you Jude) as a jumping off point for this sketch.     http://www.artinthealgarve.com


Initially I made a rapid sketch using brush and yellow ochre….quickly indicating the darkest areas in the image.


In this frame, I add the shadow play on the front of the buildings…always making sure to move colours around.   this brings a sense of balance and cohesiveness to the overall image.


Allowing the brush to dance around the image, I add more detail….

It’s important to note that less is always better than more when capturing an image such as this,   It allows the viewer’s eye and imagination to fill in the gaps.…..By adding too much detail, spontaneity, the key element of watercolour is lost.


Magical Hummingbird – drinking from the sweet nectar of life. 


A Bientôt

Different points of view.

Fifteen years ago, when I was living and working in Wales, I gave a workshop for the Brecnoc Arts Society, which entailed a day’s hike along the Brecon/Monmouthshire canal.   

The plan was to walk for fifteen minutes and then sketch for fifteen minutes  which was a pattern we repeated for several miles.

The idea of the exercise was to focus observational skills and to recognise that by standing in one spot for a short period of time, the vista before us could be seen from many different points of view. 

The following two watercolours are from the Art School, in Olhao.  They demonstrate that by shifting the eye slightly, the same subject is seen from a very different point of view.    http://www.artinthealgarve.com


During art school in the early sixties, one of the tutors had us observe a crack in the ceiling of one of the studios for several sessions.     We were asked to do a series of sketches based on the crack.     At the time I thought he was nuts, but in hindsight, he focused our observational skills and showed that anything can be seen in a myriad of ways…even a crack in the ceiling.

Today’s magical hummingbird. 


A bientôt.

Vignettes – a brief evocative description

Vignettes – a brief evocative description…


I took this photograph of the alley behind the School House, Olhao – where the calla lily caught my eye.     http://www.artinthealgarve.com


It’s so easy to become overwhelmed when plein air painting.   So much to observe – where to begin?

To overcome this, I suggest painting details – or vignettes of the subject.       These rapid sketches help to focus the eye and mind.

Rapid watercolour sketch….focusing on the negative space.  


Consider that making these quick sketches is like an athlete or dancer warming up.    Along with providing information they hone observational skills.

Note that all the whites in this image, including the calla lily are dry, white paper.    

By adding darks around the Calla Lily into the negative space – the lily is revealed.     


I can hardly believe that another weekend is upon us….reminding me once again that time is our most precious commodity.

Have a lovely weekend, filled with magical hummingbirds:)

P1150606A Bientôt