Saturday, 9 June 2012

Jack of all trades …

My last several pieces have been in pencil and so I was keen to get back to watercolours. Apart from anything else, I have just treated myself to a new desk easel and 5 new Windsor & Newton Sceptre Gold brushes. But I am somewhat disappointed … not in the new brushes but my own ability.
Recently I found myself waiting for my wife as she attended a funeral and I couldn’t help but kill time (excuse the pun) by sketching the quaint little chapel. The sketch had to be done standing under the shelter of a tree as the wind brought in the beginnings of a shower. (That’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it).
Later, at home, I decided to paint the chapel in watercolours. Fortunately I had taken a couple of reference photo’s which I was very pleased about as my sketch really wasn’t good enough to work from. But the resulting painting was not good. Much too wishy-washy, flat and under-defined. I managed to ‘rescue’ it, to some extent, by using a pen which at least brought in some definition and lifted the flatness … a little.
Another day I decided to paint a Lily from a recent photograph I’d taken. I wanted to make an indistinct background so thought I’d do some wet-in-wet. That soon turned into a mess. I lifted the background off and then reapplied it once the paper was dry, but only managed to achieve the same muddy mess as previously. I considered returning my brushes as “not fit for purpose” but thought better of it. lol. These recent, but not uncommon, struggles with the medium are very frustrating and it has me wondering whether I would be better off concentrating on one medium. Many of my blogging friends seem to work regularly in the same style and medium whereas I am frequently switching back and forth … and that can’t help. You know what they say … “Jack of all trades, master of none”. Ok … so I’m making excuses … I’m off to create a masterpiece … in my dreams. LOL.



31 comments:

  1. What I see is beautiful work, John! I know how hard it is to paint buildings using watercolour only and I like your rescue with pen! And the lily is gorgeous, the background makes the flower stand out wonderfully. So that is what I see.

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    1. Your very kind Judy, thank you very much.

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  2. I agree with Judy. The lily is really good. I think you are trying to create a masterpiece instantly whereas you just need to play with the paint. Do a lot of little exercises John, no matter how they come out, that way you will get used to your brushes and how the paint mixes. Before you know it you will be really happy with you results.

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    1. Thank you Ann. I think you're right that I need to play more. Jumping straight from detailed pencil work into a watercolour wasn't the best move.

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  3. I think both the church and the liles painting are quite lovely and I really don't find the background at all bad. In fact I like it.

    Don't be so hard on yourself,

    xoxo

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    1. Thank you very much Vicki. It pleases me that you like them both. I tend to judge my work on how much trouble I had creating it and I guess I'm the only one who knows that.

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  4. John, don't put away the watercolors. Your lily is lovely. The watercolors are a bit of a difficult medium if you haven't been at them for a while. Play with the paints. :)

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    1. You're right Kathryn, I should have done some "warming up" before I dived in. Thank you very much.

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  5. I also think the lily is good. The background certainly isn't muddy and works to highlight the bloom. With the chapel I find the background to bright and monotonal.

    Don't give up.

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    1. I agree with you about the chapel painting Sue. I wish I could control the paint as well as I can the pencils. lol. Thanks very much.

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    2. Just need to practise a little :)

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  6. I once brought a VERY expensive Sable watercolour brush and for some reason thought that all I needed was one of those and my watercolours would suddenly be amazing, lol! I was SO disappointed when I didn't instantly become Hazel Soan!! But I think you are being too hard on your self! Sometimes it takes someone else to look with fresh eyes. I really, really like your Chapel. It doesn't need rescuing at all! But - maybe you just haven't quite completed it yet? When I look at it, I see a gorgeous painting waiting to happen and with the application of a few deeper shadows within the tree foliage, I think it will turn it in to exactly what you saw in your head! I always find that when I am disappointed with one of my paintings, it is almost always to do with the lights and darks. So, I make it my rule never to be afraid of the darks :0)
    The Peony is gorgeous! It leaps out of the page against that dark background :0))

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    1. Sandra, you're spot on with the lights and darks. Darks is one thing I've always struggled with, possibly due to lack of confidence with my painting. I certainly have no trouble going dark in my pencil drawings. Thank you.

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  7. John is very recognizable. Actually, that's one reason why I have artists block. What you are painting with lily concerned, your background is beautiful and the lily gets well forward.
    The Chapel is beautifully drawn and painted. I wouldn't do anything about it. I think that the trees and greenery maybe needs some more depth. I think the trees need a little more depth. More variations in terms of leaf structure. Now it looks like a picture in a comic. Apart from that, I love it. The chapel reminds me a bit reminiscent of the work of Joost Veerkamp (search on google). ;-)

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    1. Renske, it is lovely of you to say that my work is recognisable. Thank you very much.

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  8. I think you're being too hard on yourself John. The lily is fine, it has good form and the colours really glow. The church has more of the look of a line-and-wash and, as such, that is good as well.

    Try not to get disheartened, watercolour is a difficult medium and it takes time to get used to handling it. I had the same problems as you to start with.

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    1. Thank you for the encouragement Keith. I seem to be back here whenever I put my brushes down for a while. I must do more practising. lol.

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  9. I don't paint! You do, and a whole lot better than you think - but it's going to take a lot of practise to get your paintings up to the standard of your drawings. Until you do reach that standard, you're never really going to be happy with the painting ;0) ... on the other hand: I would be happy if I'd painted these!

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    1. John, you've hit the proverbial nail on the head. I've been very pleased with my last few pencil drawings and these paintings just don't measure up. This is why I wonder if I'd be better off concentrating on just one medium ... the better I get at drawing, the more dissatisfied I become with my painting. Thank you.

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  10. I love the lilies! I always start with washes and build up layers to achieve depth and detail. Secret is knowing when to apply next layer. Paper gets a certain shine at optimum stage...happy painting!

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  11. I have found when I get dissatisfied with a body of recent work, its because I'm improving and a big change is on the way - for the better.
    Your works are fine, John, even though you are unhappy with them. I'm watching closely now for the great change I am sure will be coming. xx

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    1. LOL ... I hope you're right Pat. We'll see how the next one turns out. Thanks for the lovely comment.

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  12. Hi John! Well I can't paint (or name) flowers but your Lily is excellent and certainly not muddy! As for the chapel, it's superbly drawn and I know how difficult it is to draw arches in perspective!
    I think it really just lacks a bit of tonal and temperature variation to give a sense of distance. Just try to be bolder with your colour and experiment. Every watercolour I do is an experiment. Sometimes they just 'work', but a lot of them become spherical projectiles destined only for the waste paper bin ;)

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    1. Ah-hah!!! Spherical projectiles!! Why didn't I think of that? Thanks Michael. ;-)

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  13. I think you are being a bit hard on yourself , both the chapel and the Lily are wonderful, two very different styles, and you master both of them perfectly !

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  14. John, I almost missed this post. Oh, my, your work is amazing, love it all, your drawing skills are second to none. You do the difficult stuff with ease as for the rest, sorry, don't see anything wrong. Well done.

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    1. Thank you very much Joan, what a lovely thing to say. If my art was only half as good as yours I'd be a happy bunny. ;-)

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