Can’t see the wood for the trees..

I’m loving being able to spend time sitting and painting, it does feel like a bit of a guilty pleasure though! I’m sure there are many other things I could and probably should be doing around the house.

I’ve been inspired recently by Linda Kemp’s book ‘watercolour, painting outside the lines’ In this book she explains how she has mastered the techniques of painting negative pictures. She gives very clear instructions on painting the background rather than the detail. I chose to paint trees today as I’ve tried them before and I wanted to see if I had improved at all.

autumnal trees

So far as the colours are concerned, I have a copy of ‘The Watercolour Painter’s Pocket Palette’ by Moira Clinch. Each page gives an amazing breadth of colour possibilities. I wanted to use some autumnal hues and so used burnt umber as my base paint for all three colours, I then added cadmium yellow to one, burnt sienna to another and finally viridian. With each ‘coat’ of paint, I added more colour and less water, so the trees appear to be lighter in the foreground and darker in to the distance.

I do enjoy this technique although it does mean I have to concentrate to make sure I don’t inadvertently paint over some branches. I used this technique when painting the flowers that are the background to my blog.


A picture in three stages…

My lovely husband asked me recently if I would paint him a picture of a local tower, for him to hang on the wall of his office. He took the following photo to inspire me :


I wasn’t quite sure how I would recreate this and so my initial attempt is very simplistic:


I was pleased with the colour mixes and surprised myself by actually leaving some white on the paper. I was however, convinced that I should paint something a little more abstract. This is the result:


I’m really pleasantly surprised by this result. I’ve not yet shown it to my husband, I hope he will like it.

Less is more!

I think I may have found a style to suit me. I like detail but more often than not I allow this to overwhelm my work instead of focussing on the balance of the painting. I also like the idea of painting a rough estimation of what I remember rather than a non too perfect representation of what is actually there:


I love the simplicity of this painting. When we visited Westonbirt recently, the first trees we saw were a row of beautiful and elegant pine trees. The sun was incredibly bright (hence the yellow ‘ribbon’ winding through the trees) and as we walked through the arboretum there were many sudden ‘shocks’ of brilliant red acers.
I had hoped my painting would be somewhat more abstract, however, for a first attempt at letting go of rigid lines and dimensions, I don’t think this is too bad!

Trying to find my style …

I’ve read recently that developing a painting style is a bit like developing your own style of handwriting. This helped me put my recent frustrations with my painting in to perspective. I’ve been reading lots and feeling inspired by several different artists but have found it increasingly difficult to work out how I’d like to be able to paint.
The painting below is indicative of this. I used paint and watercolour pencils and I also dabbled in a little decoupage, as a result, whilst I love the colours, I feel it lacks cohesion.