The east Anglian artist Edward Seago was one of the most popular painters in the mid part of the 20th Century and his work is still widely collected today. Seago worked in both oils and watercolour, but it’s his watercolour paintings that I find most exciting. He had the knack of taking the most simple of subjects, a tree in a field or a couple of boats on the beach, and with what seemed to be just a few brushstrokes produced an amazing rendition of the scene.
Of course, just because it looks very simple doesn’t mean to say that it’s simple to follow those techniques yourself! To emulate Seago’s style requires a degree of skill, in arranging the composition, drawing, and in handling the watercolour brush. But, these skills can be learnt, by studying his paintings and of course by practice.
On the 18th and 19th May 2013 I will be running a weekend workshop at West Norfolk Arts Centre, Castle Rising, Near King’s Lynn, Norfolk. Entitled Let the Brush Tell the Story, we’ll look closely at Edward Seago’s working methods and learn how to apply at least some of them to our own paintings. It should be fun and you’re bound to come away with an increased awareness of what it takes to make a successful watercolour painting.
Alongside this post you can see my own humble effort at painting a scene that Seago returned to on many occasions, a Norfolk fishing village with a few boats drawn up on the foreshore. Note that the eye is drawn in to the cottages by their being light and dark shapes against the sky. See also how limited the number of colours is, just Ultramarine Blue, Raw Sienna and Light Red.
I hope you might like to join me for a chance to let your own brush tell the story! To book contact the Arts Centre on 01553 631689 or get more information at westnorfolkarts.co.uk
I’m back teaching my weekly group, after my eye surgery. My vision is slowly improving, so things seem to be going the right way.
This week, part of the session with my Watercolour Improvers group will be devoted to the use of colour, to give atmosphere and interest to a painting.
I’ve prepared a twelve-point colour wheel, which you can see here, to show the relationship between colours. As you may know, there are three primary colours, yellow, red and blue, from which all others are derived. On the wheel you can see the three primaries, and three secondary colours between each of them. So for example yellow has secondary colours of orange-yellow, orange, and red-orange. These colours are referred to as analogous, because they all contain yellow so they have a close relationship to each other. A painting constructed with a palette of analogous colours will have a strong feeling of harmony within it. An example of such a palette would be one using raw sienna and burnt sienna. The colours do not have to used at their full brilliance for them to be analogous, but they need to have a common primary colour, in this case yellow.
Another way of creating harmony in a painting is to use complementary colours. These are colours which are directly opposite each other on the colour wheel, for example blue and orange, or yellow and purple. Despite being very different, they seem to work well together and their intensity is enhanced when they are side by side. As before, the colours don’t have to be fully saturated for the effect to work, they can contain neutral elements within them but still be effective. I’ll be using a palette of complimentary colours in a painting that my Improvers group will be tackling and I’ll post it here once we’ve completed it.
One of the nice things about being a professional artist is being asked to paint a particular scene for someone, in other words a commission. Over the years I’ve undertaken quite a few paintings of subjects that I would never have dreamed of tackling normally, so there’s an added excitement, or terror, when one comes along.
At my December Open Studio, a lady asked me to paint a view of the locomotive ‘Mallard’ for her husband who is a steam enthusiast. Quite challenging, because it’s got to be ‘right’ and I did a good deal of research before starting work. But I felt that the end result gave a good feel of steam and power, as the Mallard leaves York southbound for King’s Cross. I used the original LNER colour scheme for the loco and carriages, so this sets the scene at around 1938 or 39.
This great locomotive, which still holds the world speed record for steam, is on show in the York Railway Museum, but I was fortunate in being able to find some useful photographs as my reference, to avoid a long research trip!