Another Track to the Farm

Charcoal sketch of Norfolk barns
A charcoal planning sketch, to establish composition and tone before painting
Barns, Fields and Sky. A two colour palette using Ultramarine Blue and Brown Madder. Watercolour 15ins x 22ins.
Barns, Fields and Sky. A two colour palette using Ultramarine Blue and Brown Madder. Watercolour 15ins x 22ins.
If you find a good composition it can often serve well in many different ways. In my last post I showed a demonstration painting that I did at a watercolour workshop in Northwold. The composition was loosely based on a painting I found in one of my books about Rowland Hilder, and was called The Track to the Farm.

A few days later I was nearer home in the village of West Winch just outside King’s Lynn. I was demonstrating for the West Winch Art Group, known as the Wednesday Afternooners, as they meet on a Wednesday! I decided to reuse the Track to the Farm, but this time I gave it an entirely different treatment by changing the palette of colour from the cool Prussian Blue based hues at Northwold to a warmer French Ultramarine Blue based colour scheme. I also reduced the number of colours even more to give a very atmospheric feel. I used just one blue, French Ultramarine, and one red, Winsor & Newton’s Brown Madder. Brown Madder is one of the lesser know pigments, formulated these days from quinacridone. It is a warm, slightly purple red and only appears brown when used very strongly with little water. Diluted it is a soft pink which combines well with Ultramarine to give warm purple-greys.

Keeping to just two colours can give great atmosphere to a painting and it also makes you concentrate on tone, the light and dark values that are so important.

My thanks to all the Wednesday Afternooners for being a great group. Very attentive and asking lots of good questions. The only difficulty with demonstrating at West Winch is that the church hall, where the group meet, in on an incredibly busy main road, the A10, and getting out of the car park unscathed was a major job. But we made it!

Northwold watercolour workshop

Watercolour painting of Norfolk barns
The Track to the Farm – after Rowland Hilder. Watercolour 15ins x 22ins.
A couple of weeks ago I spent a very pleasant afternoon in the village of Northwold, near the Norfolk and Suffolk border. I was running a workshop for Northwold Art Group and we had a theme of barns, fields and sky. You can see my painting here, which is loosely based on a composition from that master of 20th Century watercolour, Rowland Hilder.

A very limited palette of colours keeps a harmonious feel throughout the work. Prussian Blue, Burnt Sienna, and Raw Sienna were the main ones used.

The Northwold group were all lovely people and good painters so I really enjoyed the afternoon session. My thanks to group leader Patsy Hood for inviting me. See you again another time!

My watercolour demonstration at Brandon

I haven’t posted much on the blog lately because I seem to have been busy with other, non-arty, things. But earlier this week I was back in harness at Brandon Art Society, where I gave them an afternoon watercolour demonstration.

watercolour demonstration painting cley windmill 1
Don’t use a small brush like this . . .
watercolour demonstration cley windmill 2
. . . use a big one like this!

Thanks to Terry Kimpton for taking these photographs of me at the easel. The group were really nice people, with plenty of feedback, questions and comments, a pleasure to paint for. As you may be able to see from the photos, this was a ‘big brush’ painting of Cley Windmill, using just four colours. Ultramarine Blue, Raw Sienna, Burnt Sienna and Cadmium Yellow Pale.

Most of the painting was done with a 1 inch flat brush, a Pro Arte sable-synthetic mix, although I did drop down to a number 8 round for a few details near the end of the painting. Using a big brush like this is a great way of freeing up your work and keeping it nice and loose looking. The 1 inch flat is capable of quite detailed work if you use the corner of it or the sharp chisel edge. Why not get one and have a go, a cheap synthetic brush will be perfectly okay to start with and you may well find that you like it!