‘Sometimes working in a different medium can add that all-important spark of excitement’, writes Paul Talbot-Greaves in Collins 30 minute Landscapes in Watercolour. As a new year refresher, I’m trying out one of his half-hour demos.
I’m stepping out of my comfort zone because my habitual way of working is to start with a pen and ink drawing, then add a wash of colour but here, after a minimal pencil outline, it’s blocks of colour first and any suggestion of detail, such as the pattern of stones, is left until you add the final touches.
I’ve noticed recently that my brushes are looking the worse for wear, so before starting I bought two sable brushes.
I’m interested in Talbot-Greaves’ choice of colours; I try and keep things simple by sticking to a couple of versions of each of the primaries in the pocket-sized watercolour box that I use on my travels but he suggests some useful shortcuts:
“There are a number of ready-mixed colour, such as Raw Sienna, Sap Green and French Ultramarine, which have been developed to make colour selection easier for the artist. Each one is like a shortcut to a popular colour that is found in the landscape – for example, Sap Green can be used to paint grass, Cobalt Blue is a good match for sky blue, and Cadmium Red is ideal for suggesting the warm glow of a sunset.”
The colours in my version of the demo aren’t as subtle as they are in the book and I think that could be due to having a brighter, yellower version of Sap Green in my range of watercolours and having to use Lemon Yellow and Indian Red as substitutes for two of his recommended colours: Naples Yellow and Light Red.
For the purpose of the exercise, all the colours are mixed on the paper, blended into each other, as you paint, not mixed in the palette beforehand. I need more practice at this; the wash-backs in the sky and on the road are caused by adding a bit too much water to my wash as I blended it with a still damp colour on the page.
I’ve learned a lot from trying another approach and look forward to trying another of the 30 minute demos in the book.
Collins 30 minute Landscapes in Watercolour is currently out of print.