Snow Scene

I’m getting a bit more confident as I work through the Half-Hour Demos in Paul Talbot-Greaves’ 30 Minute Landscapes in Watercolour.

I would normally follow the contours of a landscape in pen, as if the nib was tracing the routes that a climber might take over the outcrops of rock. Those foreground boulders would have been hatched with strata. Following the suggestions for this exercise, my initial pencil drawing amounts to perhaps a couple of dozen lines: if I’d been out on location, I would probably have got absorbed in the geological detail and I would have lavished that number of pen strokes on one or two of the rocks.

Less can be More

I’m learning to trust the viewer to complete the picture, so I’m  realising that the decision of what to leave out of a painting can be as important as deciding what to put in. Less can be more, so I particularly enjoyed suggesting the billowing cloud with the crisp edge of the initial wash of Cobalt Blue for the sky. Following Talbot-Greaves’ example, I didn’t even start with an indication of the shape of the cloud in pencil. It’s such a pleasure to just draw with the brush.


Also new to me was the suggestion of using a quarter inch flat brush for the shadows and the rock formations. Its chisel-shaped marks give an impression of blocky rocks. I’ll definitely use it again, in fact I’ll treat myself to some new flat sable brushes as my old sable flats are now rather splayed (and that number 8, above, has a warped handle!).

Link: Paul Talbot-Greaves

Part of the Scenery

BY THE TIME we finish the backdrop, eventually with even David, our resident joiner helping to fill in the blanks, it looks a ridiculously simple cartoon-style scene . . . something that a child could have drawn in about an hour perhaps – but it’s taken us (four of us, off and on) most of the weekend.

Just time for this snow scene before the light fades. It snowed last night but during the day most of it has melted.

The Snows of Yesterday

I’VE WRITTEN several times about my great grandfather George who worked in the cutlery trade in Sheffield. Here’s a watercolour by his son Maurice Swift, my grandfather. It’s signed ‘M. Swift age 13’ so that means that he painted it around 1900.

The farmhouse on the hillside with its shelter belt of trees could be a real location on the Peak District side of Sheffield, or perhaps it is imagined with that kind of country in mind. I phoned my mum to say that I’d been surprised to come across it in a drawer in my plan chest – I’d forgotten all about it. She suggests that it might be a copy of a picture and remembers that it was once framed. It’s mounted on a kind of brittle card, 2 or 3 millimetres thick, which is typical of that period.

Like so many family treasures, my mum had put it in an anonymous brown envelope, (postmark dated December 1986, which I guess might have been about the time that she handed it to me; she’s pencilled my name in block capitals on the back of the envelope).