The art workshop I attended this month was for “cottages” in line and wash so since that is both a subject matter I like, and a medium I always enjoy using, even though I hadn’t done it for a while, I was happy to go along and see how the day progressed………..
Line and wash is a lovely way of depicting a subject matter, especially landscapes, as the drawing and painting work beauifully in conjunction with each other, complimenting and enhancing. Some artists paint the landscape first, then put on the pen in a loose way, but this time the tutor explained that she draws out the image in a neat way, and uses that as the backbone to her painting, but not necessarily painting within the lines, because that makes it look like a “paint by numbers” image, which is not considered creative.
I liked the way she taught – it was of the “here’s what I do, this is how I do it, this is what you can do, now get on with it” type. Which meant that we weren’t all sitting there watching her for two hours and then all having to do the same picture together which stops me being creative and “doing my own thing”.
She’d also brought the source material with her, which helped greatly. There were images of pink roses around windows, nah, not for me. Images of pretty Cotswold cottages in their primped finery, nah, too perfect. Welsh cottages nestling under pine trees, mmmm…. a bit more like it. Cornish fishermens huts at Prussia Cove – now that’s more like it, but I’ve already painted those exact same cottages already, so what else is there? Ah………………this one, now THAT is exactly what I like – a broken down stone cottage with half the roof missing. Perfect! There was a dry stone wall infront of it, and a clutter of farmyard gate, an old wooden pallet leaning against the wall, all of which didn’t enhance the picture, so I’ll take those out, and just paint the rest. So that’s what I did. I started drawing, and loved the image, the broken tiles sliding down the roof, the skeleton of roof timbers silhouetted against the sky, the mismatched chimneys, the creeper on the barn, and the darkened doorways. I was using some Saunders Waterford paper, as the tutor had recommended. I rarely use it as I find it too much like blotting paper, so had taken some that I already had stuck to a drawing board from the last workshop I’d attended that required it. It had been a year ago, but paper doesn’t go off, does it?
Well, actually, yes it does, I found!
The minute I started applying the paint I knew something was wrong. The paint didn’t flow, the paper was just sucking it up, and the whole image just looked amateurish, because the paint just sat there. Weird. I’ve never had that happen to me before – and after thinking about it and asking others at the workshop, the nearest I can think is that the paper had dried out. Ok, I’ve learnt that as a lesson, lets try it all again after lunch and count the first picture as a practice piece.
Armed with a new piece (of the same paper, but some I’d had stored in a bag in a cupboard rather than exposed to the dry air of my studio) I tried again. Redrew it all, and with baited breath, mixed my paint, and dipped my brush in to do the first wash. Fine. Absolutely fine. So it WAS the paper that was off. How strange.
And here it is, the picture I completed on the day. I’m really pleased with it – its got lots of light and dark, the shadows are part of the focal point, there’s tone and texture, interest and chracter. I’ve shown it here in its entireity on the board, and haven’t even got a title for it yet. I may cut it down for the mount and frame, and I may add a few more darks perhaps in the corners of the doorways. I’m not fully sure yet. Sometimes I have to leave a picture for a while and decide if it needs any more doing to it to improve on it.
I love this type of picture. Most people at the workshop did the pretty pink roses around the window, but not me. I much prefer the drama and contrasts in this subject. Its got loads more character!