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Glowing interiors composed to perfection

It was nice to actually get to the workshop this time, the last one was cancelled due to a heavy fall of snow and concerns about people gettign there. But this month the sun shone bright and clear and I felt that spring is, at long last, just around the corner.

The workshop was “interiors” in watercolour and the tutor allowed each pupil to take whatever source photo they wanted. I found, to my surprise that although I have hundreds of images on most subjects, the one I don’t have many of are of interiors! But, although the search took an hour instead of the usual 15 minutes or so, I found an image that is one that I’ve been wanting to do for some years, of the interior of stairs in the Cathedral in one of my favourite places  – Wells, in Somerset. The picture, was taken at the bottom of some well worn stone steps, leading up to a vaulted ceiling, with light coming in from the left, and hitting the stairs as they bend around to the right, but also continue straight up through a doorway to another room beyond. I knew it was going to be difficult, but hey, I like a challenge when I’m painting.

 There were only ten of us in the class which meant that we all had space, and time from the tutor, a guy who’s work I admire, and whose workshops I have attended three or four times over the last ten years or so. He knows me well enough too, from seeing me at art fairs, and workshops. After he had done his demo that illustrated how we should view the painting we were going to do, and get the composition right from the first, it was our turn to start a black and white pencil sketch to get the tones and composition right, the dynamics of the light and shade, and get to know the image fully. When he got to me he said “That one’s going to be difficult, Jackie!” and I grinned at him and agreed!

We discussed the ideas for it, and which five colours were to be used for it, settling on- raw sienna, cobalt blue, violet, burnt sienna and veridian. So, when it was drawn out, I mixed up five wells of each colour, wet the paper with clear water and added colour as a wet wash, letting it all colour the paper and angle down to the bottom of the paper, giving me my light mid tones, and allowing me to build up the colours on top of it, adding the deep darks at each step riser, and letting the lightest part of the picture – the light from the window, the light on the turn of the stairs, and on the wall opposite, really glow through.

The picture was ok at the end, not brilliant, not good enough to show here, but certainly good enough to make me feel I’d had a good painting day. And to make me feel that I really want to paint the picture again, and give the architecture of that old building a better rendition in a watercolour that shows off all the curves, vertical lines, and variances in the horizontal and vertical lines of the steps. But not yet, I’m totally and utterly absorbed at the moment with a far more interesting project – one of the landscape, and yet, not……