CONTRASTING BRUSH MARKS

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Contrasting Brush Marks

There is a great pleasure in loading up a large brush with a mixture of strong dark pigment and quickly working some big, confident marks over the first washes of a painting     …More

DOWN THE COAST

With the school holidays over and the weather starting to cool down, it seemed like a good idea to take a couple of weeks exploring all the little beaches and coastal villages to the south of us.

We left home with clear skies and blazing sun, but my wish was for threatening clouds and dramatic light along the beaches – I guess you can’t have everything.

diggers

Perfect camping spot on a sunny headland with kangaroos and sea eagles at Diggers Camp.

redcliff

Sunrise on Redcliff Beach

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Cool, clear mornings and deserted beaches

sea

After a few days zigzagging in and out of all the southern beaches, rainclouds started moving up the coast and the swell picked up.

solisland

Looking towards Solitary Island under threatening skies. Great for photographs – not so good for painting watercolor.

diggersbeach

Painted in haste with a cup of sea water between showers as the tide came in.

tidal shelf

Back home in the studio, shuffling around ideas for a large wet and rainy painting.

WATERCOLOR HAMMERS

Over the past couple of weeks it has been pouring rain here, so I’ve been having a great time shut away in the studio painting hammers. It all started with the claw hammer and grew from there. Following through on an idea is a great way to build up a series of paintings. It gives you the chance to experiment with techniques, play around with the subject and not be too worried about the outcome. These were all done on paper with various combinations of Charcoal, Gesso, watercolor, gouache, ink and ocher powder.

THIS LITTLE PIG

Down the road from Chateau de la Fleunie, where we spent the last week of our workshop in France, were two pigs penned up and being fattened by the local farmer. They were like a pair of friendly dogs – running around and getting into as much trouble as possible in their small wire enclosure.

I’ve been looking forward to painting them since we arrived home. They look so pink and meaty – just like bacon running around. They have no idea of hygiene, make amazing grunting sounds and seem really happy locked up in a tiny wire pen. I’m sure they’d make better pets than breakfast.

Alizarin Crimson, Permanent Rose, Quinacridone Gold, Ultramarine Blue and, in the background, Phthalo Blue. Opaque washes of tinted White Gouache were used to loose the back end and some scratchy white charcoal pencil marks break up the surface.

PAINTING NEW YORK

The last couple of weeks I’ve been locked in the studio finishing work on a book to be released early next year.

I got started on a couple of urban landscapes based on parts of New York. Early one morning I walked down under Brooklyn bridge. There was a lot of road work going on and huge trailers were lined up along a side street. They appeared to be accommodation for road workers – like a gypsy camp under the bridge. Big sections of road were fenced off and there seemed to be uncoordinated  people and machinery everywhere. So much activity in a city that doesn’t seem to stop, and I’m just rubbing the sleep out of my eyes – that’s where this first painting comes from.

This painting is based on the chaotic textures, bars, buildings and patriotism of East Village. Both paintings are a mix of watercolor, collage, Gouache, Gesso, ink and charcoal, built up in layers like the graffiti that lines many of the city’s walls.

LAYERED LEAVES

During the last workshop we experimented with a technique that produces interesting results if it doesn’t drive you mad first. The idea is to start with a background wash, draw the shapes of stones, leaves and twigs onto it, then, with a slightly darker tone fill in all the negative spaces. More leaves, twigs etc are then drawn into the darker negative areas and the negative spaces around the new shapes is made slightly darker. This incremental darkening is done 3-4 times then the shapes are modeled, ink and pastel lines are added, colors splashed on and gesso washes are used to simplify areas.

The process is a lot of fun and often triggers interesting ideas. The example below was done as a demo on aluminium composite panel primed with watercolor gesso. The heavy vertical marks were masked up and painted over the top with more watercolor gesso then the tones were adjusted.

These next images give an idea of the build up using negative shapes.

Once you get the hang of it this can be great fun. The subject can be any reasonably defined object – tools, utensils, paint brushes, pencils – anything that can layer one over the other.

AIX WORKSHOP

After a week in Paris we flew to Marseilles to meet up with the people on our workshop. It was great to catch up with friends from previous workshops and meet up with the new students. A coach took us to our luxury hotel, Le Piggonet, on the outside of the old town of Aix en Provence.

The hotel was a beautiful old building set in magnificent gardens. We could have happily spent a week painting in the gardens, but the town of Aix had a lot to offer so we split our painting time between the hotel and the town.


Le Piggonet


Hotel Gardens


Painting in the Hotel gardens


Dining at Le Piggonet


Flower markets Aix en Provence


Street Markets

We were introduced to some fantastic restaurants in the town. One of our students lived in the country side not far from Aix and had a great knowledge of all the best restaurants. This was one of our favorites – Le Patio, a small family run restaurant with a great atmosphere, good service and fantastic food.

The little town of St. Remy is not far from Aix en Provence. We spent a day there, painting and visiting the Asylum Van Gogh spent time in. We were privileged to paint in the garden of the asylum, where Van Gogh would have often sat and sketched.

Although the asylum surroundings were idealic, life inside must have been horrific. These bath tubs were filled with cold water into which troublesome inmates were immersed and trapped under these wooden boards.

In the town of St. Remy, the main square provided a quiet, spacious area surrounded by ancient stone walls and wooden shutters. We spent an enjoyable afternoon painting there before heading back to our hotel for drinks under the plane trees.

Blue Shutters – St. Remy

Cassis is a small fishing town on the Mediterranean coast not far from Aix. The busy harbour and backdrop of old buildings made a great painting subject. We shared the park across the harbour with the local boules players, cigarette smokers and baguette eaters. Under the shade of a grove of casuarina trees, we painted the changing vista of the harbour.

Cassis Waterfront

Paul Cezanne lived and painted in Aix en Provence. His house and studio have been made into a museum, crammed with his old coats, umbrellas, paint boxes, skulls, bones and still life props that feature in his paintings.

Cezanne had the house built to his design – living area downstairs, large studio upstairs.

The studio ceiling is about 5 metres high and the Northern wall, almost completely glass. The walls are painted a mid tone, neutral gray and there is a 4 meter x .5 meter corner hatch to remove large works from the studio. It’s a fantastic studio, unfortunately no photographs are allowed inside. Below is the front door to the house.