A few years ago I sketched this little cottage on Sydney Harbour. It was late in the afternoon and there was no activity – no sign of life at all. As I did the sketch I started wondering what had gone on here in the past. Such an amazing location, I could imagine parties on the verandah, kids running around, boats in the water, but now, nothing – just a little cottage gazing out across the water. It had a kind of empty sadness – a little neglected with vague evidence of lively past.
Quinacridone Gold, Alizarin Crimson, French Ultramarine Blue, Phthalo Blue, Medium Magenta Acrylic, White Gesso, White Gouache
White pigment Ink, Burnt Sienna Pigment Ink
White Charcoal, Black Charcoal, Dark Brown Derwent Inktense
Urban Landscapes are still intriguing me. This is a half sheet, worked over with gesso, charcoal and pastel pencil. I cant seem to get away from this tube of Liquitex Medium Magenta acrylic. It’s creeping into everything I paint lately!
It’s such a weird color, but does something to your brain, particularly on these industrial sort of subjects. Perhaps because it’s so out of character with the subject. Evening at the edge of a city, painted like a bunch of flowers.
Liquitex Medium Magenta acrylic – scary, addictive stuff!
The great thing about it is the fact that it is listed as having Excellent light fastness. Most watercolor pigments this color are fugitive.
It seems strange I guess, five months traveling through the bush, and I’m back in the studio absorbed in Urban landscapes. Maybe I miss all that noise traffic and chaos.
This painting was built up in layers of watercolor and gouache then worked over with thin glazes of gesso. Lots of calligraphic charcoal and pastel pencil marks were then threaded across the surface similar to graffiti on a wall.
Transparent washes of Alizarin Crimson and Quinacridone Gold contrast with the Phthalo Blue foreground glazes and Phthalo tinted White Gouache sky. The brick shaped fine detail was applied with Burnt Sienna tinted White Gouache
A compressed industrial grey color scheme and formal, geometric marks suggest the urban subject rather than accurately describing it in these two paintings.
I find that reducing a painting to the simplest elements and barely suggesting the subject can have a lot more impact. The viewer is engaged on a far deeper level and in a more subliminal way than when details are clearly presented.
After 5 months away it’s good to get back in the studio and start painting. As much as I enjoy painting outdoors, I always feel the best work comes when conditions are under control and there is limitless time to consider things
The first thing I did when I got back to the studio was pull out the last demonstration painting I did at the workshop in Pemberton. At the time I was wrestling with it and hurrying to get it finished. I just wanted to see where it would go with a little more time and less pressure.
I attacked it with a 1″ house painting brush full of gesso , leaving the central core of previously painted watercolor untouched. After the gesso dried, detail was added and blotted back with tissue.
The pigment sits on the surface of the gesso, so can be sprayed and blotted back similar to yupo paper. This produces the subtle effects seen in the detail above. It is an interesting, very controllable way to work and produces unusual results.
If you’re into over the top industrial hardware, then Western Australia sure is the state to visit.
These giant pieces of apparatus look almost organic. It’s hard to imagine someone sitting at a drawing board, under a cold fluorescent light, creating this sort of stuff. It looks so random and chaotic.
I hope you enjoy the photographs. It’s a dangerous business, standing on the roof of a landcruiser pointing a long lens over five strands of barbed wire. I’m sure I was viewed with much suspicion and, in a different country, would have probably been shot on site.
The sketches are done with a 0.4 Black Artline 204 fibre tip, a White uni posca fibre tip, Indigo watercolor and a tea bag