Sketchbook people. This is a mix of drawings from my sketchbooks, some are from life drawing, some are from photos trying to work out angles and positions. Others are from when I was trying to get the hang of how Bruegel painted his characters.
Mevagissey Morning. Mevagissey on the South coast of Cornwall, a wonderful old fishing village steeped in the tales of smugglers. I love the houses stacked up like seats in a theatre. They all have a good view of the action taking place in the harbour.
Girl on a beach, another of my daughter many years ago, quite fitting for the time of year and the temperatures at the moment.
This is ‘High Tide’, it is painted in watercolour and ink. It is a humorous look at a day trip to the seaside. I have added four close-ups because there is a lot of small detail.
Today it is 2 for 1, before and after. The original drawing from my sketch book and the final painting. The Old Dun Cow, inspired by Bellowhead.
This is an old watercolour of my daughter sat in a field of buttercups. She moved to her own place yesterday so this one seemed apt.
Just over a year ago I was looking for an excuse to paint a hedgerow when I discovered a poem by Don Moore called “The Hedgerow Watcher”, It was exactly what I was looking for, a Cornish hedge, with many wildflowers and small animals in a Cornish landscape.
Here I will describe how I went about creating the first of what turned out to be a four part painting.
The poem is full of descriptions so that made it very easy to visualise the scene. To begin with I did some very rough sketches of what I was aiming at and then some sketches of other images I could find of Pan and of men sitting on the floor.
As Pan is sat in the an Elder bush I chose to use the more upright of the figures, it also felt more exotic and would adjust better to look like the god. I added the horns and beard and made the cheek bone more pronounced, then finally added the faun legs and feet. Next I had to work out the size that would fit best, so I copied out various sizes and tried them on a rough sketch of the scene drawn out on the same size paper as the final piece. It sounds long winded but it saves problems later. When I was happy with everything I copied it out on to the watercolour paper and drew the Elder bush.
So that I didn’t loose Pan amongst the leaves and branches I painted his skin first to make him stand out. Next I painted the branches so that I could see where they crossed the body and where the leaves would be, adjusting as I went along. I tend to work from the top left to the bottom right to reduce the chances of damaging any paint, so once the structure was done I filled in from that corner down adding the detail as I went. When all the scene was painted I added shadow to give depth.
As I said earlier this was the first part of four, each 22 x 15 inches all four parts were painted simultaneously so as to keep them all consistent with each other, for example , Pan also appears in the last part so I painted both Pans at the same time so that there was no variation in colour.
The final four panels were the centre piece of my foundation degree exhibition last year.
“The Old Dun Cow” is an old music hall song from the late 19th century about a group of men who are in a pub when it catches fire. Instead of getting out of the fire the men stay to take advantage of the free beer and spirits, and the song tells of their antics. I first heard the song performed by the folk band ‘Bellowhead’, listening to the tale evoked images of the pubs customers and their efforts to take advantage of the situation and although people are not my normal type of subject I couldn’t resist trying to represent them in paint.
I started by trying to work out the layout of the scene which included four drinkers and a pot-man. To get as much of the story into one frame I have played with time to show as much as possible happening at once and rearranged the layout and the perspective to show the firemen through the window. To fill the space more effectively I tried moving the people about, for example the figure second from the left in sketch number 1 moves from standing to sitting in sketch number 2, and the one on the far right goes from sitting to standing. The cat moves from left to right and as you will see in the next sketch below the man on the floor turns so his head is on the right, not in the middle of the picture. It felt more natural to have the man on the floor this way around if he had originally been sat at the table with his friends and to have the pot-man standing on the right helps to show that he is separate from the group and that he has just entered the room. Sketch number 3 was to work out how to show the shock experienced by the pot-man and how he interacts with the drinkers. In the sketch below I tried the pot-mans head in several positions and worked out a few other details before starting the final painting, you will note that the lamps still changed position and the window and firemen were added.
Some of the other things that I considered were the style of clothing and the lamps. The clothes, I think, could be from anywhere between 1880-1950, the lamps caused me more of a problem. Would they have candles or gas lamps? I don’t think it would be electric. Then I worried that if they were gas lamps in reality there would of been an explosion. I decided I was probably over thinking the small details for an image depicting a comic song.
The final image was as usual drawn out with watercolour pencils and painted with Daler-Rowney Artists’ quality watercolour paints on Bockingford 300gsm paper.
Here is a link for the ‘Bellowhead’ version of “The Old Dun Cow”, that inspired the painting.