Wednesday, 23 July 2014

About Working " Loose" in Watercolour

 Kingfishers in progress at various stages.

What a wonderful week I am having enjoying sunshine , working on my new book and painting my favourite subjects for a new solo exhibition.  I now find myself on my morning walks with Bailey  searching for the elusive kingfisher. Sometimes I am rewarded with a blurred vision of passing turquoise  but when I am really lucky I manage to see one sat very still. 

In my studio this morning I began a new painting of a kingfisher and started, as always,with the eye. I never use a preliminary sketch so my starting point has to be accurate and beautiful enough for me to continue with the piece. I take my time here. No racing! You can see the start of my new painting in the above image, alongside yesterdays painting that is still a work in progress. I have used my rigger brush to  create this tiny section which the whole painting will revolve around. Every single application of colour at this point was made with almost a single hair at the point of my brush. While working in such intricate detail it dawned on me how many artists strive to work loose in watercolour. They may be surprised to see me working in such a detailed approach. 

I have read so many descriptions of a " working loose" technique and none really seem to aptly apply. Splashing on colour in the hope that it will turn into a great painting isn't how I work.  Although, I do love covering paper with colourful washes to be turned into serious compositions at a later stage. I also love experimenting with washes in my quest to continually discover new colour combinations or texture effects.  These improve my skill as an artist.  But when working from the very beginning on a definite subject I take my time. I consider where I want to place my subject and what will be happening around it as a background, if any at all.  I don't race to complete any one piece. I enjoy every single brushstroke and aim to master my skill by improving every single mark I make with my brushes.

There is so much to take in when painting but having said that, I don't allow " over thinking " to ruin the pleasure I gain in my work either. I absolutely adore painting as everyone knows. But there is a misconception that working loose is always  working fast and this is certainly not the case.

I also believe most paintings need some form of "backbone" as in detail or structure. Too loose and a painting can almost become an abstract. Too tight and of course we lean towards realism. So painting in a loose style possiby needs to sit in the middle of both genres.

I like detail in my work. So I often fall back on my time as a botanical artist which I enjoy immensely to bring a section of my compositions to life. This is before I "let go" with my loose and more free brushwork around it. And the combination of loose and detailed works very well for me. I get the pleasure of  applying both styles in one painting. So in many ways I suppose I need to be a master of both too!

Here is my starting point of my new kingfisher. Every mark was made with my soft rigger brush including the eye itself.

 Eye painted with just a rigger. I will move to a size 10 for the  surrounding feather work

So my Artists tips for the day?
Don't over think your work
Don't race a painting
But do consider what the most fascinating part of your subject is and bring that to life beautifully!


My personalised Jean Haines brushes can be purchased from my web site. Each has a beautiful point to help me control my brushwork and gain fabulous watercolour effects. The brush set of the size 10 and rigger are the  brushes I use whilst working from a starting point on subjects like my kingfishers.


aariho said...

I have not painted for months! Now I need some good advice, and one of them came from you just now!Thank you! But need some more!

Jean Haines SWA, SFP said...

I share regularly on my blog so I hope I can help you! Thank you so much for your reply! Jean

aariho said...

My problem is lack of time! I hope the Autumn will gve me some opening so I can think painting - and Paint! If I have had an exact problem I could hav asked you! Thank you, Jane.

Christy Lemp said...

Thanks Jean, I really appreciate your sharing of thoughts and techniques! You keep your "'eye on the prize", not rushing but patiently working with purpose.