Monday, 6 February 2012


I mentioned recently that I needed to do some work on my landscapes. I feel I've neglected landscape and will shortly hope to resume, weather permitting,  plein air painting. Like many others I started out painting landscapes, in my instance studying and copying the work of the two Edwards, Seago and Wesson at a local artists studio.  The apprentices of the great masters learned their trade by copying so I have no qualms about it, although I never attempted to sell them, even if they had been good enough. I should add this followed two years at a weekly art course run by the local authority, where I struggled with the basics. Neither of these were proper teaching courses,with little or no tuition, so it was a case of learn what you could. After this I studied with several well-known artists the key ones being Trevor Waugh, Judi Whitton and Charles Reid. I actually became quite good as a Wesson/ Seago clone but became restless and started on the journey, by way of interest in John Yardley, Robert Wade and several others that led me to Judi Whitton and Charles Reid. I then decided  I must settle down as each change of direction increases the learning curve and the years were rolling by. 

Here are two examples of John Blockleys work .I particularly like the second painting especially the textural effects. They are examples from his earlier period as he later changed style quite dramatically and also medium.

 A different more modern and much more abstract approach  from the Belgium artist Gerda Mertens, not so well known as the others but popular in Europe. Not all of her landscapes are quite as abstract as these two.

The Famous American artist Winslow Homer

 Edward Seago

 Edward Wesson

So here we have a small selection of quite different approaches by some- there are many more - famous  artists who painted in watercolour, but not necessarily exclusively. In such august company I'm reluctant to post my own efforts but..... 

Trees - In the style of Gerda Mertens 16" x 12" Centenaire 140lb  Not.

Keynsham Park in January - 16" x 12" Centenaire 140lb Not

South Lake Slimbridge in Winter- 15" x 11" Not

 Keynsham Park January 2012 Fabriano Artistico Extra White 18" x 12" Not

The two top paintings were done at recent  Monday sessions of my Bathampton Art group, where members `own artwork' is the programme. The third painting of Slimbridge was done some years ago, at least five possibly longer, and represented the best of the work I did in my `old' style. I think there are elements in there worth copying. The fourth and final painting I completed today, after painting it at my Avon Valley Artist's session yesterday, when the subject was ` A Winter Scene'. The two Keynsham Park scenes are essentially the same view, one Portrait the other Landscape format. What am I aiming at? I'm not certain as these paintings are experimental but a rough answer would be a cross between  Gerda Mertens and Wesson/Seago with touches of Judi Whitton and Charles Reid.. I'm also increasingly attracted to Blockley's landscapes. How will it all end?

For the new paintings I used my normal palette with the addition of Daniel Smith's Indigo. The colours would include, Raw and Burnt Umber, Gold Ochre, Raw Sienna, Ultramarine Blue, Burnt Sienna, Hookers Green (Graham), Viridian (Rowney) and Ultramarine Violet (Rowney PV15). Some purples were mixed from Ultramarine Blue and Permanent Carmine (W & N PR N/A). Some greens mixed from Hansa Yellow Medium (Daniel Smith PY97) and Cobalt Blue Deep (Rowney PB72). There is also some Rowney FW Acrylic black heavily diluted at the base of the tree on the left. The top one also includes some Quinacridone Gold (Daniel Smith PO49) and Quinacridone Rust (Graham PO48), possibly others. I aim to sort my palette (actually three would you believe) into a more orderly number as I've been so seduced by both Graham and Daniel Smith paints that I've bought quite a few, increasing the choice considerably. The colours are certainly seductive. My plan is to have a main palette of 16 to 24 paints with a secondary palette of 9 to 12. As I paint a range of subjects this will give me the flexibility I need. I know many will throw their hands up in horror at this number but I usually don't use more than a dozen colours in any one painting and a core of about 6 or 7 for most of the work. I've also been trying granulation and texture mediums from Winsor & Newton. I don't like the latter much and may not use it again.

Apart from yesterday my usual brushes when painting at the art group, a selection of Escoda retractables Series 1214, 8, 10 and 12 together with a Rosemary retractable rigger  and Isabey retractable 6201 Size 6, all Kolinsky sables. For the final painting I used mainly the Isabey 6228 Size 8 Kolinsky, Da Vinci Maestro 10 Size 6  plus a couple of riggers. I keep saying that both Isabeys are lovely brushes and they really are!


Rui said...

Hi Peter,

I am not sure if I ever mentioned before but some 15 - 17 years ago I did a watercolour course by correspondence designed by John Blockley.

The aspect I like most about his paintings is the higher than average degree of contrast they always seem to contain.

I am always happy to read and see more about him.

Kind regards,


Peter Ward said...

Thanks for commenting Rui. Sadly Blockley's books have now become collectors items and used copies are being offered at ridiculous prices. I currently have two on order from my local library.

Mick Carney said...

Apologies for not having been here before. An interesting post in the choice of artists that you choose to study. All of them are well worthy of close study. I love the second Blockley piece, it's one I've admired for a long time before ever lifting a brush in anger. Homer, Seago and Wesson are all on my favourite list.

As to your own work, they all have something to recommend them and they all pay appropriate tribute to your inspirations.

The first one could only be improved, for me, by the inclusion of one or two sharper highlights in the main trunk, it hasn't got quite the tonal range of the rear right one in particular. This is a minor point as I do think that the piece works very well.

The second and fourth are both strong images.

The third is strong in the reflected area but I feel that cauliflower floret shape of some of the trees is a weakness that could have been avoided by softening the edges of the foliage.

A really good post.

Peter Ward said...

Interesting comments Mick. That third one, the South Lake at Slimbridge, was exhibited at an exhibition of my AVA group at Wick. A visitor who turned out to be a well-known member of the Bristol Savages, all professionals, lived opposite and came and had a look. I was told by one of our members that he said that painting was the best in the show. The standard of our shows is pretty good for an amateur group. I exhibited it again but it did not sell so you are probably right (grin).

jackdocters said...

Hi Peter , I am Jack Docters from the Netherlands, Im am a retired project manager of Stirling Cryogenics. and my hobby is watercolourpainting Look at
I love your way of painting
Watercolourpainting is for me a challenge.
Happy painting

Peter Ward said...

Welcome Jack. I'll have a look at your blog.Good luck with your painting.