Tuesday, 11 June 2019

Charles Reid 1937 - 2019

The unexpected death of Charles Reid has shocked his many friends, followers and students.


Charles Reid  1937 - 2019

I first became aware of Charles Reid following an article in - I think  - The Artist magazine. It may have been associated with one of his books. Later I noticed Judi Whitton, a relatively local UK artist, had changed her style and it showed elements of Charles Reid. Later I did several workshops with Judy both plein air in the Gloucestershire area, then residential at Crantock Bay in Cornwall. She told me she had  gone on one of his UK workshops at Stow in the Wold and was so impressed with his fresh approach  she was influenced to alter the way she painted, which previously had been more John Yardley-like (who is a  personal friend).

Once I became interested I started buying his books and DVDs. My wife says when I get an interest I tend to go overboard! At around this time I had contact with Craig Young, from whom I bought some of his hand-made palettes and Craig told me Charles latest flower painting book, which followed an earlier one- the only book of his I don't have - explained all his methods in detail. I bought the book and the accompanying DVDs.

Around this time Craig had been organising Charles UK workshops, two consecutive weeks, bi-annual I think. I discovered on my first one that several of his regulars, who had been going for years, did both weeks, moving on to the second venue immediately afterwards.

I have written extensively of my experiences on his workshops, apart from anything else meeting some very interesting people including professional artists. I had intended for this to be more extensive but, when checking what I had previously written, realised I would simply be repeating myself. In addition what was previously written, especially about the workshops, was done so when all were fresh in my mind.

How did I rate Charles as a teacher? First of all you needed to buy into the Charles Reid  way. He began as an oil painter and taught at Famous Artists School in America. At some stage he was asked to do watercolour and knowing little or nothing about it transposed his oil painting methods to watercolour. He said some of the things he taught with watercolour were unusual compared to the prevailing orthodoxy. This of course was the attraction to many like me. He was quite candid that not everyone liked the way he painted, and joked  some people said he couldn't draw a straight line!

I regarded him as an excellent teacher always approachable - except when he was concentrating on a particularly tricky part of the painting when silence was golden. .We painted outdoors when the weather allowed and indoor subjects were still life's, portraits with a live model and old black and white photographs.
The initial drawing involved keeping the pencil on the paper all the time. He was very patient and talked continuously explaining what he was doing and why. He would go quiet when he was doing small detail or a particularly tricky bit. When he had his break he would wander off smoking his pipe. Sadly his pipe smoking apparently led to the pulmonary fibrosis which was the cause of his death. Actually I did not see him smoking much apart from when he had his painting breaks.

The things that burned into my brain from the lessons he taught included the following: You should be a little crude, mistakes are part of it, small details large generalities, try for a first time finish with little overpainting. This isn't all and my workshop reports go into more detail. One of the reasons I did the workshop reports was that I soon realised I was somewhat privileged to get on his workshops, especially in the UK. Many, many more artists would like to have done so but for different reasons couldn't.  His many books and DVDs are also musts and most can still be obtained with a little searching  although prices can be high on some of the books.

What were the best workshops I attended? All of them I would say apart from the last at Stow. The standard wasn't as high with ten new people on it, one of whom had never previously painted in watercolour. I was also involved in a fractious house move at the time and wasn't fully focussed. I had intended to show Charles how much my painting had improved since my first workshop but my paintings were generally poor, although I did partially redeem myself with a decent portrait on the final day.

Stow was the last occasion Charles came to England,  apart from an International Artists holiday arranged by Travelrite. I obtained details but it wasn't for me involving being picked up at Heathrow (!)  and travelling around in a coach with different hotels. I also felt after Stow perhaps I'd reached the end of the line.

Charles continued to be very active within America up until quite recently. I would love to have done one of his portrait workshops but he said I'd have to go to America.  On the last occasion I saw him I tried to persuade him to do an up to date portrait book.  He did  do a DVD called 'Figurative Watercolours' instead which was filmed after Stow.

My last word on Charles Reid? The well-known guitarist Chet Atkins, when asked what the attraction was of Elvis Presley, said 'HE WAS DIFFERENT'. That's my view of Charles. HE WAS DIFFERENT. Goodbye Charles you will be sadly missed.

Articles in the blog as follows.

December 2009 - Reflections on Two Painting Courses
March 2009 - Watercolour Solutions (Book review)
January 2010 - Watercolour Landscapes Masterclass (DVD)
March 2010  - Portrait Painting in Watercolour (book obtained used)
September 2010 - Charles Reid 10 Lesson Course (Multiple DVD)
September 2010- Charles Reid Checklist (materials)
March 2010 - Watercolour Solutions (book review)
January 2011 - Thoughts on Painting Courses
October 2011 -  Charles Reid at Crantock Bay
October 2011 - A conversation with Charles Reid
2012 - Figurative Watercolours (DVD)
September 2012- Watercolour Secrets (book review)
May 2013 - Another Charles Reid Workshop
May 2013- Charles Reid at Stow
July 2014 - Charles Reid
January 2015 - New Charles Reid book.
April 2015 - Charles Reid Sketchbook

The painting workshops I attended with Charles Reid were:

Burford 2006
Catalonia (Spain) 2008
Urchfont 2010
Crantock Bay 2011
Stow on the Wold 2013

My wife went as a non painting partner to both Catalonia and Crantock Bay, spent some time with Charles wife Judy and thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience.











Friday, 7 June 2019

Rowland Hilder 1905 - 1993. A Watercolour Master by John Softly
















I came to watercolour somewhat late in life and initially decided to learn all I could about past English watercolourists, whilst ruining paper and getting a palette together. The end result is over 150 books on the subject as well as almost the same number of DVD’s. Whilst deep into the careers and art of Turner, Wesson, Merriott, Buckle, Muncaster and Seago I always considered Rowland Hilder to be more of an illustrator than a watercolourist, but my opinion was changed dramatically when, whilst on a visit to my native Norfolk, early in this century, we visited a friend of a friends house who I had been told had an impressive art collection. 

After a couple of drinks in the garden we were ushered into the lounge and above the mantle piece was a full sheet watercolour of Norwich Cathedral stark white against a thunder storm sky and so obviously a Hilder. The painting was so dramatic and lit up the room. I was told the provenance of the painting and shown other art work in his collection including some paintings of the Scottish Colourists which were impressive, but none caught my interest as did the Hilder.

The Hilder I was more aware of was JJ Hilder, (1881 - 1916) an Australian watercolourist who is to Australian art what Turner is to the English and there have been no fewer than eight artists in the Hilder family since 1788.

Rowland Hilder, of course, is from the same family and was born in New York in 1905 but the family returned to England in 1915 so his father, who was English,  could enlist in the army.
His early school years were not happy and his American accent didn’t  help matters. He was never happier than when he had a pencil in his hand and an art master suggested to his parents that he should take up art.

He was admitted to Goldsmitth College of Art and initially studied etching and then illustration. He exhibited at the Royal Academy at the age of 18 and the publishers Blackies and Jonathan Cape commissioned him to illustrate their books., 




 He lived somewhat frugally as his income from book illustration only netted £120 per annum and it would have been fine had he not decided to marry Edith Blenkiron, a botanical artist whom he met at the Goldsmith College.

In 1928 he was approached by Jonathan Cape to illustrate a reissue of Mary Webb’s book “”Precious Bane” a rural novel set in the villages and countryside of Shropshire. He went to Shropshire with his soon to be wife and stayed at the novelist’s cottage. This was where he realised the potential of the winter landscape as a subject.

During the war, like many artists, Hilder was involved in designing camouflage for the War Office and painting posters for the National Savings Bank which he did for the duration. At the end of hostilities he formed a small family business with his wife and father called “The Heron Press”. They printed, amongst other things, greeting cards.





The cards depicting Hilder’s winter landscapes were very popular and the generic term “Hilderscapes” was born. It was a term he disliked but became resigned to. 
At the time Christmas cards usually depicted holly, mistletoe and the mandatory Robin. These were superseded by paintings like “Winter in East Anglia” and “Shipping becalmed - Thames Estuary”This earned Hilder the unenviable title of “The Man who killed Cock Robin”.
Like another high profile artist of his generation, Edward Seago, Hilder had a boat called “Peter Pugg”which he used to sail around the North Sea and Thames Estuary gathering information for his marine paintings.



 He became a member of the prestige art group “ The Wapping Group” who painted, sketched and drew on the Thames every week during the summer months, which must have been a nice break from his winter landscapes. He was active in the Group from 1950 to 1972 and was President of “The Royal Institute of Painters in Watercolour” from 1964 to 1974.

Today we think of Rowland as a landscape painter, but in  the 20’s, 30’s and 40’s he was looked on as a superb draughtsman and his black and white graphics were second to none. This was where his reputation was initially made and also gave him a head start when it came to watercolour.
I have no idea whether he painted in oils but he certainly painted in acrylics and articles in “The Artist” reveals that he was at the forefront of that medium as soon as it hit the art world.
The articles he wrote for “The Artist” on watercolour were instructive and in depth and many were about a specific pigment - Lamp Black. This is in stark contrast to the lack of information on the accessories he used. There are photographs of him using a box easel outdoors and there are pictures of his studio palette but as for what were his preferred brushes, paper and other accessories I can find nothing.




He tells the story of John Singer Sargent and Monet who used to paint together. Sargent had occasion to borrow Monet’s palette and was amazed to find that black was absent. Monet explained that black doesn’t exist in nature and as a result had no place in his palette. Sargent couldn’t apprehend that someone could paint without using black.

The theory comes from the Impressionists and the idea mainly applies to those who work in oils, but as we know there are more watercolour artists who’s palettes are bereft of black as there are those with it.
Payne’s grey and Neutral Tint are all made today from a mixture of Lamp Black, Monastral (Winsor)   Blue and Alazarin Crimson.



Hilder wrote that one can get a full range of neutral greys ranging from black to white using Lamp Black. You can then change the neutral grey tones by changing the hue and you have the formula for making any grey you require ( without resorting to the new Daniel Smith’s superfluous greys).
 For a purple grey add a touch of Alazarin Crimson and for a brown grey add Burnt  Sienna. A green grey is obtained by adding Cadmium Lemon Yellow. Other yellows mixed with lamp black at differing strengths can give a myriad of greens.
That, more or less, establishes that Hilder had Lamp Black on his palette - Ivory Black he considered too oily and difficult to control in large washes.




 Pigments in his palette were:-
New Gamboge, Permanent Yellow, Cadmium Lemon, Raw Sienna, Yellow Orche, Alizarin Crimson, Rose Madder, Burnt Sienna, Light Red, Permanent Mauve, Monastral Green,
Orange, Brown Madder, Vermillion, Cadmium Red, Indian Red, Burnt Umber, Sepia, Ultramarine Blue, Prussian Blue, Cerulean Blue, Monastral Blue, Payne’s Grey, Neutral Tint and Lamp Black.
Rowland Hilder was and is considered to be the quintessential English landscape painter and I suggest even more so than  J M W Turner.
I
Regarding books by Hilder John has this to say:.

"There are many books on the art of Rowland Hilder, most are biographies with little or nothing about Hilders watercolour methods. One book I can recommend is "Painting Landscapes in Watercolour". This book contains details of how he treats skies, his palette and several demonstrations together with a substantial gallery".  

I have looked into this writes PGW, after my own research and what John has said on the subject. According to this Hilders first book, written in 1966, was  "Starting with Watercolour" and this was reprinted in 1989 by North Light Books in America. His next book was "Painting Landscapes in Watercolour " in 1983 , followed by "Successful Watercolour Painting" in 1986. As John states some of the other books attributed to him are in fact edited by Dennis Thomas such as "Sketching Country" in 1991. A check on both Abebooks and Amazon found that most are available on the used market and prices are pretty low. That surprises me a little given his reputation.
















 






The above are more examples of his work. This concludes another excellent piece by John.










Monday, 3 June 2019

CHARLES REID 1937 - 2019

I was shocked to learn today that Charles Reid died last Saturday. Apart from the fact I did five workshops with him, four in England and one in Spain, we were also close in age, he was slightly older by not quite five months.
I shall write an appreciation when I have had time to absorb this and gather my thoughts.

Friday, 31 May 2019

Watercolour Paintings 55

This month most of these are from high profile watercolour artists. I'm very envious of their talent and  what they can produce.  Some are amongst my favourite artists, although there are many more spread across the World who come on the same category. I hope you like them.


The Great Gerard Hendriks - just gets better and better!


Yuko Nagayama  - this Japanese artists needs no introduction. This is  rather different to her usual subjects - mainly flowers.



Bev Jozwiak - She has many subjects this is terrific love it.




From Stephie Butler an experimental painting using the new liquid charcoal and the similarly new Transparent Orange from Winsor & Newton . I think it great.


Vickie Nelson -another excellent American



Morten E Solberg Snr. A terrific exponent of wild life paintings



Catherine Rey - She loves clocks!


Alvaro Castagnet -The Workshop King does he ever rest! That red appears in many of his paintings.


Janine Gallizia - The Australian Artist long time in Europe but now going back home.



Charles Reid - My Guru


Myint Naing from Myanmar - Another of these fabulous Asian artists

 

Rae Andrews Gillian - I don't know this artists but like her style.




Igor Sava


Another from Bev Jozwiak


Chris Forsey

Friday, 24 May 2019

My Latest Stuff.

The following are my recent paintings. Some others have been  binned, or rather recycled. Again I repeat I don't show these as being good just my current work. All are 16" x 12". 


Clematis - Painted yesterday.



Big Cat



Where's my next meal coming from?




Cheetah Mother and Cub



Mountain Sheep



This was for an AVA subject 'In the Garden'.



This was also an AVA subject



Where'sMum?



Isn't Life Boring.



Pink Footed Duck



Treecreeper

These last two I wasn't happy with but I put them in anyway.

Sunday, 5 May 2019

EDWARD WESSON 1910 - 1983 By John Softly

In the past I've collaborated with my friend John, notably on brushes and easels, taking advantage of John's experience and expertise on these subjects. On this occasion his knowledge of the iconic English artist Edward Wesson is unsurpassed so the obvious thing was to get John to write the article.




Edward Wesson died in September 1983 and yet his popularity is greater now than it was during the years prior to his death. Known primarily as a watercolourist but like many others working in the medium also painted in oils. 

He was prolific and said that one painting in four was a keeper - the rejects were usually given away to students in his courses and there are art dealers scouring the country in search of these rejects as they are worth their weight in gold - literally.







Born and in the closing days of the Edwardian era (April 1910) in the London suburb of Blackheath, upon leaving school  he found a job in the textile industry.

It was after his marriage to Caroline, always referred to as “Dickie”, in 1937,  that Ted became interested in painting and studied the methods of E W Haslehurst and Adrian Hill.

He served in the Middle East, Sicily and Italy during  World War Two and an encounter with Ascanio Tealdi, a Tuscan oil painter, was responsible for Ted learning to paint in oil. Within three years of being demobbed his oil paintings were being accepted by the Royal Academy. 
The Academy never accepted any of Ted’s watercolours but the Royal Institute of Painters in Watercolours did as did the Royal Society of Marine Artists. 






Ted’s work ethic was amazing and it was recorded that, at on time, he did five watercolours in the forenoon and cut the grass in the afternoon. He painted in the English tradition and had little time for gimmicks. His comment was “Those who can do - those who can’t teach - and those who do neither become critics’.

The most publicised thing about Ted’s technique was his use of a polishers mop. He found the first one in France and later the  Herring brothers of the  Dorchester art supplier obtained them for him. He used sizes 6, 12 and 15 but I think they were rounds although Ted’s brushes given to Steve Hall by Ted’s daughter, Elizabeth, had a couple of smaller sized squirrels and as we know the sizing of these brushes has never been standardised. In addition I have had a good look at Steve Halls video 'Watercolour Secrets' on the big screen. The brush roll given him by Elizabeth Wesson as being the brushes left in Teds studio, at the time of his death, are dissected by Steve and the numbers I gave 6, 12 and 15, certainly refer to the mops. There doesn't appear to be a round larger than 8 and the mystery brushes are three flats. Ted never mentioned flats in any of his articles, and although they appear pristine they must have been there for a reason. I've always assumed the 'mops' are what are currently known as Isabeys? PGW








His gear consisted of a Winsor and Newton Perfect Easel, where he complained that the wing nuts used to unscrew and land in the snow or sand, initially a De Wint palette, followed by a Binning Monro and finally a Holbein 1000. They were filled with the following W&N artist tube colours :-
Raw Sienna, Winsor (or Cadmium) Yellow, Burnt Umber, Light Red, Burnt Sienna, Winsor Blue, Ultramarine Blue and Cobalt Blue.His palette for his pen and ink wash was:- Payne’s Grey, Burnt Umber, Burnt Sienna and Raw Sienna. The other colour he used extensively was “filth” which was the amalgamation of all the used colours on his dirty palette.

The Bockingford paper he used was made especially for him by Reme Green of Barcham Green the surface being rough and the weight 140 pounds and heavier.  According to Ranson he approached Green and asked him to make a heavier weight. The result was the 200lb Bockingford which is popular to this day. John says that this was the rough surface and was the only one made at the time. Now 200lb Bockingford in both rough and not surfaces is readily available and they even make a 250lb weight. PGW





His method was to place a few pencil dots on the paper for key points and then straight in with the washes. No sketch books or detailed drawings?.
Ted Wesson traversed the country in his Renault doing courses and demonstrations and was always happy to pass on his knowledge of the medium. He was also an excellent organist and would play church organs in many of the places where he conducted courses.









A source of income was the London store Liberty’s and Elizabeth Wesson recalls that they would ring up for “ Four more paintings of Tower Bridge or some other location” which Ted would have to do immediately. There were times when Ted would take Elizabeth to London with him and she had to be on her best behaviour as “We would be seeing the Lady from Liberty’s” .

Ted wrote his autobiography “My Corner of the Field “ in 1982,  a superb book of which he was justly proud. His other foray into journalism were articles for “The Leisure Painter” ( 13 issues) and “The Artist” (18 issues). A couple of these were on oils but they were mainly about watercolour.  There have been 5 biographies written on Edward Wesson, two of them co authored by Steve Hall, who paints in the Wesson style and has done more than anyone else to keep the memory of Edward Wesson alive.
Had there been APV and Townhouse instructional videos in Ted’s day he would have surely been keen to use the medium as he was one of the best teachers of watercolour the country has produced  







Wesson was amongst a group of artists commissioned by British Rail to paint posters of specific rail destinations for promotional use and also to be displayed in railway compartments - under the luggage rack. Later the Post Office Savings Bank asked him to do promotional paintings of small obscure Post Offices in the British Isles a task which necessitated travelling to small villages in far flung corners of the country. The Post Office paintings were true watercolours whereas the Railway posters, by necessity, were done in gouache.

In 1958 “The Wapping Group” invited Ted to join their number and during the summer months he would travel from Guildford to London every week to paint scenes on the River Thames with the group. Due to his workload of courses, lectures and exhibitions his time with the prestigious group only lasted a year but resulted in many marine works.








On a personal note. Edward Wesson’s paintings have been a source of enjoyment to me over the years and obtaining all the Leisure Painter and Artist articles as well as the six books was a labour of love. Anyone wanting to delve further into Ted Wessons art could do no worse than obtain a copy of 'The Art of Edward Wesson' by Ron Ranson, himself a watercolourist of note, who has written biographies of several artists, all of which are excellent. My thanks to John for producing this superb account of Edward Wesson, without doubt an iconic English artist and -  I believe- a real 'character' in the English sense.




















This is the East Anglian village where John, resident in Australia, was born.

There have been a few errors concerning the paintings, entirely my fault and not John's. They've now been corrected apart from one painting that is in gouache but I'll leave that in. John was responsible for the text and myself the illustrations. As you know he's in Australia and I'm in England (and we're both getting on, especially me, a bit.) so apologies again.