Friday, 15 March 2019

Trevor Chamberlain - A Watercolour Master

Trevor Chamberlain is a contemporary of John Yardley.  I think it fair to say they have been at the pinnacle of British watercolour artists for many years, both now in their mid-eighties. John Yardley is a shy and reserved character although, according to his many friends much less so when you get to know him. Trevor is even more reserved in that he has never made a video nor held workshops or given demonstrations. I imagine over the years he has received many requests to do so. When Steve Hall wrote his book on Trevor he told me he was initially rather reserved and perhaps suspicious, but once Steve gained his confidence was fine. Trevor is a prominent member of the famous Wapping group of artists founded in 1946- www.thewappinggroupofartists.co.uk/ - so has many painting friends. They paint outdoors weekly April to September, much along the River Thames. Numbers are restricted to 25 although their splendid website currently has 26, 25 men and 1 woman.







The two paintings above are my favourites. The one on the oil tanker, I believe painted at Falmouth is quite small which makes it all the more amazing. I could be wrong on the size.







There have been a number of books on Trevor. He is shown as author of two, one on oils in Ron Ransons Painting School series, and (my favourite) 'Trevor Chamberlain - A Personal View'  in the superb David & Charles Atelier Series, sadly discontinued after only a small number of titles.  Angela Gair is credited as assisting on the Atelier book. The other books are a section in Ron Ransons splendid 'Watercolour Impressionists' and the latest by Steve Hall and Barry Miles 'Trevor Chamberlain England and beyond.










What is Trevors approach? As Ron Ranson says in 'Watercolour Impressionists'... 'The effect of light is everything to him and it is the constant theme that runs through his work whether it be oils or watercolour'. As noted Trevor also paints in oils and when he decided to do watercolour  he states in the Atelier book that it took him a year to master the medium. Lucky him as some of us still struggle after many years - at least I do. As Ron also says he is something of a  slave to the weather as he paints  exclusively outdoors, but he's by no means a 'fair weather' painter. This limits him to about two paintings per week.








What is Trevors approach to painting? He paints 'loose and fluid' using what is called the 'controlled wash' method , Jack Merriot, who promoted this,  being one of his early influences. To quote him from the Atelier book 'Much of the picture is completed in a single wash, with the addition of one or two additional washes to define forms'. This gives in most of his paintings a very soft look. This does not appeal to everyone. My friend John Softly isn't a great fan of this 'soft' approach. Each to his own as we say.  His methods are detailed in the Atelier book so I won't go into detail just say if you are interested seek out the Atelier book and Ron Ransons 'Watercolour Impressionists' I don't have the latest available book by Hall.& Miles. The others are out of print but searching may find copies in the second- hand market.







What materials does he use? He likes many of the old papers and built up a stock of several makes. which are probably exhausted by now. Of current papers he likes Arches, Bockingford, Waterford, Fabriano and Two Rivers, usually 140lb stretched to avoid cockling . He will paint very large in the studio- full imperial - in which case he has 300lb paper -from a small outdoor sketch. Brushes are Kolinsky round  sables in sizes 8, 12 and 14. On larger paintings he may use a 'french polishers mop' - presumably Isabey for the initial wash. He also sometimes uses a shaving mop and has an 18mm flat brush for lifting out. A No 4 rigger for fine detail completes the number, although he also uses an old brush to apply masking fluid, used  very sparingly.

Artists quality paints are his choice, both tubes and pan colours,  Raw Sienna a favourite and also mentions Olive Green, Burnt Sienna, French Ultramarine, Viridian, Burnt Umber, Venetian Red. Permanent Magenta - a softer colour - has replaced Alazarin Crimson. After trying many different Viridians  he'd found the one by Talens (Rembrandt) 'really good'. I bought the Rembrandt Viridian on this recommendation but couldn't see it was much different to others. Still I'm not Trevor Chamberlain.



Trevor is a close friend of the artist David Curtis who told him about Craig Young and his hand-made palettes  based on old designs. He purchased the one similar to  the Binning Munro without the flap. I've one of those with the flap and it is still pristine and unused. I can hardly bear to spoil it but as my other two Craig Young palettes are showing the worse for wear will have to bite the bullet shortly.

I think that's pretty much it. As said enquiries on the internet will bring more information and lots of paintings, and searches amongst  second-hand booksellers may result in copies of the books mentioned. Without a doubt a wonderful artist.


















Wednesday, 13 March 2019

Nearly But Not Quite.

This is an odd title but denotes what I feel about many of my paintings. A sense of not quite getting there. The one below, done this week, is an example.



What I was interested in here was the heads of the animals, a rare Scottish breed, I reached this point and didn't quite know what to do next. Perhaps I should have stopped. Charles Reid says when you look at a painting and wonder what to do next the best thing it to stop. After reflection I carried on, feeling it was a bit too unfinished but was I right?  I don't know. Certainly overpainting is one of the worst faults artists painting in watercolour do. They just keep on when stopping - even if the painting is slightly unfinished - is the best option. Judi Whitton taught something similar.


Stonehenge Aqua not 16" x 12" 'Highland Cattle 'or 'Mother & Son'.

One of Charles other pearls of wisdom is that you reach a certain point in a painting where - if you make the wrong decision - it goes downhill or alternatively the right one and a decent painting emerges.

The other day I decided to take Robert Wades advice, illustrated in one of his videos, of going through that pile of paintings and discarding the ones that don't come up to scratch. In his case most of us would be delighted with the ones he tore up but.... I have a huge pile built up over some years so started on the first batch, about half the total. I segregated them into three piles. Those to be discarded, those where I could paint on the back - at over £1.50p a sheet now per block of Waterford this is an  option, and you can do it whatever might be said to the contrary. The late Ron Ranson told me he had a painting hung at the Royal Academy that was on the reverse of a 'failure'. The third pile were those I considered decent, although a few are borderline. Remember this is a hobby painter talking not a high profile artist. The discarded ones were torn up and put in the recycle bin. Do I feel better after doing this. Robert said he did and so am I. Actually it tidied things up somewhat.







Friday, 1 March 2019

Watercolour Paintings 52

Here are the latest batch, a very varied collection, which hopefully has something for everybody. It once again displays the wide range of styles and subjects that watercolour now encompasses. I know some of these artists but not all. Further enquiries on Facebook or Pinterest should bring more information.
Rachel McNaughton


Another from Rachel McNaughton

This one is very similar to the paintings John Blockley produced at the earlier stage of his career. His paintings were quite bleak with sombre colours however. He later introduced more colour and even became President of the Pastel Society. Interestingly his daughter Ann, an accomplished flower painter, has also changed direction with  a far more abstract approach and very strong colour.


Edward Seago


Steven Scott Young


Corneliu Dragan-Targoviste



Jake Winkle
This British artists wife runs the Luxartis brush company,  although the brushes have  'Germany' on the handles presumably where they are made.


Charles Reid



Olivia Quinton



Ann Christian Moberg



Koo Cheang Jin



Roberto Zangarelli


David Taylor

One of the leading Australian artists.



J W M Turner
Turner has an International reputation although not everyone likes his work. Charles Reid amongst them.



Lars Eje Larsson





Yvonne Joiner





Thomas W Schaller




Maria Stezhko




Jasmine Huang




Annemiek Groenhout



Tim Willmot

This was painted in Saltford nr Bath, where I lived until fairly recently. I'm still close by at Keynsham. Seago painted  at least one oil at Saltford, down by the river Avon.



Elke Memmler



Bev Jozwiak

A top American Bev loves painting Jackdaws.



Edward Wesson

The simplicity of most of Wessons paintings is typified by the above. Don't think though that such works are easy to produce.



Saturday, 23 February 2019

Latest Paintings

Here are my latest efforts continuing  (mostly) my 'animal' theme.



Red Parrot 16" x 12" Waterford High White
The subject at my art group recently.



Vegetables 16" x 12"
Another art group subject. This was painted on the reverse of a previous painting.


Native American - A3 Daler Artboard

This was an attempt top give it a 'Janine Galizia' type of feel. Only moderately successful. I'm still not sure about this artboard surface. Certainly not up to the quality of Waterford or Stonehenge.



Big Cat - Waterford High White 16" x 12"

From what I'd like to achieve this is better. I'm happy with this one.



Bighorn Sheep - 16" x 12" Stonehenge Aqua
I'm reasonable happy with this one also.




Mother & Cub A3 Moldau 280gsm

I like this one. The Moldau paper from Czechoslovakia was such a pain to obtain that It's unlikely I'll get more when my supply runs out. It has a lovely surface but the paper is uneven and the best bet is to stick it down with masking tape but  it still buckles. It's a case of  my living with this.




Thursday, 21 February 2019

INDEX

I know my Index system is a little clumsy but not being a technical 'geek' it's the best I can do.  On the opening page see the list on the right hand side called 'blog archive' This is directly under the followers picture section. Scroll down to 2014 and then click on July. This will bring you to the index, recently updated.

Friday, 8 February 2019

John Yardley - A Watercolour Master


John Yardley has been one of the very best British watercolour artists for many years. He is now in his mid eighties, as is Trevor Chamberlain a contemporary. He also paints in oils but is best known for his watercolours. I don't know how active he currently is.



I met him once at the Alexander Gallery in Clifton, Bristol. He was one of the resident artists and they were holding his b-annual exhibition. Apart from the gallery owner the only people there at the time I visited were him and his wife, so I introduced myself and had a short conversation. He is a  shy man but was very pleasant. The late Ron Ranson had previously told me that Yardley had become involved with the Alexander following the death of Edward Wesson, who was one of their major artists. They were looking to find someone similar and - at the time - according to Ron John painted in a very similar way, in fact Ron said you couldn't tell them apart. He did drastically change his style sometime after this which I will relate later.



APV films of Chipping Norton have produced at least two (at least four) videos of which I have one 'Sunlight in Watercolour'. They are all still available.  He is also the subject of several books, by Ron Ranson, Susan Haines and more recently Steve Hall . They are all good but my pick is 'John Yardley A Personal View' in the Atelier series by David and Charles. This isn't' a 'How to'  book but as the title implies - a personal view. I rate it highly as I do the similar book by Trevor Chamberlain in the same series. The Atelier series were discontinued after only a few titles were  published but should be available second-hand if you search for them, possibly at a price!





Apart from the books and videos he has until recently tutored annually at Dedham Hall in East Anglia. He is not a natural teacher and obviously finds it difficult. Looking at his videos you can see this.  I know or knew several of those who were regular attendees  at Dedham and all became friends, some painting with him on other occasions. His approach was to do a wonderful demonstration, with those present desperately trying to see how he was doing it as he didn't say much if anything. He would then disappear for a cup of tea and a sticky bun with the baffled students scratching their heads. Ron Ranson attended one such course when he was writing his book on Yardley and after he disappeared several asked him  to explain how he did it, leaving Ron somewhat embarrassed.  The Susan Haines book touches on this. All I can say is he is held in very high regard by his students, some of whom are professional artists, many becoming firm friends.

Watching his videos I was struck by the fact the only real tip imprinted on my mind was his suggestion of keeping the water container full to the brim so you can measure the correct amount of water in the brush. I can't really think of much other advice. The brush he was using was the very expensive Winsor & Newton Series 7 size 10 at over £100. Ron Ranson said in his book that there were discarded brushes all over his studio which John said had lost their point (after about 6 months). When you see him paint on the video you can see why. He scrubs them into the palette when mixing paint and uses dry brush a lot. In more recent years he joined the Escoda band waggon with a three brush set being offered with his name on the handle. Mentioning his studio he had a purpose built one  in his garden but preferred to paint in the kitchen!

In his Atelier book he relates how a visit to Venice brought about him becoming his own man in leaving Wesson behind. His palette choices are conventional although he cautions against the over use of Cadmiums. Paper is or was Arches, Lanaquarelle and Canson tinted. He originally painted on Bockingford like Wesson. Sizes are from 15' x 22' down to 10" x 14". His palette was originally a folding Roberson which he was able to replace by the similar hand made palette from Craig Young, another regular attendee at Dedham who became a close friend. On the video he is using one of these palettes, the one with the six wells, probably made specially for him.




Subject matter is quite extensive. While he paints a lot outdoors he also loves interiors. Horses and trains also feature with flowers another favourite. Figures in his paintings are prominent. On the video he actually demonstrates how to paint them. He is a very bold painter who doesn't waste a stroke. As is clearly shown painting the light is a priority.
















  He is a wonderful artist and with the  books and videos available you can find out much more. There are lots more of his paintings to study if you 'google' his name. Without doubt he has few peers amongst watercolour artists, although I recognise the huge number of fabulous artists throughout the World.