Wednesday, 26 January 2011

A variety of water

“No pleasure endures unseasoned by variety”
--Publilius Syrus quotes (Roman author, 1st century B.C.)

When trying to paint water I find the key for me is variety - using a lot of different mediums and ways to look at it. It's easy to get stuck in the same technique and not progress, wondering why you can't push yourself, or why this painting or this water seems different from the rest? It's a rut! Using a lot of different tools all contributes to the end result of my soft color field water paintings.

At the moment I'm working on a series of water surface paintings for a Venice exhibition, a bit of a change from my sea horizons. This means really focusing on the patterns and light on the water itself.

My studies are currently laid out on the floor, different sketches and practices that go back to last September in preparation for this new work. Only now that I have them laid out do I realise how many different approaches I've tried!


The large largest sketch (one of dozens) is a more literal charcoal line drawing of ripples. This kind of study had me looking really closely at the detail! The lines and how they met, where they travelled, the strange shapes they made that were completely unintuitive.

After that I used my pastels on smaller paper - the bottom right green study - to do some colour studies, just exploring the areas of soft light. This reminded me that to get the light I wanted I needed to focus again on my glazes and layers of pure colour.

Finally, I've been working on 100 small acrylic paintings on paper. A friend actually gave me some offcuts of wonderful watercolour paper that was great for working with acrylic with a watercolour approach. These brought home how the combination of what I learned doing the charcoal and the pastel could come together. I used the drawings of ripples first to put down a structure and underpaintings, then glazes over it with larger areas and washes of colour to bring out the light. This end lesson I could apply to the large canvases.

Mezzogiorno, acrylic on canvas, 80cmx80cm

None of these alone would have given me the tools for getting my new large paintings right. Each medium showed me something different about the water, because water is such a myriad of things: light and dark, surface and depth, flat and textured.

6 comments:

Katherine Tyrrell said...

Fascinating post - I look forward to seeing more of these. I love the surface of water but it always feels too difficult to do as the only subject.

Sarah Wimperis said...

Really interesting Tina, have just been snooping about on your blog, some lovely images and stunning colours.

Africantapestry and Myfrenchkitchen said...

A great post tina..I love seeing your studies in all the differetn mediums and hearing your process of thought!
Inspiring!
Ronell

Laureline said...

WISH I could see this in person! Digital reproduction on blogs just can't do justice to this kind of subtle layering, drat it! Fun to see vestiges of your process.

Jeanette said...

We're both in the same boat as it were for gazing at water surfaces this year.

The studies and process of how you develop your pieces is useful and how you will translate the paper version onto canvas in your own style.

vivien said...

Lovely sketches of a fascinating subject - this looks like being another beautiful series

Research is so important