Wokingham Art Society

Demonstrations by Charles Evans

January 2007 -Return to Archive - January 2010

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Charles Evans Watercolour Demo: 19 January 2010
"Windsor & Newton's No.1 Demonstrator" hasn't changed a bit since we last saw him in 2007 (not even his smock, although perhaps he was then "Daler Rowney's No.1 demonstrator"). He'd had an epic all-day drive down from Northumberland, only just making it here by 7:30.

He taped a (1/2 Imperial?) piece of W&N's 140 lb "Artists' Watercolour Paper", unstretched, to his board. He likes this paper because it is two-sided, more textured on one side than the other and, being heavily sized, allows you to lift even dried paint off with a damp brush.

Charles went straight into drawing Lindisfarne Castle from memory (with a free pencil from something like B&Q - there's a moral there).

There's too much nonsense talked about "Golden Ratios", he says: the important thing is to make sure that prominent features, like horizons, are not dead-central.
Using his 1.5" flat brush, he wet the paper right down to the horizon line and applied Yellow Ochre, then above that Burnt Sienna and finally French Ultramarine, carrying this down with broad sweeps, right over the wet yellows.

Charles then put a bit more Burnt Sienna into the blue and lifted much of it out (clouds, with dark undersides) with the brush, again wiping the lifted paint freely across the lower part of the sky. It's the Burnt Sienna that stops the blue and yellow forming a green sky (although Yellow Ochre is much better than Raw Sienna if you are trying to avoid green).

As soon as the area around the castle was dry Charles started carefully into the castle and its rocky base with a No.8 round brush and an Ultra/Burnt Sienna mix.
A little more Raw Umber was put into the rocky hill to warm it up and for the shadows a little Alizarin was added to the Ultra/Burnt Sienna mix.

Hookers Green is a horrible colour. It was designed by William Hooker to be mixed with just one other appropriate colour to make any green he wanted - never to be used on its own. Charles mixed it with various amounts of the yellow and browns for the several greens that appear here.
Because of the heavy sizing of this paper, he was able to sculpt the landscape by lifting out and modifying the greens and browns he had already put in. To modify greens with a blue wash, for depth, use the same blue as the sky.

The dry-stone wall took only seconds to dab in, leaving touches of white light above it. Yellow ochre went in under it and was then modified with a touch of green or blue.
He spread the sea very thinly and then strengthened it where needed and lifted out the foam. Represent water with paint based on the same type of blue as the sky (French Ultra for British Sea and Cobalt for Mediterranean Sea). W&N sell pre-mixed colours with those names, as well as "Sand", all 3 of which Charles used, and just happened to have a few tubes for sale!.

For the foreground boulders, Charles applied splodges of black (ultra and burnt sienna) over the sand and then scraped off the individual shapes with the edge of a credit card. He finished it off with a darker green for the grasses, using his finger nails to give the light and dark effect in the bottom left corner.
Believe it or not, it's now only coffee-time, which Charles and his assistant put to good use selling a wide variety of supplies: the paper, his clever two-container water bucket, paints, cards, books . . . .

The second part started with a few specific watercolour painting tricks, below. For the boulders he mixed two colours (Hookers Green with Alizarin and French Ultra with Burnt Sienna) applying what looked like random wet blobs before getting the credit card out again and working down from the top, one stroke per rock. I tried it myself the following morning and it takes practice, the right paper and the right amount of water. The dry-stone wall demo was done in exactly the same way but with the corner of the card. The mountains and foreground were at first just a normal blue-grey, thinner in the foreground, but the credit card converted it to a winter scene.

The other greenery demonstrated that tapping the metal of the brush, not the bristles, onto the paper gives a good foliage effect, that finger nails do the same for grass and, provided that the trunks have been established first, that quite distinctive trees can be made with only a few strokes.
This left nearly 30 minutes, more than enough for another painting!

First came the bare outlines of a couple of winter trees, an horizon, barely visible just above the bases of the tree trunks, and a hint of a distant something over to the right.

This time, after he'd wet the paper, the sky was done with Burnt Sienna mixed with Yellow Ochre lower down and with French Ultra higher up. The clouds were just lifted out with the brush (tissue is too absorbent).
The background trees were applied with a very shaky hand, repeatedly lightly touching the very tip of the brush to the paper, before drawing the trunks down to the ground.

I'm still having trouble getting decent focus in the strange lighting conditions of our demos, sorry. Sam Dauncey

The foreground tree-trunks were lifted back out with a moist brush, and a touch of the resulting colour was carried across to form the horizon and the foreground.
Then, with one light and one very dark mix (still French Ultra and Burnt Sienna, I think), Charles started filling in the foreground trees using the side of the rigger for the main trunks and branches.

For the twigs he used the flat of the 1.5" flat brush, tapping the paper with the metal, as in the earlier techniques session.

Finally, shadows defined the shape of the ground, posts shrinking into the distance enhanced the feeling of depth, the bushes added a bit of colour interest and the rough dark area in the left corner was turned into grasses or twigs by using the finger-nail scratching technique.


What a great evening: two demos, a techniques tutorial, some good laughs and a shop! After a quick curry in Peach Street, Charles faced another 6-hour drive back up to Northumberland and a workshop on Wednesday, I think he said.

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Charles Evans Watercolour Demo: January 2007

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