Wokingham Art Society
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David James demonstration
"Watercolour townscape", 19 November 2013

Visit him at www.david-james-watercolours-bedford.co.uk
Although his painting style is very different from Paul Banning's, David also arrives with a pre-drawn outline pencil drawing. He had copied this onto a sheet of 140lb hot-pressed Saunders Waterford, about 18" x 24", from a much more detailed pencil drawing of downtown Hitchin. There is no need to stretch paper of this weight for a painting this size. It was just taped down on all four sides.

He pencilled a few more windows in before going round the roof lines with masking fluid. After wetting the sky with a large hake brush he started into the bottom of the sky with a yellow that could have been dirty yellow ochre or raw sienna. He carried the same colour over the road and a foreground building, introducing a classic L-shape to the composition.

Pencil drawing
David then worked up into the sky and down over the road with greys (light red and ultramarine) and also, for the sky, blues (cerulean and ultramarine). Clouds were lifted out of the wet sky by rolling a damp tissue over them. Then the whole painting was "hair-dried".

He then re-wetted the sky, adding more swirls of grey and blue and immediately lifting out the clouds again. This technique leaves clouds with a subtle combination of hard and soft edges.

Finally, the masking fluid was removed so that work could start on the buildings.
Stone reflects a lot of the sky colour, so David started the shadowy side of the church with a similar mix of yellow ochre, light red and ultramarine grey. The sky grey went onto the road, too and, with more red, covered the roofs.

A second glaze of a slightly bluer version of the same grey made shadows: of the buildings on the road and under eaves etc. David strongly advised us to do the shadows before the detail.

A big brick building on the right-hand-side was covered very quickly with something very like the reddish roof colour, using a large flat brush. "Watercolour is like golf: the less strokes the better".
Detail was painted with a smaller round brush. Half-timbering used a black and light red mix and I think the same was used for finer detail elsewhere. David strengthened important lines by adding more paint with an old-fashioned steel-nib dip pen. A flat brush put texture into the roofs.

A few bollards and stylized figures turned what might have been a ghost town into a quiet, traffic-free Sunday morning.
You kept us involved and amused, David, with a continuous commentary not only on what you were doing artistically but also about how this had been affected by your apparently somewhat colourful personal life - but I took no notes about that! Your dry sense of humour was such that I could never be quite sure what was truth and what fiction (it was fun, so who cared?).

Thank you David for an interesting and entertaining evening.

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