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Knight watercolour demonstration
Winter Townscape, 20 December 2011
|Sera had agreed at the last moment to
do this demo (the previously booked demonstrator was unwell). What's more she
was asked to finish everything in about 70 minutes - it was our last meeting
before Christmas and there were nibbles and (non-alcoholic) mulled wine instead
of just tea, coffee and biscuits.
She'd found a snowing Westminster Abbey Christmas card for inspiration. Sera claimed it had only taken her about 15 minutes to produce a quite detailed pencil drawing but she had painted a couple of vaguely similar scenes the previous day "to get her hand in". Of course she'll take liberties with the positioning and colouring of the people
|She said she started wherever she felt
best - no formulae like "background before foreground". Here, since time was
short, she decided to go straight onto the dry paper with the figures, in Raw
Sienna and French Ultra, spreading the same colours, wet, onto the surrounding
areas. But she was almost immediately diverted onto a foreground taxi and a
mid-distance bus (a lovely SAA Cadmium red) before touching in more
Her paint was always fairly wet, but not as wet as she would have used on a flat board. This made it easy to define a small area with a neutral colour and then immediately add touches of brighter pigment - interesting variations. She carefully left dry paper between different areas (for clear lines and no blurring "cauliflowers").
|This approach backfired in the sky, possibly because
she forgot to allow for the vertical board. She used several purple brushfulls
(a 1" flat), the colour becoming more orange towards the bottom, but when she
put extra dark at the top it ran down and left an unwanted patch where the
orange had dried too much. "Leave it alone. We'll do something about that
For the buildings Sera used the same purple mix, grayed with a complementary yellow. Here the lines where white paper has been left untouched are even more obvious.
Once the paper was more or less all covered (40 of the 70 minutes?) the remainder of the demo was a process of continual adjustment.
|Sera had three brushes in her hand: the 1" flat, one
small (No8?) and one large (No.14?) rounds. Darks were introduced everywhere,
dabs of sky colour made footsteps in the snow, extra texture was dabbed in to
give the impression of more people, the umbrella colours were modified, she
reversed the sky/buildings contrast by darkening the sky (covering up the
earlier problem there and placing the scene a bit later in the day). The
brushes never stopped for a moment - except when she took a couple of paces
back to see what it looked like (don't you forget to do that, even if
you are in a hurry!).
Noticing that the picture lacked depth and that the sky paint was dry ("more or less dry - let's live dangerously") she put a dark glaze over all the background. This meant that she had to go back and reinforce the darks there.
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