Wokingham Art Society
Keith Hornblower demonstrations
Visit him at www.hornblower.vispa.com - Return to Archive
Watercolour Townscape, 21st January 2020.
Click here for report and photos by Rod Jones

Watercolour Buildings, 15 May 2018

Write-up by Fred Bennet. Photos by Peter Izod and Rod Jones
Keith Hornblower is a Fellow of the Society of Architectural Illustration and also a prominent watercolourist. He recently exhibited at the prestigeous St Petersburg “Masters of Watercolour” exhibition and held a masterclass there. He has frequently exhibited at the Royal Institute of Painters in Watercolours. The Schmincke Award for an outstanding work was won at the RI exhibition at the Mall Galleries where he did have 2 paintings accepted.. Keith brought examples of his work with a wide variety of subjects, but for this evening had a photograph of a scene in Baldock as the basis for his demonstration.

Materials Keith's support was a sheet of 140 lb “rough” Millford watercolour paper by St Cuthberts Mill modeled on the now unavailable Whatman paper. A 4B pencil was used for the initial drawing. His paints were Schminke and Shin Hann. (Keith uses tubes not pans to ensure a full strength of colour). Only a few brushes were used. These were largish squirrel hair mop brushes together with a rigger-like one.

The Drawing The essence of the drawing stage was to establish the “painting” and not to copy the photograph. A line setting the eye-level (the horizon) was drawn across the page and the placing of the vertical strokes was made. Next an indication of the perspective setting lines was put in. Detail was avoided since too much detail leads to just colouring-in not painting. There were no figures in the photograph but a few were added to give scale and more life to the scene.

Painting first stage Using a large brush a coat of yellow ochre was applied quite freely, roughly covering the various features in the drawing. This was the first occasion where the audience somewhat surprised. Burnt Sienna was added in the foreground wet on wet.

For the sky Turquoise Blue was used,being a very opaque colour. A smaller squirrel brush with a good point was used to begin adding local colour to the buildings. Shadows were introduced using Ultramarine, Burnt Sienna and Alazarin. The main shapes were now discernable but still no detail was shown.

There were trees in the view and these were painted in using a mixture of Cobalt Blue and Yellow Ochre. This combination of pigments each with a hint of red gives a green which is not over bright. Further opaqueness could be got by adding Turquoise.

The road areas were next indicated using Cobalt Blue, wet in wet to avoid hard edges.
Painting second stage Some detail, but not too much,was introduced. Shadow shapes were defined using the same mixture as before but adjusted to be more purple. The aim was to reinforce contrasts not only in light and dark but also to introduce harder and softer edges. A bench in the near foreground was painted in but then softened with a wash of water to control its colour strength. Doors and windows were defined using a dry-brush approach with single stroke actions.

Where very strong colours were needed they were taken undiluted from the palette. At this stage a small synthetic brush was used to define window surrounds and such using Watercolour White (Shin Hann) from the tube. This white easily washes off. The tree forming the right-hand side of the painting was put in freely using a strong mixture of Ultramarine and Burnt Sienna. The foliage was added with the same mixture.

Finally the last and unexpected step was taken. The buildings in the background were overpainted with the Watercolour White to everyone's surprise. After drying with a hairdryer this coat became more transparent and was then carefully rubbed back to give a hazy effect of distance.
The Final Painting
Once the masking tape securing the paper was removed the final painting was revealed
with strong contrasts in colour and a clear sense of depth.

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