Sunday, 28 November 2010

After the Storm (unfinished)

Watercolour A3
I was fortunate to get a week’s holiday in mid-September this year, and we spent a few pleasant days away in my son’s mobile home. The weather was good to us while we stayed at a campsite in Drybrook, Gloustershire, where we were able to explore some of the beautiful countryside further inland around the river Severn.

The views all around the site were pleasant, but one late afternoon there was a short shower followed by clearing blue skies. As the dark rain clouds receded into the distant landscape, the sun lit-up the fields in the foreground, adding the most breath-taking and colourful effect on the view before us. I immediately snapped this picture up for later reference, when it may or may not turn out to be a good subject for a painting.

The picture here is the (unfinished) result that I worked on at a couple of night school sessions. I say “unfinished”, because it still needs some more detail work on some of the foreground. However, I am unlikely to finish it because I spoilt what was a good sky by darkening the blue too much at the second session. Don’t tell me that I can lighten it, because my attention span has been surpassed, and I feel that the work as a whole is never going to turn out to be a good painting. I am simply including it here as a sort of ‘also ran’.

The things I like, and think I did get right are the foreground house and buildings, along with the gates and stone wall, and maybe some of the fencing on the right.

Ladies and gentlemen, I invite you to pull this work to pieces and tell me what you think works and what is not so good. Will I ever make a landscape artist or should I concentrate more on buildings, or maybe stick to portraiture? My future work is in your hands!


  1. This is a beautiful composition. The clouds have their own gorgeous landscape going on as a compliment to the ground landscape! I learned my lesson a long time ago about letting other people decide my paths in life. It's nice to get opinions, but go with your own gut instincts. You know what will make you happy more than anybody else!

  2. Had to laugh when you wrote you've abandoned it now due to loss of attention.I darkened a sea recently, and then left that due to same reason.

    I like the composition although the left of the gate needs clarifying. Landscape is nicely painted, although a tad flat tonally, and the gate is well done.

  3. The sky is nicely painted, but it competes a bit for attention with the foreground; Stronger tones are needed in the trees. Since the sky and sunlight were the main interest, you might have been better off moving nearer to the field and leaving a lot of the foreground detail out.

  4. Katherine, you are quite right about not letting anyone else decide on your path in life, that last sentance isn't quite what I should have said. Opinions expressed here will help me to take a step back and take a fresh look at my work through other's eyes.
    Sue, my wife (who is my best critic) said the same thing about the bushes on the left. The flatness on the right is due to just the first washes being in place, which would be added to next if I were to continue the work.
    Keith, my initial thoughts were to crop the photo down to the central area, but that cut down on the beautiful sky quite dramatically. It may be worth my while doing the painting again as things usually work out better the second time around, though the passion for painting the scene diminishes!

  5. Hi Frank ..... When I first saw the painting, I thought Wow ! It was the strong blue of the sky and interesting clouds. Then when I read that it wasn't quite finished, I thought it must be the foreground that needed some more colour to balance the sky. The composition is good. If it were to be redone, I would suggest to lower the line slightly, of the roadside grass, below the house - to give the buildings more grounding.
    Just paint what attracts and inspires. :)

  6. I can relate to your short attention span - I have the same problem and I bore very easily! Katherine is right that you shouldn't go to much by what other people would say because everybody sees things differently. This painting reminds me of something I might produce myself - precise and neat. I like it! And Frank - it's you! My tutor on the other hand would probably criticise it as he does to lots of my work because it is not 'loose'. In my opinion, accuracy is something not to be forgotten!

  7. I feel the need to preface this with a disclaimer because one, you're much better than I at watercolor; and two, I really don't know a lick about composition except maybe by intuition. But I am struck by the scene you set with your words because I think I know which scene inspired you...the dark clouds in the distance with the gold field in the mid-distance glowing? It always feels a bit impossible with everything around it still being so dark. If the glowing field is something that inspired this, along with that beautiful sky, then my only advice would be to actually darken the foreground and perhaps extend the darkened part of the sky somewhat, so that the field will glow. Does that make sense? By the way, I think it is a fine watercolor!

  8. Thanks for suggestion Alice - I'm fairly sure that I will attempt this one again.
    Sandra, I think tutors can get carried away sometimes, looseness is not the last word in painting. Some of your precise work is good if you keep it simple and not overdone. I'm glad you like the painting, but a repeat performance is earmarked for sometime in the near future as I like this scene so much.
    Raena, you are wrong in judging me a better watercolourist than you - we both have our good moments! Thanks for the compliments, I think you may just have something there with some brighter light on the feild and darker foreground - I will simulate it first with Paint Shop Pro.

  9. Frank I was so surprised to hear that you didn't like the sky as that is my FAVORITE part! Here's why: it is POWERFUL! those dark colors and flowing paint and lost edges are SO expressive. Honestly I could look at a painting of just the sky. I really love that dark grey part where it meets the ground.

    So no, you should not give up. Paint on Frank!

  10. I am so glad you mentioned this Crystal, as my tutor loved the sky too. It's not that I don't like it, just the fact that I think the second coat of blue made it too dark. I now have to decide whether to finish the painting, or start over again - not an easy decision.