Painting from photographs

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As this is my first post of 2020, it seems appropriate that the painting above is of a walk I took on New Year’s Day.  It is a view of the Peak District near Bakewell; I was walking with my friend Jill.  I did not bravely sit on the hillside painting despite the January weather.  I painted it a couple of days ago, at home, from a photograph I had taken during the walk.

Actually, I rarely paint from photographs.  I am interested in painting on location, partly because I would rather get out of the house than paint at home.  On the whole I have either taken art classes and trips which take this approach, or making paintings from my own drawings.  In mid-winter, it seems worth trying an alternative approach.

I have started a new watercolour class, at London’s Morley College.  This is week three, and we have been painting landscapes from photographs, although next week we paint still life.  In the first class we were trying different watercolour techniques, such as washes and resists.  Week two, we applied these to a landscape, using a muted palette (French ultramarine, burnt umber, yellow ochre) and a photographic reference.  I think mine was a mountain scene in the USA or Canada.  I feel my painting, below, is less than successful, but it was a beginning.

Week two

I put in some practice at home, and I am more satisfied with the painting at the head of this post, which is based on my own photograph taken in the Peak District:

Peak district

Today, week three of the class, the challenge was to paint a snowy landscape, learning how to reserve the white watercolour paper, again using a muted, winter palette of colours (French ultramarine, burnt umber, Windsor yellow).  Here is the photographic reference (I have no idea of the location) and my two paintings:

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Winter landscape – some experiments

Here are some more images from my recent short course at West Dean College in West Sussex.  We did quite a bit of experiment with ink, using various tools, and with graphite.  Some of this was on the theme of ‘winter landscape’, taking a rather abstract rather than observational approach.  Here are some of the experiments I did.img354 (3)

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Works on paper

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My drawings here are based on drawings by Honore Daumier of French judges (drawn about 1850).  Today I have been drawing in the study room of the Victoria and Albert Museum works on paper collection, which own the Daumier drawings, and many others.  These collections, which also exist at the British Museum, Tate Britain and the Courtauld, are an extraordinary and little known resource.  Members of the public can make appointments to see, and if wished, draw from drawings by world famous artists, free of charge.  So much can be learned from the close observation which comes with copying drawings in different styles.img341 (2)

Drawing in London museums

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I did the drawing above this week at the Museum of the Order of St John, in Clerkenwell.  The museum tells the history of the Order of St John, established in eleventh century Jerusalem to provide medical care for sick pilgrims, and then acquiring a military role in the crusades.  After a complex history, it is now the St John Ambulance Brigade.  A second drawing, below, shows the process I am using quite a bit at the moment, drawing in coloured pencil onto a pre-prepared background of water colour.

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The two drawings below were done at the National Army Museum in Chelsea.  The first is a display related to the battle of Waterloo, the second, a display of historic army uniforms.

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Art of Ancient Egypt

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I have never visited Egypt, but am always interested in seeing the art and artefacts from such an ancient culture.  This composite drawing was done in the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, as part of a joint meet-up with the London and Cambridge Urban Sketchers groups last Saturday.

In Southern Italy

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I have just returned from a painting holiday in Southern Italy, staying in Matera, and in Alberobello in Puglia.  Here are some watercolours from this trip, all painted on location.  Matera is famed for the Sassi cave dwellings which are believed to have been inhabited for 7000 years.  The view of the town, topped by the tower of the cathedral with a river gorge below was certainly challenging.  We then moved on to Alberobello, which is known for the trulli buildings, a traditional form of rural building now a focus of the tourist industry.

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From here, we visited Monopoli, Polignano a Mare, and Locorotondo.  Here are some other paintings I made on this trip: