I drew the sketch above in Dulwich Park a couple of weeks ago, in early February. At this time of year, a quick sketch is all that is practical to do out of doors, but I have now used this sketch to make three different versions in watercolour. I usually paint using a primary triad – that is obviously red, yellow and blue – mixing all the other colours from these three. But they do not have to be the same three pigments, and there are many options to choose, which may be warmer or cooler colours, or creating a darker or lighter effect. In particular, these pictures use three different blues: French Ultramarine, Cerulean, or Winsor Blue. Here are the three images with their varying palettes.
I continue my aim to do a quick flower sketch every day during the January lockdown. Lately I have been trying different media combined with watercolour. Here are three simple flower pictures, drawn from life, which use watercolour with oil pastel. The strong colours and more chunky form of the pastels encourage a bolder approach. I am learning from this every day.
Above, sketching with my friend Lis at Horniman Gardens, below, a day at Kew Gardens:
A group of my small watercolours done at Kew Gardens also hang in the home of a friend:
As a consequence of the pandemic lockdown, I did not visit central London between mid March and early August. More recently, I have taken some sketching trips with friends, sometimes visiting places like the Tower of London, which are unusually quiet now. Here are some recent location sketches of Butlers Wharf, the City skyline, the gates of Lincoln’s Inn, and the Temple Church.
Yesterday, I was painting at Kew Gardens, in London, with friends. We also visited on a very hot day last week, shown above. Kew has a famous gallery of botanical art, superbly skilled work in the very precise style, originally developed as a method of scientific recording. I was trying to paint watercolour sketches in a freer, more painterly style, more about atmosphere than precision. Well, that is the idea, here are some sketches from yesterday, painted on location.
And here is a scan of the painting which is in the photograph at the top of this post.
Today I have been at the Horniman Museum gardens in South London. I had a small pack of cards and envelopes made of Khadi paper, a handmade watercolour paper from India. I found a quiet place to sit overlooking the formal gardens, seen above. Without much plan of what I would do, I started with a very conventional view of the flowers. I then decided to simplify and enlarge the images, and to start with backgrounds based on the formality of the rows and angles of the flower beds, adding flowers to these backgrounds, working quite quickly.
Above, a watercolour I have done today, a corner of Kew Gardens in London, of the small garden behind Kew Palace. This is based on the last sketch I did out of doors in London, in mid-February this year. A picture of the sketch taken at the location is below:
Yesterday and today I have painted two new versions at home, altering the scene to imagine the changing season, leaving out the archway on the left of the small building. I have been working in watercolour, with a loose wet-on-wet start, followed by some more detailed brushwork. Yesterday’s version is below. I think today’s version is better on the whole, but, as seems inevitable, there are bits of each I would like to see combined in one. I think today’s version has too much fiddly detail in painting the plants and I quite like the areas in the picture below where I have outlined some of the plants with the brush, leaving quite a bit of white paper. The building below is too bright in colour, and should be more muted. Never mind, I am keeping in practice and one day I will be back painting on location again.