Saturday, 31 July 2010

David Curtis - Light and mood in watercolour

This video complements David Curtis's book Light and Mood in Watercolour on the same topic which is where I personally first started when finding out more about how he worked.  I'd seen his paintings before and was delighted in 2005 to find a book which explained his approach.

It's also one of the more intelligent books written on this topic and is very definitely NOT one of the "dumbed down" books which get published all too often these days.  It's very much a book for artists who enjoy reading!

What i like about it is that it hasn't been written in a formulaic style.  It's more like a narrative interspersed with appropriate headlines and images.  I guess it's a bit like listening to a tutor talking about how they approach a topic and telling you what they're doing as they do it.

So for example he talks about "Developing Ideas" and within that discusses sketching, tone and colour - rather than having specific chapters dedicated to 'Colour".  It takes a bit longer to read and is less easy to scan - but actually it's a more satisfying read at the end of the day.

I particularly enjoyed the fact that there is more text - and absolutely no step by step diagrams - than many provide on the different watercolour techniques he uses.  I'll do a more detailed review on Making A Mark reviews but I hope the above and the video below give you a sense of what he is about and how he approaches making his art.

This video gives you a sense of the different type of landscapes he paints in watercolour and how he tackles them in different contexts.

Here's the blurb from APV films about what the video is about
Painting outdoors in all weather conditions is very important to David. Working in pure watercolour in a loose and immediate way he is able to capture the light and mood of a place. Here he chooses to paint the pastural scenery of his native Yorkshire in the early spring as well as the city streets of London and Paris. He also works in his studio, painting a more considered watercolour using an oil painting as source material.

Books and DVDs by David Curtis

You can find a new section dedicated to David Curtis in my "resources for artists" website The Best Books about Landscape Painting  

Below you can find my Amazon Associate links to David Curtis's books - I don't usually do this like this but I do rate this artist very highly.

United Kingdom
United States of America

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

David Curtis demonstrates "A Light Touch: Landscapes in Oils"

In this video, David Curtis is back to painting in oils and this time the 'light' is all about a lightness of touch which he likes to use when painting in oils.

Notes I made while it was playing focus on:
  • he likes to use scrubby strokes at the beginning of landscape paintings
  • palette focus on main colours used for his landscape palette
  • capitalise on the light and getting the patina of light right
  • getting the highlights marked in at the beginning of the painting
  • seeing the picture as a whole in terms of shapes of light and shade
  • a constant focus on tones and getting the register of light and dark right
  • the importance of developing your memory when painting plein air
  • the importance of NOT honing in on one area - which you might like a lot - for too lomg
Books and DVDs by David Curtis

You can find a new section about David Curtis in my "resources for artists" website The Best Books about Landscape Painting  

These are my Amazon Associate links to David Curtis's books

United Kingdom

United States of America

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

David Curtis - Light Effects in Watercolour

Light Effects in Watercolour is the third YouTube video this week by landscape artist David Curtis.  Every time I watch him work in watercolour I see things he does that I do when I sketch - which makes me feel very comfortable watching his style of painting.  Which means that his way of making marks on paper in watercolour makes me think I should give watercolour another chance

I'm also finding it very illuminating to see just how watery his palette is and how big his brushes are!

This short video (2.43 minutes) comments on the treatment of light effects in watercolour - the importance of developing lost and found edges and the use of masking fluid.  The boldness of the way he floods the paper while reserving lights will be energising to more people than just me!

Monday, 26 July 2010

David Curtis - Light in the Landscape

This YouTube video Light in the Landscape by David Curtis is all about painting light in the landscape.  In 2 minutes and 44 seconds it gives some top tips for painting plein air in oils.

Books and DVDs by David Curtis

You can find a new section about David Curtis in my "resources for artists" website The Best Books about Landscape Painting  

These are my Amazon Associate links to David Curtis's books

United Kingdom

United States of America

Sunday, 25 July 2010

Landscape Painting Videos by David Curtis

This week I'm going to be posting some YouTube videos of David Curtis painting landscapes - which will be of interest to all those looking to improve their landscape painting techniques.

David Curtis is a well known UK landscape artist. In 1992, he won the first prize in the most well known watercolour competition in the UK Singer and Friedlander/Sunday Times Watercolour Competition and has also won many other prestigious awards for his art. Essentially a "plein air" and figurative painter, he works in both oil and watercolours and is a Member of the Royal Institute of Oil Painters and the Royal Society of Marine Artists.

He's also the author of a number of art instruction books and has been co-author of a number of instructional DVDs.

Rather than create one very 'top heavy' post I've set them up so that one will be posted each day and I'll provide a link in this post to them as they get posted each day so if you want just one bookmark post this is it!

The first one is "A Personal View: Landscapes in Watercolour" which I found really exciting as I watched.  I've got his books and really like his watercolours but watching how he puts paint on paper was a HUGELY stimulating experience!  A recommended view for all aspiring plein artists using watercolour.
Painting in Cornwall, David Curtis illustrates his approach to watercolour. Boats in an estuary and the village of Cadgwith viewed from the beach are painted on site. A further scene of a wooded bay with boats is painted in the studio, using an oil painting as source material. 

Update:  Links to Other Short Videos on YouTube:
Books and DVDs by David Curtis

You can find a new section about David Curtis in my "resources for artists" website The Best Books about Landscape Painting  

These are my Amazon Associate links to David Curtis's books

United Kingdom
United States of America

    Friday, 23 July 2010

    Plein Air Pastel Painting with Richard McKinley

    Pastel artist Richard McKinley has a number of blog posts on Pastel Pointers with Richard McKinley about  creating landscapes and plein air painting with pastels.  He's particularly strong at looking at the place where he's painting and techniques for translating this into a pleasing work of art.

    Richard recently created a series of posts with very useful tips.  These are especially helpful for pastel artists working plein air - but anybody working plein air will find value in a lot of what he has to say.
    Using pastel en plein air has its advantages. The instant gratification of choosing a pastel stick and applying it to a surface is unparalleled. We simply open the pastel palette, analyze the scene, and make a mark—no mixing, no solvents, and no bag full of wet rags to dispose. The disadvantage is that we need an assortment of pastel hues in a range of values to accomplish what the wet painter can do with four tubes of paint.
    •  Plein Air Tips, Part 2: Sun Vs. Shade which discusses the issues of working in full sunlight or shade and provides some valuable recommendations for kit which helps with dealing with the sun
    The painting surface and pastel palette need to be in the same light. Otherwise, pastel choices from the palette will appear completely different on the painting surface, confusing the mind and eye collaboration.
    Remind yourself while you are painting that the photo can provide detail information later and your task is to represent what the camera cannot: the human perspective. Spend your time analyzing the value relationships and subtle color sensations.
    Here's a selection of a few more of his plein air related posts from his blog:

    Places for plein air painters

    Kit for plein air painters
    Techniques and solutions for plein air painters
    A few years ago while I was on a painting trip with legendary pastel plein air artist Glenna Hartmann, the question of how to handle green was posed. After a perfectly timed pause, she quietly responded, “I avoid it at all cost.” The ensuing discussion was very interesting. It seemed that every painter there had an issue with green.
    • Pastel Dry Underpainting - about how to tackle an underpainting when working plein air and all you have to hand are your pastels
    While subject matter may be important to the concept, the process of painting is really nothing more than shapes, edges, values and colors, arranged in a pleasing design. 

    Fred Inglis on the value of the landscape painting

    Thanks to David Roberts in Leicester for writing and alerting me to an article Off Piste: Pride of place by Professor Fred Inglis in the Times Higher Education Supplement

    It focuses on why people like pictures of places they know and like.  Two quotes stood out for me
    All over the geography of tourism, we find little stalls selling watercolours, linocuts, miniature acrylics and rough crayon sketches of the local beauty spots. In the hotel rooms of the tourist capitals, there will be luridly awful prints of flowery parks, flowery copses, flowery clifftop walks. This affecting testimony to a universal desire to discover on one's vacation the lost complicity of humankind with natural beauty provides the energy behind the mass production and reproduction of land-and-sea-and-townscape paintings.
    Back in 1809, a close painter friend wrote to that most firm and emulable of water-colourists, John Sell Cotman, that "every artist must, to a certain degree, obey his master, the public ... Two thirds of mankind, you know, mind more what is represented than how it is done."
    It gives one pause for thought.......

    Note: Fred Inglis is honorary professor of cultural history, University of Warwick.

    Monday, 12 July 2010

    Singer Sargent: Where's the place in this painting?

    On Tuesday last week, Richard Ormond, great nephew of John Singer Sargent and Editor of Sargent's Catalogue Raisonee, revealed that his great uncle was no great archivist or recorder of where his landscapes were painted.  (see Sargent and the Beach for my review of the Sargent and the Sea  exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts)

    However a Catalogue Raisonnee should try and provide this level of detail so the production of every volume of the catalogue of Sargent's work requires trips to locations where the artist worked to try and work out the locations of different paintings.  He gets quite a lot of help from fans of Sargent's work and people living in the locations where Sargent painted.  One of the problems which can occur is that places have changed a lot since the late nineteenth century and it can be very difficult sometimes to identify a specific location.

    The painting below had originally been attrubuted to "a trip to Morocco".  He told us that this ended up in him walking up and down a fair few beaches in Morocco trying to find it without any success at all.

    Beach scene, Marina Grande, Capri (1880)
    John Singer Sargent
    Oil on panel, 25.4 x 34.3 cm

    Private Collection | Image courtesy Royal Academy of Arts

    It then turned out that, while researching the paintings of Capri, an individual identified the painting and said "that's not in Morocco - that's the Marine Grande!"  The instructions were to return to the harbour, go to the extreme left and then look left - and the scene would look like the painting.

    If you go to the Marina Grande, Capri on Streetview one can see that is in fact the case!

    This now makes the reference to the painting in the catalogue of the exhibition completely wrong - but then catalogues are always being updated as information improves.

    Here's the remainder of the description of this painting.
    A gaggle of local women are seen laying fishing nets to dry.  the white sand and dense blue sky evoke the brilliance and saturating heat of a sunlit day on the Mediterranean coast."
    extract from Sargent and the Sea by: Sarah Cash, Richard Ormond
    I wonder if Streetview will be able to provide the answer to the challenges of an editor of a catalogue raisonee?
    You can find out more about Singer Sargent and his work from my information website - John Singer Sargent - Resources for Art Lovers

    • a catalogue raisonné is a monograph giving a comprehensive catalogue of artworks by an artist.
    • Richard Ormond was formerly Director of the National Maritime Museum from 1986 until 2000 and formerly Head of the Picture Department from 1983. He was the Nineteenth Century Curator and latterly the Deputy Director of the National Portrait Gallery from 1975 until 1983. He is a Victorian Painting specialist with a particular interest in John Singer Sargent and Lord Leighton. With Elaine Kilmurray, he is producing the Catalogue Raisonee for John Singer Sargent which runs to several volumes.
    • Sargent and the Sea - the exhibition catalogue by Sarah Cash, Richard Ormond (Yale University Press October 27, 2009)

    Sunday, 11 July 2010

    Exhibition - Changing Soil: Contemporary Landscape Painting (Za Fukei)

    Changing Soil: Contemporary Landscape Painting (Za Fukei) consists of thirty-one landscape paintings made between 1954 and 2008 by thirty artists, which are all selected from the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston collection. 
    The exhibition Changing Soil: Contemporary Landscape Painting (Za Fukei) at Nagoya/Boston Museum of Fine Arts offers the opportunity to see landscape paintings by various artists working in their own unique styles.

    Artists include:
    The exhibition tries to examine the ways in which artists try to render their natural surroundings. Through the paintings, we find artists who explore their own perspective and artistic form while they cast their eyes on the important and universal theme of "landscape painting." Contemporary landscape is interpreted in the painting through the artist's particular viewpoint, inspiring us to consider how we have interacted with nature and our surroundings, and how we will continue to do so.
    The exhibition continues until Sunday 12th September 2010

    The Nagoya/Boston Museum of Fine Arts is the sister museum of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (MFA) and is located in Japan.  Its aim is to present art in innovative and refreshing ways.

    Friday, 2 July 2010

    Virtual Paintout July - in Hong Kong

     A view of Hong Kong from.......

    This is exciting!  The place which the Virtual Paintout is visiting in July is Hong Kong.  These are the links to:
    More things to note from Bill Guffey- and he starts with a new one
    IGNORE THE BLUE DOTS! It appears that Google has now added every user submitted photograph to the maps in the form of blue dots. Make sure your reference comes from the actual Street View application and not a photograph. Thanks.
    The key things you need to do are:
    • the image has to be at a resolution of 72 and no larger than 1000 pixels on the widest side
    • each artist must now include the URL of the location that the artwork is based upon
    My initial trawl suggests finding good viewpoints might take some time but can be worthwhile.  The view at the top was about my 10th go at finding a location