North Kent Marshes

Last weekend I enjoyed meeting friends from University whom I rarely see, ending with a long and entertaining discussion past midnight with my host’s son about the nature of science and knowledge.

I arrived late, diverted on my way down by a cloud formation like a great rent in the sky.

Coming off the motorway to follow this, I realised the sky contained about 20 red kites (and the side road filled with cars presumably belonging to other birdwatchers).  I only had about 10 minutes to watch these and no time to draw.

The next day was spent wandering the North Kent Marshes.    What was striking was the intensity and variability in the whites that made up the sky and mud flats.  This is the first sketch, drawn in charcoal and overlaid with gouache.  This week, I intend to re-draw this scene directly in transparent watercolour.

This gives me an excuse to post an old painting, this time done in watercolour (except for acrylic corrections to the light on the right side) of marshland south of Brittany.  I think I painted this about three years ago.

This illustrates a tension I feel in watercolour – my instinct has been to put in depth of colour, as here.  When I have used thin washes, the result just looks washed out.  However, the most beautiful of watercolours often employ the luminous quality of light reflected through pigment off the underlying white paper.  I guess this requires a clever selection of tints and contrasts to make white look exciting.  This will be my challenge when I re-paint the North Kent marshes.

8 responses to “North Kent Marshes

  1. It is so true–if you lack stress in your life, just take up watercolour. However, that’s only true for me if I’m in my control-freak mood. The most essential thing for us as watercolourists is to love water–and what the water wants to do with just a bit of our guidance.

    My most treasured painter–the one I hold in the highest esteem, and appreciate the most–is Britain’s ‘contemporary Impressionist’, John Yardley. This is a painter who boldly lays down his darks, while boldly reserving the paper for his whites.

    Here is a link to one of his YouTube demos:

    Whether or not you yourself are as riveted by his style as I am , I believe it’s still worth a watch.

    I don’t really paint anything like the man, yet LOVE how he goes at it with precision and abandon. His work is in enormous demand.

    And in the end, it’s the medium itself which teaches us, isn’t it.

    I love the depth of your blues.

  2. This is a beautiful sketch, full of atmosphere and a lovely composition. I’m finding watercolour to be a very unexpected sort of a medium with a life of its own… quite liberating in some ways, endlessly challenging in others. I look forward to seeing the development of the sketch into watercolour ~Fiona

    • Thank you. One reason for blogging is to get external views – like most of us, i am hyper critical of my own work. your taknig the trouble to comment is appreciated.
      Neil

  3. Pingback: sparse painting | kestrelart

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