Biting the paper (II)

In the Yorkshire Dales recently, it came as a revelation after years of painting in the field: sketches in open air are not finished pieces.  Instead, they need to contain sufficient information to complete the painting.


Sure, for some artists, the field is the studio.  But this skill comes from both talent and practice.  For me, standing on the edge of Hunt Pot, with the sound of tumbling water in my ears, the evening light dimming to dusk and the first specks of drizzle settling on the paper, I was liberated by the realisation that my watercolour sketch was a beginning, not an end.


The information I gathered in the field was the colour and overall composition.  I could not achieve the tonal contrasts or precision of drawing that I wanted at that moment.  These came later, from scraping back to white with a knife and hard eraser, and building layers of deeper colour with brush and conte crayon.

The palette is aurolean, ultramarine, phthalo blue, rose madder genuine, burnt umber and burnt sienna.  Some of the deeper tones are paynes grey.

13 responses to “Biting the paper (II)

  1. Wow, you are right! The finished piece is much more “alive”, also the contrast between the different elements (water, rocks and filed of grass) are better expressed forging a more pronounced piece. Very well done .

    • Thanks. Your comments are much appreciated. It has taken me a while to realise this is a good way to work. I’m going out now on my bike with paints to do some more!

  2. Pingback: Biting the paper III | kestrelart

  3. interesting point. Never thought if it that way partly because as a rule i stay home and paint anyway. By chance, i did draw outside yesterday for the first time in almost forever. I got cold fingers very soon…
    Lovely finished piece 🙂

  4. Hi,very good comment and example. I am often surprised that on going back to a painting after a few days a few small touches can really improve it.
    Love your painting especially the waterfall.

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