sparse painting

I stood on the sea wall and looked at the morning sky reflected across the mudflats.

Previously I had shaped in charcoal, drawing into this with gouache.  Then the whites had been achieved by correcting though liberal application of opaque paint.

This time I set out to paint this same composition in watercolour, using just the white of the paper to reflect light through the paint. The sky, initially white, seemed blotched with faint greys and yellows.  The mud flats, at first pale monochrome, were cut by channels into billows shaped by glazes of ultramarine and raw sienna.  The painting seemed too white, like snow, and lacked texture.  The deeper tones then were applied through neutrals that could resolve into greens and pinks.  Now the drawing was overdone and too dark.   White was restored and granular texture gained by a blade scraping away the pigments.

I made several experiments before this piece.