This is "Foothill Cottage" -- an early painting of mine that was inspired by the art of John Blockley. Behind the house is Mt. Gabriel in Schull, West Cork. One of the most important elements of this painting involved retaining the light -- especially the white of the house while also allowing the colors on the house to suggest its age. It's so easy to overpaint or to make a painting too busy. Both were tough to avoid in this painting.. The land and stones have an underlay of pink, except where I wanted only white to show through. The underlay is very, very light but it gave the light stones texture and blended the entire area.
I've learned the hard way that it's wise to go light first and add color as you go along. I had difficulty teaching myself this patience. But, it makes a huge difference. You'll see that in the doorway there is the hint of a person. What I love about paintings like this is that they're lyrical -- lending themselves to stories. One of my friends asked, "What's in the shed?" She already had a sense of who lived in the house and of their lifestyle, even who that person is in the doorway (if that is a person), but allowed her imagination to step beyond what is seen in the painting.
There was a fair amount of sponge work in this painting. That's how the look of color almost dripping from the roof is accomplished. Also, you'll notice that the rocks and land vary in texture as well as depth. They were created by layering and leaving several areas with only one layer so the white of the paper is visible through the color.
The contrast of the dark ivory to the left and right accentuate the white of the house. That is carried through in the rocks as well and also in the deep color of the crooked windows. As much as there appears to be many colors in this painting, it is almost simple palette meaning that the colors are limited and created by blending a few so that they compliment each other and create a sense of coherence. Hope you like it!
The second painting at the top of this site is "Colla," It was also painted early. It is a simple palette painting relying mostly on ultramarine blue, alizarin crimson and Naples yellow.. The key here, again, was keeping the light on the sea and in the sky. Layering was used so that contrast between dark and light would have more impact. Also, some areas allow the white of the paper to peek through the color. The painting was guided by Winston art series. It looks much like Colla Pier in Schull, West Cork Ireland. Though here there is only one house rather than several -- the focal point of the painting. It's a lyrical painting as is "Foothill Cottage" inviting a story left up to the imagination.
The house had to be kept very white, so this time I used masking liquid to protect it while painting the rest. The masking peels off when you're ready and everything underneath it is white. Whenever you want to be sure to keep an area white, it's better not to trust yourself, especially given the motor challenges of Parkinson's and diseases like it. I learned the hard way on that a few times. No amount of erasing gets that pure white back again once the brush has tainted it. So, better safe that sorry!
The third painting (far right on site welcome page) is "Rolling Sea." It's more recent than the other two. I've almost always lived near or on a coastline, whether in Connecticut, California, and Rhode Island in the U.S. or in West Cork, Ireland. The sea is a never-ending source of inspiration -- no less so for many artists. This painting captures the wild feeling of the beach as a storm approaches. The variety of blues contrasted with sienna, burnt sienna and hints of white and yellow were in my mind before they were on paper. Notice again how much white there is in this painting. It contrasts and enhances the movement of the water and sand. This is a painting of feeling rather than an effort to capture reality.
I remember early on being told by an established artist that watercolor painting is not about capturing what it real. It's about impression, emotion and the coming together of water, color and light. It's not about getting something right, but more about expression and feeling. It's about compliment and contrast and, in this case, motion. There are always better paintings, but that doesn't matter because each one stretches the burgeoning artist a bit further -teaching something more.