Back to Basics

It’s been a funny few weeks. It’s been difficult to settle at anything, and I haven’t been making pictures which I feel have much value. This all came to a head after a disappointing outdoor painting session in Lavenham, and after that I decided I should go back to basics with watercolour.

I reviewed the early Stan Miller videos, which I’ve previously found to be quite inspiring. I first tried the portrait of the old man:

Stan miller man watercolour

…then tried the same monochrome technique for a picture of a young woman:

Blue thumbnail portrait

Taking the exercise further, I tried a tiny three-colour imaginary face (French Ultramarine, Alizarin Crimson and Aurora Yellow). It was going to be a woman, but it appears to have come out rather masculine.

Colourful face watercolour

The last step was to go for it, repainting the woman in colour, still adhering to the 3-colour principle. This was fun.

In retrospect I think I should have left more white space, but this was just a little practice, so I’m not going to over-analyse.  I did the best I could with lifting out instead, where I wanted a little more light – on the hair, the jawbone, the nose and lips. I love the anarchy of painting in just three colours, and not worrying about ‘realism.’ Strangely enough, this really doesn’t seem to matter when the picture is done, in fact the crazy riot of colour adds something to the painting for me.

Colourful woman watercolour

The main thing was that after this session I felt so much more positive about watercolour than I had the previous day. Thank goodness, mission accomplished!

(Oops, just remembered, I should champion the wonderful #WorldWatercolourMonth here!)


30 thoughts on “Back to Basics

  1. Niiiice! I like all of these, but that first one is probably my favourite. I’ve always loved works in monochrome, but have never been able to really do it myself. Always envious of people who can bring depth to their work with only a limited palette .

    The one where you’d intented it to be a woman but which you say “came out rather masculine” is really lovely- i hope you don’t mind me saying, but the face reminds me a little of 70’s David Gilmour! (This is a good thing, btw- he was gorgeous back then!) I’m calling it “Gilmour’s sister” in my head.

    Loving the bits of blue in the last one. Colour behaves in surprising ways. Makes me want to experiment a bit with just 2 or 3 colours meself.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks very much Siddie! You are spot on; ‘Gilmour’s sister’ it will be from now on. I had tremendous fun doing these, and I’d say just go for it. I’d love to see what you come up with. I’m still dreaming about your strawberry… 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • 😀
        I’ll def give it a go; cheers for the inspiration!
        Aww, shucks! I probably wouldn’t have done that if i hadn’t been inspired by seeing all your watercoloury worx!


  2. These are all fabulous! And with a lovely, natural progression. I think my favourites are each end of the spectrum; similarly vivid mood, captured in different ways. The saturated blues in the final, particularly around the eyes, really pull you into those shadows – mystique!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Jacob, I’m glad you like them – I had a really good time painting these, very freeing in contrast to the unfortunately sad, chocolate-box painting I’d done the day before. The vibrant colours did my soul good! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. It is interesting that you would mention Stan Miller. I studied watercolors with him for 3 years by taking classes. He is a very talented artist. The first year we weren’t allowed to use color in our paintings. I really learned to see values. I think this is what I like about your paintings here. Your portrait of the old man is most excellent! I like all of your paintings here, Rebecca. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s so interesting to hear, Jill! I really like the way he paints, and would love to be able to bring some of that into my own pictures. I’m very glad you enjoyed seeing these. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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