What an interesting turn of events. Way back in October I recall saying that I was going to hibernate for the winter. Just chill and take things as they come. No plans for painting, or indeed anything else. It sort of worked…
…but over the past three weeks or so I’ve already painted more than I did through the whole of last year. I must have been thinking about it on some level, but it didn’t seem to be a properly conscious decision.
I think it started when I watched Tiffanie Mang on Instagram making tiny study pieces in gouache, about 2.5” square if I remember right. And they were gorgeous, like little jewels.
Small, but perfectly formed
I paint small when I’m sketching outside, but other than that I’ve never set out with the intention of making series of pure practice pieces. Sure, I’ll knock out quick pencil thumbnail sketches when I’m planning a painting, but nothing beyond that.
So, I rummaged through my stock and fished out a big sheet of 250lb Bockingford NOT watercolour paper. I divided it into eight equal format rectangles each 14cm wide by 9cm high using masking tape.
My ground rules
I wanted to take this opportunity to practice painting fast and, hopefully, pretty loose. I want to make more use of gouache when I paint outdoors. So, I set myself these ground rules:
- Timing: each painting session to take no longer than 1 hour (later revised down to 40mins). At the end of which time, brushes down whatever the state of the painting.
- Gouache: I specifically wanted to concentrate on this water-based medium.
- Big brushes: to force me to paint loose I would use only half inch flats: straight, angled and ‘vegetation’ (that’s a ragged brush, ideal for quickly generating the impression of grass and stems).
- My usual gouache palette – Cadmium Red Pale, Alizarin Crimson, Ultramarine Blue, Indigo Blue, Cobalt Blue, Lemon Yellow and Cadmium Yellow Pale, Permanent White, Ivory Black, Yellow Ochre, and Burnt Umber.
- From photos: these were never going to be ‘plein air’ sketches. The photos were chosen ‘at a glance’ they had to appeal to me within a couple of seconds.
- Absolutely no tatting! OK, so I broke this a few times…
And here are the results. I’ve completed two sets and am about to start a third.
I have to say, the whole exercise has been a bit of a boost. And, the icing on the cake is that they have proved popular, with all but 2 of the first series being snapped up in a couple of days.
Here are my personal favourites so far:
Its already shaping up to be an interesting year.