This month I have finished teaching for a while to give me time to concentrate on my exhibition and residency at Uluru in September. I love the uninterrupted time in the studio. It enables me to work on larger paintings that take weeks like the one of Standley Chasm pictured on the left. This is painted with acrylics on canvas. I use semi transparent layers starting from light to dark in a similar manner to a watercolour. Painted from the background to foreground there are 15 layers of paint on some parts of this canvas.
I am a realist painter but I love using more abstract techniques like pouring, dribbling, spraying and splattering to create realist effects. This is a lot more risky than using direct brushwork as there is so much more that can go wrong. Students often ask me why I would use these effects when I could simply paint them with a brush. These freer techniques create a far more random effect than I could ever create with my brush. Look closely at nature and you will see that nature itself is made up of endlessly random and changing patterns like the textures of rocks or foam in seawater. The forces that create these textures and patterns themselves are constantly changing so bringing an element chaos to a painting gives it more life.
When I am painting from a photograph I always try to keep in mind that I am creating a work of art...I am not just reproducing the photograph. Using less direct brushwork helps me achieve this.
Step by Step painting using the Roland Roycraft Technique
One of the true masters of this technique is American watercolour artist Roland Roycraft. He creates amazing works through splattering, pouring and dribbling with watercolour. He uses very little direct brushwork preferring his artworks to be an "an act of God". The step by step artwork I have featured this month is inspired by some of his techniques from his book "Fill Your Watercolors with Light and Color".
Gradually I add more colours to the dark areas. If the painting dries too fast or you want something to mix a bit more on the paper just spray it with a fine mist of water as pictured on the left. So far I have splattered on some Turquoise, Cobalt Blue and Permanent Magenta. I never use any browns or earth colours. They are created when the paint mixes together on the paper.
When your satisfied with your dark areas allow the whole painting to dry thoroughly. Remember that your going to add a few more layers over this area by the time you finish so try and be aware of how these colours will end up looking like once you glaze over them. You need a good knowledge of glazing to be able to use this technique successfully.
Next I remove some of the masking fluid that was covering the mid tones and carefully rewet the whole work. Then I begin to splatter on more colours. I have used Cad Yellow, Cad Orange, Cad Red, Cobalt Blue, Cobalt Turquoise and Magenta for the left hand tree. As the paper dries I add more and more splatters of colour gradually building up the shape of the tree. The darks for the tree trunks are splattered in with one quick stroke using a mixture of Cobalt blue and Magenta.
You can see the progression from start to finish below. In the final frame the paper has totally dried and I have used some cardboard to block out the right hand tree. This allows me to splatter in some details in the left hand tree without adding any further colours to the right hand side.
I usually paint these pictures on the floor. To protect the floor I use a tarp.
It is far easier to use a half sheet or a full sheet of paper.
If you look closely at this photo you can see my source photograph on the left next to the painting. I use this a guide only as I am not aiming for a direct representation of the photo. I want to allow some spontaneous colour mixing in my painting.
Now I have removed all the masking fluid from the painting. Using a bristle brush and some clean water I gently scrub the edges of some of the masked areas so they do not leave such a hard edge.
Next I rewet the whole sheet of paper again with clean water being very careful not to disturb the colours I have already laid down. It helps if the initial layers have had a few days to "set" before this step.
I mix up some Ultramarine Blue with some water in a bowl and then pour this over my whole artwork. I then bend the paper in the middle slightly so that the blue wash concentrates at the top of the sky and the bottom of the water. I usually hold it until it dries as this stage can be tricky.
After the final wash is dry I remove the masking off the bridge and paint in the details. Check out Roland Roycrafts' website here.
I will teaching this technique along with painting on Yupo paper in my Push the Boundaries of Watercolour course at Arts on Burgundy on the 24th and 25th of July 2010. This is really fun workshop that will help you free up and splash on the paint. Click on the link below for further details.
I will also be running a workshop for Absolute Beginners at Arts on Burgundy on the 7th of August. This is is one day workshop that covers all the basic techniques necessary to get you started in this exciting medium.
For some more examples of my paintings done in this style check out my Watercolour Gallery section of the website. The paintings "Autumn Mists" and "Winter in Diamond Creek" are both full sheet paintings, painted in this style.
Have a great month. I am off to Lightning Ridge to do some painting and fossicking. In the mean time my works can be viewed or purchased from Dragonfly Gallery, Stonehouse Gallery and Gallery 104. The details are listed in the exhibition section of the website.
I hope you have enjoyed my blog. If you have please recommend this to others or subscribe to my free email newsletter to and I will email you the blog each month.