We all love Italy, don't we. I returned to a cool and very damp England on Saturday having spent two hot weeks enjoying so much of what Piedmont has to offer. I managed to get about 25 paintings and a small chunk of the sketchbook filled during the two week visit, not sure what the family thought but they seemed to like me gone for hours at a time. One of the main challenges for me was creating the feeling of heat in the paintings. The first few looked more like Scotland, with my mind still thinking cooler British hues and soft tones. Once I'd warmed up, higher contrast, reds and ochres came to play and all was well. Another challenge was keeping the painting wet, as even in the shade it was over 30˚C, but luckily no wind, which really dries off the paint. I painted at all times of the day including the stark light of 11am - 4pm but preferring the golden hour where the light creates that magic we all know so well.
After a few attempts at getting accepted into open exhibitions, with a 30/70 success rate, I decided to avoid the expense and disappointment, and not bother with them. I broke that self-created rule earlier this year by entering and having accepted a painting into the RI annual exhibition. This meant a lot to me, as it's not an easy task, and I was even more pleased when it sold. A few weeks later, buoyed by my modest success, I entered and had two more paintings accepted for final judging in the prestigious Sunday Times Watercolour Competition, but with less success, rejected at the crucial stage. I'd have thought one of the two would have got through, I thought they were pretty good paintings, but on getting the elbow email immediately posted on Twitter a photo of the larger piece asking for offers, not for a moment believing anyone would want it. Four offers. Not quite another work on a wall at the Mall Galleries but a pretty good silver lining. The lesson here, if there is one, might be to paint because you want to, and paint for yourself, because someone, somewhere out there will like what you do.
After seeing a series of excellent small sketches, drawn from the window of a moving car by David Parfitt RI, I was inspired to create my own version from a train. It's not an easy process, but both exciting and refreshing as you have no time to dwell, just get down the essence. Try it.
From the 17-23 May I was lucky enough to be attending Artfinder’s residency in Saint Nicolas du Pélem, France. Generous Artfinder customer, Patrick, opened the doors to his beautiful country house so that artists could unwind, make new friends and create some art.
Accompanied by Artfinder’s Kate and Poppy, coming from Russia, Germany, France, UK, Poland and USA, artists Monica Green, Daria Galinski, Jane Kell, Heather Hunt, Gordon Hunt, Nancy Marisa Arlt, Juliette Belmonte and Joanna Sokolowska and I spent the time creating plein air paintings, portraits, sketches, etchings on wood and preliminary work for mixed media pieces.
The residency was a fantastic get-away and was filled with laughter, late-night chats about creative techniques and inspiration, walks around the beautiful gardens and, of course, plenty of wine and cheese. It went by all too quickly.
Another Saturday, another painting workshop, this hosted by Paul Banning. We concentrated on composition, an area of weakness for me, and something I wanted to improve. Paul took the group through some important decision making culminating in a well-composed painting. I was pleased with the result, and managed to sell it, covering the cost of the workshop. Nice.
Workshop and learning junkie that I am, yesterday saw me bothering the back room at the Mall Galleries for a class hosted by the talented Ian Sidaway. His work is graphically excellent, with a natural ability for composition and the patience for planning and bold, fresh execution to the work. Focussing on trees, the magic combination of a relaxed and productive day produced many enthusiastic images, test daubs, and completed paintings. Ian like many of the other painters who hold workshops, put the group at ease and gave everyone invaluable tips on how to improve specific problems. Thank you RI and Ian.
If you'd like to attend one of these workshops, consider becoming a friend of the RI. Only £30 a year and gives you invitations to PVs, discounted workshops and advice from RI members.
I was contacted a couple of weeks ago by someone who'd already bought a painting from me, asking for a version of a piece I'd made a couple of years ago in response to the Somerset flooding. It depicted the village of Langport, its church prominent, across the flooded farmland. I decided to reduce the colour palette and concentrate on tone. The painting was, to me at least, a success and was sold, received and appreciated by the new owner, a resident of Langport. Making work with a poignant reference sometimes walks a fine line between beauty and ugliness, admiration and upset. I painted this and many other scenes of the flooding with a sincere sympathy for those affected, and as a modest record of the huge disruption it caused, but at the same time presenting the devastation as something, from my distant position, potentially beautiful.
All good things come to an end, and so it was with the 205th RI Painters in Watercolours exhibition at the Mall Galleries. It was an excellent exhibition, with a wide range of high quality work, including some impressively large pieces. There is a long journey from beginning as a watercolour artist to even modest success, but I've started and although the challenges are frequent and difficult, I approach them with a dog-like enthusiasm, but with better paint brush skills than an actual dog which has paws. Better still, I was pleased to have sold my painting to a collector and possible railway enthusiast, so thank you sir, whomever you are.
If you have a section of watercolour painting you consider too dark, one solution is to lift out some of the paint. This is not always possible with staining pigments, or if you have laid many washes. In the painting below of Langport during the flood of 2014, I had painted the mid ground too dark, the whole section was fragmented and the church sat awkwardly.
To modify this problem I wetted the area and tried to lift out the paint with kitchen paper, but without success. Remembering something I'd seen on YouTube I repeated the process using a piece of Magic Sponge bought online. The result homogenised the layer with a misty unity creating, what I think, is a reasonable painting.
Last Wednesday 5th April I enjoyed the company of a large crowd at the private view of the 205th RI Painters in Watercolours exhibition at the Mall Galleries. A few hours were spent talking with a number of RI members and assorted guests. The standard of work in the exhibition is high and well worth a look if you're bow to visit the gallery before the show ends 22nd April.
Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colours 205th Exhibition
Thursday 6 April – Saturday 22 April
Mall Galleries, The Mall, London, SW1
Henry Jones Artist
Working predominantly in watercolour and associated media, from life, and in my studio from sketches. This site displays a small selection of work, some is for sale, others already sold. If you'd like to enquire about a sale or commission, please contact me here for a quick reply.
Gallery 17, Beckenham
A small selection of my work can be seen at Gallery 17, Beckenham. As well as selling original art and prints, they offer a first class framing service.
A2 Gallery, Wells
If you're visiting Wells, couple of my paintings can be seen at the A2 Gallery. www.a2gallery.co.uk