Last month I was contacted by a French based gallery asking me to preset a few paintings for their monthly selection committee, with a view to producing some work for sale in their brick & mortar outlets around the world. The set up is a something of a production line, creating a number of works at a fixed size for a fixed price, but might bring in a bit to line the HJ coffers, and with little to loose and something to gain ... why not? These are three of the paintings I sent, there''s one more of Trafalgar Square, 13cm, 18cm and 21cm sq. I enjoyed working in the square format, and shall be doing some more.
This morning I spent an enjoyable couple of hours with a group of fellow artists who sell work on Artfinder, along with the team behind this successful enterprise. Created in 2012 by Jonas Almgren, soft-spoken, engaging and enviably good at business, Arfinder has succeeded where other have failed, most notably as a conduit able to sell my work on a regular basis. No mean feat. Artists are often seen as self-absorbed and elitist, and I'm sure some are, but my experience with most is of a self-affacing and gregarious individual, contented in their own creative challenges. Artists and those in creative enterprises are, on the whole, a friendly lot.
On Tuesday last week I received confirmation that one of my paintings had been accepted for inclusion in the 205th Royal Institute of Painters in Watercolour annual exhibition at the Mall Galleries. With my return to painting in 2013 after a gap of nearly 20 years, this is a pleasing achievement. In three and a bit years of painting watercolour I've learned from a number of workshops and demonstrations hosted by artists I admire, useful new techniques and efficient use of the my modest skill. Of the many open exhibitions entered, most without success, the few which have chosen my work for show have made the process worthwhile. There is a long way to go from the initial inspiration seeing a small watercolour in the window of a gallery in Wells where I thought "I want to do that, to create that other world in paint, in that most unforgiving medium: watercolour." It now presents my most satisfying challenges with the occasional prize result.
MAJOR NATIONAL ART EXHIBITION
The painting was selected from a record number of entries to appear alongside paintings by some of Britain’s leading watercolour painters. This year 1,000 works were submitted to the exhibition. The Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colours exhibition will be on display at Mall Galleries between 6 and 22 April 2017.
The Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colours (RI) hold an open submission exhibition in central London each year. Founded in 1831, the RI was established to exhibit the best of progressive watercolours, showing a diversity of styles and techniques, from traditional uses of the medium to the more experimental and innovative paintings.
Last week I attended my second painting workshop with Chris Forsey RI. The first one was watercolour and the most recent, attempting the subject of dramatic coastlines in acrylic and mixed media. This is unknown territory for me, having done little work with acrylic, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Chris, like the other professional RI painters I've met at workshops, is an excellent tutor, instilling energy and confidence in all the attendees. Looking forward to more.
This morning I recieved a parcel containing a selection of Stillman and Birn sketchbooks, samples to try sent by a generous individual. These sketchbooks are top quality, and my experience with then has been excellent. Strong, resiliant paper (check the specs here) which gives confidence to tha artist when using washes, inks, pens and anything else you might want to apply to it. I like these books very much, and the new soft cover makes a perfect lighter weight travel companion (travel being whenever I leave the house). I'll be posting images of my progress through these books, both here and on my Twitter and Instagram accounts, so keep watching.
After a busy but relaxing and enjoyable Christmas holiday, I'm back in the studio. My plan is to develop a certain atmosphere in the paintings, something which appeared by accident in a couple I painted last year; the effect which occurs when a hard light shines through mist or cloud, it's getting there but still requires work, and more painting ... and even more painting. Here are a couple of examples, based on the Calais Tracks series I painted last year. I employ a hard top light - an unapolegetic cinematic favourite used bt Ken Adam to create a sense of vast size - and high contrast. The subject matter is also changing to something a little less bucolic. I shan't overthink this, better to just get stuck into the painting.
Clapham Tracks v3. 22"x15"
Clapham Tracks v4
Note use of asking fluid to define tracks and signal lamps.
London Tracks. Same technique as above.
Following on from my Calais Tracks painting, I decided to have a go at something more complex. The scene I chose is very busy but offered scope for some strong graphic elements. The source inspiration was a few pics of mine and one I found online, all with dull daylight skies. From the start I had an image of a dramatic sky and kept this throughout the process.
Stage one was to draw the skeleton, then add the tracks with masking fluid. These were put down in single confident strokes to give a flow to the line.
The next stage involved a thin grey underpainting of abstract cloud. Over this (once dry) came several washes with a bias towards a warm red. Whilst still wet, I lifted a few rays, but not so many as to make it cartoonish. Happy with the sky, I laid down the thin graphic lines of steelwork and cabling, using the reference images as pointers but making up most of it. A railway engineer wouldn't recognise any specific part but it sort of works. Lots of dry brush for this and the track area below. Then came the thicker, wetter paint for the dark areas. This is where I bacame aware that I was painting on the back of another painting, and the paper even dry, wouldn't become flat. Anyhow, cheapskate or not, I was really enjoying this piece and getting quite excited with the verticals and horizontals. As always, I used a pointy synthetic brush, never smaller than a 12.
When this lot dried, I removed the masking fluid and softened some edges. This compostition, unlike the Calais tracks, has a number of red lights, and fewer figures. The effect is quite dramatic. I also added some shadows to the tracks and the posts.
The finished item presents a striking scene and enough unsaid for the viewer to make up their own story.
Earlier this week I was commissioned to paint a large (30"x22") version of my Calais Tracks piece. It is a subject which I knew would successfully scale up from the original 15"x11". The paper is Saunders Waterford 200lb rough, my current favourite and easily up to the task of a full-sheet work. I didn't take enough photos for a full sequential process but hopefully these few might explain my approach.
I taped the paper to the board and using a 0.5 HB propelling pencil drew the skeleton of horizontals and verticals. Then the tracks and a number of lights were then drawn in single flowing moves with masking fluid and a mapping pen. I experimented with and without masking fluid in other versions, and decided that in this situation, it's essential. Once dry, the first wash was laid, a dark, red blue mix with a few dabs of a blue/umber mix added at random.
Subsequent washes of a less saturated mix using blue/umber, were laid, each time leaving the light in the middle, feathering the edge with clean water.
In the next image, you can see that I have leapt ahead withthe darks and graphical elements. The finer lines were paintied with a pointy Jackson's Perla brush, nothing smaller than a 12. Both wet and dry brush employed. The dark is a magic mixture (thanks to Deb Walker RI for this tip) of Winsor blue and umber laid on with my 14yo 2" Da Vinci flat brush. Once I was happy with the general arrangement, I removed the masking fluid and softened some of the edges prior to adding red or yellow for the lights.
You can see in the image above that the figures are simple blobs applied quickly. I tried to capture furtive movement and study sketches of people in the wild really helps here. My goal is to use as few marks, as little information as is possible to convey the figure.
In this final image there are several small tweeks evident. The foreground track highlights were painted over to offer a plainer lead-in. The red light to the right was knocked back to leave only one key red. I softened the join between figures and horizon. Plenty to improve but getting there.
I hope the painting's new owner likes it.
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