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Painting Tips - Watercolour sketching
April 10, 2009

Watercolour sketching for reference

Drawing or painting a watercolour sketch is one of the most useful means of making successful records for reference later on when painting your picture of your holiday.

Many of the places you visit you will never visit again and watercolour sketching allows you to record tonal values and the local colour of the landscape. Don't be afraid of doing what may appear to be an unfinished work in the field as getting the most important details of the scene down for reference is very important; sketching with brush and colour allow this. You will often capture the essence of what you see which leaves important clues as to colour and atmosphere for when you get home and wish to work in your home studio where you will need all the information you can get as the scene is no longer fresh in you mind.

Photographs are invaluable but frequently they are snapped in a hurry and may be poorly composed and needing subject matter to be shifted around. Sketches enable you to review this aspect before you begin to paint your masterpiece. Constable was famous for his pastoral scenes, his method was to make hundreds of different sketches of the subject giving him intimate knowledge of the subject. Although this is not always possible on holiday, one or two sketches backed up by photographs prove invaluable when back home. Light changes rapidly when you paint outdoors and it is often necessary to complete work indoors which has been begun 'en- situ'.

Photography for painting is very different from taking happy snaps of a memorable holiday. Often painting photos contain little of the “happy holiday” feel. Now you have your pictures you can choose which elements you wish to include in your painting and those to be eliminated. The knowledge of what to leave out is almost as important as that of knowing what to include:

Be selective Come on a South African Painting Holiday and get your memories, sketches and some great tutoring all at the same time

Tips 2 Remember

  • When using your camera to compose a painting use the viewfinder as you would use a cardboard viewfinder: Not to record everything you see but to focus on the important detail

  • Be like David Hawson who said in A&I May 2008
    "Opening a sketchbook brings back the memories and evokes the place, atmosphere and whaevert else was happening, like the noise of kids playing on the beach. Photos might be more accurate but sketching conveys more about the feeling. Most of my work is landscape, so sketches are essential."

Warm Regards,
Your Holiday Director

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