“Hiatus” – painting in watercolour by Nancy Farmer
A painting I finished last week, but started… quite a long time ago, back in February, when the world was different…
/hʌɪˈeɪtəs/ noun: hiatus; plural noun: hiatuses A pause or break in continuity in a sequence or activity.
The title occurred to me when someone said that a then unfinished painting had a story and I should leave it as it was. It had a story because 15 minutes after putting down my paintbrush, I was walking back along a slippery muddy path, holding my very obviously broken wrist with the other hand.
That was not a nice reason to finish work on a painting. It waited, patiently, with its face to the wall while I determinedly didn’t look at it for nearly six months. This week I finished it and here it is.
The title fits perfectly with a swimmer pausing to let the world go past, but the painting also encapsulates a pause in my artistic life. Between the start and finish of this painting was a time I’d not like to repeat, but it is still a time in which I learnt things that I won’t forget, not least the importance of knowing a very good physiotherapist. (Thank you Ivor Field!)
‘Floating’ – painting in watercolour with gold leaf detail
I managed to finish an actual bigish painting (20.5 x 14.5 inches), which is a rarity at the moment. This is ‘Floating’ in watercolour with touches of gold leaf. Currently unsold and prints available in my Etsy Shop.
I thought you might like to see some step-by-step photos, so I’ve posted some below…
But first, some close-up details of the painting:
Floating – close-up
detail of feet
Floating – detail
And the step-by-step photos – the colours aren’t consistent (notice the changes in colour of the brown tape around the edge… which did not in fact change colour…), unfortunately my camera tries to correct the colour depending on what it sees, and there’s also different colour light depending on the time of day, but I hope it will give you a bit of an idea of the processes that went into creating this painting.
source photo – one I took myself – this is Jackie, in Vobster Quay.
the original drawing.
more Prussian Blue
more Prussian Blue
and still Prussian Blue
washes of Indian Yellow
more washes, some magenta, and a slightly different yellow on the swimming costume
lifting paint (with the tiny ‘scrubbing brushes’)to make highlights
adding colour in very thin washes
brushes (and a propelling pencil), in order of appearance…
‘Floating’ – painting in watercolour with gold leaf detail
Thought you might like to see a painting I finished before Christmas. Last year, Helen Betley swam the length of Windermere… butterfly! Her husband asked if I could paint a painting of the swim. I don’t generally do landscape paintings, (as actual paintings, rather than digital drawings) but I do do a lot of figure drawings, and gold leaf, so I suggested this combination as a bold composition, rather than a straight painting of someone swimming. All the leaf is gold, the different colours are different alloys of gold, and it’s all applied piece by piece, with a paintbrush as it’s too delicate to pick up. The rest is pencil and a watercolour wash, and the little folly is really there on the shore of Windermere, but I added the inscription in my drawing, as a detail to commemorate the swim.
All the photographs are of the same painting – the gold leaf changes so much with different light you may think there is more than one version.
As the lake temperature plummets, it seems appropriate that I am adding this painting to the blog. This is one I finished a couple of months ago, back when a brisk swim in 3 degrees was a distant thing, but this is Row Clarke getting out of Clevedon Marine Lake last January, and it was indeed that cold, but gloriously sunny.
Everything that is not water is painted in watercolour (ironically) in a mix of pigments that looks like black but in fact is a transparent magenta, yellow and blue, which is more interesting for being not quite black and having subtle shades in it, and nicer to paint with. And all the water is done in a mix of aluminium, gold and palladium leaf. The first photo is taken with very flat lighting that shows the painting at its best overall, but a couple of images below this are snaps I took in different lighting, which show the effect of the metal leaf and the way the picture changes when half of it is metallic and half not.
Winter Sun – Row emerging from Clevedon Marine Lake – watercolour and metal leaf by Nancy Farmer
This is Sally, Wendy and Cecily (left to right), who often swim on a Wednesday morning at Vobster. I particularly like swimming with them when I get a chance: there is much mucking about, diving, somersaulting, comedy renditions of synchro swimming. Occasionally there is swimming too. It’s all very good material for art: Sally takes fabulous photos, I take snaps by the simple method of pointing the camera in the general direction of the subject while repeatedly pressing the shutter for as long as I can hold my breath, but they are exactly what I need for paintings afterwards.
This is watercolour with gold and palladium leaf, quite big: about 19 x 22 inches. I took photos of the work in progress and posted them as I did each stage on my facebook profile, a slightly unnerving experience as at the start I had a large number of comments that said ‘leave it as it is’ …no pressure not to mess it up then! Here is the full sequence.
I have prints of this painting in my Etsy shop: www.waterdrawnart.etsy.com, and at time of writing this painting is also for sale, though I’ve also earmarked it for an exhibition in Clevedon in October (more on that later…).
Pencil outlines and underpainting in Prussian blue
…more Prussian Blue…
…you know what colour this is by now!
Lots of thin layers of very translucent yellow with a hint of red/magenta
A little more colour, and the highlights put back in by lifting off a little of the colour wash where light catches the skin and for the sunbeams through the water.
The finished painting. This is a scan and a more faithful representation of the colours than the previous photos.
This painting was from a photo I took of my friend Jackie in Grasmere in Cumbria, late last summer. Unlike the blue water of Vobster, where I’ve taken many many underwater photos, Grasmere has peaty brown-coloured water, but it was still quite clear, so that the sunlight that filtered through was golden, and the reflection of Jackie’s arms on the underside of the water spread out like two huge wings.
The painting is in watercolour on paper, with a lot of gold leaf on the ‘wings’. It’s about 29 x 12 inches and at the time of writing this it’s currently still available for sale.
I also have prints in my Etsy shop: http://www.waterdrawnart.etsy.com
Nearly packed and ready to take everything over to Bath Art Fair this weekend… it just remains for me to stuff everything into the car and make a poster that says ‘Yes! I do commissions, I can paint you!’ … or some such.
Bath Art Fair is NOT in Bath, it’s between Bath and Frome, so you don’t have to battle into town and struggle to find parking. It’s near Farleigh Farm Shop, Norton St Philip, BA2 7NG – there will be a large marquee in a field. There will also be a lot of other artists’ work, a pop-up cafe and a free children’s quiz… and I will have new swimmer paintings which you haven’t seen because I have been hoarding them over the last few months.
The fair is open from 10am – 6pm Saturday, 10am – 5pm Sunday. £5 entry on the door but look out for two-for-one fliers which will be at the farm shop nearby and have been distributed here and there locally.
Apologies for the lack of swimming scribbles, I have been devoting time to some swimming paintings instead. Some of these I am hoarding for Bath Art Fair (12th & 13th May, more on that later), a some have been commissions (I know, other people are waiting, for paintings or drawings… I am getting there…).
So, here is one finished commission, this is Ghislaine, in watercolour, with platinum bubbles…
At the bottom you can see the photo I worked from, Ghislaine asked me for more bubbles and sparkly light.
‘Ghislaine’ painting in watercolour with palladium leaf
New painting – 9 x 13 inches, in gouache / watercolour and gold leaf.
I’ve been largely avoiding the issue of reflections on the underside of the water surface for long enough, because they are so complex. This is the first of several where I’ve actually tackled them properly. I’m not trying to get a photographic likeness but aiming for something between that and just a few suggestive splodges of colour.
Reflections I in watercolour, gouache & gold leaf
Close-up by camera (not scanner). The scanner shows up the detail of the paint very well, but not the gold leaf