Tag Archives: watercolour

Teeny Weeny Swimmers

I am painting teeny weeny swimmers!
These are more 4 inch square ‘Mini Swimmers’. The mini swimmers all started when Glastonbury Galleries put on an ‘Anonymous Art’ show two years ago, where they asked lots of artists to create 4 inch square artworks, and sold them all framed the same size and unsigned. I did paintings in watercolour and gold leaf. These ones are not the actual paintings I’m putting in this year’s exhibition, I’ve done something slightly different… though you will all probably guess which mine are in any case I expect.
These paintings will be for sale in the end, but there is a lot of work to do before they are finished…. I know you like a bit of work in progress.
Oh, and I even have a few paintings of chaps as well, but not many as the un-wetsuited ones I know mostly swim at Clevedon and that’s rubbish for underwater photography!

Reflections I in watercolour, gouache & gold leaf

Reflections I

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

Reflections I in watercolour, gouache & gold leaf

Close-up detail

Close-up detail

Close-up by camera (not scanner). The scanner shows up the detail of the paint very well, but not the gold leaf

Close-up by camera (not scanner). The scanner shows up the detail of the paint very well, but not the gold leaf

Gold leaf, fragment by fragment...

Tiny paintings and tinier gold flakes

Watercolour and gold leaf on paper

Watercolour and gold leaf on paper

Feeling that there were some interesting developments in the last lot, I am continuing with mini paintings of swimmers, mostly incorporating metal leaf (Gold / Palladium or Aluminium). Here’s a quick work in progress… first shred your gold leaf (I used a pointy steel tool to hold the gold leaf down with, and shredded it with the tip of a scalpel.). Next, apply, fragment by tiny fragment, to the painting. Fortunately I have the sort of patience for this kind of thing. This is not the normal way gilding is done… by trial and error I’ve found what works well is picking up a gold fragment on the tip of a damp paint, applying the tiniest dab of dilute Gum Arabic to the paper, and then laying the fragment on the paper and smoothing it down with the damp brush. I’ve also found the easiest way to do this is to work with a brush in each hand. This tends to minimise the number of times that I either loose track of where I have put the glue as I take my eyes off it, or pick up the gold leaf with the gluey brush, not the just damp one. It also speeds up the process quite a bit.

Gold leaf, fragment by fragment...

Gold leaf, fragment by fragment…

Shredded gold leaf!

Shredded gold leaf!

More mini paintings

More mini paintings

Mini Paintings

Finished pics to come soon…

I have been working on A LOT some small paintings at once – for me – considering I usually have only one painting at a time on the go. This is partly because I am painting small scale for a particular exhibition, and partly because I thought it would be an opportunity to experiment a bit more – swimmers in actual paint is a new thing for me, and the addition of metal leaf is something I have been trying to find a place for in my recent paintings as well, so it was a chance to try out several variations and see where it went without being too intimidated by a massive investment of time if I messed it all up.

The size is about 4 inches square. The media are gouache, watercolour, metal leaf in gold, palladium and aluminium, and occasionally attacking the paintwork with a scalpel, which is always fun.

So here are a few work-in-progress photos. Better photos of each painting (or at least the ones I like best) to come later. This is a size that I find slightly challenging but I’ve had so much fun with this lot I may do another few. Perhaps some above water. And I think I probably learned some stuff. So, with few explanations, sorry, here are the photos:

Two point five degrees

Two Point Five Degrees

Two point five degrees

Two point five degrees: gouache, watercolour, aluminium, gold and palladium leaf, mica powder

Not as flattering as my last paintings of swimmers, but I was trying to convey the feeling of the water, bright and icy. The photograph that I used for reference in this painting was taken on a day when the water was indeed 2.5°C. I’ve left the painting a little unfinished compared to what I would usually do – the patchiness of her pink skin, the remains of white paint around the edges that was actually a mask of white paint protecting the figure while I added the grey, all added to the feeling of rawness, so I left it like that.

The piece is particularly difficult to photograph: what shows up as dark grey on a scanner is actually aluminium leaf (and a few shreds of gold and palladium leaf), and it catches the light. The grey paint also has mica powder added to it which gives it a lustre. Photographed at an angle – below – you can see the shine off the aluminium. I’ve also inexpertly taken a film clip of the light catching it.

Having once been a goldsmith, I have to admit to a certain metals snobbery. Though aluminium was briefly – about the time of Napoleon – the latest big thing, it now seems something like sacrilege to use gold and aluminium leaf together. And it handles differently – it’s much thicker, so that you can actually pick it up with fingers, but it needs more stickiness to attach it to the paper. Gold sticks with the tiniest hint of stickiness, and brushes away where it’s not wanted. Aluminium tends to shred and pull off in pieces where it was supposed to be stuck. Which is how I came to be filling in the gaps with gold leaf, though I quite like this effect. But I could still get to like the aluminium leaf, it is very much shinier than palladium or white gold, and white gold would eventually tarnish, and it doesn’t cost a fortune to use this much.

Another close-up

Another close-up

photo taken at an angle to catch the light

photo taken at an angle to catch the light

Two point five degrees - close-up

Two point five degrees – close-up