Friday, 23 November 2018

Autumn Squashes and Pumpkins from Helen's Bay Organic, lovely water colour paintings

Anyone who knows me, knows that I love pumpkins and gourds. Striped, distorted, gnarled or twisted and plenty of warts! This year I had a tip-off from my student Jim, who said 'I've found somewhere you'll LOVE'. He was so right - it's Helen's Bay Organic.

Hidden down a small lane, the muddy drive led on to a couple of small sheds stocked with brussel sprouts on the stem, kale, darkest purple cabbages and lots of varieties of pumpkin and squash - all neatly colour-coded and gasping to be painted. Behind the sheds was a series of polytunnels and long tables laid out with more vegetable, and over the hedge was a huddle of old tractors, quietly waiting for the day that I return to paint them! 

 My students LOVED this subject. After selecting and arranging one green, one orange and one striped squash, they took the challenge of drawing, then doing the background, then moving on to the squashes themselves. Some managed it in one session, and many opted to return for a second class to finish.

Ann, above, and David, below, managed a one-class painting by being bold and un-worried.
Sara - graphite and coloured pencil
Sara, above, managed her time well by choosing a small section within her arrangement to bring to finished colour, and did the remainder in tones of grey using graphite. Choosing a small area like this is a lovely way to entertain the viewer - it's a window into how the whole page might have looked, and it also draws you right in the that coloured section.


Liz, above, and Sandra, below, have spent a couple of sessions on their oil paintings so far, with a few more ahead in order to bring their work to a finish. It's a great sign when students are willing and happy to stick with the one subject over several sessions. Sometimes it is quicker to work slowly. 
 All the water colour paintings below were done over two two and a half hour sessions. This means the painting is fully dry before adding more layers, and students had time to play a little, without the pressure of trying to finish quickly.


The second visit allows the opportunity to enrich background washes, and to put in more details in all areas.  After the initial wash layers, it's important to regard the painting more like 'drawing' - use less water, a smaller brush, and be specific about what information you are applying. General first, specific and with intent after that.


Julie B. 
As you can see, the colours are lovely and rich, wit excellent tonal contrasts.

 Pat, below, used a lovely approach. Like Sara, she decided to isolate areas to bring to a higher finish, and opted for circles, which is surprising and adds an element of fun! It gives a key-hole feeling which invites you to really stare. She did the left circle during the first session, and the right circle in a second session.

Jackie (after 1 session)
The painting above and below are two stages of Jackie's painting. Above we see how she left the painting at the end of the first class - washes in the background and on most of the rest of the painting. Below, a second session sees the work completed to delicious dark and atmospheric depths. A really excellent work.

Jackie (after two sessions)

Adam, from Helen's Bay Organic
Thank you to Adam at Helen's Bay Organic for the wonderful vegetables!

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