Tuesday, 10 November 2015

Time to Play 2 - Bog Cotton

Bog Cotton - watercolour & gouache
© Teresa Newham
If it were possible to be in love with a watercolour paper, I'd be smitten with Arches Aquarelle 640 gsm.  No stretching, no buckling - you just take it out of the drawer and get on with it.  Which is exactly what I did when I painted this picture, inspired by the landscape around what my friends on the Iveragh Peninsula in County Kerry refer to as the bog road.

the bog road
© Teresa Newham
We'd walked their dog there back in June; and although the day was overcast and the colours flattened, I knew straight away that the scenery had worked its magic on me and that I'd make a painting of it.  As often happens, I even had the title: Bog Cotton, the nickname for the white flowers growing profusely amidst the peat.

reference photos and sky washes
© Teresa Newham
When I played with the photo on the computer I was excited to find that all sorts of colours were lurking in there; blues, yellows, golds, browns and a whole host of greens.  The colours I chose for the painting were cobalt blue, raw sienna, burnt umber and terre vert.

laying the foundations
© Teresa Newham
As I laid down the initial washes I tried to use my atomiser to create some interesting effects, but it produced a disappointing spurt of water rather than the fine spray I was hoping for . . . I carried on without it, letting the colours speak for themselves. Gradually the landscape (and the way I felt about it) began to emerge.

the middle ground takes shape
© Teresa Newham
Exuberant use of a fan brush to depict the grasses in the foreground had me wiping spots of paint off the surrounding equipment,  reference material and a nearby radiator.  Oh, and my face. I'm still finding them in the studio now - but it produced the effect I wanted!

foreground grasses
© Teresa Newham
At this point you might have been forgiven for thinking that the painting was complete.  I was keen not to over-work it, but there was no getting away from it: call me old-fashioned if you like, but if a painting is called Bog Cotton, there needs to be at least some bog cotton in there . . .

er . . . something's missing, isn't it?
© Teresa Newham
I should have painted the flowers before the foreground - but it was too late for that.  So I laid paper over the parts of the painting where I didn't want flowers, and then I splattered.  I splattered with white watercolour.   I splattered with gouache. I splattered with a toothbrush.  I splattered with a paintbrush.  And I scratched, with a palette knife and then (more successfully) with the point of a compass.  And then I was happy.

the finished piece
© Teresa Newham

1 comment:

  1. A hauntingly beautiful picture. Perfectly captures the essence of that part of Ireland.