Rob Adams a Painter's Blog painter's progress

July 17, 2011

Some more of France and back to my old haunts.

Filed under: Drawing,France,Life Drawing,London,Painting,Watercolour — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , — Rob Adams @ 7:25 pm

I made an especial effort to do sketches in a proper sketch book on my recent visit to France. I wasn’t going to post them here but once scanned I changed my mind. There is something very immediate about a quick sketch. Also as you aren’t trying to make anything that you intend to show others the pressure is off! Rather annoyingly the sketches have a way of looking better than the laboured over plein air watercolour. I am also finishing off things that got started and then abandoned. Sometimes when you look at something you stopped and gave up on as a bad job you see something in the unfinished effort that charms, there is of course the saying that no painting was ever ruined by stopping early. It is an odd change that has come over me with age and experience, I used to frequently ruin perfectly good paintings by over working, but now I am old and lazy I am only too keen to stop at the first sign of finishedness! I don’t miss that dreadful sinking feeling of realising that what was a few minutes ago was looking good has been destroyed by too much messing.

Drawing is sometimes considered as only a first stage towards painting, or whatever the medium the finished article is to be. Increasingly now I find that I would put painting as a sub set of drawing. The upshot of this is that I try to do my drawings as if they are paintings and when painting try and make sure that every painted stroke advances the drawing somewhat. Obvious really, I don’t know how I missed it for so many years.



France, drawing, Honfleur, church

This is the striking bell tower in Honfleur, I didn’t think the light was good enough to paint, it being the middle of the day so I just did a sketch. I tend to use pastel pencils because I can get that little bit more information down than a pencil on white paper.


Saumur, Mercedes, drawing, France, art

A very quick sketch in Saumur, might make a painting, I liked the parked silver Mercedes for some reason, though they are not usually considered picturesque.


Saumur, drawing, Loire, France, art

This was a very grand Villa facing the Loire, I was on my way to paint the church so couldn’t linger.


Saumur, Ardilliers, Loire, France, drawing, pastel

This is the church I was off to paint but drawn on another day. I did this because I though the light was better than in the earlier watercolour so I might do an oil from this and some photos. When using the photos I will probably adjust them to match the drawing, just as a starting point. One of the main difficulties of painting from photo reference is to get the balance of shadow to lit. Your eyes see far further into the shadows than cameras do. On the other side of the coin photographs often point out how areas can be simplified by throwing areas into undefined shadow.


France, Saumur

Here is a scene I passed by on a long walk by the Loire. I thought it had possibilities, no position to paint from as I am looking over someones garden wall! But on passing back the other way I did the sketch below.


Saumur, house, loire, france, drawing

It was very awkward standing on a rock peering over the wall, and the owners appeared so I had to sneak off without getting another photo. I sat down to finish off a short way off and note the main colours and finished bits off. I added the gate in the wall as I felt it needed a way through compositionally. Once home with this information I tried to make a painting.


Loire, France, Saumur, Watercolour, painting. art

Here is the result, so you can see what liberties I have taken to make the picture. This certainly is not the painting you would have done on the spot, or from just the photo. There is a lot of imagination in deciding the colours and tone balance, though the lighting is roughly as per the drawing.


Loire, France Saumur, bridge, river, watercolour, painting

This one was done entirely from photo ref. It is the sort of watercolour that if your first underlying wash goes astray then there is nothing for it but to start again. Oils are so much more forgiving. This one only got done to use up the paint from a more complex painting, but was great fun to do.


Exchange, London, watercolour, painting, art

This one I drew out standing on the bridge over the Loire, but it was soon plain that 35C in the shade and me in the direct sun was going to be too much so I chickened out and went and painted another scene from a more shaded spot. Painting it once home brought it all flooding back though. Quite tricky to decide on the weight of the left hand buildings, I had intended to go darker as the camera saw it but as I worked i felt this was a better balance.


London, City, exchange, watercolour, painting, art

Back to my old haunts. I have been travelling most days through the City of London in the morning and some times the light has been lovely. This is composed from 3 or four photos taken on different days. The view is up Cornhill, the statue is of the engineer James Greathead who devised a cylindrical shield for tunnelling the underground.

A few life drawings to finish off…

Life drawing, Drawing, watercolour


Life drawing, watercolour, painting, nude


Life drawing, draw, nude

Life drawing, draw, nude

Life drawing, nude

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