In 2009 we went to visit Nona at the Italian Club in Cape Town. Ethan was very focussed on perfecting his Ollie at the time. I could hear him clattering outside the studio often. Sinead took a brilliant photo of Ethan and his shadow, from which I painted this quick sketch:
Light is Sweet
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At the time I was working hard to implement the approach taught by Charles Reid. Here is what I wrote about my approach: I am so keen to develop a looser approach to watercolours. Here is a picture of my son Ethan. I started with a contour drawing and then began with the darks. I also tried to go out of the body as soon as possible to the dark tree in the background. I did the road and the green grass last, after the shadow, which was a problem perhaps – but it feels great to just do it with out trying to be perfect – mmm very good.
Then I did a more careful painting of the same scene : Here is a picture, below, I did of Ethan doing an Ollie on his skateboard:
I liked the dark background as it gave definition to his upper body and arms, which were light. But I found the tree trunk off-putting.
Notes from 2009: I am pleased with the shadow which has more life, and I like the way the shadow and the tree shadow repeat the motion of the arms. The tree is overworked though – this is a lot of dark and I want to learn how to apply this amount of colour with sparkle. This will be my bed-time reading. Oh yes – Ethan tells me that the move is called an ‘Ollie’ but as his brother Calvin explained, “We are South African – therefore Arlie” (I am not sure I understood but anyway).
Here are the stages in the development of the first picture:
At the time I wanted to do the painting without the tree in the background. I had a feeling the painting went downhill from the first one and wanted to preserve some of the freshness.
So I did the picture again:
With the lighter background I thought the figure was more prominnent. However with the benefit of all of these years of other work I prefer the second version. I have an idea of how I would do it today but that can be for another posting.