I woke up this morning thinking about the figures I did on Sunday.  I realised that I had not applied any of the lessons I had read over and over in Charles Reid’s watercolour books.  He offers a set of steps for painting a face and a figure.  And in the rush of it all I forgot them all.  But that is the beauty of learning and time.  For now we get to have another go at it.  And we have the capacity to reflect on the last one.

And there is nothing like a good nights sleep for seeing the learnings.  Although I must say we have had our first rains and the Clicking Stream Frogs (Strongylopus Greyii) have gathered at our pool and are chorussing as I write.  They have such a sweet subdued clicking sound.  But last night there was a strident little fellow who kept intruding into my dreams.

But I digress…

Here is a painting I did of my daughter Sinead last year, while she was sitting doing her homework:





It is almost completely ‘alla prima’.  I was sitting across the table from her.  So how do I account for the difference between this and the pictures in my last post?  This is what I think:

  • I know her well and we were both relaxed about the ‘sitting’.  On Sunday I took my stuff out and started painting so felt about uncomfortable about what the sitters might think (for the first one anyway).
  • I had contracted with her to sit.  I felt relaxed about our agreement.
  • She had agreed to try to sit still.  My subjects on Sunday all moved around – a lot.  Which is OK.  I want to get better at contour drawing at speed and interpretting changed positions back to what I had drawn.  Claudia the artmodel tells a story about a woman who started drawing her on a train after a long day of modelling for artists.  She graciously held her pose up to the point where she jumped off the train at her station – an interesting vignette.  But most of us move around a lot – even when we try to sit still.
  • I had swotted up on the process I would use.  On Sunday I threw all of my learning out the window.  Well not all.  I tried to mix the colours on the page, following Charles Reid’s approach.  I remember my first ever teacher, Nicholas Galloway saying  “that isn’t how I taught you to do a wash…”  And maybe that is what Charles would have said about my first two faces.
  • I was OK with failure.  I was relaxed about what I would produce.  Well, on Sunday I was too.
  • I had a little more time.  Even for my last one on Sunday Neil leapt up towards the end because the sun had moved and he was getting frazzled.

I can’t wait to have another go at this.