Saturday, 7 October 2017

Joe Francis Dowden - Amazing Watercolour

We were faced with an array of Joe’s brilliant images even before he started his demonstration. This was certainly something many of us had been looking forward to and we were not disappointed.

A good source of information about Joe Dowden’s work is his website where you’ll also find details of his books and DVDs.

Joe certainly doesn’t believe in limiting the range of pigments available to him and he was quite enthusiastic about some of the pigments that have become available in recent times, mainly thanks to the motor industry. Despite the big range of tubes he had brought he did limit the number he used in his demonstration painting.

His brushes were mainly sable but definitely not when applying masking fluid. That’s the time for the very cheap brushes. He does use a lot of masking fluid to save whites, some is painted on, some spattered. The contrast between the white of the paper and the darks created by painting create the illusion of light.

His support was 300gsm Arches rough watercolour paper which had been stretched by soaking it thoroughly, laying it on a board for a few minutes to expand and then stapled along the edges. You can see from the accompanying photo how close together the staples are. When a painting is finished he cuts it off the board. It must take a while to remove all the staples even using a tack-lifter and pliers.

Drawing was fairly minimal. He simply established the horizon and mapped in a few of the main features. Only when the drawing was done did he add masking tape to establish the limits of his painting. Then the fun began with masking fluid painted and spattered on where he wanted to save the whites.

Much of the paint that went into his picture was also applied by spattering, colour being built up layer by layer working from pale tones until towards the end much darker colours could be added.

Backgrounds need to be lighter than foregrounds yet still create a sense of the three-dimensional by the use of stronger layers over fainter. With the background trees some masking fluid was spattered on and left to dry. He criss-crossed water over the area with the point of a brush but still leaving plenty of dry paper. Tree trunks and branches were then painted across these wet marks. The paint diffused in the wet areas and remained defined on the dry parts.

Folded paper masks minimise contact with painted areas
 The sky was left white but the water, treated as an upside down sky picked up much more colour and also reflected areas of sky that could not be seen. Reflections of trees and foliage were worked from the palest colours through to the darkest.
Darks spattered or painted in

Note the reference photo
Reflections just started

Masking fluid now removed
Some dark tones added to some exposed white
to create 3-D effect

The amazing end result

As well as producing a brilliant painting, Joe kept us entertained with stories and painting tips and also drew our attention to the work of many international artists including some British based (Those I remember were Alvaro Castagnet, Dusan Djukaric and Richard Thorn )

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