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November 2020: Zoom demo with Catherine Beale
cb portrait.jpg
Catherine Beale is an extraordinarily versatile watercolourist whose works are filled with an inner luminosity. These two slideshows gives an idea of the range of her work
Reference photos
Catherine has a comprehensive knowledge of the properties of many watercolour paints, including their properties of transluscence/opacity and tendency to granulation.  This was in evidence and showcased in her painting of a wave breaking on rocks, as inspired by these reference photos [see right].  But her fluid way of working breaks with overly literal copying.  At a certain point the picture needs to work as a picture per se.
Here (below) Catherine introduces us to the composition and many of the paints she intends to use. In addition to those shown, she uses burnt umber, raw sienna, Daniel Smith indigo [which granulates] and [expensive] cobalt turquoise, though beginning with indanthrene blue dropping from the horizon
Sap green - a bright yellow-green
White, or free of paint
Phthalo Turquoise [W&N] is cool and transparent but can move from a deep dark turquoise to a thin film of robin's egg blue in a single wash
Daniel Smith Moonglow [for the rocks] is a granulating complex violet hue composed of Anthraquinoid Red, Ultramarine Blue, and Viridian grey. It splits into turquoise and pink!]
Purple lake
Raw Sienna [a suggestion of sand in water]
Catherine uses two palettes, for warm vs cool colours and mixes the colour on the rough-surfaced watercolour paper itself. In the early stages she let's the water do much of the work of blending the colours. She uses a 1" Pro Arte one-stroke flat brush which can hold and release a lot of colour, a smaller [2/5"] flat for taking off excess liquid from the paper [preferable to kitchen roll], and a rigger. 
The rigger, with it's 'flicky' extended hairs, is good for making slightly random marks.  Catherine observes that we are not naturals at recording randomness. Our marks are too regular in size and spacing if we're not careful. Techniques that introduce realistic randomness and bypass our need to control too much are all to the good. For instance, she used scrunched clingfilm on the 'moonglow' rocks, which draws the colour into some areas and away from others. She also used salt for a related effect.
The rigger was also used later on, of course, for precision marks such as 'filigreeing' the spray and edges of the wave where skilful use of the corner of the flat brush was perhaps not quite enough.
Catherine referenced Hokusai's amazing stylised 'The Great Wave' of 1832.
Here we see stages in Catherine's demo. To allow us to view on Zoom the picture was much more vertical and liable to dripping than usual and she did a good job of working with loose watercolour despite this difficulty.

The "end of the demo" picture

The Wave demo 1.jpg

The final picture

After the demo Catherine worked further on the picture. She wrote:


I have worked a little more on my semi-abstract wave from the other night and now attach a “before and after” of the painting for your members to see.

There is more to do no doubt! However among the things I looked at in the latter stages of the painting were:


  • Complexity eg breaking up the shape of the wave’s white peak

  • Emotion eg lifting off more of the blue water to suggest bubbles and increasing the feel of power in the water

  • Tonal variation eg deepening the dark tones on the sea bed

  • Unity across areas eg bringing the turquoise of the sea down over the rocks on the RHS to reduce the separation between the sea and the rock 

  • Trouble shooting eg lifting off the distracting turquoise drips (bottom LHS) and straightening the horizon

The Wave final.jpg

Otter Vale Art Society

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