Planning Watercolour

Started a new watercolour: Sunset in Bedminster part one

I started a new painting based on a photo I took whilst walking the dog in Bedminster. It was of a dramatic yellow sky and the equally dramatic reflections on cars as I was looking down a narrow street that faced towards the Clifton Suspension Bridge. I think the sun had already set but the sky was this wild yellow so I wanted to capture that somehow. The dog was in a hurry so I only managed to get the phone out and take a lowish quality snap, but for this thats OK because I dont want too much detail in the painting anyway.

A view down a terraced street with parked cars in the foreground and the Clifton Suspension Bridge on the horizon backed by a yellow sky.
Dramatic sky in Bedminster

To make the painting I took a sheet of Saunders Waterford paper that I bought online through Amazon. It is a quarter imperial in size. I’m going to be honest, when the paper turned up I was a bit disappointed because it is an off-white cream colour and not white as I’d expected. However for this particular painting it didn’t matter because there is so much yellow in the image that I didn’t really care. I will be ordering the paper from another seller next time though to ensure that it is white. You can see the off-white cream colour in this image below.

The paper taped onto a board using masking tape.

After taping the paper onto a board using masking tape I did a simple sketch to capture the scene. I amy have added too much detail but I can paint over that. I want this painting to be a bit more impressionistic than I usually do, however my instinct is always to add too much. I’m fighting that all the time.

Sketch drawn from the photo

After adding the drawing it looked OK but a bit sterile. It needed something human to help with scale and add some more ‘interest’. Street scapes without people tend to look a bit creepy, and even though there weren’t any people in the photo I decided to add a person anyway.

Added a person

I may need to adjust their height slightly because they look a bit small.

Using a large mop brush I started laying down the first layer. This layer is a light layer that uses lots of water in the mix, and acts like a kind of ‘undercoat’ to provide some colour but more importantly starts setting the tones in the image. It always looks too dark here, and ruined, but you have to bear with it, it always dries lighter and always looks ruined. It’s not, but it is easy to lose hope at this stage and give up. But be brave, and persevere. Let the whole thing dry.

“OMG We’ve ruined it!” Let it dry.

After it has dried you can start on the second stage, putting in darker colours and getting the tones more like their final values. This layer of paint will be thicker than the last layer and needs to be more controlled.

In part two I will show you (hopefully) how to ‘rescue’ the painting, how to add layer two, and then how we ‘turn the lights on’ to get the final tones and make the painting come to life.

Go to Part two.


Fujifilm X-E2 in brush pen

My Fujifilm X-E2

I realised that whilst I can draw really (adequately) well with a pen or a pencil, my brush technique needed a bit of working on. So I’ve been trying to practice drawing with brushes to improve this. So far it’s not having noticeable effects but I will keep on at it to see if I improve. However this brush pen drawing of my camera is promising, so maybe there is hope for me yet. My biggest takeaway from the whole exercise is to use as big a brush as you possibly can.


Rainy day at Castlepark

Watercolour on watercolour paper.

I wanted to paint a picture of the view from my desk at One Castlepark before we moved offices. It was a rainy day so i took some photos and worked from those. It didn’t quite work out as I hoped, but it did capture how it looked that day so I suppose on that level it was OK. I was keen for the greys to not be too boring so I added lots of colours to it, and I think that worked as well. A good learning experience.


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Running a bakery with Emacs and PostrgreSQL

Amazing use of Emacs and Org mode in a bakery. A personal computer being used fully here in an integrated fashion rather than trying to shoehorn it all into a spreadsheet + word documents or something.


The ancient Babylonians were better at trigonometry than us

The Babylonians were better at mathematics than us. They used a number system based on 60 and not 10, which gave them the ability to do multiplication and division much more accurately than we can. They managed trigonometry 1000 years before the Greeks. The clay tablet called Plimpton 322 is discussed in the YouTube vid.


Japanese sumi-e flower

Japanese sumi-e flower

On bristol board with hand ground sumi-e ink.


Honda motorcycle

Scraperboard style drawing done using graphics tablet and sketchbook pro.

Sketches Watercolour

Sketches on a train 1

Watercolour and pencil sketches done on a train using the small paint tin and a waterbrush. In the “Ice” sketchbook.


Lemons, grapes and a pomegranite

Gouache done from a photo in the “Ice” Sketchbook.