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Demonstrations by Jonathan Newey

Visit Jonathan at www.jonathannewey.com, where there is a large selection of his work
or call 0118 9428647.

Watercolour: Wildlife in a Landscape, 13 Nov 2015
(Write-up by Carole Head)
Jonathan Newey is a local Reading-based 4th generation artist who studied graphic art & design and worked for companies such as Huntley & Palmers until about ten years ago when he started teaching in adult education establishments, running workshops and writing books on art. Although he works in all sorts of mediums he has always been a watercolourist from his very earliest days.

The demonstration was to paint in a loose style Wildlife in a Landscape. For this he always starts with a photograph of the animal. He then selects a background on the basis of the colour of the animal. He has a sketchbook full of different backgrounds.
He recommends practising painting backgrounds in your spare time, splashing on watercolour with abandon and using a large brush and different colour combinations.

He often works on Archers board and this evening he was working on 140 lb NOT (cold press paper). The Archers board is about £5 - £6 per sheet but he pointed out that it is possible to use it again if the painting does not work out by covering it with Watercolour Ground, something a bit like Gesso. It is not the same surface when treated but it will take watercolour again and sandpaper can be used on it to create highlights or scratched in effects. For the demonstration he had a photograph of a tiger and he began by placing the tiger on the paper.
He had prepared the back of the photograph with charcoal so that it could be traced to save time. He then put in a horizontal tree line to break up the foreground and give the painting a sense of scale. He then wet the paper from the top down to the horizontal line. He does this before he gets his paints out to ensure the paper has time to absorb some of the water and become shiny and ready to take the watercolour.

The colours used were Winsor & Newton Quinacridone Gold, Ultramarine Blue and Burnt Sienna, these last two create a sort of Paynes Grey. The shape of the animal and the bottom of the picture remain dry.
He used a large Rosemary & Co Sable Blend Size No 14 brush and painted loosely adding flicks at the base of the tree shapes. He then used a No 4, a kind of rigger to put in the branches. He sprayed the top of the painting to keep the paper wet and shiny explaining that cauliflowers, or backflow to give them their technical name, often occur when the paint in the pallet is not wet enough.

He added some Raw Sienna to give more warmth and then took some cling film and gently crumpled it into a ball. He dipped this into Ultramarine and Burnt Sienna and dabbed it over the tops of the trees to create a broken leaf effect.
He would usually stand to paint the branches of trees with the work lying flat as the brushes work best at a certain angle. He uses zigzag lines to stop the branches looking too uniform. To add strength of colour FW Paynes Grey Ink was used to darken the tree trunks and the base of the treeline.

FW Ink is waterproof when it dries but it mixes well with watercolour when wet. Be warned! Remember to clean the palette before it dries. More interest can be added by using a knife, or bamboo pen, the corner of a credit card or the other end of the rigger to scratch in shapes and blades of grass in the foreground.
The background was left to dry over the coffee break and then it was time to paint the tiger.
Quinacridone Gold, Cadmium Red and Burnt Sienna were used for his fur. Always paint the fur first and the stripes go on top. Paynes Grey watered down was used for the shadow under his body. Using the No 4 rigger type brush Ultramarine Blue and Burnt Sienna were used for the eyes, mouth, and stripes of the tiger.

FW White Ink was used to put in the white that was needed in his face. "Pay close attention to the way the stripes indicate the shape of the animal's body" Jonathan said, "notice how the lines on his back curve at the top over his back before going straight down and then curve back under him."
Quinacridone Gold, Cadmium Red and Burnt Sienna were used to strengthen the colour on the nose, on the shoulder and back haunches. A shadow was added under the tiger and paw marks were put into the snow leading up to the tiger which gave depth and a sense of movement.

The final touch was to add three birds in the skies to the right of the painting.

Jonathan brought along a wonderful selection of books and materials for everyone to see and purchase. He also had some of his paintings on display.
Watercolour Wildlife Demonstration, 30/5/08
photo Jonathan lives in Reading, England and works with a variety of media and subjects. He is particularly admired for his coloured pencil and graphite drawings of endangered species. He has published books on "Drawing with Coloured Pencil" and "Drawing and Painting Buildings".

He works mostly from his own photographs, taken in zoos and wildlife parks around the UK.

This evening's watercolour demo was based on a rather dark photo of a tiger in snow but Jonathan had decided to lighten it and move it to a warmer environment.
background He likes Khadi w/c paper for sketches but the demo was on unstretched 140lb Bockingford. He doesn't stretch w/c paper. Normally he works very much wetter, on a horizontal surface (not appropriate for a demo like this) and uses watercolour board to avoid wrinkling.

Several preliminary sketches had been done to get the composition right. Then he had prepared a careful pencil drawing of the outline of the animal and of the line between foreground and background.

This was necessary because, unlike his normal practice of painting the animal in acrylic or gouache over a completed background he was limiting himself to pure watercolour this evening. He still wanted to do the background first so he had to finish it without touching the area where the animal was to appear.
foreground He likes to mark a generous border around the picture area, so that he can test colours as he mixes them.

He also recommends as limited a palette as possible. Here he used only ultramarine blue and, as his yellow, quinacridone gold. These were darkened with burnt sienna and he once used a little burnt umber where he wanted a bluer dark (oh, and some touches of white gouache at one point). All were tube colours, which give a richer result than you get from pans.

Jonathan's backgrounds are quite abstract. He mixed three different greens and scrubbed in the trees with the side of a No.14 sable-mix brush. He used all three greens, adding branches with the fine point of the same brush, all wet into wet. Great care was taken around the outline of the animal.
darker background A pale blue-green gave the distant trees their distance and a watery wash of an only very slightly modified ultramarine gave a hint of sky.

Darkening his bluest green with burnt sienna gave him the colour to add more darks to the trees and behind the animal (crumpled clingfilm gives a good foliage effect and creates convincing "bird-holes").

A yellower green was dragged out from the bottom of the background to create the foreground effect. An impression of grasses can be created by flicking various greens up from a line of colour with a smaller brush and by scratching up through the (still damp) darker areas with a knife.

A slightly damp brush made sure there were no harsh edges, especially around the tiger.
background coat colour Once the background was dry, Jonathan toned down some yellow with a little burnt sienna and moved to a smaller brush, No.10, for the animal itself. Darker yellow glazes followed earlier lighter ones before the stripes were started.

The french ultramarine and burnt sienna mix used for the stripes needs frequent stirring to stop it separating out. By this point all abstraction had been abandoned and scrupulous attention to the photo was needed to get the shapes of the stripes right, since these define the form of the animal and the direction of the coat. Most of the brush-strokes were across the width of the stripes, to avoid the impression that they were just painted on.

Finally a few touches of white gouache gave a sparkle around the eyes, ears and legs and these were reinforced by a mix of burnt umber and ultra to darken the shadows over and below the rump.
End result of the demonstration
Final result
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