Venue: McClelland Guild of Artists
Topic: Seascape in Water Colour
I am borrowing from Glenn’s bio on his website to introduce him here:
“Glenn Hoyle was born in Lancashire, England in 1951 and from an early age he loved to draw and paint. At The age of 15, following advice from his art teacher, Glenn enrolled as a student for three years at the Rochdale College of Art.
After working as a commercial artist for an advertising agency, he felt it was time to broaden his horizons and travelled extensively throughout Europe, North Africa, the Middle East and visited Australia in 1974. He returned to live permanently in Melbourne in 1981.
It was here that he considered painting full time. He Joined the Peninsula Art Society, entered Art Shows and exhibited in local galleries. His first exhibition was sold out in the first two weeks. This was all very exciting but he knew that relying solely on painting sales wasn’t going to be that easy, so in 1989 Glenn started to conduct art classes and workshops from his studio. This proved to be very popular and still is today. He now teaches at the Peninsula Art Society, McClelland Guild of Artists and the Mordialloc Mentone Art Group.
Working in oils, acrylic, watercolour and pastels, Glenn strives to capture the effect of light on this treasured land and coastline. His work has won many awards and the hearts of many buyers and are represented in private collections throughout Australia and overseas.”
I’d like to add that Glenn has recently done some amazing works in oils covering the topic of still life. They are so life-like, the textures and reflections are so vivid you just have to stand in awe of them. His works based around horses are also stunningly beautiful. Some of the best examples of horse paintings and pastels by a recent artist I have seen come from the hand of Glenn.
With all of this in mind, you can understand why I enjoy watching Glenn work so much. I have also had the opportunity to participate in workshops with Glenn and he is a wonderful teacher.
Today we were able to watch a seascape built up from a pencil sketch to a completed water colour painting. The work was about A3 in size on 300gsm rough water colour paper. Glenn only used about three main colours for the entire painting, which is a skill in itself, but which yields great results by tying the scene together without having to resort to a heap of colours or distractions for interest.
Glenn is what I call a very considered artist. He doesn’t just jump in boots and all, but likes to think about his composition, how he is going to arrange it, what colours he will use, how he going to build up his tones and the methods he will use to gain the result he wants.
I find this way of approaching a painting makes it easy for me to understand the techniques required for any medium to complete a successful painting. Glenn makes water colours or any other medium he uses, understandable and non-threatening. This doesn’t mean that he uses the exact same methods for every work, he looks at the result he wants and makes a plan which on this occasion had his painting in some of the darks for the underside of waves and foam on waves first. He was then able to go in with a lot of washes to slowly build up his tonal values pushing the background back by keeping it lighter and bringing his feature wave and foreground forward with darker tones and more detail.
Glenn also put masking tape across the paper in the beginning and painted in the lightest tone of the sky first – and with the paper up side down so that the paint wouldn’t bleed under the tape. When nearly dry, he pulled the tape off and started on the feature wave well away from the horizon, until that area was totally dry.
“When painting in water colours”, he said, “you spend a lot of your time waiting for paint to dry.”
Over the space of the first part of the demo, Glenn built up washes not only between the waves but entirely over them and in between, only leaving the areas he wanted to stay white untouched. The shadowy side of the foam on waves was also painted over to give them a full 3D effect. Running a wash through all the water with the paper on a slight angle and letting the paint bead along the bottom stroke, created smooth and seamless washes. By the time we had a break for coffee you could almost have said the work was looking completed as things were very much starting to give the feel of waves rolling into shore on a late summer afternoon.
After the break is when the painting really started to “pop”. Clouds were added to the sky after another wash with a little more blue was done. Glenn added some white and an opaque blue to help the clouds cover the sky a little better and they were in with a few light strokes of the brush.
Glenn’s “trademark” reflections and ripples were achieved by the application of his light washes leaving areas where the wash underneath showed through as well as little random strokes of paint across the area in front of his main feature wave. He also made sure that the shallow waves in the foreground had quick “scumbles” or flicks of paint for texture. He said that all through the process of putting together a painting like this one with sun reflecting on waves is to constantly remind yourself what areas you want to leave white, so that you just don’t paint into them in you enthusiasm.
Another good point, especially aimed at water colour, was not to paint too “light”. You can achieve a good tonal range with water colours and many artist’s paintings look washed out because they didn’t keep going and add those extra washes or layers of paint. We need to remember that water colour gets lighter as it dries, so what looks a bit bright or dark when wet may not stay that way.
Have a test sheet of paper next to your work – like Glenn does (and I do now also), test your colour before applying to the painting and just give it a go if you feel confident about the colour working. I would even suggest that you should just have a go anyway, after all it is just paper and some paint. You don’t know until you try in many cases, and with water colour especially, there are such things as “happy accidents”.
Demonstrations only go for two hours not including afternoon tea, so anyone doing a demo has less time than usual to complete a work (unless they are the rare speedy painter). Glenn said he usually spends up to four hours to complete a work the size he did today, which is about what I would do as well. It was amazing, but not unexpected from someone as professional as he is, that the work was pretty-well done right on time. Know when to stop, was a well known and often heard statement repeated by Glenn. He then popped the painting behind a double matt board, and wow! It looked absolutely beautiful!
The main wave which he had built up with multiple layers of glazes and strong colour underneath popped off the surface of the paper and the soft reflections and ripples in the water in the foreground, actually everything – looked great.
I want to thank Glenn for his time today and for showing us again that we don’t have to be afraid of water colour. We can have fun with it, it can give us some beautiful results that you can’t get with other mediums – and it is OK to be organised and methodical (and patient!!!) when producing a painting! Something for all the other “Type A’s and Virgos out there!! 😉
Glenn’s work can be seen on his website at: http://www.glennhoyleartist.com
Glenn also teaches during the week during school terms and can be contacted through his web site or any of the guilds that hold his classes.