crystal decanter

decanter watercolour_lowres

glass is a fascinating thing to paint. It really forces you to ignore the object and concentrate only on the abstract shapes and colours. If you try to paint what you think you see then it all goes horribly wrong. Zooming in and putting a blog of yellow here, then a blue line there creates the exact glass structure you wanted when you step back. The same could be said of painting any subject I suppose but I notice it most on ‘difficult’ scenes. As I become more familiar with a subject (folded fabric for example) it becomes more natural to see and paint the blobs of colour but for unfamiliar things like glass I have to work hard to see those blobs. Painting like this reminds me of termites and how no single termite knows how to build a mound. Each insect just does their tiny piece, zoomed in, and the grand intricate structure emerges.

11 thoughts on “crystal decanter

  1. So beautiful – I am always so impressed and amazed at the way you get so much movement and motion in your art. The liquid in this decanter looks like I could spill it out!! Wonderful! :D

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  2. Yes! Glass is second only in difficulty to portrait. I enjoy your description of the problem of seeing. The left brain sees the pieces; the right brain sees the whole. And so for the viewer: my left brain is admiring the detail but my right brain is so moved by the overall impression – that I already fancy a glass of whiskey 🥃 !

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  3. I have a series of urban sketching/ watercolour books where each illustration is annotated with the medium, the size, and the TIME taken. I’d love to know if this picture for example, is A4, or smaller? And if it took hours – or minutes!
    Sometimes a couple of words on technique too – are the white lines scratched, unpainted, or overlaid gouache?

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  4. oh, good idea! I should start to record more info like that.
    This is on Arches watercolour paper, it’s quite rough but also very absorbent so fine, sharp details are difficult because it tends to bleed and soften. The paper is ~A4 but there is a generous border of white around the decanter.
    The fine white lines are acrylic ink with a dip fountain pen. The mottled white/light areas in the whiskey are from a mixture of lifting out paint with tissue and painting thinned white gouache over the top once dry. I’m not good at leaving white space – I get carried away and paint goes everywhere :)
    I did this in one evening, so 2 to 3 hours including some drying time between layers of paint.

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