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Richard Bell’s Wild West Yorkshire nature diary,  Sunday,  30th August 2009, page 2 0f 2

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IT’S TAKEN since mid-May to finish my square, stripy sketchbook which I bought a year ago in the closing down sale of Wakefield’s Eagle Press, an art materials, stationery and book store since before I was born. It’s now the Oriental Café.


I had intended to end this little sketchbook with a burst of colour but I’d left my pocket watercolour box on the desk in the studio, so it’s back to the ArtPen for these sketches.


That frame around the drawing is a rare embellishment for me. I expect it’s my way of drawing a line at the end of the book.

mugs and jute bag

Colour & Landscapes

I enjoyed reading a couple of books on painting this week; The Artist’s Guide to Mixing Colours by Jenny Rodwell and Alwyn Crawshaw’s Learn to Paint Landscapes.


I’ve been out with my watercolours every year since my student days but every time I get out there again, I feel as if I’m starting from scratch. I still haven’t come up with an easy, sure-fire way of getting what I see in front of me - the great, complex, astonishing world of nature - onto my sketchbook page, with as little tweaking and ‘improvement’ from me as possible.


Added to this I’m keen to avoid getting set in my ways, so every now and then I feel the need to see how other artists approach things. Mixing Colours was just what I was looking for: beautifully presented, clear but not prescriptive, and it's given me some food for thought, for instance about violets, indigo and madder-type colours, which I've always done without, but which are used with telling effect in the step-by-steps in the book.


As I’ve mostly worked for books, I’ve adapted my work to the 3-colour printing process and that’s reflected in my choice of colours in my pocket watercolour box.


Some of the palettes demonstrated in Mixing Colours are exotic and tropical but Alwyn Crawshaw’s Landscapes are closer to home. I like the way he takes a handful of the watercolours that everyone has in their watercolour box and gets such a range of natural looking colours from them.  I like his practical advice, such as to start drawing as soon as possible and to avoid the temptation to look around the next corner and the corner after that, for a better view. I’ve recently been painting in some of the same places he includes in the book, so being able to see his work is a bit like looking through a friend’s sketchbook when you’ve been out together for a day’s drawing. That feeling of ‘ah, of course, that’s the way it should be done!’


His approach is always relaxed, encouraging and practical with a touch of humour. Although Mixing Colours is more wide-ranging and analytical I chuckled at the last step-by-step, painted by injured artist, Adrian Smith, who’d been banned from skiing and who settled down to paint a snow scene from a chalet window!

Learn to Paint Landscapes
Mixing Colours


Jenny Rodwell

Her website includes her memories of how she first discovered colour as a child.


Alwyn Crawshaw

He calls his current exhibition ‘Last Gasp’. Hope that isn’t really the case!

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