Ink Dark Sea

I have been working on two small seascapes over the last number of days. The surface is a heavyweight paper, prepared with gesso and mounted on canvas board. They each measure 15.5 cm x 10.5 cm. There is something satisfying about working on paper, its texture is fine and chalky compared to canvas and the surface holds the colour very well.

I approached these two paintings differently in that I finished them in one sitting, alternating between the two. I worked with the material in a more deliberate way, playing with the fluidity of the paint – sometimes thick, sometimes very thin. I allowed the inks to react with the paint, moving the imagery around until I arrived at something close to the effect I was looking for. This method reminds me of working with clay – creating a vessel on the wheel and then distorting it, trying to capture the fluidity of the material while it is wet. In these paintings, I tried to capture the energy and movement of the sea but also it’s darkness and it’s danger. I’ve called the first ( pictured again below ) ‘Ink Dark Sea.’


Ink Dark Sea




The second painting is titled ‘ Steel Blue Swell.’ I’ve indicated a hint of land in the distance but I did not worry too much about a horizon line.

The use of red and a hint of gold breaks the dominance of the blue.


Steel Blue Swell by Deborah Watkins


November Bog

Near Maam by Laureen Marchand


This is another painting in the Black Bog series that I’ve been working on. It’s similar to the last one featured here but it’s twice the size at 10 x 8 inches. This is how it began;


November bog painting first stage




Next, I added a line of brown ink and dragged the colour downwards with a broad brush to give the lower part of the painting an under colour. I also used some gold paint.


Second stage of November bog painting




Here’s the next stage below. I’ve used lots of colour – browns, reds, yellows and golds. I’ve manipulated the way the inks react with the paint to create interesting textures and I’ve worked with a variety of brushes to make different kinds of marks.


Third stage of November bog painting




Once this layer of paint had dried completely, I worked on the piece again (below). I deepened the blues of the hills in the background and I darkened some of the colours to give the painting more contrast.


Fourth stage of November bog painting




This is the finished piece below. Once again, I added more paint and ink when the last layer was completely dry. I altered the line of the bog slightly to make it less horizontal and I’ve given the bog more depth with these additional layers of colour.


Finished 'November Bog' painting by Deborah Watkins

Painting – Oughterard landscape II

This is another landscape based on the same area as the last one from Oughterard. I enjoyed using this lighter palette of colours and wanted to use them again.


Landscape painting 1



This is the initial sketch (below) made in charcoal on a heavy weight acrylic paper.





Here it is (below) after the first application of colour. I like it’s freshness at this stage and I lose this a bit as I try to give the piece more depth. I really enjoy working with the wet paint and ink like this and look out for any happy accidents as the two meet.


Landscape 2



This is the painting as I have left it (below). I have added more brown to convey the bog furrows underneath the heath and the grasses. I reduced the red a little but left a streak of it visible which I think gives it some direction and focus.


Landscape painting 1

Painting – Landscape near Oughterard

This landscape is based on a place near Oughterard, County Galway not far from the Bog I painted recently. It is also a bog but unworked for some time and now covered in a layer of grasses and heathers. Here’s a photo I took of the area and below that the painting as it began – a rough sketch in charcoal.


Landscape photo



Oughterard painting, stage 1



This is the next stage – I blocked in some areas of colour loosely with a wide brush. I decided to use green and pale pink which is what I see/remember when I squint my eyes. I’m also thinking about this combination of colour as I saw it while taking photographs of some wild flowers near my home ( see ‘Wild Fuchsia and Nature’s Colours‘ ).


Oughterard painting, stage 2



This is the next stage (below). I took this photo just after I added the green ink to the pink acrylic paint and it has bubbled as it has made contact with the paper! I want to add depth to the landscape here but also retain these broad strokes of pink as much as possible. I am trying to suggest the taller grasses with the pink and green mixture at the base of the painting but without doing it too literally.


Oughterard painting, stage 3



This is the piece as I have left it (below). I added more paint to the mountain and lake in the background. I also gave the painting some more contrast with brown ink and just a little more red.


Oughterard painting, stage 4

Oughterard Bog Painting II

This morning I tinkered with the piece I posted earlier this week, nothing too dramatic but I felt that the water needed some work and the area on the top right of the painting needed to be dampened down a bit.


Version 2 of Oughterard bog painting



This is another piece based on the bog near Oughterard. It began as a sketch in charcoal (below). I struggled with this one as you will see and I think this is because it isn’t immediately recognisable as a landscape.


2nd bog painting, stage 1



I added some broad sweeps of colour after this. The viewpoint is closer to the ground, so the horizon line has been replaced by green growth at the top of the piece. I quite like it at this stage (below), just those three colours and the strong lines.


2nd bog painting, stage 2



The brown shape has become diluted as the painting has progressed (below) and I am hoping at this point to recover it to some degree before I finish. However, looking back here I am thinking once again that I might have left it at this stage. I like the movement at the centre of the piece and that pinkish colour which is lost later.


2nd bog painting, stage 3



This is the next stage (below). I am less happy with it now and leave it to dry overnight.


2nd bog painting, stage 4



Here is the final painting (below). I have used lots of brown ink to create more contrast and I have tried to put the shapes back as they were – the downward and outward flow of the water and the long flank of cut bog. I have subdued the green area at the top and added more paint to make the surface richer. I’ve left it here and am reasonably happy to call it finished. I am wondering now how it reads to someone else – let me know what you think, I’d love to have your comments.


2nd bog painting, finished

Oughterard Bog Painting

I have started a series of paintings based on a bog near Oughterard where I took some photos last week. I wanted to do something that is faithful and sympathetic to this miry place and its vivid colours. I started this one by drawing a rough composition in charcoal (below). The tracks of water from this position give a lovely sense of movement and distance which I hope to keep in the final painting.


Sketch for Bog painting



This is the piece as I have left it (below). It had got to the point of being too wet to continue so I will allow it to dry before making any further additions. I’m not sure yet what those might be or indeed if I will leave it as it is. Occasionally the richness of the wet paint and ink is lost when it dries out and it can look thin and unfinished. Sometimes on the other hand, if I have applied the colour heavily enough, the richness is held and heightened with a final coat of varnish. I’ll have to wait and see with this one.


Completed Bog Painting

Landscape – Progression

This is a bog landscape I’ve been working on as it has progressed. This is how it looked after the first sitting. The colours were true in the sense that the landscape did seem a lovely pale colour when I squinted my eyes. However, I felt that the overall appearance of the painting at this stage was quite flat. I decided that it needed more contrast and I also needed to dilute the horizontal brown lines on the left which are distracting because they are parallel with the edges of the canvas.


Bog Landscape, unfinished



I darkened the middle background of the canvas by adding more gold, orange and some green. Then I brightened up the sky with some blue and added more paint and detail to the foreground.


Bog Landscape, finished



I’m calling this one finished. The golds and browns here remind me of the raku glazes I used when I made pots. There is a lovely element of surprise with ceramics (especially raku) when the glazed pot is revealed – I will write a post about my work as a potter soon. When I use paint and ink together as I have done here, I get a sense of this as the result is not entirely predictable. I love the way the colours bleed in to each other and this sometimes has a depth about it that is like looking at the fused layers of glass and colour on a glazed pot.

Bog Pool

Here is another photograph taken from the Bog Road, between Clifden and Roundstone. The road itself is like a ribbon of tarmac that bumps over the surface of the Bog ( top right of photograph ).
I’ve used the pool in the front of this picture as the inspiration for the painting below.


Photo of a Bog Pool



This piece is similar to one I finished recently but I’ve made the water a stronger feature in this one – I am going to do several more paintings about this area because there is much to work on. I’ve used straight lines to delineate the pool in the foreground where the cut earth has been flooded. I love this play between the uniform lines or human marks left by the bog cutting and the wildness of the place which ultimately takes over.


Painting of Bog Pool



I worked this in one sitting while paint and ink were wet. I really enjoy the way that these two materials interact with each other and I feel that they lend themselves well to this subject.

Bog Paintings Series


I’m working on a series of paintings of the bog at the moment. This is a photograph I took out on the Bog Road, between Clifden and Roundstone. I like the strong direction of the Bog furrows across the land. Also, the combination of the Twelve Bens mountain range in the distance with the water in the middle distance, make for a rich composition.


Photo of bog between Clifden and ROundstone



I’ve used all of these features in the painting below.  This one is done on a heavy weight acyrlic paper. I forgot to take a picture at the early stages so this is how it looks after quite a bit of work.



Painting of bog between Clifden and Roundstone



As you can see, I’ve deepened up the colours considerably ( these rusts and reds are truer later in the year ). I’ve also allowed the lake to bleed in to the bog, washing it away visually. I’ll come back to this one when the paint has dried but it doesn’t need too much more work.

Seascape Canvas in Stages

This is a small seascape on canvas ( 4 x 4 inches ) carried out in a few stages. This is as much as I did at the first sitting. The sea and land take up less than a third of the painting, so the sky is the dominant feature.


Seascape canvas, stage 1



The photograph below shows the canvas as a whole at the next stage, having added more colour to create the headland shape on the horizon line and more depth to the sky.


Seascape canvas, stage 2



The last photo is taken straight on and shows the final inclusion of some red paint to the headland. I have flattened the perspective slightly in the foreground by dragging the paint downwards, which has the effect of allowing the viewer to look under the water.


Seascape canvas, finished



I’ve decided to leave it at this point. I feel that it is finished even though the paint layers are thin. What do you think?