Light from Dark – Jake Winkle’s Wonder Watercolour Workshop: Report by Andy Barker

On 28th September 2019 Salisbury Group of Artists members were treated to a wonderful watercolour workshop by Jake Winkle.  It is not just that he is a renowned artist and master of watercolour techniques but he has the ability to teach others, in simple, easy to follow and replicate steps that enable lesser artists to generate their own very impressive results.

Jake started with a short materials brief including how to stretch his preferred 300gm Bockingford paper;  soak for 30 seconds, give 10 mins for expansion before a smooth down and then tape ‘and’ staple.  He explained the colour wheel and why his palette includes colours from all around its outside to ensure the best possible brightness and he combines these with sepia, light red and raw sienna.  ‘Use fresh moist paint, don’t put paint into your mixing area, mix it from the palette, and apply as far as possible in a single application’;  all simple tips for better results.

The warm up was not a painting but four basic watercolour techniques;  a two colour variegated wash where the same consistency is critical, wet into wet using slightly thicker second paint to avoid cauliflowering, ‘mixing marmite’ or sticky black, and painting that into wet, and finally ‘creamy paint squares’ of the same thicker consistency but they weld together with a finer blended link.  These techniques were all put to great effect in the two paintings, the first of Cadaques a coastal town in Spain and then a more challenging scene of Venice.

Jake made the Cadeques painting ‘look’ simple too, the key was a very simple outline sketch which showed areas that would be white and shade.  Variegated wash for sky (cobalt) and sea (cobalt + turquoise).  Same technique for the mountains;  grey recedes so turquoise and alizarin crimson with burnt umber wet in wet for the darker areas.  The town evolved ‘light from dark’ with cobalt blue shadow warmed with alizarin crimson and orange areas, light red for the rooves and sticky black highlights, doors and windows, et voila, another masterpiece.  The keys were speed and paint consistency, allowing painting into moist areas to allow ‘shapes’ to blend with no sharp edges to become ‘painters of shapes not objects’.

Venice was a little more challenging but no less fun using all four techniques above, continuing the main theme of painting shapes and where possible joining shapes to simplify what was a very complex scene.  The variegated sky wash was cobalt with a very little raw sienna dropped in areas to create sunlight, water was scrubbed on in cobalt blue and green.  The creamy paint technique ws used for the buildings in shade, to link them with slightly blurred edges with varying colours and where it matched they were even linked to distant horizons extending the ‘shape’.  Light red roofs were not necessarily specific shapes and complexity was converted to simplicity in the balustrades and sticky black windows and the overall effect was simply stunning.

The most impressive thing about the day was the overall quality of paintings generated by the SGA members.



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