Semi-abstract passages in paint

One of my art society workshops this month took a closer look at line and wash – perfect partners of permanent ink line and rushing wet-in-wet watercolour.

Lakeland bridge, line & wash on artboard by Catherine Beale

My chosen subject was a secret waterway near an ancient working watermill in the Lake District. (A scene I photographed many years ago but could not forget.) The cool green of the waterway beneath was made deeper by the shadow of the ancient bridge and huge glacial boulders pressed in at its edges. It was the deep water that attracted me to the image, contrasting with the jagged outline of the eroded arched stonework above.

Looking closer at my resulting painting you can see that it is made up of a series of semi-abstract passages hung together by connecting lines:

A. Ripples of light on water
B. Murky green depths
C. Suggestions of dense foliage
D. Crowding boulders

I am always fascinated by how the human brain can make sense of these areas. Each of us delve into memories personal to us and recognise elements from our past, interpreting them by using a shortlist of ‘most likely scenarios’ from things we have seen before. No wonder reactions to paintings can vary so widely! This is part of the enjoyment I find in exhibiting work.

Join me ‘en plein air’ semi-abstract sketching in line and wash amongst garden borders and trees in May’s Wylye valley Art Trail and beside Bath’s canal in August. Click here for more details on my in-person workshops page.

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