For the past week and half I’ve been playing around with marker pens and watercolour paints. I’ve doing very quick sketches of photos in marker pen followed by watercolour paint. The idea has been to capture the essence of the scene or the character in question without paying too much attention to detail (famous last words…). The project began with quick character sketches, snapped back in 2017 at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC.

I then decided to tackle a larger street scene, this time a shot of Bill’s I liked that he took on London’s Piccadilly back in 2013.

These sketches were meant to be a bit of fun, even though all of the above have now been framed and hung on the wall.

I then decided I would do yet another street scene, but this time drafting the initial sketch carefully from the photo and paying quite a lot of attention to the detail while trying to capture the charm of the overall Parisian scene. I worked on the sketch over the course of two days, first sketching in pencil then using marker pens to emphasise the lines and details that I wanted to be most visible under the watercolour paint that would eventually be applied.

I have to admit, I procrastinated a bit when it came to applying the watercolour paint. Actually, I did a bit more work one of my other oil paintings, completing my first portrait in oils – ever. I’m rather proud of her as I painted her face completely from my imagination. Bill has named her, Rosita. Her face may go through a few more tweaks as the painting progresses, but for now I’m relatively happy with her (although her cheeks could be a little rounder still – she’s only 4).

Oil on canvas, work in progress.

Anyway, I did get around to painting my Parisian street scene eventually and spent the past weekend doing so. I applied the final touches this afternoon. I was aiming for impressionistic, despite the underlying drawing being a lot more precise. I wanted to keep the scale of the original image in tact, though not necessarily going for a photographic copy.

Alimentation Sur La Rue Gabrielle by, Maria Jones-Phillips, 2019.
Mixed media on aquarelle paper, 12×17 in.

With every painting I go through a moment of asking myself if I know what the hell I’m doing. There is always that moment of panic that I’m way out of my depth – usually because I don’t often have much of a plan when I begin these things, but then Bill reminds me that I always seem to manage to pull it out of the bag sooner or later. I suppose it’s just part of my process. I like to be as spontaneous as possible when it comes to the painting as I feel that’s what adds character to a composition, even though it can be slightly hair-raising at times. Although, over the years I’ve had significantly more practise with watercolour than I have with oil paints, so I know what I’m dealing with, and that always helps. This has still been very experimental for me as I’ve not used marker pens and watercolour together before this week. I think it works well.

Now to get back to working on this big ol’ canvas and little Rosita!

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