detail 2

This week I thought that you might be interested in the stages of watercolour painting.   Of course, there are many different ways of using watercolours, and building them up in layers is just one.
I like to start paintings out in front of my subject – I really don’t get much of a buzz working from photos. I like to work for an hour or so and then stop before I think it’s anywhere near finished.

Back in the studio I can assess where I think I’m going with it, or even if it’s worth going anywhere at all. In the studio I can see it without the background chatter and let it become its own expression of what I saw and felt.
1 lr

Climate change is hitting Malta, as it is the rest of the world. So far we have not had a winter at all this year; most days we have had glorious sunshine and no rain at all. This is perfect painting weather – no summer humidity or burning sun, just a chilly breeze and gentle warmth.
It’s ominous of course. The fields are suffering, the water table is drying out and the farmers are worried. There will be a price to pay.

But painting outside is a joy.

I started this watercolour in an unusually dry valley in Gozo. It took me about an hour and a half of drawing and then putting down washes. I left the trunks of the trees as white paper because they had to be very dark, and would bleed into the wet pools of colour if I had attempted to do them on the spot.
I took a few photos and drove it home to dry in the studio.

Adding the dark trunks and details was the next step. My drawing was pretty accurate and I could remember the scene quite well.
photo 2lr

I didn’t want to look at the photos until after I had added more washes and done what I thought the painting needed rather than trying to make it look too ‘real’. I prefer paintings to look like paintings, not imitation photographs.
3 lr

I took a black and white photo of it too, which is something I have been doing quite a lot recently. Without the distraction of colour, it is easier to judge tones and contrasts.
4 lr

I like to use the technique I call ‘Chuck and Splatter’ for leaves – this involves literally throwing paint at the picture. It’s very messy and very liberating!!

Somewhere along the line comes the point of ‘Have I finished yet?’ which is the fine line between adding just a few more finishing touches and overworking the whole thing until it can’t breathe at all.

​I looked at the photos….
photo 2lr

… then I added more contrasts and washes……. and splatter….
I THINK that I have finished it now ??            5lr

About Jeni Caruana

Jeni was born in England and studied at Uxbridge, Hull and Harrow Art Colleges before settling in Malta in 1977. She subsequently worked as a graphic designer and followed a post-Diploma course at Malta College of Art. Jeni has held regular solo exhibitions of her works and participated in numerous joint, group and collective exhibitions in Malta and abroad, representing Malta in UK, USA, Sardinia, Rome, Tunisia, Libya and Norway. Paintings now hang in many public and private collections. --- Works cover a wide variety of subjects and media, from landscapes to Prehistoric Temples, sand to ceramics, watercolour and acrylics to wooden sculptures. They are always based on good drawing and keen observation and always started on location or from live models. Intense study of the human figure has resulted in her ability to capture fleeting glimpses of people in motion. Visually expressing the emotional effects of music on the senses, her ‘musician’ paintings are a favourite subject. --- Jeni has been teaching drawing and watercolour techniques to adults since 1995. She regularly runs courses and workshops in drawing and watercolour for adult beginners and improvers, specialised courses in life drawing, watercolour techniques, weekend workshops and painting outings and also art for self-expression, meditation and relaxation. --- For more information please contact; Studio Address: - “Dar Il-Mistrieh”, - 15, Old Church Street, - Manikata - MLH 5202