Plein-air pen and wash on paper

Parked in the Park.

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The other day I found one of my old books “watercolour painting in ten lessons” by Joël Thézard, that has been sitting idle on my bookshelf for years. It was printed in the Netherlands in 1952, translated from french. It is quite unique in that the “method” is based on the premise to start watercolours with the dark areas first. This is contrary to the usual recommendations made in 9 out of 10 north American texts advocating to work from light to dark.

I have been reading Thézard‘s book lately and found it tempting enough to explore his approach again in pure watercolour. There is no pen and ink involved, just pencil marks to outline the shapes of objects and shadows. All pencil lines are erased at the end. One has to find or invent contrasting shapes (lights and darks) to define objects and to get some illusion of depth or three dimensional space.

I sat down in Maffeo Sutton park under a shade tree to try this out.

Structure in Maffeo Sutton Park.

A 7.5” x11” sketchbook and tiny brushes, (#5 and #8) were used, altogether somewhat small, which made it challenging but still entertaining enough to try more of this in the future. A larger sheet (quarter sheet) and a subject with a few simple shapes might be a better choice.

Author: John Hofman

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