Shape and suggestion |

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Shape and suggestion

How do you balance the strong shapes with the softer areas of a scene? Haidee-Jo Summers’ ideas will help you to focus on what you want to achieve in your landscape painting
Rooftops, Staithes, oil, 5×9in (12.5×23cm).

This is a situation where the suggestive approach works so well. The first and strongest shape I noticed was the shape made by the glare of the light on the water, both in the harbour and beyond. By squinting I could see that the buildings were massed together as a silhouetted shape against the light value of the water. Rather than think about individual shapes of buildings, I observed the outline made up by their rooftops. I blocked in a general dark colour to cover the whole of the village, which I judged to be an approximation of the warm dark colour I could see when I screwed up my eyes – purplish to brownish because of the mix of slate and terracotta rooftops. Then I only had to suggest some individual rooftops with smaller shapes and more specific colours, keeping everything within the darker band of values. I also felt that I needed to make a distinction between the white and the red buildings – in the detailed section you can see how much darker the value of the white buildings in the shade is compared to that describing the low morning sun on the water. The sun was rising rapidly as I painted, revealing more information and colour in the scene before me so I tried to keep a clear vision of what I saw when I first started the painting. I added a few highlights to pick out individual rooftops and details of chimneys. If I had attempted this painting in a linear way by first drawing outlines of all the buildings, it would have taken far too long and there’s no way I could have achieved this effect of the light, which is what I was after

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About The Artist

Watercolourists will love award-winning featured artist Janet Kenyon's city scenes and learning more about her approach and working methods, whilst practical watercolour articles include Paul Riley's focus on the importance of the negative shapes within your paintings and Paul Talbot-Greaves' inspirational demonstration showing how to place the warm and cool colours for best effect in your landscape compositions. Paul also sets you this month's painting challenge. More watercolour articles by Judi Whitton show you new ways to capture the effect of summer foliage, while Barry Herniman reveals the contents of his plein air sketching kit and demonstrates a bright summer scene featuring woods and water. Jo Quigley shows how a systematic approach can help to achieve a realistic seascape in acrylics, Haidee-Jo Summers explains how to exploit shape and suggestion in your oil paintings to maintain a painterly style, Martin Kinnear demystifies perspective, and we welcome back Aine Divine who provides an infectious account of how to complete a mixed media flower painting that you'll definitely want to try for yourself! Ian Cryer suggests that a break with old habits can open the way to refresh your painting style, Phil Tyler encourages you to explore the art of the self-portrait, Liz Seward shares her love of working with watercolour pencils, and David Questa shares his love of busy urban scenes that will see you reaching for your drawing materials. All this and more to keep you inspired and full of new drawing and painting ideas over the summer months!