Thursday, 1 November 2012

November Feature Artist Jackie Grisley SWA

Hi everyone and welcome to the beginning of a new month. I would like to introduce to you our feature Artist for this month, Jackie Grisley SWA, and to say thank you to Tony who made the initial contact with Jackie. Welcome to the Waterfront Jackie!


Strumble Head Lighthouse in beautiful Pembrokeshire with its jagged, rocky coastline is so appealing to me and I’ve painted it a few times now. The first time I ever saw it a black storm was developing and as it strengthened the whiteness of the lighthouse against that dark sky was an impressive sight and the vision stays with me. In this painting I have introduced some colour in the sky but my aim was to replicate the image I still have of that first sighting.

I’d like to say thank you so much for inviting me to be your featured ‘artist of the month’, it made my day when I got Tony Cook’s email. I confess I have never done a blog before so I hope I do it justice. I will certainly do my best and am looking forward to conversing and sharing my way of watercolour painting. To kick off with it seems like a good idea to offer an insight into what my goals and inspirations are.
The British coast is what really inspires me to paint. The dramatic skies are my ‘wow’ factor, the stormier and wilder the better. We have such varying weather here which creates ever-changing conditions, especially around the coast or in the mountainous regions such as The Lake District and The Highlands of Scotland. I’ve found watercolour is the perfect medium for achieving the effects I want in my paintings. I love its freedom but also its discipline. Knowing when to stop painting and put down the brush to allow the drying process is crucial and knowing when comes with experience, fight the temptation to keep ‘fiddling’, I’ve spoiled quite a few paintings in my time doing this and have learned to tell myself (out loud occasionally!) to ‘STOP!’. Watercolour has such a unique and magical quality when you do stop painting it keeps on doing its own thing until completely dry. That really excites me-to leave a sky to dry and to come back a few hours later to see how it has developed whilst drying gives me a little thrill.
I aim to achieve mood, drama and atmosphere in each painting and that all comes from the sky for me and how that affects the rest of the painting, deciding on the light direction etc. You may have guessed by now blue skies with fluffy cotton-wool clouds do nothing for me! I try to keep things simple and spontaneous with not too much detail, I seem to achieve more impact this way, and I hope to leave a degree of interpretation for the viewer. Less is more so they say. The use of light against dark is a technique I use frequently to create contrast and bold impact. I like to work wet-in-wet completing the sky in one session, leaving it to completely dry before proceeding. By profession I started out as a graphic designer and I’ve found it’s been very consolidating and useful in regard to composition, expression and balance in my paintings, bringing a sense of right and wrong instinctively.


I was pretty excited with how this sky wash had dried and I think it demonstrates that controlling the wet-in-wet technique cannot be totally mastered. The way the paint continued to dribble into the underlying colour is as we say a ‘happy accident’. It also makes my point of knowing when to put the brush down and let things happen.

I like to use a restricted palette in order to introduce harmony into my paintings, I always want drama but harmony is equally important to me. I use Winsor & Newton, blocks and tubes. My brushes range from Isabey Petit Gris to W & N sables, round and chisel in varying sizes. My paper is always Saunders Waterford and Arches not and rough surfaces 200lb and 300lb. They don’t cockle and are quite forgiving if you need to lift out. Most important to have confidence in your paper, I’ve used others and have been disappointed with the finish.
When I’m travelling for my reference, my latest trip was September to the Lizard Point in Cornwall, I do simple pencil sketches and take my camera everywhere. I have no qualms about using photographic reference, even though it can be frowned upon, it’s a great way to gather plenty of material to work up in my studio. I don’t like working outdoors, there are too many distractions and it doesn’t suit my painting technique. Plus the viewfinder immediately helps with composition. I’m not afraid to move elements around or even leave some out until I feel the scene is balanced.
I am self-taught and as I mentioned my graphic design background has been very useful to my painting development. After this I helped set up a craft based business making model trees for architectural modelmakers. This has also been advantageous, working in scales and perspective in a 3-dimensional way has helped me understand how to achieve these elements within a painting.
In 2006 I was invited to become a Member of The Society of Women Artists and I felt extremely honoured to become a part of such a special and historical Society. To have my work recognised by such a wonderful Society was and is very special to me.
I really only began watercolour painting about 15 years ago and was hooked immediately and my style has evolved and developed the more I’ve painted. Turner’s watercolour skies and seascapes have been a tremendous source of inspiration to me. His imaginative use of paint and reaction to dramatic weather made him so ahead of his time. I look in wonderment at how he achieved those storms out at sea-incredible-oh to paint like that! But that’s what I love about painting there’s always more to strive for, more to improve on and so much to keep learning.
Well that’s a bit about me, I look forward to the month ahead and hope to be able to chat with fellow watercolourists.


Lismore Lighthouse in Scottish Highlands has a backdrop of impressive mountains and I would imagine for passing ships in the night the lighthouse must do a crucial lifesaving job. So I wanted to paint a night time view of it showing its power and importance for those vulnerable seamen.


Anonymous said...

i love the atmosphere and colours you use. thank you for sharing


Rebecca said...

Those skies have got me mesmerized! Wow! I know you said that you do them wet on wet and then "let the magic happen", but do you have any other little "tricks"? Do you use any special effect fluids? Do you tip the paper while it's wet, or just let it sit flat?
Thanks for being our artist of the month,

Sharon L. said...

Your skies are gorgeous and very exciting. How many colours do you usually choose for each painting. Do you have a favourite combination, especially for your night scenes? Do you use masking fluid to save your whites or certain colours? Will you normally draw your subject matter first, or do you start painting from the very beginning?

Jackie said...

Hi Kathy, thankyou for your kind responce-Jackie

Jackie said...

Hello Rebecca, thanks so much for your lovely remarks, it's always good to get feedback especially when it's complimentary! I don't have any tricks or special effects fluid. Occasionally I may add Ox Gall Liquid to my water to give me more time to move the paint around the paper but that's it. When I mix my paints I always make each one a little thicker in the order I plan to use them and sometimes I add a little Naples Yellow to some mixes. I've its opaqueness helps me to achieve the effects I want. I work mostly sitting ( I stand doing the skies) with a tilted board at about a 25 degree angle so that the paint flows down while the paper is wet. Best wishes Jackie

Jackie said...

Hi Sharon-thanks for your lovely comments. I do have favourite colours and use maybe 5 for a painting, mixing within those colours to get the harmony I spoke about. The colours I love to use are Naples Yellow, Davy's Grey, Ultramarine Violet, Cerulean Blue, Frensh Ultramarine, Burnt Sienna, Perylene Maroon & Violet, Paynes Grey and Neutral Tint. On the Night Guard picture for the sky I used Antwerp Blue for a partial underlying wash and then I mixed in Paynes Grey to make it darker. I do use masking fluid to preserve the whites but I don't like the stuff, it's essential for me to achieve my sky washes giving me freedom and confidence and not be fearful of painting over something I shouldn't. I always draw a very simple, light outline with a 3b or 4b pencil and I also use masking tape. On my website there is a link to an article and demonstration I wrote for International Artist magazine last year, which might be of interest. Thanks again-Jackie

Ona Kingdon said...

Thanks for your replies Jackie.

Here is the link to the article Jackie mentioned


Jackie said...

Thanks for putting the magazine link up Ona-Jackie

Sharon L. said...

Jackie, thank you so much for your detailed info. I`ve always wanted to paint a night scene, and did once many years ago in a class conducted by Shirley Scoble, our President. I actually framed it and gave it as a Xmas gift to my lovely nextdoor neighbours. It`s on their kitchen wall.
I hope to try some of your combinations to see what effects I can achieve. Will let you know -- I am quite excited to watch those colours flow. Hope you enjoy your weekend, and thanks again for sharing.

Jackie said...

Hi Sharon, please do let me know how you get on, I'd be interested-hope you have a great weekend too-happy painting! Jackie

Anonymous said...

beautifully atmospheric paintings. How do you drecide what colours you are going to use for a painting and what the dominant colours will be?


Jackie said...

Jaden, thanks for your comments. My colours choice depends on the atmosphere and mood I'm trying to achieve. If it's a dark storm I'd possibly use a mix of an inky blue-maybe indanthrene blue, paynes grey or neutral tint, with maybe burnt sienna, windsor violet (careful with this one- mixing in burnt sienna knocks it back quite well)-this mix would dominate. If it's a calm evening with maybe night or a storm approaching, then I'd add some warm, earthy colours-burnt sienna again, naples yellow deep, perylene maroon or a red of some kind. But I don't have a fixed formula, although I have favourite colours by adding more of one to another can obviously make it so different-I usually have scraps of paper knocking about to try the mix out first, but it's a bit intuitive for me really. Hope that's a good enough answer and I haven't rambled on too much! Jackie