Beginnings of a new project!

Posted by Catherine Cains on

Hello 👋 and I hope everyone has had a lovely holiday weekend.

I have some very exciting news to share about a new project that I’m working on in collaboration with lots of other local traders! 
Jan who runs some of the local markets that I attend in Belle Vue Park and Tredegar House has had a wonderful idea: to create an advent calendar style gift box, using products from local traders and small businesses to fill the smaller gift drawers! Isn’t that a fabulous idea?

Jan has kindly asked me to make some watercolour studies of the buildings in Belle Vue Park and around Newport and come up with two paintings to be used in the box design. The first will be quite an exact study of the main Pavillion Building and attached orangeries which now serve as the popular Belle Vue Tea Rooms. The second will focus on the well loved bandstand in Belle Vue Park featuring a selection of local Newport landmarks in the background.

I’ve just begun to make a start on the first piece of the main buildings. I have soaked and stretched the watercolour paper so it is ready when I come to applying paint but before I rush in there’s some preparation to consider.
Jan and I discussed the project and had a look at the blanked box construction, including the dimensions. The central box is square and then divided into sections and two fold down flaps are attached to the sides which act as a ‘door’ cover. We decided on an image of the main doors as the central image with both sides of the conservatories opening onto the flaps. I visited the tea rooms and climbed to a height opposite the doors to take as direct a shot as I could with my phone. This gave me a great central view point but meant that the two conservatories were cut off at the very sides in my photo. 

A drawing activity that I used to teach regularly was ‘extended drawings’. Usually we did this to create texture to a piece but it’s also a useful way of planning out the rest of the building when it is cut off in the photo. I printed out my photo and stuck it into my sketchbook with masking tape which I could work on top of. My photo was also not the best for light etc. even though it showed the proportions clearly so working on top would give me a chance to look at the colours and details included in the building. As the photo is already there I could work quickly with a fine liner to pick out the structure and details and then add some rough colour over the image. This is a great way of introducing yourself to a subject by studying the main details so that when you come to plan your final drawing you already have some knowledge. But it is also useful as a working sketch and can be very much a part of the beginning process when making a painting. By continuing the lines of the buildings I now have a good idea of how the remaining parts will fit. I can now use this with a grid to plan out how the buildings will be framed within the dimensions of the box and transfer the proportions in a planning drawing for the final painting. 

I’ll be working on this and the second piece in the next few weeks and will post updates here on my blog. If you’d like to receive notifications of any updates to my blog sign up for my newsletter where you’ll also receive a code for 10% your first order on my website 😊


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