The Art of Sandra Busby...
Painter of Playful Light in Glass and Still Life


Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Putting things into perspective...

... And that's what I was trying to do here...

© Sandra Busby Watercolour

As you know, landscapes are simply not my thing. I don't like painting them and I am not fond of using watercolour either. But because of this I make myself do both from time to time.
Give me oils or Acrylics any day!
This watercolour sketch was going perfectly well until it came to the shadows of the trees, which where meant to hugely emphasize the perspective. It's a shame that impatience got the better of me and I began painting the shadows whilst the wash beneath was still too wet! Grrr...

The idea was that they would start off much thinner in the distance and get progressively larger as they came further towards the foreground. Instead they are the same all the way along and this actually takes away that feeling of distance that I had hoped to achieve. Talk about fall at the last hurdle!!
Oh well, never mind - another lesson learned!

At first, I was really disappointed and I almost put the painting away, never to be seen again. But then I really did 'put things into perspective' and changed my mind, because there are elements of it which I am really pleased with. 
I am very happy with the light, which gives a real sense of the sun going down. This adds mood and atmosphere to the painting, which was largely achieved by studying other Artists and the way in which they work. 


  1. This is a beautiful watercolour Sandra. I don't think the soft shadows have impaired the perspective at all and you have captured the effect of a sunset perfectly.

    Watercolours always dry dull or at least they do for me:) It is just the effect of light and using transparent colours and the white of the paper that gives the bright, fresh effect that we all seek ;)

    I use mainly W&N artists paints and Arches paper but I also use Cotman paints for sketching. I don't get on with Bockingford and prefer Cotman paper! You may also like Fabriano WC paper (that's watercolour not loo paper lol). If you like to lift colour then you need a paper that will take the punishment and Arches is one of the best for that, being 100% cotton rag. Maimeri are superb paints but more expensive than W&N, Schmincke are mainly single pigment and cheaper than W&N. Look at the colours you use or want to use and try to get single pigment colours. Also check their opacity, lightfastness and whether they are staining or granulating pigments. It's a massive subject but I recommend you have a look at which I constantly use for reference when choosing WC paints. To put it simply, buy the best you can afford :O)

  2. You may not agree when I say this, but the shadows are actually the best part of the painting for me. They are the ones who are responsible for creating atmosphere here. Just cover the rest of the painting and have a look at the shadows. You'll know that they are very atmospheric. You should not be disappointed at all. In fact you should be happy with the shadows.
    Coming to paint, I use artist quality Camel paints. Camel is the best local brand in India. And they are very good. But they do not produce some colors like turquoise. But anyway I dont use that. I have used Canson Montval, Fabriano, Bockingford, Guarro and Indian handmade paper. Each has its own good qualities and disadvantages. Actually I feel you should use different kind of papers and choose the paper according to the treatment that you are going to give to a subject. Some treatments work good on one paper while some treatments work fine on other papers.

  3. I think the shadows are fabulous too.
    Sometimes (eh, most of the time..) a painting does not turn out as planned, and at first that can be disappointing, until you get over that and you can see that the real painting is not as bad as you thought. I think it is a beautiful painting.
    I like the 100% cotton papers, my favorite is Canson Fontenay. And Arches. I use student quality paints, but I am gradually going to replace them.

  4. Sandra I think this is a beautiful painting! I love the shadows cast on the ground, and the shadows of the trees. I think you are right about the light, you have nailed it perfectly here and wow what a great atmosphere it gives! I think it's beautiful work Sandra, you are much to hard on yourself!! :) But I know, we all are aren't we? It's the way we grow I guess.

    As far as paper goes I used to exclusively use Arches 300 lb cold pressed but found I had to layer extensively to get the glowing color I wanted so I switched to 140 lb cold pressed and have found that on the lighter weight paper I can achieve brighter more intense color quicker! It just needs to be stretched which is a bummer for someone as impatient as me.

    And yes W & N artist colors can't be beat. They are what I use too. I started out with Cotman and when I switched it made such a difference!

  5. when we're in the midst of creating we lose sight of the work and get lost in our heads. i guess it's part of the process as we've discussed many times. the shadows are as stunning as the rest of this amazing piece! i do the same thing so i'll stand down and just say how wonderful i think your work is.

  6. Very nicely done, Sandra. There is a lot I can learn from this. Thanks for sharing it.

  7. Sandra, again you are being too hard on yourself. I think this is a magical painting and I love the shadows on the ground. the sense of light you have created is just beautiful. As for papers and paints I have no idea of the difference between many of them as I mentioned in my blog a while back - I have so much to learn in that respect but it'll be interesting to see if you find a difference with the more expensive paper.

  8. Simply magical painting, love the light and the shadows. It simply glows.
    I use the Arches cold press, lighter weight, and am switching from the Cotman to the WN artist grade the old tubes run out.... have wanted to try the Fabriano paper too, haven't yet! Soon.

  9. When I first saw this - before I read your commentary, I thought, that's a lovely painting, I'd only maybe lift a little dark from the shrubbery in the centre of the eyeline, which would give a greater feel of distance.
    Notice I said greater. I was surprised to read your feelings.

    My paper of choice is Arches Aquarelle Rough 140lb. Have tried samples when I pick them up, but nothing compares to Arches for me.
    Paint W&N artists.

  10. Hi Sandra, to me this is a beautiful watercolor where the shadow are not impairing the perspective at all. Colors and light look really fantastic. Really well done in my opinion.
    Generally I use Fabriano Artistico 300gsm extra white paper, either in blocks or in sheets. I like also the Arches paper 300gsm cold pressed, but here is much more expensive than the Fabraino one.

  11. Sandra this is a fantastic painting, good composition and great atmosphere. The shadows you worry about are marvellous - especially the washy ones on the right. OK, there is a little too much darkness in the painting for me in places, but that is just a personal preference.
    I think that Judy is on the right track - no painting ever turns out the way you want, but no one else can imagine how you wanted it to be anyway.
    As for paper and paint, I use W&N Cotman paper a lot, but love Bockingford and Langton. There is one 'cheapo' brand that has never failed to give me a good result, and that is WHSmith's WC paper - it's as cheap as chips and definitely worth a try! As for paint, all my Cotman colours are gradually being replaced by W&N, which IMO are far superior.

  12. Hello Sandra,
    this light-filled watercolors and mystery, dramatic contrasts of claroescuro!
    His art is getting more expressionistic, but the technical quality ever.
    You know I'm your fan, I love your comments and their work.
    A big hug

  13. Marvellous way you painted the reflection of light! Arianna

  14. Beautiful light and mood. Your field is wonderful! And I love your title. Made me smile.

  15. Michael - Thank you! What a lovely lot of information you have given here! Cotman are perfect for sketches, I agree. I have got a Cotman Travel sketching set coming from my parents for Christmas, which will hopefully encourage me to do what you do! I will check out the web-site too, thank you!

    Prabal - Thank you so much for your thoughts on the painting! I don't think Camel paints are sold over here. I agree with you that it is a good idea to experiment with different papers. If only they made a pad of a selection of watercolour paper brands! I really like the idea of trying out some hand made paper, but I have been so reluctant to spend too much until I am producing more consistently nice paintings :0)

    Judy - Thank you! I have never heard of that paper before. Perhaps it's another I should try.
    Sometimes I throw a painting to one side and think it's awful, but often when I pick it up again some weeks later, I fid that it isn't so bad after all :0)

    Crystal - Thank you so much! Yes - I am very hard on myself, I know. I suppose I am just so impatient and want to be so much better, so much quicker, but it will take time.
    So You use the same as Cristina then? It's interesting because yours also have such an amazing brightness to them too. I can't wait to try it :0)

    Suzanne - Thank you so much! You are right, sometimes we just lose sight (well, at least I do. But each painting is a step closer to one I hope I will be proud of!! :0)

  16. Carol - Thank you so much! That is so nice of you to say :0)

    Pointy-Pix - Thank you! And ys, me too, I have a lot to learn. As I was saying to Prabal, it's a shame we can't buy pads of a selection of brands to try out isn't it? :0)

    Maria - Thank you very much! I also want to try the Fabriano paper too, because it is less expensive. But who knows, maybe I will fall in love with Arches having used cheap brands for so long and then I won't want to change! :0)

    Pat - Thank you! Yes, I see what you mean about lightening the hedge in the eyeline - that may have helped. Still, I am glad you like it too :0)

    Tito - Thank you very much! Fabriano is the next one my list to try! Thank you! :0)

    Frank - Thank you! And yes, perhaps it would have benefited from being lighter in areas, I agree with you. It's interesting that you get on well with Langtons - me, not so much! Unless of course I try Arches and it makes no difference, in which case I know it's my technique that is the problem!
    I have some of the WH Smith paper, but I only use it for experiments as it doesn't take much rough treatment and it buckles so quickly. Still, what works for one doesn't always work for another I suppose! It's a shame though because the price is great! :0)

    Antonio - Thank you so much! I am really glad that you like the painting.
    I love that you say you are my 'fan'! I have never had one of those before, lol! :0)

  17. Arianna - Thank you very much! :0D

    Kim - Thank you! I am glad you like it too :0D

  18. Sandra, you are absolutely too hard on yourself!
    This is really a beautiful watercolor! I find that you succeded very well in represent the sunset light, the magic of the last sun rays, while everything else is becoming dark, almost a silhouette against the sky... I love the soft light on the roofs in the distance, and these very black shadows give me such an emotion!
    Thank you for your wonderful words: I really hope to deserve all this praises... oh, I blushed with pleasure, thank you!
    A big hug! ♥♥

  19. This is a very good effort. the painting and the light/shade has come out very well! keep going!

  20. Nice effect Sandra. There is definitely mystery here, which is always better then everything being 'spelt out' as it were. I like the shapes in the foliage too, there is enough there to read well as leaves -that way of simplifying is very useful in rendering any subject and avoids fiddly details.

    I am definitely looking forward to those sketches Sandra, I need to see something MESSY!!! hahaa... I hope you're not teasing! :P

    Good job :D

  21. Sandra, it's beautiful!! I think it was a happy accident:) What did Bob Ross say "Happy little trees":) It's gorgeous, dramatic and just the right amount of color bounced around to give life with the dark shadows.

  22. Sandra, I love the shadows and the mood here. Very dramatic painting. I think you are being too hard on yourself. Maybe it is not what you envisioned, but, look at how many people like it. I think it is great. I use Arches cold press. I sometimes use yupo for very fun and free paintings.

  23. Hello
    I love this one! What actually struck me straight away, was the mixture of very precise lines of the buildings, the detail in smaller trees and yet splodgyness of the bigger trees. Sorry about the Splodgy but not really sure how else to describe them!! Wherever this is though, isn't somewhere I want to be in the dark!!!

  24. you've got some wonderful dramatic darks sandra ..looking very good ......these are papers and paints which i can buy locally here sandra
    papers : fabriano, canson fontaney + canson montval and arches ..often use both sides :) ...these are papers and paints which i can buy locally here sandra
    paints: ...W&N + W&N Cotman and Maimeri blu + Maimeri Venezia

  25. Dramatic is the way I would describe it.. I like it just the way it is and the fact that you don't see many painting like this.
    I like Arches 140lb cold pressed , it's not cheap, but it's probably the best,,, I would like to try Fabriano Artistico , some people love it ,, and as for paints.. definetly W/N artist grade. I have used Cotman paints,and Cotman Watercolor Blocks and Pads, both were alright , but once you go a step up ,, you won't go back.. I also think it's personal preference and what you want out of your efforts. hugs, BJ

  26. This is a very beautiful painting do not be so harsh on yourself. I agree with you about the choice of materials we use. Like you I used the less expensive but when people began to buy my work I believed that I had a duty to use only the best I could afford.

  27. Cristina - You are more than deserving! Thank you for your continued inspiration :0)

    Sparrowhawk - Thank you so much for dropping in and for your encouraging comment :0)

    James - Thank you! Yes, there are some messy things coming up - but still probably far from messy enough! :0)

    Carrie - Thank you! Ahh, yes - the wonderful Bob Ross! He has such a soothing and hypnotic voice he would often send me off to sleep! And what a fantastic artist he was too :0)

    Liana - Thank you! It's funny - paintings rarely turn out as I hope or expect when I use watercolour! It's very much easier with acrylics and oils! It seems that Arches is the prefered choice for most artists. I can't wait to try it! :0)

    Amanda - Thank you! I think I need more splodginess in my life! I love the word 'splodge'! I'm glad you like it :0)

    Jane - Thank you! Some of those I haven't heard of, but Arches and Fabriano seem to be the favourites! And W&N too. I am pleased that I chose to make the scene one of darkness. I think it adds to the drama :0)

    Barbra - Thank you! I think it is almost everybody who likes Arches the best! I do think that when a lot of dark is used in a painting, the light areas really sing :0)

    Ralph - Thank you! And I agree with you. Also, when people are buying your paintings, at least we can afford the more expensive materials too :0)


Thank you so much for leaving a comment! Where possible I will respond via email. I really do love to read them! They always make me smile ;0)


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