Mist & sun, plein air fun, ‘video on demand’ and recent paintings.


Boat & huts at Walberswick.
This is a recent painting, of Walberswick, from photos I took on holiday a few years ago.  I took a snap at the first point of pausing, also shown here. I usually don’t paint in many ‘stages’, as per a step-by-step, normally only stopping to allow full drying once or twice.  Mainly owing to my two-wash approach, which has grown in hand with using Bockingford paper. A lot can be done in one wash, using what I describe as ‘dry into wet’ method.

A Suffolk Ash Tree
This one was supposed to capture a bit of that summer English weather of light breaking somewhere on the landscape whilst the rest is darkened under cloud shadow.
I wish the central tree looked a bit more ‘mature’ in years, as it was in fact.  Looks here too much like a newly planted one from the centre of a dual carriageway.  The dark paint for it was VERY thick, I think a mix of French Ultra and Burnt Umber, mainly.  No chance at all of amending any of those marks; what goes down stays down.  On its right side, where the marks are soft, that is because I pre-dampened the paper in that area before painting into it.

Winter Trees by the Avon
Based on an atmospheric early morning walk with camera in February.  I liked the shapes of those main trees particularly, but didn’t manage the left conifers as concisely as I wanted, nor other parts.  Will aim to try this one again in future, hopefully learning from that.

Demo, Willow on the Stour
Below, a recent art group demo painting.  A made up composition, in fact, but inspired by many ancient pollard willows to be seen in the Dedham Vale on the Suffolk/Essex border.  Close to Constable’s Flatford Mill, in fact….

Flatford Mill course
Earlier this month I took my first course at Flatford Mill, which is managed by the Field Studies Council.  The FSC is totally my kind of an organisation, and I absolutely love the location at Flatford – just perfect for painting.   So many great subjects, of historic buildings, riverside views, trees and water all within a few minutes walk.  All the while surrounded by wildlife, and really quite idyllic. We had bad luck with the weather, but still got out to paint every day and had some fun doing so.  I had a lovely group of watercolour students, and here are a few snaps from the week. I’m very pleased to have been asked back again next year, and will be returning at a similar date 2019, TBA.  (In addition I’ll also be teaching a winter course there in 2019, indoor-based and on the subject of skies.)

Regarding courses, my painting holiday with Big Sky Art in September this year has filled up!  Can’t wait for that either.  Am also booked for there again in 2019.  Dates of these are set but aren’t released for booking until later in the year.
Likewise – with Alpha Painting Holidays in 2019 I will tutoring in Exmoor!  Beautiful, wild place and some stunning locations again, so more to really look forward to there too.
Which brings me to the following plein air painting. This was in the centre of Nunney, Somerset.  A very pretty village with a great church and a castle. I’m teaching here in a couple of weeks with Alpha Painting Holidays, being one of the locations we’re visiting on the Wells-based holiday.   I’d not been to Nunney before but now I’ve got a car I managed to get down there to check it out and there are many lovely compositions for the taking.  As usual I put composition first, setting up the easel in full sun on the river bank, which really isn’t something I would recommend in general!  But I’m a sucker for an inspiring view and very often end up doing this when painting for myself, despite the added battle with very fast drying time…

And to make the most of our ‘heatwave’ I managed to get out again for a day to Clevedon.  Supposedly sunny all day, but it was cloaked in mist which barely began lifting over the water until about 2 pm.  I had a go at the pier in the mist, which was very difficult.  After some lunch I went a mile down the coast to Clevedon Pill, and here the mist was rolling in around me like dry ice. So lovely to be out in this, and with bird life surrounding me, but again a big challenge to paint in.  Finally, early evening I went back in the direction of the main beach and the mist had gone. I managed the following painting, balanced quite precariously with awkward footing on some rather sharp rocks.  My water came from a rockpool.  Well, this was the best of the 3 that day, though I’ve definitely got to have a better go at this view of Clevedon headland. It could make for an iconic image I think, but on my second attempt at this view (first one a couple of years ago) I’ve still not nailed it.  Should have retained some more white paper for a bit of light shining off those foreground rocks…

By the way, I post snippets from my plein air outings on Instagram  (https://www.instagram.com/jem.bowden/) sometimes, including short videos taken on my phone.  When I remember to do that!
I try to make my Instagram posts a bit different to my Facebook ones by posting that sort of thing there instead of finished paintings.  Artists’ FB and Instagram postings are often pretty much a duplication, which seems pointless!  It seems we all have to spend time over these things these days if you are in ‘business’ in any sense, though I’m sure quite a few of us wonder if all this social media is an entirely positive thing in our lives.

New Videos Page

Finally, please see my new website page – Videos.

I’ve just put online my first properly instructional video.   This is what they call ‘Video-on-demand’, which is fast replacing DVDs in terms of how video or film is bought/sold.
My ‘host’ website/platform is Vimeo.  This may be new to some people, but it is a long established US-based platform for quality film-makers, and hosts HD output, so is not intended as a direct competitor to Youtube – most of which is lower quality and quite ‘DIY’, though containing much good stuff.

Please be not affeared to join up to Vimeo with an account.  To buy or rent my videos (and there will be more to follow) you do need to create a log-in first, but this is just the usual email & password registration.  Vimeo, by the way is what APV Films (DVDs by whom you may own) use for their video-on-demand service, so perhaps you are already registered…

In terms of my future video-based tuition, please email me if there are specific subjects etc you’d like me to cover.  Thanks, and I hope you will enjoy my first foray in this direction.

Have a good month or so,















Comments On This Post

Nick 2 years ago. Reply

It is refreshing and reassuring that you are admitting your self criticism and the need to have another crack at a scene. Sometimes I find the best of three helps! I do enjoy reading your blog and feel I learn. Thank you

    Jem Bowden 2 years ago. Reply

    Thanks Nick.
    Yes, admitting to falling short is not something I find difficult! No watercolour is ever perfect, so there’s always room for improvement and at least reason for another try. The other two I did that day will be good for painting on the back of.
    With this one, I didn’t draw out those rocks at all first, which may have helped with the issue I mentioned. But I fight impatience to get the paint on, like many of us. Also it was quite uncomfortable even to stand there!

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