Our enthusiastic and inspiring watercolour painting tutor Mike Willdridge always carries a sketchbook with him wherever he goes and considers it a vital part of his artistic life. He’s written an intriguing series of essays, of which this is the second, to persuade you do do the same.
In the first essay Mike highlighted the value of a sketchbook as a “visual diary” and as a way of gathering information. You can enjoy it by clicking here.
In this essay he looks at the use of the sketchbook to experiment and to attempt to solve visual problems. Mike says: “Because you don’t need to be precious in a sketchbook, you can take risks and try out ideas that you might otherwise feel self-conscious about if they were finished pictures.”
Solving visual problems
Mike says: “This is a montage of different pages from a very early sketchbook. I was working on an idea for a set design for a slightly risqué musical that involved plenty of ‘can can’ type dancing. I played around with several visual sources including photos of Marilyn Monroe and Toulouse Lautrec type images. Here I’ve used photos, watercolour paint, photocopies cut up etc. The set never got made – which is probably just as well!
Mike says: “Earlier this year, on a holiday in the Marche region of Italy, I was thrilled by the sunsets. After a couple of sketches (above), I began ‘experimenting’ in my sketchbook, making more abstract images especially responding to the intense colours and darker shapes of the evening landscape.”
The painting below, says Mike, “is one of a number of finished works made after using my sketchbooks to experiment with ideas.” The oil painting is called Red, Green and Yellow.
Mike says: “There’s a lot of very varied work you can do in sketchbooks. Not only can you carry a sketchbook anywhere, but also you’ll never have the pressure to frame your sketchbooks or worry about where you’re going to find space to store finished work.
Mike Willdridge works and teaches in a wide range of media and is an enthusiastic and energetic tutor with more than 20 years’ experience. Although his classes are always light-hearted and fun, he is experienced enough to vary the level of ‘teaching’ to individual needs.
Mike works quickly and in a loose style, encouraging his students to simplify their own work. His watercolours are mostly painted ‘wet into wet’ and in other media he uses a variety of tools such as household brushes, card and rags to produce loose and semi abstract work. He especially values drawing as a way of recording/responding to everyday events and makes constant use of a sketchbook.
At The Watermill we run painting holidays with expert tuition in watercolours, oils, acrylics, pastels and other media and you can find out all about all our talented and inspirational tutors and their courses by clicking here.