Clifton Suspension Bridge

Gouache painting of Clifton Suspension Bridge by Helen Davison

“Untitled”, 7″ x 10″, gouache

I’m still playing around with gouache painting. It’s both incredibly difficult, but also really energising to be learning something new. To keep things a little more controllable I’m allowing myself some time away from life work and am experimenting with working up studio paintings based on quick on-site sketches and photos.

This actually kills two birds with one stone as I don’t really enjoy working from photos, finding it challenging to keep things loose and dynamic. It’s easy to get pulled into adding too much detail and copying too literally. I think used as one of a plethora of tools however, photography could have a place in my practice and my hope is that it will help me to experiment with different subject matter and creative viewpoints. My one rule is that I use my own photos, not found ones, and that ideally they will back-up quick sketches that may not be great in themselves, but mean that I have spent time really looking at my intended subject, mentally taking in the details and atmosphere that the camera misses. As I go along, gouache sketches that I think work well could form the basis for larger oil paintings. Each iteration moving further from the photo and becoming something new.

Here’s the first of this work. Clifton Suspension Bridge in Bristol. I visited and made a couple of really quick drawings, finishing off with some iPhone pics of the same view. My painting is tighter than I was aiming for, but some of what I’m struggling with at the moment is understanding how the medium behaves. In time, I hope confidence will free things up.

Sketch of Clifton Suspension Bridge by Helen Davison