5-4-2 Assignment 5 : Series of five paintings

For this project develop a series of five pictures using methods and a subject of your own choice.  For your paintings you will need to establish the aspects of the work that links them.  When you have finished, decide on titles.  Write the title on the back.

Write an valuation of the paintings and summary of your progress.

The theme of the painting series is based around a day on my holiday.  Not everything was done on the same day but these were activities that occurred at different stages of the day through our holiday.  I have combined them into one day to provide a pictorial overview and sense of what we did during our time on the Welsh coast at Aberaeron.

The painting series starts by the quayside at Aberaeron observing people crabbing and enjoying the day.  The next painting is a cottage a few metres from the beach on the banks of the river Arth in Aberarth a short walk from Aberaeron.  Then the series moves onto a trip to the market to buy some provisions for dinner.  I have tried to capture some of the hustle and bustle of a market without overcrowding the scene with people.  The next in the series is the results of our trip to the market- a dinner of moules mariniere with bread, simple but beautiful.  And finally as the day ends a short stroll by the quayside reveals the diminishing light and shifting tones and colours of sunset.  I tried to avoid the scenic postcard view of bright reds and oranges with a red disc in the sky and have sought a more subtle depiction of it.


SERIES OF PAINTINGS                              A Day on my Summer Holiday (A day in Aberaeron)

1.    Morning Walk by the Harbour


2.    Afternoon walk to riverside cottage


3.     Shopping for Dinner


4.      Dinnertime, Moules mariniere with bread


5.     The Day’s End : Harbour stroll at Sunset



Evaluation of series of paintings

This series of paintings have been evaluated on a ‘toolkit’ of the 5C’s.

Concept     –    Construction      –    Composition      –       Context      –       Colour & Tone

  • Morning Walk by the Harbour 5-4-2-01

The quayside at Aberaeron observing people crabbing and enjoying the day.


The idea behind this painting is to depict how busy and happy the harbour-side at Aberaeron felt.  There was a real holiday buzz about the harbour.  Kids and their families crabbed industrially along the harbour walls and others strolled about or grabbed a refreshing pint in one of the quayside pubs.  The weather was a rare gloriously sunny day in Wales.  The painting is also intended to show the ‘prettiness’ of the town which is painted in a multitude of pastel shades with some strong colours.  The overall message is people enjoying themselves on holiday.


The painting is contrasted with a strong sense of proportion.  The wall separating the road from the quayside and the edge of the quay present a strong linear and prospective element as they recede into the distance.  The inclusion of people involved in activities is an important element of the composition as without people this would be a sterile empty scene and lose the sense of its main purpose – people enjoying themselves on holiday.  The sense of proportion and recession is reinforced by the large scale of the buildings on the left diminishing in size as the street moves from left to right.  The construction of the painting was based on the rule of thirds.  The tall lamp and post were placed off –centre to avoid splitting the painting into two halves.


The wall and quay edge are also important as they help to pull the eye into the painting progressively showing the groups of people as they go about their holiday.  The line of the distance hills and sky pull the eye back into the scene.  The tall mast right and the back edge of the buildings also act as similar devices to pull the eye back into the painting and down to the front edge so that the reading of the painting can continue.  There is a rhythm set by the different buildings as the scene moves around the painting.  The large building left, the tall mast right act as framing devices for the main scene.


The context is an environment where everyone is busy being on holiday.  The happy atmosphere of the quayside view is reinforced by the ‘jolly’ colours of some buildings, (these are true to life, purple pink and bright greens blues and yellow are very evident in many places along the Welsh coastal towns.  Having looked at some work by David Taylor and especially the importance of people in this landscapes and townscapes I felt despite the difficulty of representing people in a scene it was important to do so.  Another element in his work is the strong sense of light on the scene and this has also been an important element of this painting.

Colour & Tone

Colour is important in this painting.  The use of strong colour in some of the buildings could have resulted in the painting looking like a primary school child’s painting if used excessively.  However, as a result of using these strong colours I have reduced the rest of the palette and used these strong colours to produce a visual impact by their use in just a few isolated areas.  There are other strong colours in various elements of the painting but these are used sparingly.  The red tee-shirt of the sitting boy and especially the small flag atop the mast lift the greens used in the background hills.  The blues of the sky, water and some of the buildings are lifted by the bright orange accent of the life buoy on the pole.

On the quayside, the wall and elsewhere I have used warm colours to indicate that the subject is strongly light and it’s a sunny day.  This is reinforced by strong cool shadows from the people and other elements.

  • Afternoon walk to riverside cottage 5-4-2-02

A countryside cottage on the banks of the river Arth


The message involved here is two fold: to show the heat and brightness of the midday summer heat (a rare welsh summer’s day!) and to show a typical Welsh rural scene of cottages beside a river.  The work is a bit impressionistic with the use of strong colours laid adjacent to each other.  This was done to produce the brightness and bright blaze of tone and colour this cottage produced sitting in bright sunlight.


The construction of the painting shows a solidly built cottage sitting central in the painting supported by a couple more cottages on the left. The use of these other buildings and the angle of the first/main cottage give a sense of prospective and proportion as they diminish in size.  The viewpoint is looking across the river which in the middle of summer was more of a stream.


The construction is based on the rule of thirds: the bottom edge of the main cottage and the lower sky line being the two horizontal manifestation of this rule. The vertical elements are the main chimneys of the first two cottages.  The wall / shrubbery from the centre left edge and the lower left are used to gently pull the eye towards the focal point – the bright gable end of the main cottage.


The cottages sit in their surroundings looking like they belong.  They have been settled here for possible a couple of hundred years.  These simple country cottages in a rural landscape along with the loose use of colour is reminiscent of Yeats, though not as abstract.

Colour & Tone

The range of colours and textures used on the buildings – walls and roofs are used to indicate the different textures and materials of these elements.  As well the range of colours in these materials as they are not a single colour especially with the bright sun on them.  Use of warm reds yellow oranges to indicate the heat of the day, cooler colours and tones used in the shadows and in the greenery to indicate the coolness and shelter of these areas form the midday heat.  

  • Shopping for Dinner 5-4-2-03

A trip to the market to buy some provisions for dinner


I have tried to capture some of the hustle and bustle of a market without overcrowding the scene with people.  The indoor market scene shows the Victorian market along with some of the trades, their wares and a sprinkling of customers.  I wanted to convey the neatness and regimentation of the stalls in contrast to the hiddley-piddley nature of the piles of fruit and veg.  The lighting is mixed artificial and natural giving conflicting shadows and lighting in the scene.


The construction of this painting has some strong linear elements to it.  The proportions of the various people in the scene are important as any inconsistency in size would make the paint read wrong.  Other elements can be incorrectly sized and not read as too incorrect but a person being incorrect even slightly is always noticed.  The sizing of the people also introduces the sense of recession and perspective to the scene.  The linear elements in the scene set up a strong and repeating rhythm.


Again the rule of thirds is used: the lower edge of the shop top being the upper horizontal and the turn in the line of boxes of vegetables the lower one, with the main struts for the stall /shop being the vertical devices.  There are several linear elements slanting diagonally into the painting from the right.  These also lead the eye into the painting as well as act as a prospective device.

I have left some areas of the painting without colour and tone to act as a quiet and restful places for the eye to alight.


This is a market, though I have avoided the hustle and bustle of many markets by including many less people than the original scene had.  The environment of shoppers in a market reads as a (nearly) busy scene with people being self-absorbed in their shopping.  The inclusion of several stalls and shoppers in different areas of the scene lends as sense of trading in this market.

Colour & Tone

The main colours in the scene have been kept to a minimum because of the use of bright fruit colours throughout the scene.  The fruit colour though bright is only used in quite small patches.  The warmth of the sun shining on the floor is indicated by the warm colours used.  This contrasts with the cool colour used in the shadows.  The predominate colour in the scene is the green of the stall front sacking with this contrasting with the subtle use of small red patches throughout the work.  Most of the trade stalls we see are fruit and veg and the use of colour green reinforce this fruits of nature element in the scene.  This used of contrasting colours is again used with the blues of the roof framing and the yellows in the scene (canopy and bananas.

Texture has been included in several elements of the scene through the use of a dry brush.  The tones used in the scene also act as framing devises to element of it.

  • Dinnertime, Moules mariniere with bread 5-4-2-04

The results of our trip to the market- a dinner of moules mariniere with bread, simple but beautiful.


This is a dinner setting giving an unusual viewpoint for a painting of looking straight down.  It is a simple painting to show the favourite dinner of my wife and the results of our shopping trip to the market, i.e. the previous painting.

Despite it unusual viewpoint as regards a painting it is a more normal viewpoint for a person about to sit down to dinner.


The painting is dominated by the large circular plate /bowl of mussels.  The proportions of the objects are correct but because of the viewpoint there is virtually no depth of field.  There is some depth indicated on the bread on the right .


The unusual viewpoint allows the use of geometrical elements in the composition.  The bowl of sea food is framed by elements within the painting such as the striped napkin, the spoon bread and knife as well as by the shadows and tones.  The eye is led by a variety of means to the focal point – the mussels.  The dominant circle is supported with other geometric shapes such as the lines of the spoon as well as the circular nature of it as well. The ovals of the bread and the diagonal lines of the striped napkin, the spoon, knife and folds in the tablecloth.


The environment of the subject is a dinner table.  There are several objects within the scene that reinforce this setting, such as the butter and knife, the bread and spoon, the napkin and tablecloth and not least the plate of food.

Colour & Tone

The palette of colours has been keeping quite small.  I intended this to be a simple painting almost monochromatic with accents of colours to heighten this effect.  The background is quite bare with just a few dry brush marks and shadows to break the monotony.  The strong dark blues of the mussel shells provide the strongest colour and deepest tones in the painting.  The deep blues are contrasted with the yellows and oranges of the butter and mussel meat in the shells as well as the napkin stripes and lemon stripe.  There is another subtle patch of colour in the bread with the warm browns and ochres contrasting with the deep shadows and the grey of the cutlery.  The dry brush marks giving texture to the tablecloth is a warm colour hinting at the bright light on the scene.

  • The Day’s End : Harbour stroll at Sunset ????????????????????????????

A stroll on the quayside reveals the diminishing light and shifting tones and colours of the setting sun at the end of the day.


The idea behind this was to reveal some of the spectacular sunsets that we were treated to during our fortnight on the Welsh coast.  The limited light and with the palette of colour reduced to just one or two and general flattening of the tones was the main aim of this painting.  I treated to avoid the stereo-typical glorious multi-coloured photo-shop type painting of a sunset and concentrated on the monochromatic aspects that were revealed at this time of the day as the light faded.


The viewpoint is looking from the south side quay across to the north shore with the line of the quay and house making a definitive statement as it swings across the page.  The nature curve of the harbour quayside wall makes a better device in the painting than a straight line across the page would have done – dividing the painting in half.


Constructed on the rule of thirds, the painting has a deep toned mass of building across the centre of the painting to set the upper and lower horizontal limits of the rule.  The boats and masts supported by the larger building (Harbourmaster Hotel) set the vertical limits of the rule.  The only detail visible and discernible in the scene is on the three near foreground boats tied up mid-water in the harbour.


The scene is typical of this time of the day and this section of the country.  Many of the sunsets over the sea but as a result of the curve within the bay and the shape of the harbour I was able to settle on a setting sun over a town.  This sections juts out into the bay with water a bit behind the houses and buildings jutting out from right to left.

Colour & Tone

I tried to avoid the scenic postcard view of bright reds and oranges with a red disc in the sky and have sought a more subtle depiction of it.  To set the scene and the mood of this painting I used a coloured ground.  The watercolour paper is a light to mid-toned yellow.  This has also helped to reduce the palette of colour required to render this scene.

Apart from the foreground boats the rest of the scene is monochromatic.  There is a deepening of tones for the buildings on the opposite side of the harbour this differentiates between the background hills and the heavy mid-ground structures.  I have exaggerated the narrowing of the tone and colour in the scene.  There was more colour and tone evident but I have reduced the range to simply the paintings as well to exaggerate this effect.

Evaluation of Paintings Series – continued

5-4-2-015-4-2-025-4-2-03 5-4-2-04 5-4-2-05

The ones I prefer from the series are # 1 and # 3.  It is no coincidence that these paintings are populated by people involved in various activities.  The both also have a strong sense of light and transparency, the ‘hallmarks of a decent watercolour painting.

The order the paintings were painted in is : 4, 1, 5, 3 and 2

The series had originally been intended as a selection of painting of places we had been to during our holiday in Wales.  However, once I started it the indication that these were at different times of the day suggested that I turn the series in effect into a story board of paintings for a Day on Holiday.

This makes a stronger theme and viewers can then identify with different things they on holiday and compare.  It then naturally indicates the order of the paintings.

Having done several paintings in a representative manner I felt the series show some looseness in at least one of the works.  Hence I did #2 the White Cottage by the river Arth.  The colour was able to depict several features within the painting and not just the flowers and shrubs in bloom but the warm colours hint at the heat and warmth of the summer’s day.

The paintings with people in them are those that indicate the most progress of me as a watercolourist.  The positive aspects that these indicate are the strength of the subject matter especially with people within the scene.  They also should a harmony of colour and tone to accurately depict the scene, as well as using colour to indicate the mood in the scene; the warmer colours indicate the warmth of the day on this subject.  Other positive aspects of these two paintings in particular are the purity and the transparency of the colour.

These paintings indicate progress as months ago much of the work I produced did not have this purity of colour having been overworked and deadened as a result.

Another progression of style in this series is that my work became progressively looser as the series progressed. The final painting in the series lacks some tone being too high key, though again I did not wish to over-work this painting and left it as is as it depicted the original concept I was trying to achieve. Limited range of colour and tones may make the painting look anaemic.  Did think to deepen tones and add more colour but did achieve what I set out to do and decided to stop for fear of over-working the piece (an old habit of mine!).

One area of painting #2, the brightly coloured cottage is the foreground.  This area has become a bit muddled and over-worked.  In hindsight I should have applied less paint and left bare patches and quieter elements within this section.

Those in my family and friend who have viewed this series are impressed with the progress I have made.  Though every artist is never happy with where they are; always seeming to want to be at a different stage.  Family and friends also concur with the selection I have made as the favourite and or best painting in this series; the ones populated by people.  A close second seems to be the looseness of the style in painting #2, again showing that accuracy of rendering a subject to life is not necessarily the making of a painting.  Viewers like to be able to interpret a painting.  The range of bright colours also brings a freshness and vitality to this painting.


Assignment 1 to Assignment 5








Above left is the first painting done as an assignment piece on this watercolour course.  Comparing with the painting on the right the last in the series of paintings done for an assignment indicates the progress I have made as an artist in developing my watercolour skills and developing as an artist.  The application of paint is much better.  The observation of the scene by the harbour shows the people belong whereas the pieces of fruit look like they may topple from the page as they are not quite solidly anchored in space.

This final (Part 5) of this course has taught me much including how to develop a series of work through careful observation, planning and working through ideas until they crystallise and can be developed further or put down in a painting.

I think I can now paint in a looser style and manner though I think I am more pre-disposed to more accurate renderings of subjects.  Though I find I am moving away from the more sterile aspects of these shortcomings.  For instance observe the paintings of the colourful yachts observed and painted quite loosely, though they did not make the final cut into the series of five!