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  • Writer's pictureDeborah Pugh

Joyful Journey

I am delighted that "Joyful Journey" was recently selected for the Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colours 209th Exhibition. It was completed as part of a series exploring the possibilities of layering watercolour in a playful way, while pushing the design and values to their extremes. It got its name as it really was a joyful piece to create and was my personal favourite from the series.

The painting was created on heavy (300lb), Saunders Waterford watercolour paper. This allowed me to work with multi-layered watercolour and mixed media in a vigorous way adding and taking away paint where necessary without fear of damaging the surface.

I like exploring the juxtaposition of transparent colours and opaque colours within my non objective abstract work. Some watercolours are naturally more opaque than others and with the addition of white gouache I was able to create a complex surface with depth and interest.

The colours are derived from my en plein air landscape sketches. I try to sketch outside on a regular basis, and in 2018 I completed 100 days of painting landscapes. During this time I found that my palette changed to suit the local landscape where I live on the Isle of Sheppey. The burnt oranges and deep muted reds of sun dried grassland, and the cool turquoise which is reminiscent of the sea in certain weather conditions when the sea is calm and there is strong light.

A range of mark making tools were used to create this piece beyond the conventional brushes including pipettes and sticks to give a diverse range of marks. I am not a traditional watercolourist but enjoy playing with this medium and pushing it to its limits. Graphite sticks and pencils were used to make marks both in the initial layers and on the surface to draw the viewer in. The initial layers included water soluble graphite which I both drew with, and shaved into wet paint which created interesting textures.

The design is based on a grid format helps me to bring order to my riotous marks. Whites were preserved with tapes, and found within the marks, or regained with the use of white gouache. I like to create mystery for the viewer but layering in such a way that it can be hard to tell what is in front and what is behind. These unexpected nuances are designed to invite the viewer to look closer and question what they are seeing.

Finally I used a layer of gold gouache powder to set the piece off and create a decorative treat.

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