Watercolour painting techniques and tutorial with Nick Eggelston I Colour In Your Life

Watercolour painting techniques and tutorial with Nick Eggelston I Colour In Your Life


G’day viewers my name is Graeme Stevenson and I’d like to invite you to come on a journey of creativity and learning and adventure through the series Colour In Your Life. There’s an Artist in every family throughout the world and lots of times there’s an artist deep down inside all of us as well. So grab your kids, your brothers, your sisters, your aunties, uncles and mums and dads, and come and see how some of the best artists do what they do. (Music Plays) (Graeme) Well g’day viewers and welcome back to Colour In Your Life. Well we are in Tauranga. (Graeme) I think I’m getting that right hehehe. (Nick) Close (Graeme) It’s a tough one isn’t it (Graeme) Which is in the Bay of Plenty in the North Island of New Zealand. Fantastic (Graeme) place, great people. And I’m with a gentleman called Mr. Nick Eggleston. (Nick) How do you do (Graeme) Lovely to meet you bud. (Nick) and you, Sir (Graeme) This is fascinating what Nick does. (Graeme) When I first saw Nick’s work I just went, ‘this is just great’. He paints animals (Graeme) but in the most bizarre settings, with the most amazing tattoos, (Graeme) and gismos and all sorts of stuff on them. Where did the influence (Graeme) of doing these dogs come from? (Nick) It came from a lot of (Nick) traditional wildlife paintings that I used to do. That involved a lot of detail (Nick) and I found over time it would take so long to do (Nick) and I was starting to get repetitive strain injury in my wrist. (Nick) I needed to change my style quite drastically (Nick) and I was floundering a little bit. I did one of these dogs just for fun, (Nick) cranked up the colours on them, put a shadow for them (Nick) to sit in, no background. Simple as! (Nick) They just took off from there. (Graeme) Yeah. It’s amazing. You’ve done a number of (Graeme) exhibitions with these and they’re just sell out shows? (Nick) Yes (Graeme) There’s nothing left on the wall. (Nick) No (Graeme) And you can understand why as we go through the show today. (Graeme) I think they’re just tremendous pictures, and the imagination that goes into them is (Graeme) quite spectacular. But you’ve got three stages today. (Nick) Yes (Graeme) that we’re going to go through. We’re going to start with this guy here. Is that correct? (Nick) Yep (Graeme) And you’re already drawn it out. And this is 600? (Nick) Six hundred GSM watercolour paper. (Graeme)
And it’s hot or cold press? (Nick) This is cold press. A little bit of texture to it. (Graeme) Okay. (Graeme) I mean you just sort of put these together. You call them Frankenstein dogs. (Nick) Yeah, yeah (Nick) Not because they look like Frankenstein, but simply because I’ve got a limited number of (Nick) images, photographs that I’ve got. I use the body from one, (Nick) the head from another and I’ll swap and change them around. (Graeme) OK (Nick) And now it just gives me a variety. (Graeme) Alright, well lets make a start on this. I’m going to ask you some more questions (Graeme) about your life and techniques (Nick) OK (Graeme) as we go through, but really fascinating man. It’s going to be a great day. (Graeme) Okay so (Graeme) how do we start our watercolour dog? And you’re obviously using watercolours aren’t you? (Nick) Yes, in this case I am. Sometimes I use acrylic inks as well. (Nick) But today I’m going to be using watercolours. Which is my first love. (Nick) I start with a simple outline pencil (Nick) drawing. And then I block it in usually with (Nick) Payne’s Grey. I found that Payne’s Grey, (Nick) it’s quite a lively dark colour. It’s got some light going on in it. (Nick) And it actually soaks in and stains the paper quite (Nick) well too. So that means I can layer upon the (Nick) top without it getting disturbed too much. And becoming a (Nick) bit of a muddy mess. So you’ll see from this one, that’s the stage I’m taking (Nick) that one too. I can begin that on here. (Graeme) Excellent. (Graeme) You’ve got a watercolour there that I hadn’t heard of myself before. (Nick) Yep (Graeme) It’s from Italy. What’s the brand on that? (Nick) It’s called (Nick) ‘My Mary Blue’. (Graeme) My Mary Blue. (Nick) I think that’s the pronunciation. I’m never really sure. (Nick) But I first came across them in an art shop in Sienna (Nick) while I was on holiday there, and I just felt like I had to (Nick) buy a tube of Burnt Sienna and Raw Sienna. While I was in Sienna. (Graeme) There you go. (Nick) They’re pretty good paints, I like them. (Graeme) hehe Yeah I just (Graeme) hadn’t heard of them before. (Nick) The Windsor and Newton ones I use quite a lot of. Just because they’re so (Nick) accessible. Where ever you go they’ve always got Winsor and Newton, and they’re pretty good quality. They suit, (Nick) the colours suit what I do. I know other artists prefer (Nick) other brands but I don’t think it matters. Its up to you (Nick) personally.(Graeme) Sure. Sure. (Nick) So I’ve got some Payne’s Grey there. (Nick) I always use a tatty old brush for diluting it down, (Nick) just because the Squirrel and your Sable brushes (Nick) are so expensive. If you start grounding (Nick) away too hard with them they don’t last too long. So I dilute (Nick) the colour down quite strongly. And I always leave a blob (Nick) of undiluted paint. If I need to dip in and get something stronger, (Nick) I’ve got it there without having to squirt more out. (Graeme) Ok. (Nick) And I dilute on the paper as well. (Nick) I find it’s always better to have the colour stronger than you need it. (Nick) So I’ve got a bit of colour in the water from mixing the Payne’s Grey, so I can see where I’m going, (Nick) I usually start with the easy bits, just wetting the paper down first. (Graeme) I think the beauty about these is the complexity of the animal, but the (Graeme) simplicity of them sitting in this vacant area is fantastic. (Nick) I’m not (Nick) sure really where that came from. A desire to make my paintings (Nick) more simple? (Graeme) Yeah. (Nick) I use to do a lot of really over the top detail. It just felt (Nick) like you had to get everything in there. Quite often a lot of it was unnecessary. (Nick) It became apparent to me at the time I started these, that the main subject of the painting (Nick) was enough. (Graeme) Yeah. (Nick) So I’ll wet a little patch, I won’t wet the whole thing, (Nick) because it’ll start soaking in and drying out and I’ll have to re-wet it. (Nick) And I always start with the simple areas and the simplest areas (Nick) are the darkest areas. So I start with the shadows just to get the thing looking three (Nick) dimensional and solid. Quite often your image will look quite flat (Nick) when it’s just a line drawing. And later on in the process, (Nick) when the colours have gone on, I can revisit the darks (Nick) and the lights and put more shadow colour on it if I need to. (Nick) I usually do need to. (Graeme) So, these are fantastic but why watercolours? (Graeme) Wouldn’t they look just as good in oils? (Nick) For me (Nick) there is something uncontrollable with watercolours. You can’t fully (Nick) control it ever. And, I think when I first (Nick) started to use watercolours, you would naturally try and control it (Nick) and my paintings were quite often very stiff and stilted. (Nick) And it wasn’t until I realised if you relax (Nick) and let the watercolour do its own thing, (Nick) then you’ve got more of a partnership with yourself and the paint. (Nick) It’s almost like alchemy. You know, you’re working with elements that are a little bit (Nick) beyond your control. So you’ve got your image, you’re using (Nick) water to wet the image, but then you put the colour on and you (Nick) can’t fully control the way it floods out. To me, that is magic. (Nick) You get those little bits of magic happening, which, later on, (Nick) I can build on and do the more controlled stuff over the top. (Nick) And apparently it’s linked to the (Nick) ceramics that I used to do at art college. (Nick) I did a process called Salt Glazing, where we’d build our own (Nick) kilns outside, put pots in, you fire them, they get up to the (Nick) temperature you require. Then you start throwing handfuls of salt into the kiln. (Nick) And the salt turned into a gas, attacks the (Nick) silica in the clay body and gives you a glaze. (Graeme) OK (Nick) You can’t control it. It’s not like an electric firing. (Nick) You don’t know what you’re getting until you open the kiln. And that really buzzed with me. (Nick) You maybe waste a third of the content in the kiln, (Nick) but the pieces you got were just gold. (Nick) I get that same feeling when the watercolour hits the paper. (Graeme) Yeah. (Nick) The thing is not to panic. (Graeme) Yeah. (Nick) Work reasonably quickly to keep things moving. (Graeme) There’s a lot of… I would describe it as dark humour (Graeme) in your work. (Nick) Yes. (Graeme) The best way I can put it down. (Nick) I like to (Nick) introduce a lot of humour to my work. Just because life is too short, isn’t it? (Nick) And I’ll use the play on words. (Nick) Quite often it’s visual as well. And I think these dogs (Nick) get quite a bad reputation. (Nick) And the general public believe they’re all crazy, vicious dogs (Nick) and they’re not. So to put some of those human elements (Nick) onto them, to make them a bit more funny, really. (Graeme) Yeah. (Nick) But endearingly so, rather than (Nick) making fun of them. (Graeme) Yeah. You do a lot of teaching, and you actually (Graeme) help people with teaching art for mental health with rehabilitation (Graeme) through some recovery services? (Nick) Yes. I’ve been doing that for about (Nick) eighteen years actually. First over in Guernsey, when I was living in Guernsey. (Nick) And now here, locally, we have the ‘Turning Point Trust’, which is a local mental (Nick) health recovery service for people that are in between. (Nick) They’re not quite well enough to get back into ordinary life. (Nick) It’s like we’re open during the day (Nick) they come in and do a variety of activities and art is one of them.(Graeme) Okay. (Nick) I’m one of the art tutors there. (Graeme) That’s great. That’s fantastic. (Nick) We actually just had (Nick) an exhibition at one of the local galleries with the client’s work. Which went down really (Nick) well. It just felt they’d reached a point were they needed to do (Nick) something that would up their confidence a bit more. So getting the paintings into (Nick) frames, getting them onto a proper gallery wall with good (Nick) lighting and everything and have an opening night, did wonders. (Graeme) That’s great. Great idea. (Nick) So here we go, we’re nearly at the end (Nick) of this particular stage. Because this particular one I’m painting (Nick) now has got a sea theme going on. He’s going to be covered (Nick) in tattoos of shellfish. (Graeme) Yeah (Nick) I’ll be using a lot (Nick) of Turquoise and then with the lobster and everything I’ll be (Nick) using some quite bright contrasting orange colours. (Nick) So that’s that stage pretty much done I think. (Graeme) Fantastic, so we move onto (Graeme) the other one and you’re just going to build the colours (Nick) Yes. (Graeme) Expression, (Graeme) all the trinkets, bits and pieces? (Nick) Yes. (Graeme) Fantastic. (Nick) So, this next one, its got a (Nick) bee theme going on. So the colours will be fairly simple. (Nick) But the next colour I do after the Payne’s Grey goes on (Nick) is usually some soft pink. (Graeme) So do you take (Graeme) the colours directly out of the tubes or do you mix them at all at any stage? (Nick) Depends on what I’m doing (Nick) but the colour range of these is so good. I don’t have any qualms about (Nick) using straight from the tube. If it’s the colour I want, what’s the point of mixing it if you don’t need to? (Graeme) Sure, sure.(Nick) So I’ll… (Graeme) Just sort of (Graeme) Just re wet the surface? (Nick) re wet the surface, and I always wet an area that’s much bigger (Nick) than I need. That allows the paint to flow as far as it (Nick) can without reaching the tide line and stopping (Nick) and giving me a hard line. I don’t mind the occasional hard line (Nick) but for me part of the joy of the watercolour is the way (Nick) it will just flow, and become quite (Nick) ethereal to the end of its travels. (Nick) And then you can overlap other colours into that. (Graeme) There you go, Yeah. (Nick) So this is, (Nick) I think I mentioned earlier about the diluting actually on the paper. (Nick) I’ll put a little bit of colour in there, and then very quickly (Nick) wash it away and dilute it at the edges. (Graeme) And the tissue just helps to pull it out again? (Nick) Yes. If it’s going too far and I want to stop it I can just (Nick) use kitchen paper for that. (Nick) And I just made a habit of always painting with a (Nick) clump of paper in my hand. (Graeme) So the first one that you did of these, (Graeme) was a picture called Ubu. (Nick) Ubu. (Graeme) We’re just screening it up now. That was the pre curser to (Graeme) all of these other fantastic pieces you’ve done over the years. (Nick) Yeah, (Nick) he was a bit of an experiment and a very much light hearted play. (Nick) I just wanted to do something for fun. (Graeme) Some of the other ones – the Greenmantle, (Graeme) which is a picture of a green dog with reindeer antlers, and little bells hanging off it… (Nick) Part of that pre-Christian imagery, (Nick) I’ve always been fascinated in Europe of the stag image, (Nick) has been something a bit special. For me (Nick) it doesn’t really go any further than that. But I love the way it looks, I love antlers. (Graeme) I think some of the names you’ve put with these things as well are just fantastic. (Graeme) I like ‘Cock n Bull’. You’ve got horns (Graeme) and a target on his eye. It’s great. (Nick) The cowbell hanging from its ear. (Graeme) El Perro Del Muertos – which is a picture (Graeme) with, Frida Kahlo on a dog. (Nick) Yes, the whole sort of (Nick) ‘Day of the Dead’ thing was getting very popular. And someone suggested (Nick) to me, I should try that on the dog. I didn’t really know how I was going (Nick) to do it. But yeah, the Frida Kahlo thing worked really well. (Graeme) The slapstick way you do the sayings and the titles. (Graeme) Piggy Lipstick. (Nick) Oh, A Pig in Lipstick. (Nick) Yes, I heard somebody say, use the phrase. (Nick) Of somebody who is quite ugly but trying to hide it under makeup (Nick) is like having a pig in lipstick. I thought that’s got to be a painting. (Graeme) Well you went on to do Amy Swinehouse? (Nick) Yes. To be honest I was just (Nick) scrambling for a title for that one. And another of that play on words thing. (Graeme) It’s hilarious, it really is. But it’s just fascinating work. (Graeme) I just think that they are such exceptional pieces. They really are. (Nick) Quite often when I’m demonstrating these techniques people say slow down, slow down, (Nick) I don’t know what you did. But that’s part of the process (Nick) you do have to be quite quick with watercolours, otherwise it loses its movement (Nick) and it starts to dry and it looks a bit stiff. (Nick) So the next layer of colour I’m going to put on here is the yellows. (Nick) Because this is a bee themed painting (Nick) So I’m going to use Quinacridone Gold and some (Nick) Raw Sienna to begin with. Fairly strong in the pallet. (Nick) I’ll do a lot of the diluting on the paper. (Graeme) That’s great that those colours are still fixed there. (Nick) Yeah, and that is one of the beauties of using top (Nick) quality paints and papers I think. If you (Nick) scrimp and use the student quality stuff, which is fine for learning on, (Nick) but it just doesn’t do this. (Graeme) Yeah. (Nick) And you end up (Nick) in a muddy mess. (Graeme) Well obviously it’s soaked into the (Graeme) character of the paper and it’s not letting it come up again. (Nick) (Nick) Now, which most of the time is (Nick) exactly what you want. Sometimes if you’ve made a blob somewhere that you need to (Nick) remove, it’s quite a mission to scrub it out. (Nick) So there’s the first layer of the yellowy gold colour to go on. Now (Nick) that it’s dry I can see that it’s paled off a bit, and it’s a little bit duller than I want it. (Nick) So I will go back and put some more on later. But for now I’m going to put the (Nick) darks on. The dark stripes. For that I’m going to use a combination (Nick) of Payne’s Grey again, some Sepia, and (Nick) some Violet. What I’m going to do here, (Nick) is put the colour on, let it go to its extreme (Nick) and then just feather the edges of it. So when I’m doing this (Nick) I’m washing the brush out a lot and drying it off on the paper towel. (Nick) Never ceases to make me happy this. Putting wet paint (Nick) onto wet paper and just watching it move and flow. (Nick) Lovely magic process. I’ve made a patch over the eye on this one. (Nick) Hexagonal so it reflects the shape of the honeycomb.(Graeme) Yes. (Nick) I helped pilot a plane once. (Nick) A small, four-seater. Like a Cessna type of thing. (Nick) And that was terrific. And then (Nick) down in Queenstown in the South Island, I did some paragliding (Nick) and that totally changed (Nick) the way I was looking at the paintings I was doing at the time. I was doing a lot of (Nick) bird paintings and particularly sea birds in the local area. (Nick) And my horizon was flat, the birds were there, (Nick) and it just looked like I was a spectator watching them. (Nick) But since I did that paraglide in Queenstown I found that (Nick) if the paintings, if I tilted the Horizon, and painted the birds it felt like (Nick) you the viewer where up there with them, part of them. And it just (Nick) lifted the experience to another level. (Nick) It reminded me of the stories you hear about Turner (Nick) and strapping himself to the mast of the ship and going out in the storm. (Graeme) In gale forced winds. (Nick) Crazy stuff. But it’s wonderful. (Nick) So I’m coming towards the end of this (Nick) first passive colour with the Sepia, (Nick) the Payne’s Grey and the Violet. (Nick) Like I said earlier I think it’ll probably need (Nick) touching up here and there. Lifting out the highlights, (Nick) and darkening up some of the darks. (Nick) Contrast, contrast, contrast. (Graeme) Yes (Nick) I think in most paintings you reach a point were you think, ‘it’s getting there, it’s nearly finished but (Nick) what else is it doing?’ It’s nearly always contrast work I find. (Graeme) yeah (Nick) Darken up those darks, lighten up those lights (Nick) just to get rid of the flatness. (Graeme) But you’re going to have to let that one dry anyway. (Nick) Yep. (Graeme) You’ve actually prepared another one, which is almost (Graeme) done but you’ve got all the bells and whistles and bling on it. (Nick) Yes. (Graeme) Which is pretty fantastic. So lets move onto that. We’ll do some really fine work, (Graeme) which is great. (Nick) Yep, yep. (Nick) So for the final stages of this particular (Nick) painting I’ve switched over to the acrylic inks, (Nick) and we’re down to the fine detail now. We’ve got the bulk of it done. (Nick) I’m down to a little bit of lettering on the tattoo, a little bit of colour that needs to (Nick) be finished off. So the last few little bits I need some (Nick) Payne’s Grey again. (Graeme) And this is the ink this time?
(Nick) This is the ink this time. (Nick) It’s quite thick, the golden acrylic inks. (Nick) Just need to finish off these bits of detail down at the feet and around the claws. (Graeme) They’re fascinating pictures. The one called Braveheart, which was (Graeme) actually a rescued fighting dog. (Nick) Apparently yes. That was a commission. (Nick) And apparently he was quite a brave little dog. (Nick) Been through a lot. So I’m going to put the lettering in (Nick) the tattoo on this one now. I’m just using a (Nick) straightforward pen because it’s a lot easier. (Graeme) What, its just a STAEDTLER ink pen or something? (Nick) Yes. (Graeme) You’ve got a great artistic community (Graeme) down here in the Bay of Plenty. (Nick) Yes. (Graeme) And you’ve got an incubator (Graeme) for artists? (Nick) Yes. (Graeme) Down at Tauranga.(Nick) Growing art (Nick) and culture. (Graeme) Yeah, yeah, but you said its become very successful. A lot of people get down (Graeme) there as well. You and some of the other artists we are filming are the (Graeme) mainstay of that situation. (Nick) That came about nearly two years ago now. (Nick) A couple of local artists set the place up. (Nick) We try to get involved with as many community art based activities as possible. (Nick) At events, we’ll do all the props (Nick) for shows and things that are going on. And generally if there’s anything (Nick) in particular to the incubator, like a new exhibition, (Nick) you know, it becomes more of an event than just your standard traditional (Nick) exhibition with drinks and nibbles and what have you. For the opening night (Nick) it’ll become an event with musicians and food and all sorts of things. (Nick) And it’s now got charitable status so (Nick) it’s really grown in the last eighteen months. (Graeme) Fantastic. (Graeme) That’s really good. (Nick) Proud to be part of it. (Graeme) Excellent. (Nick) So I’ve done the lettering. (Nick) Just a bit of colour left to do on the banner. (Nick) So this is another one of the really, (Nick) really bright colours like the Quinacridone Gold, (Nick) this is Green Gold. (Graeme) Have you ever thought of using gold leaf, or silver or bronze (Graeme) leafs in these at all? (Nick) Yes, yes, I’ve done a couple of paintings with some gold leaf in. (Nick) One of the dog paintings, I wanted to give it (Nick) a saintly look so I gave it a gold leaf halo. (Nick) And one of my older paintings similarly, (Nick) that was a human figure with an animal head. (Nick) And I put a big mandala in gold leaf behind him. (Nick) So yes, it’s fun. Messy stuff though. (Graeme) Yes it is, I must admit. (Nick) Half of it ended up in the vacuum cleaner afterward. (Graeme) Or in your nose, or your ear, one of the two. (Nick) Quite often with the tattoos, I like them to look a little bit blurry and muted. (Nick) Like it’s an old tattoo. This one in particular, I’m loving the way (Nick) it’s bright and fresh. One of the differences I’ve found (Nick) with the inks versus the watercolours is the inks can have a bit of a shine to them. (Nick) But I think because they get framed and go (Nick) behind glass, that kind of evens it out a bit. (Graeme) Yeah. (Nick) That’s just about it done. We’ve been through the three stages that I use (Nick) for most of my paintings. And there we go. (Graeme) Really well done. It’s just amazing, (Graeme) it really is. Okay guys, a really great day. Thanks Nick (Nick) Thanks Graeme (Graeme). Great day, That was fantastic and as you can see, the amazing finished (Graeme) result is just so cool. Brilliant work. I really loved your (Graeme) work first time I saw it. There are so many possibilities and the idea you’ve (Graeme) developed here, I just know you’re going to go and do some pretty amazing things. (Graeme) Apart from the fact the guy has sell out exhibitions wherever he goes. That does help. (Graeme) So your website, if people want to get in touch with you? (Nick) It’s artnik.weebly.com. (Graeme) So, look at that one (Graeme) closely guys, we’ll leave that up for a bit longer. Also, come to colourinyourlife.com.au, (Graeme) and come and see us in YouTube (Graeme) as well guys, lots coming in there these days. We’re having a great time in the (Graeme) Bay of Plenty in New Zealand. It’s a beautiful area with some incredibly talented people. (Graeme) It’s quite amazing the talent folks have around here. But going to head off again. (Graeme) We’ve got a few more people to film before we head back. But remember, (Graeme) as I always say, make sure you Put Some Colour In Your Life. We’ll see you next time. (Graeme) Bye guys! (Nick) Bye.

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