Wel­come to the Punch

In a sin­gle paint­ing, Dar­rell learned tech­niques that would last him a life­time

ImagineFX - - Darrell Warner -

Dar­rell first painted in oils grow­ing up. In his se­cond year at Fal­mouth School of Art, tu­tors asked him to paint a still-life sub­ject of his choice. He picked an am­bi­tious com­po­si­tion and switched from oils to wa­ter­colour. He felt the need to prove him­self as a painter: “I knew my fu­ture paint­ing with oils may be lim­ited – plus I quite like a chal­lenge. The medium of wa­ter­colour car­ries cer­tain per­cep­tions, but over the course of that sin­gle paint­ing I de­vel­oped a tech­nique that re­mains the ba­sis of ev­ery paint­ing that I do to­day.”

In the piece, Dr John­ston’s Punch, he painted the red wine bot­tles and large glass as if he were us­ing oils. His loaded brush ap­plied flat, heavy paint, merged the tone and colour, then Dar­rell ap­plied body colour and zinc white high­lights. By the time he reached the far right of the paint­ing, he felt pro­fi­cient in wa­ter­colours. “I lay glaze upon glaze of colour, of­ten wet on wet, to bring up res­o­nance and al­low­ing the colour to sing.”

The se­cret, Dar­rell says, is to know your pal­ette and em­brace colours that work to­gether. Mud­di­ness kills colours. The white of the board comes through the glaze and brings the paint­ing to life. All this takes pa­tience: “The art scene in gen­eral of­ten dis­misses wa­ter­colours. It’s a great shame. It has this la­bel as be­ing weak and hob­by­ist, whereas in fact it is so hugely dis­ci­plined and ex­act­ing. It’s by far a much greater medium to master than any oth­ers. That paint­ing be­came a rev­e­la­tion. I’ve never at­tained that level of ac­com­plish­ment over the course of a sin­gle paint­ing since.”

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