A Go At Whistler

Thursday night is Rachel’s art class at Bolton College. After last week’s work with ink and watercolour washes, tonight it was the turn of watercolour and pastels. It was a technique I hadn’t come across before and Rachel admitted it wasn’t common. It did allow subtle shading with the pastels on top of the general washes. However, I’m not sure it is a method I will use much though. The watercolour paper we used had a distinct rough texture and a smoother paper may have worked better.

Most members of the class chose to work with a painting by Adolphe Valette, the so-called ‘Northern Impressionist’ due to his spending time in Manchester, as a teacher at Manchester School of Art, his students including one L S Lowry. However I worked with Whistler’s ‘Nocturne in Blue and Gold – Old Battersea Bridge’, painted in 1872-75.

whistler2Nocturne in Blue and Gold – Old Battersea Bridge – James Whistler – (1872-75)

Here is my version, in five stages:

whistler01Watercolour washes for the sky and water

whistler02With the bridge added

whistler03With pastels added to the sky and water (not easy to see)

whistler04With pastels added to the bridge (easier to see)

whistler05Finished piece with detail added in pastel


About notes to the milkman

I'm a printmaker based in the North West of England, living in Bolton and printing at Hot Bed Press in Salford. Please visit my website johnpindararts.weebly.com
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15 Responses to A Go At Whistler

  1. Thankyou for breaking this down into its stages. Quick query – did you let the watercolour dry at any of the stages ? A class I go to uses a hair dryer for some pieces. I like the finished piece btw.

    • Yes I used the hair dryer after the blue washes and again after the brown bridge. I’m not sure you can apply pastel to wet paper – I certainly didn’t try. On reflection, I retract my statement about not using the technique again. We’ve used pastels with Rachel before and have always drawn on coloured paper. Really there isn’t much difference in colouring the paper yourself with the watercolour washes, so maybe I’ll try it again on one of my own pieces – rather than copying an existing work.

  2. I think it’s good to study artworks and analyse another artist’s technique – we should never stop learning. I’m looking forward to seeing this technique in one of your own pieces

  3. Very nice – like the drama of your interpretation.

  4. very fond of all stages of this piece – such control and yet allowing the watercolor to settle – a very refined skill requiring oodles of patience – wonderful.

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