Painting in the fresh air? WRITE yourself a note, says Terry Jarvis

Painting by Terry Jarvis, a tutor at The Watermill at Posara painting holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy.

When you are out painting en plein air – one of life’s great pleasures, says Watermill tutor Terry Jarvis – think about doing a little WRITING!

Yes, write yourself a note about what you see and your emotional reactions to it.

Terry always does so and he says: “I call these my ‘one-liners’, but I have to say they are usually more than one line! It is bit like a letter to myself: they tell me what drew me to the subject, how I feel about the scene. They jog my memory of the day/the moment.”

He adds: “Together with a small thumbnail tonal sketch and a photograph, the information I write tells me my personal take on the scene and really helps to solidify my visual memory of the subject.”

This is of the greatest help when you want to finish off your painting in the studio later,

Painting by Terry Jarvis, a tutor at The Watermill at Posara painting holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy.

Terry’s ‘picture-in-progress’ are of of a corner of the hilltop village of Monte dei Bianchi, where our Watermill groups go to paint on Fridays. Terry’s note said: The curved wall, the old weathered door speak of centuries of hardship and resilience in the same moment!   The wonderful texture of the wall and the door, connected with the beautiful light and shadows play a wonderful story in my heart.”

Painting by Terry Jarvis, a tutor at The Watermill at Posara painting holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy.

Terry also made a thumbnail sketch showing tonal values and composition opportunities, and took a photograph giving the colour. He says: “I was able to take the time later to explore and expound this age-old story visually and emotionally.”

Terry says: “A few short notes like these help me to realise what I am painting! They tell me how I am emotionally connected to the scene. These are notes that place life into the image. I have found it is such a great tool.”

Here’s the finished product:

Painting by Terry Jarvis, a tutor at The Watermill at Posara painting holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy.

Terry is a great believer in painting outdoors: “Given the choice, I will always paint from nature, from life, and all it has to offer.”

Terry would recommend taking a photograph (and, even more important, making a thumbnail sketch or two of the scene), but paint on location for as long as you can: The problem with photographs is that the image stays still, you can see tones, the light isn’t changing, and so on, and so on…”

Terry adds: Painting en plein air, with all its challenges means you will know your subject so much more intimately and you will be telling a living story! The very best of photographs will only catch a moment and an experience in time, not the essence and the atmosphere of the day as it wraps itself around you.”

There’ll be more from Terry soon on what to take when painting en plein air and how to choose what to paint in the great outdoors.

Terry will be with us again next year at The Watermill, so come and paint — and write! — with him.

Terry rose demo POVTerry Jarvis is one of Australia’s leading watercolour artists. The son of a goldminer, he was inspired at an early age to draw and paint the landscape, as well as people and animals. Terry also works in oils, pastels and acrylics and is happy to teach in those mediums too. He loves drawing and helping his students to develop their drawing skills.

Here’s what one guest on Terry’s Watermill course this year had to say: “I wanted to thank you for a most wonderful stay at The Watermill.  Your treatment of us was terrific.  Six stars doesn’t come close!  I enjoyed every minute. Terry’s course was great.  He is an excellent teacher – very encouraging and knows how to bring out the best in his students.  He has a great personality.”

Another said: “Terry Jarvis was superb with people, very positive and very relaxed. I’ve been on painting holidays before and learned nothing but Terry was great. When you got stuck he’d come along with a smile – and a brush – and bring your picture to life. He wasn’t afraid to criticise your work, but he had a really positive attitude, which helped you to improve.”

terry plus pic7-14 July 2018 

Terry Jarvis

Watercolours (and oils, pastels and acrylics)

To learn more about Terry and his course at The Watermill, please click here.

Come and join us and enjoy a six-star, sun-filled, fun-filled, inspiring week!

Painting by Terry Jarvis, a tutor at The Watermill at Posara painting holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy.

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