Making your paintings really ‘work’: some thoughts from Mike Willdridge

Our friend and Watermill painting tutor Mike Willdridge is taking a well earned rest after completing his self-imposed task of painting 100 pictures in 100 days. He called his challenge a ‘journey towards abstraction’ and now he’s had a few days to contemplate his voyage, he’s been sending me a few thoughts which we would like to share with you

Representational or Abstract – where’s the difference?

Mike says:Throughout my 100 days I constantly thought about the Visual Elements of Art:  colour, form, line, shape, space, texture, pattern, value – they were so often my starting point and were always considered when assessing whether I’d made a painting that worked.

“From the point of view of the painter, I’m so much surer now that there’s very little difference between representational and abstract art. Certainly the outcome may be very different; one possibly easier to understand than the other. But from the perspective of the person making marks on a surface, it’s much the same thought process. An appreciation of the visual elements helps to determine whether your painting works or not. “Let me explain with two of my paintings. ”

A barn in sunlight

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

“In the first one, (Barn in Sunlight, above), it is the strong contrasts that draw your eyes into the painting. Not only the strong contrasting values of the dark shadows against the bright light on the wooden timbers and grass and trees, but also warm colours (reddish timbers, brown tree and splashes of brown in the foreground) against the cooler colours – blue marks in the foreground, cooler trees and cooler blues in the shadows of the barn. The values/contrasts are being pushed hard in this painting to give a sense of drama and intrigue.”

Yellow, Grey and Black

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

Mike says “When painting the more abstract painting (Yellow, Grey and Black), I had the same thoughts about values – strong darks against lights and warm yellows against cooler greys. 

 So, my message to those who paint is this. Whatever style of painting you choose, the fundamentals are nearly always the same. So often it is being aware of the visual elements that will help you in the tricky process of making a painting that ‘works’.

Meet the artist and paint with him

Mike will be sending us more thoughts that we hope will improve your painting. And you can meet the artist himself on his painting course at the Watermill this summer.

You don’t have to go abstract to enjoy Mike’s course: he paints realistic landscapes and loves sketching around the Watermill and in the glorious Tuscan scenery beyond it. He is also a wonderful teacher. Mike will be with us again next year, for a week in watercolour and drawing (also gouache and acrylics), from Saturday 29 June to Saturday 6 July 2019. We already have eight bookings for his course, so we have room for three or four more painters and their non-painting partners, if they would like to come.

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

Mike’sketch of market day in the town of Fivizzano, near the Watermill

Mike Willdridge works in a wide range of media and is an enthusiastic and energetic tutor, often encouraging his students to be bold and to take chances. His classes are always light-hearted and fun, with the ‘teaching’ tailored to individual needs. He will concentrate on watercolours, but is also happy to help with gouache and acrylics too.

A comment from a guest on one of Mike’s previous courses at The Watermill: A wonderful holiday. You were such generous and friendly hosts and Mike was an excellent painting tutor.”  Another said: “The food was exceptional and the mill itself is great, in such a beautiful setting. A truly wonderful week in every respect.”

Here’s another of my favourite Mike Willdridge pictures, an exuberant watercolour of the mill stream flowing beneath one of our gardener Flavio Terenzoni’s famous wooden bridges, with their curvy handrails.

Painting by Mike Willdridge, a tutor at The Watermill at Posara painting holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy.Mike Willdridge
29 June to 6 July 2019
Watercolours and drawing (also gouache and acrylics with an emphasis on sketching and drawing on location)

To learn more about Mike and his course at the mill, please click here

Comments

  1. Beverly Suehr says:

    Love your work! You inspire me as a novice water color artist! Thanks so much for sharing your talent!

    • Thank you for your kind comment Beverly. We are glad you enjoy Mike’s work so much and thank you for your interest in the Watermill. With warm regards Bill Breckon

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