Making your paintings more exciting: some thoughts from Mike Willdridge

Painting by Mike Willdridge, a tutor at The Watermill at Posara painting holidays/vacations, Tuscany, Italy.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 journey, he’s been sending me a few thoughts which we would like to share with you.

Here are his second musings, this time on the importance of ‘Line’.

Mike says: When I was working on my 100 paintings challenge, I made considerable and very conscious use of the Visual Elements of Art: colour, form, line, shape, space, texture, pattern, value. For this second “lesson learnt” instalment, I would like to give you an example where I used just one of these components, ‘Line’, as a great help in the process of making an abstract image.”

Using line to show texture

Mike adds: “I’ve always loved pure drawing and often draw in a linear way with a pen. Here are a couple of recent examples.

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

The pen and watercolour sketchbook drawing above is of some fishing huts in Indonesia. It uses Line, quickly drawn to show the aged patina of the huts. The watercolour was touched in after the drawing.

This ink drawing is of an Australian Banksia pod, mostly using Line to describe the hard texture of the plant:

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

A powerful image

At the top of the page is a more abstract painting, number 35 in Mike’s series of 100, a collage in acrylic and gold paste, inspired by the Australian coastline, viewed from on high in an aeroplane. Mike says: “I wanted to emphasise the powerful image of that coastline but do it in a simple and abstract way. So, I started with the idea of a line. In fact, the line I’ve created hasn’t been drawn at all, but it is inside the torn gold paper and has been emphasised by the two flat blocks of colour either side of it.

Lois and I liked this painting so much that we bought it and you be able to see it if you visit us for one of our creative courses at the Watermill. You can click here to see a speedier video of its creation and framing.

Mike concludes: In all these paintings, both representational and abstract, I was very conscious of using ‘line’ both as a means of making ‘marks’ and, especially in the more abstract drawing, as the main focus of the painting.” 

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

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