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MY FOCUS - WATERCOLOUR PAINTINGS OF CLUMBER SPANIELS BY JAN IRVING


I have re-arranged a couple of activities in my life to allow me to return to paintbrush and paper. While all luscious, full colour paintings intrigue me, I will be focusing on painting Clumber Spaniels.

Clumbers are a natural subject for me as I am the mainstay in the very successful Erinveine Kennels. Obviously not a natural choice for the watercolourist as they are basically white in colour, and most watercolour painters choose not to use white paint rather they rely on allowing the white of paper to illustrate white parts of paintings. So Clumber Spaniels painted in watercolour are a challenge in their own right -
how do you paint white?
You don't really, you paint the shadows, and the magic of watercolour is that by using transparent pigments, you can capture some beautiful colours into shadows and shade - in nature these features have a good spectrum of colour too, which many oil or acrylic artists are more likely to overlook.

The other intriguing part of working with watercolours is the concept that watercolours are used as a single colour wash, sometimes with a little bit of overlap, but one rarely associates the rich colours of oil paintings with watercolour. Why? Simply because that suits the artist, but I dislike the 'watery' effect, and want my paintings to be rich and luxuriant. Artists like Susan Harrison-Tustain (New Zealand) ably demonstrate that water colour can achieve this vibrant richness too, and it is from her published material that I have developed my technique.

I choose to represent solid, sound, workable Clumbers, not a slightly deflated skin on a hulking under-exercised dog - this later is not a dog that was cherished by the Dukes of Newcastle or is it a dog I want to breed.

I paint to educate myself (about Clumbers and about painting and art) and to promote the breed in everyday life. I have not undertaken commissions for many years, due to time limitations, and the desire to improve the breed through my artwork as well as my dedication to breeding Clumbers.

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