My name is Dermot Brennan and I’m from the Republic of Ireland (follow me on Facebook, Google+, and visit my website!). I started painting as a child and never stopped. My first experiences with art were years of drawing, of which I was obsessed about. I felt driven to draw anything and everything. I think it’s essential that one can draw well before attempting to paint.
My early working life had me working as a specialist in painting/decorating in Georgian restoration work. These skills included the artistic side of decorating as in faux decorating effects, Trompe-l’œil, signwriting etc,etc. I also worked as a teacher in Decorating/Art after receiving various qualifications .
All this was beneficial to my real passion – art. I became obsessed with watercolour after reading a small book by John Blockley. It was and still can be a most frustrating but totally addictive medium ; years of constant brush work and I finally started to realise ‘I’m not bad at this.’ The real test being putting your work out there, which I did by hanging my work in an outdoor gallery in Merrion Square, Dublin .
From there, I got spotted by one of Ireland’s top galleries, Carton house, and shortly after Gallery 23 in Dublin, which is now selling two of my limited editions and soon to be more. I’m mostly self taught but exhibit with some of best over here, so I’m never short of sharing ideas, opinions, and processes with others and hearing from them in exchange.
I paint a lot of material from memory as I’m blessed with a fairly good visual one. I’m interested in big shapes and strong colour to make an impactful statement and will do several thumbnail drawings to get the shapes right in my head before I paint the image in. I sit down and paint it in my mind… it works for me.
I used to work in a photo realistic style until I got bored with it as I felt it to restricting. Now, I love to wet the paper thoroughly and cover the paper in the weak first washes. I will watch the paper like a hawk and as it dries, put in all the shapes that need soft edges as they blend beautifully on the damp paper. I finish off with the rigger when the paper is bone dry.
Incidentally, I will use photos to work from – my own and others ( with full permission) – if the subject looks promising. And the camera can indeed be a marvellous tool. It’s then down to each artist to interpret what they see into a decent painting. That’s where creativity comes in and I think it takes a lot of experience to paint a decent watercolour from a photo.
People often ask about my colours and my advice would be the less the better. It’s astonishing the range of colours that can be made with three colours. Isn’t that what printers work on… three basic colours?
I use Ultramarine, cobalt blue, cadmium yellow, lemon yellow, cadmium red/alizarin crimson.That’s a warm and a cool of each colour and I’m so used to them that I can mix them in my sleep. Sometimes, I will use the earth colours as in sienna and umbers if I’m noting the humour for mixing from scratch.
I used to think drawing was the tough part. It’s not. Colour gets nearly all beginners as they skip the essentials which are coloumixing and tonal values. You can use almost any colours you want if you get your tonal values right. Spend a week learning colour mixing. Do the same with tonal value and watch the difference. Photo your paintings and convert to black and white. If they look convincing in black and white they’re normally good to go.
I’m also a former magician/mentalist, which was a lot of fun. I love to read, play chess, and have a little drink… or two. I‘m happily married and my wife looks on me with God-like adoration as she serves me burnt offerings for dinner most days.
Creator of Doodlewash® and founder of World Watercolor Month™ (July) and World Watercolor Group™. Sharing daily watercolor illustrations and stories while proudly featuring talented artists from all over the world! If you’d like to be a guest artist on Doodlewash.com, contact me!