Mountain Adventures in Watercolour - David Bellamy


Mountain Adventures in Watercolour

Artist: David Bellamy
Language: English 90 mins
Format: PAL DVD
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Price: £28.55 (Inc VAT where applicable + P&P worldwide)

David is in his element, sketching in the Lake District in the summer and the peaks of Snowdonia in the snows of winter. In this dynamic scenery, he paints and sketches bridges, streams, summer and winter trees, cottages and of course, mountains. The film is crammed with techniques and advice on sketching out of doors and contains three studio demonstrations of finished watercolour paintings. Learn how to paint mountains and other outdoor elements with David's tips and advice.

For a French version of this film "Aventures en montagne" click here...

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Dramatic landscape

"Watercolour painting is like mountaineering; there are times when you swing between elation and sheer terror", so gasps an intrepid David Bellamy as he descends a precipitous mountain slope. He is quick to assure us, however, that you don't have to be a mountaineer to enjoy such scenery and find breathtaking subjects. In fact, later, as he paints a beautifully controlled and convincingly atmospheric snowscape, he seems guilty that he has wandered only a few yards from the road!

This video takes us to two main locations: the Lake District, where despite its wet and windy look it is apparently summer; and Snowdonia in the depths of a harsh winter. After each location visit there are studio demonstrations. Comments on a selection of completed watercolours of Scottish mountainous subjects illustrate various additional techniques at the end. The film is lively and entertaining with plenty to inform and inspire, both visually and through the good humour and instructive commentary of the artist.

The Lake District, Snowdonia and Scotland are rich in the scale and drama of their landscape. Here, gushing streams, isolated cottages and windswept trees are contrasted with sweeping valleys, rugged slopes and distant misty peaks. And, whether adventurous or not, changing light and unstable weather conditions are always a threat, if not a reality.

So, this is location work with a vengeance, and certainly one of the most absorbing and instructive videos I've seen. Whether scrambling over huge boulders to check alternative views, wading through a turbulent stream or squatting in an icy Snowdonian blast, the energetic David Bellamy is passionately enthusiastic and full of good advice and encouragement. For a landscapist, or indeed for any artist, there is much to be said for seeking pastures new now and again and trying something really challenging and different. But be prepared! Don't be put off by the weather but dress sensibly, take a companion, and ensure that your waterproof rucksack contains the essentials for your survival as well as those necessary for some lively painting and drawing!

In a bracing Borrowdale we are given some suitable advice on working in poor weather conditions as well as shown what basic equipment is necessary for such excursions. A watercolour sketch of the majestic Great Gable mountain demonstrates the techniques involved for a quick result and points relating to composition and selecting an idea. This is followed by demonstrations of sketching with a carbon pencil (old farm building with architectural detail), using a water-soluble pencil (fast-flowing river), and making a limited-colour watercolour study (Scafell Pike with Eskdale Needle). Then back in the studio, we are shown a stage-by-stage watercolour demonstration on Saunders Waterford Rough, worked up from the location sketch of the stream.

Now to snowy Snowdonia, which in winter is 'a veritable devil's playground'. Here the location demonstrations include a cottage set against the towering peaks beyond, some glorious snow-clad trees with a visiting sheep, and, in near arctic conditions, quick sketches of a bridge (pencil), snowy mountains with a foreground stream (charcoal), and a study of a rocky outcrop. The studio demonstrations are of a large, freely executed, mostly wet-in-wet watercolour of the rocks against a dramatic sky - "a watercolour from almost nothing", and of the cottage in Llanberis Pass, which is worked up through various thumbnail sketches and stages into a detailed watercolour.

Throughout the video the camera work is splendid, with some fine reference shots of the subjects as well as close-ups to show the method of working. It is both inspirational and informative and I hope it will encourage many to be more adventurous. Remember, don't be put off by the weather, for as Ruskin said, "There is no such thing as bad weather, only different kinds of good weather."
THE ARTIST - February 1992

Mountain Adventures in Watercolour By David Bellamy

This is the third in a series of videos by David Bellamy (the painter not the conservationist) in which he sets out to demonstrate his watercolour painting techniques in relation to differing kinds of landscape. Here he is in the mountains and it is apparent from the enthusiasm of his commentary that he is in his element. His personal style - painterly, spontaneous and rugged seems in perfect accord with his subjects, although he is at pains to emphasise the importance of planning and forethought, and even more importantly the need for a degree of competence only acquired through the systematic practice of specific techniques. Bellamy also gives us expert advice on planning a painting expedition and 1 was particularly interested by his suggested use of relief-maps to 'prospect' for interesting locations in advance.

During the course of the video we follow the artist through contrasting scenery and weather conditions (including a howling gale where the brush freezes up before it even touches the paper) and then back to his studio where we watch him working step-by-step on a series of paintings based on his outdoor sketches. His commentary throughout is thorough and informative. David Bellamy here shows himself to be a trustworthy and companionable guide for those of us wishing to explore the wilder side of watercolour painting.

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