Upstream from Hampton Court is Kingston-up-Thames, the closest point to the Thames from where I live. I found a place to paint there in April 2014, close to the bridge. The bridge was under scaffolding and this was not a paintable option so I chose a quiet spot in Canbury Gardens. The gardens follow the towpath downstream from Kingston Bridge and contain range of facilities such as a bandstand, cafe, toilets and rowing club. Parking is a little limited but a good place to paint.
Along the towpath are small gaps used by anglers and they are good places to sit and sketch. I found such a spot and set down to paint the scene. Downstream a dingy race was underway and I included this in my painting despite the constant tacking of the boats.
Composition is a constant thought in painting. Any sketch does have simple composition decisions but with a more complex painting there are factors to be worked through. There are ‘rules’ but they can’t be taken too seriously and personal taste and what you have in front of you is equally as important. Artistic licence can improve paintings dramatically but when you are working with full intent it’s so easy to just paint what you see. (or what you think you see)
I took a little time to find this spot, liking the bend in the river, the head on profile of the central boat, the tall tree to the left and submerged rowing boat at my feet. I’m pleased with the way it came out.
While I was sitting, painting the scene, a family of ducks came and settled on the submerged boat in front of me. They moved around this part of the bankside but were in constant threat by the Canada Geese. I took a photo when they had settled down and produced a quick sketch of them at home.
On a another trip to Canbury Park I was in a restless mood and could not decide on a composition. So I selected this boat as a study. The dark foliage against the whites of the boat interested me. How dark could I go? How much of the foliage do I paint? Not sure but this little study took a lot of time to get right and painting with watercolours its a gentle process.
This final scene was produced at least a year earlier. Its upstream of the bridge looking across to John Lewis on the far bank. I was pleased with the boat shapes but my painting let me down and I lost heart with it. The railings of the white boat are too heavy and this is not retrievable with watercolours.