Mud, Sweat and Tears

Mud, Sweat and Tears

Thea I think this is a lovely piece of work. Your brushwork is so loose and lively and the spare use of the pen ties everything together beautifully. You have a wonderful style !

Thank you, Beverley, very kind of you to say so. It was a real experiment - slightly scary while doing it but really interesting and rewarding as I feel I have now had a bit of an eureka moment about my pen and wash paintings and how to approach them.

Hi Thea, this is a lovely busy vibrant painting, bursting with the hustle and bustle of a full on galloping tussle to the finish of the horse race. Great colours of course, love the way you just concentrate on the painting of the horses and jockeys with some flying mud splatters, no ground or sky, and it is this that makes your horse racing scenes so successful for me, everything that needs to be there is there to build up the atmosphere, we can feel the effort of the horses and riders as they pound along and are almost with those jockeys in urging their mounts on faster and further. If anything Thea you could maybe go for a little stronger pen lines, but that is only a minor thing, by the way thanks so much for your lovely and thoughtful comments on my two postings, the dog pastel of the Golden Retriever, and of course my updating of the Duchess pastel portrait, you always come up with some wise words in our comments, and you were right in suggesting I was aiming for Kate Middletons ability to interact with people rather than just another carbon copy of her which when that is done it is not well received either, as someone found when they posted such a painting and got a comment from Gudrun who replied that she had not liked the original much maligned official portrait either.. Which spoke volumes of course, anyway I am rambling on so by for now Thea xx

Super painting Thea, full of movement and the excitement of the race!

Lovely vibrant painting Thea. that looks like the one I backed bringing up the rear.

Thank you very much, Ros, very kind of you - I did consider putting some darker pen lines but bottled out as I liked the ones I had put and was scared that I would ruin it, (pen not being washable out like watercolour!) Thank you very much Louise and Chris for such kind comments. Oh dear, Chris, story of my life as well - never had any luck betting. I am obviously not meant to make easy money.

Lovely work Thea, to be honest I hadn't noticed the pen work until I read your description, which is good as it shows a subtle use of line.

Really like this one Thea, you are so brave to try something so different, I used to paint in acrylics, then pastel, then I started drawing, which I must admit I like best of all, and I'm still learning. Jamie Boots is my inspiration , he makes me try harder.

Thank you very much, Stephen - ah - I knew I should have been heavier with the pen, but take your point about subtle use of line but perhaps it was a bit too subtle? Thank you very much, Karyl - this was a bit different for me but I liked the freedom I felt when doing it so I will give this method a few more goes I think.

Great composition and lots of bold colours - got to be a winner!

Well done Thea. Lovely. loose, vibrant painting

Thank you very much, Debs and Paul, for your feedback which I really appreciate.

So glad this caught my eye Thea. It really stands out and you have captured the excitement and movement so well. The vibrant colours of the riders silks add to the authenticity of the scene. How about some more of these but without the pen. Just pure watercolour. Jake Winkle, whose works i admire, is a great exponent of painting race horse with his Dark to Light techniques.

Thank you very much Alan for your comment. This was very much an experiment for me and I did take a photo of the painting before I added the pen and really liked it. However, the point of this exercise was to do a pen and wash, but I will definitely have another go possibly without adding any pen. I also admire Jake W and his racehorse paintings. He seems to achieve such wonderful darks without even a hint of muddiness.

This is great, Thea - lots of movement and colour and a lovely loose style. Really like it!

Thank you very much, Jane, for such a nice comment.

Great colours as always, plenty of action there.

Well done Thea!!!!

I love the shapes of the jockeys and horses, you must know horses well! or racing!

Hi again Thea, thanks so much for your lovely comment on my latest 'pet' pastel portrait of 'Carl and the Tiger', its funny you should say Carl looked a little uncomfortable with his hand resting on the tigers head, shortly after that original photo was taken the tiger got annoyed, stood up abruptly and snarled! and that was all while Carl was still in the cage!, but thankfully had been moved away, he commented that he suddently found religion in that moment! It was fun to draw, but as you acknowledged and we both agree the exploitation of animals in countries like Thailand is anything but funny, thanks for having a look and leaving that comment xx

Thank you very much Carole, Linda and Jane, for such lovely comments. Your encouragement means a lot to me. Ros, you're welcome - I am enjoying your very individual work.

I love your horses paintings Thea, full of movement and colour. Sorry but I've been missing a lot of posts lately.

No, I missed this one Thea.The 'loose' (why are we so fascinated by 'looseness'? Is it such a good thing, or just an excuse for waffle?) tones in the horses' bodies are great. perhaps you should have echoed them in the jockeys' silks? Perhaps cooling and fading the rear riders? There will always be an inherent contradiction between 'looseness' (here I go again!) and pen and ink: one is about freedom, the other about control and delimitation. But I think you've found a very useful compromise, which obviously works well for you in practice and appeals to you on an intuitive level, satisfying both your love of colour and contrast, without forfeiting the guiding hand that is part of your emotional makeup. Stick with your instincts: your recognizable style is emblematic of an enviably coherent aproach to your art.

Thank you for that really helpful feedback, Kim. I know exactly what you mean by the fascination with looseness - as though it really is the holy grail of painting, which it is not. I happen to think that looseness isn't a method of painting but more an attitude of mind. You are either driven to paint loosely or you are not - if you are not and you try to paint loosely, then it always looks contrived. I fall between two stools on that score as I love looseness, colour and contrast, but can't quite go the whole hog in the way that you do and that Roger Simpson does. So it does come down to compromise - I use my colours and contrasts within a framework of slightly more defined shapes and my 'looseness' comes from that. You are also spot on that looseness and penwork are polar opposites in a way. I tried to make the lines in this work as dynamic as possible to overcome this problem - but I could have gone a lot further I think. I really appreciate your advice and it does help me a lot. I take on board what you say about fading the rear horses away a bit more and should have done this. Still experimenting in everything I paint.... so a lot of it doesn't go quite to plan or echo what I see in my head. It is always so difficult to, on the one hand, stay true to who you are as an artist while, on the other hand, try to push your own boundaries into new and uncharted territories. I do tend to be a bit timid about all this, but resolve to be a bit braver in the future.

Hang on Studio Wall

I have been dying to try and pen and wash of race horses but haven't been able to work out how best to do it. I didn't want to draw the horses with pen and just fill in the colours, so I tried a different approach. I just used a couple of guide marks to place the lead horse's face and then drew the rest of the scene just with my brush as loosely as I could but still trying keeping the shapes. I then added some (hopefully) dynamic pen lines to further define the horses and jockeys. I think this is much nearer what I have been aiming for in pen and wash and has taught me that adding the pen afterwards does avoid that 'painting by numbers' and filled in look. (The 'tears' in the title came from the fact that after every race only one rider walks away happy and the rest must feel gutted). Pen and watercolour on Langton 200lbs.

About the Artist
Thea Cable

I am a watercolourist first and foremost as I love the qualities of the medium, its riskiness and unpredictability. I started painting about 8 years ago and it has now become an integral part of my life. Hopefully, I will continue to paint into my dotage as I am given to understand that you can…

View full profile
More by Thea Cable