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I have followed Stephen Quirke’s blog here for about a year, now.  I have been totally inspired to try to learn to watercolor, quickly.  Most of the art I create quickly has been line drawings. Other than those, I usually spend several evenings in order to create something. I knew, in order to stay inspired and come at this slowly, I would have to set a time limit for myself so I chose two hours and the brush gets put down. I know, I know. That is longer than most of Stephen’s work, but it’s a start. I also decided that I would have to limit any drawing to a quick line here or there to divide my paper so I would not get carried away and run off the page.  This is my first attempt. I finished in one hour and forty minutes and decided it was finished as anything else I might add would run over my time limit. 

I will continue to attempt to paint quickly and post them afterwards. I learned this can be as valuable to studying a subject as the continuous line drawings. Thank-you, Stephen, for the inspiration to paint fast!


  1. Wow! I’m impressed Leslie and so fast too! I like the spontaenity of this painting and the colours are so delicate (like the flowers). I know I keep saying it, but this one would also make a lovely print – to be sold over and over again 🙂 Nice work 🙂

    • What a wonderful comment, Lynda. I would like to do more paintings that capture more spontaneity and that is why I am trying this. Another piece that inspired me to begin painting fast was that Marilyn Manson painting you posted on April Fool’s Day. I can’t get that weird image out of my head. Thank-you! 🙂

  2. I love this Leslie. The composition is really interesting, especially the echoing of the flower shapes with the trees. Also love the shadows of the trees and the way they lead you back down to the foreground. I can see this is a really valuable addition to your way of working. I will check out Stephen’s Blog

  3. Oh Leslie you’ve really done a wonderful job. This piece is stunning. Really captures spring. I’m so surprise this didn’t take you forever to do, so much detail. Just lovely 🙂

    • Thank-you, Chloe! Not forever to do. Those purple flowers were actually little bell shapes. I had to fight my desire to capture their shape and kept telling myself, “your shooting for an essence here, not an audubon painting!”. I actually started chuckling thinking, if my brush could breathe, the poor thing would be totally out of breath after the flowers, alone!

  4. This is gorgeous, Leslie! I love how you can leave white in your paintings! You also didn’t fidget with a lot of details. I do almost all of my paintings in under two hours (that’s why they are so small) and I tend to get too detailed. This looseness is wonderful!! I also love the shadows on the high trees.

    • Thank-you, Beth. I know. Stephen would say I cut myself a lot of slack by giving myself two hours, but that is fast for me. I’m a slow/mid-tempo painter and enjoy staying with one awhile. This is really a skill I need to develop so I can work faster outdoors. I try to leave white of the paper as I think it adds to the appearance of light flashing on objects (I hope). 🙂

  5. Are you saying spring is here? Wait, let me look out of the window… YES! I see it, both outside and in your painting. Happily, beautifully spring!

    Fast painting is not for me at this stage. I admire you for teaching yourself a fast approach. I generally have no idea what to do, and take a lot of time to temporize, make my mind and retreat and wait for the glaze to dry. A painting a month is my current speed, pretty boring I know. I console myself with the “slow and steady…” saying :).

    • Smile!!!!! Love your intro to comment. Just got back in from mowing and found your lovely comment about spring and it brought a smile to my face.
      Fast painting is something I think I’ve wanted to do for a long time but never took the plunge. I admire the work of artists like Charles Reid, Don Andrews and Alvaro Castagnet. I don’t think it is just about being fast but maybe learning what is important to include in a painting and keeping it fresh and spontaneous which I think might help me when I paint longer.
      Your work is absolutely gorgeous! Don’t stop what you are doing. I love your paintings, Alex! 🙂

  6. This is just lovely! Nice job! It speaks of your personality too.

    • Thank-you, Jay! What a nice comment. Remember when we painted at Lakeside and you painted away and two hours later had a lovely acrylic that captured shapes and color and atmosphere and I had taken my colored pencils and only drawn portions of two homes, getting nowhere? Maybe I can improve on that and get something spontaneous without having to return day after day.

  7. Oh, Leslie … another beautiful painting. And even with the simplicity, the composition is complex. I love the way the eye is drawn upward – over and over. Great new way of painting for you!

    • Thank-you, Kate! I tried another quick painting last night and was not able to pull it off. I am learning it takes just what you noticed about this one, that the eye be drawn somewhere, simply and efficiently. I am forever learning.

  8. fast painting has its advantages.
    but my best work has come from taking my time.
    Minster view took fifty hours over a month.
    but despite that i think for a quck project you’ve really done a great job with this.

    • Thanks, Kokot. Your Minster piece is one of my favorites of yours as well as the shepherd dog and that one of the wharf with the buildings. I, too, like painting for a length of time and developing a composition. I am hoping to gain some brush handling skills as well as hone my vision to what is important about what I see by placing a time limit on some of the work I do.

  9. aloha Leslie – it looks like you’re on a great track to me. sometimes thinking gets in the way of seeing. i’ve found that looking without naming is one way around that mind block. i suspect painting with speed probably gets rid of some of that analyzing and mind/word stuff too. i look forward to more of your work pursuing this speed – at your own pace – process.

    • Thank-you for the visit and comment, Rick. I am hoping it helps me to be able to record from life a little better and to help with seeing what is important as you have stated above. You are right. That old left brain needs to be hushed, sometimes. 🙂

  10. Wow! I am so impressed. I can’t do an ATC in that amount of time. The painting is spontaneous, springlike, colorful, dynamic. And the diversity in the strokes adds texture. I can’t say enough in its praise!

    • Thank-you, Linda! I have to admit I tried this again last night and could not finish in my time limit. There are nuances to this that I am going to have to discover and I think some of it is knowing what to include and what not to include.

  11. I like it. It almost feels like an Impressionist painting. I love that the colors are soft, yet vibrant.

    • Thank-you, Bree. That is exactly what I am shooting for. I don’t know for sure, but I think I read somewhere that the impressionists came about because they were searching for ways to paint from life more quickly and began laying color next to color instead of the glaze over glaze requiring drying time, etc.

  12. Wow all that under two hours, it’s amazing. I can’t do it, all my painting at minimum 3 hours at least and not counting tempering with it add another few more hours. You inspired me again. Will try to clock mine too. Thanks

    • Thank-you, Francis. As I have admitted, above. I tried another last night and could not finish in my time limit. This is going to be touch and go, at first. 🙂 I am going to keep trying as I feel it will be a handy way to paint outdoors.

  13. Greetings Leslie. I so like the perspective in this work–the trunks of the trees at the top of the image, the light and shadows moving down toward the delicate flowers–something about the ‘hazy’ presentation of the petals causes me to search for their scent floating in the air. Lovely.

    • Thank-you, Eva! I think that is what drew me to the reference material I used for this. I was drawn to the division of space.
      What a wonderful comment…..I rarely think of scent when I create and you have opened yet a new door for me! Thank-you. 🙂

  14. I’m sitting here like a big question mark right now! One hour and forty minutes?!?! It looks so beautiful! By that time I would have finished one tree (perhaps!). You’re too good, Leslie!

    • Thanks, Camilla! You just boosted my ego! It does look confusing, but I swished in those blue flowers and their leaves and stems. That was the most difficult. I used a large round brush and was able to do those trees above in one swish after loading the brush. Each shadow was another swish.

  15. This painting to me has a dreamy, collage-like feeling. I love the difference between the forest behind and the riot of flowers before, in the sunny meadow. I love the idea of trying to finish in a given time period, too. I’m going to have to give that a try. Loverly!

    • Thank-you, Cindy! I love that “riot of flowers” because that’s what it felt like when I was painting this. 🙂 I liked giving myself a set amount of time also. It did feel like I was rushing as I never paint this fast. Check out Stephen’s blog as well as an artist by the name of Charles Reid. Pretty interesting art.

  16. Hey – thanks for this Leslie – you are so encouraging about my work.

    I love this painting – There is a LOT going on here. And it is so full of life – I like the way all the vertical stems keep the riot of flowers in step (well sort of but enough) with the trees which are like a metronome in the background while the colours dance.

    • Thank-you Stephen for the comment and the inspiration this year! 🙂

  17. It’s hard to believe that you’ve just learned to paint like that and that you’ve done it so quickly. I love the detail like the shadows from the tree trunks. Thanks for sharing.

    • Thank-you for dropping in and the comment , Tammy! Loved the photo of your son and the frog. I’ll be back to read more!

  18. hi Leslie, i love the result and i am surprised at how quickly you did it. as for speed painting, i think i would panic trying to achieve something in a short time:))

    • Thank-you, Rahina. I need to work on this some. Doesn’t mean I’ll use it all the time, but think I could learn something from it. I will admit it is a little intimidating.

  19. Great water color painting and the time was fast. I wish i could do that. Blog on 🙂

  20. Hi Leslie;

    I think the painting is great, but I wonder why you feel compelled to set a time limit on art?

    That is like relegating it to an Olympic event.

    I always thought art was like music, it flows, sometimes slowly and other times quickly. 🙂

    • Hi Ichabod! Good question! I am, for the most part a slow and “putsy” painter. There are times (workshops, outdoors, timed figure sessions) where developing a skill to recording what I see, quickly, will come in handy. In order to prepare for those times, I need to challenge myself with a time limit. The other reason is to see if I can do it. Sometimes I overwork a painting. Perhaps seeing some of these will help cure some of that in myself. It’s worth a try! Thank-you! 🙂

  21. Hi Leslie;

    I hadn’t thought of it in the context you described.

    I used to watch artists drawing caricatures or portraits of people’s faces in LA and Mexico. Within minutes they had it done, for they knew the attention span of the paying model was short.

    Surprisingly a lot of the work was quite good.

    These were people whose livelihood depended on speed for art. They may never be a Van Gogh, but reality is often not that of the greats.

    When I was a child I won an award for art, a picture of a three ring circus. I used to draw all the time. Yet if it isn’t “practiced”, a person can lose it and I’ve lost it.

    The motor skills aren’t there anymore nor the ability to select colors etc.

    For people who wish to pursue art, it must be honed and polished and worked on.

    I like your explanations under each work of yours, describing the hows and whys.

    You’re a great teacher Leslie. 🙂

    • I can’t do a decent caricature, for the life of me, but would love to have that skill.
      I took classes in writing when I had more time because I am amazed what can be passed on through words. Phew! I was awful! I ran right back to drawing pictures really fast. My love for the written word has seeped into my blogroll, here, as I view it an art form.
      Thank-you for replying, Ichabod. I value your comments.

  22. Hi Leslie, this is beautiful! There is something about watercolor, when painted fast, that has a lightness to it.

    Also, the perspective on this piece reminds me of some of Sonya Chaseys’ stuff.

    • Thanks, Carol! Maybe fast watercolors preserve that glow of the white of the paper better because there aren’t so many layers? I know I didn’t use anywhere near the colors I use in other paintings to create this. My brush got out of breath! 🙂

  23. I’d say that working quickly is something pretty neccessary at the beginning of any piece of artwork in order to get the essentials established & to not get confused with details too soon. Then it’s a question of how much time you decide to work into it.
    I like how the tree trunks echo the lower plant leaves but in tonal reverse.

    • Thank-you, Sonya. I didn’t even realise I’d done that. I have a horrible habit of getting too detailed for what I even want as an end result. It is like I see the big picture and then completely forget about it as I’m having fun. I don’t know if anyone else does this, but I sure do. As a result, I am constantly telling myself to move along and to help a painting paint itself. Always trying to balance the “control freak” in me with the side that enjoys new and interesting things happening on the paper.

  24. I think the layering of repetitious, but varied patterns works extremely well in this painting. The space between the tree trunks allows breathing room for the closely clustered blossoms below. I like it.

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