The Handle House, Trowbridge, Wiltshire


Handle House. Watercolour and auto touch-up paint. 12"x17"

I’ve not painted for nearly a week. I’ve been working on finishing an oil painting, and it’s a mess. I get discouraged when this happens and don’t know how to progress, and then I just don’t paint. Anyway, that was then, and now is now. I’m cheered up because I’ve had a good session working on the painting shown above. I started it I think in 1982 and haven’t touched it since. This is how I left it:

I don’t suppose I’d been painting for more than a couple of years. My drawing was OK, but everything  else was very tentative – like the trees on the right. I suspect the sky was a bit like this when I painted on site – a watery ocre, but for today I have gone over it with a strong cool pthalo blue to set off the orange of the rooves and bricks. In every other way I wanted to increase the contrast, using the light from the left, and deepening some shadows with a mixture of Payne’s grey and burnt sienna.

I needed to pick out some white highlights (such as on the water) but my permanent white is in truck and it’s wet and cold outside; however I found this in my art drawer. It’s white enamel auto touch-up paint left over from when we had a white Honda about ten years ago.  It worked a treat, and seemed entirely appropriate for an abandoned old painting. I think this qualifies as mixed media…

Out of curiosity I’ve just googled “Handle House Trowbridge”  and found this photo that dates from the mid to late 1980s when some restoration work had been carried out on the river. Another more recent picture appears to show the building in the middle of a highly insensitive restoration job. I hope I’m wrong. It’s one of maybe only two teasel-head-handle drying houses remaining in the UK.  This post is dedicated to my former colleague Pat (nee) Tidy with whom I worked in the Planning Department in the early 1980’s, and who I recently and unexpectedly met at a mills conference.  She will know this building without a doubt.

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~ by noelgarner on November 23, 2009.

3 Responses to “The Handle House, Trowbridge, Wiltshire”

  1. I like the definite and bold brushstrokes in this watercolour – gives it some “life”. Good style!

  2. Hi Rachel. I was using a square-ended brush quite a bit on this one, especially in the water with the downward strokes. Also I had the picture nearly vertical on my french easel, and when I got a couple of runs I just left them there.

  3. You’ve done it AGAIN: –left me breathless! Handle House is ALIVE with richly rewarding shadows, and you’ve captured the simple details superbly. Your handling of light and shadow gives the painting an atmosphere that is virtually breathable; for that I can calm down now. Thank you!

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