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The Derelict in Stages

The Derelict

The Derelict
Original watercolour after John Singer Sargent’s The Derelict

Northern Counties Club

The Derelict featured in a watercolour demonstration and talk about Junction 42 at the Northern Counties Club. The event was titled “Art in Prisons”. I shared many of my experiences working with ex-offenders. I also spoke about those who are serving custodial sentences in prison.

One of the paintings that I started on as was a watercolour of John Singer Sargent’s oil painting “The Derelict”. It was a scene he would have witnessed on one of his transatlantic journeys in 1896.

The Derelict, oil painting
The Derelict by John Singer Sargent


The Derelict is a painting which inspired me for one of the “In Cell” creative art packs for the UK prisons. One of the exercises I developed was a sunset seascape to be painted in stages. In my talk I showed how I would tackle such a subject. If you follow the sequence of washes in stages, then you can end up with  a watercolour that looks moody and atmospheric.

John Singer Sargent

In the book John Singer Sargent, Figures and Landscapes 1874 – 1882 by Richard Ormond and Elaine Kilmurray, one of the authors writes the following about The Derelict:

“An abandoned ship is always a melancholy sight, and Sargent draws on the imagery of death and disaster at sea to charge his work with emotion. The seascape itself is an evocation of light shimmering on water at close of day. The artist achieves the effect by placing short, square brush strokes of strong colour, mostly blues of various shades, pink, and yellow, over a smooth greenish-grey tone. The sky is a bank of deep grey and bluish-grey cloud formations, shot through with streaks of brilliant orange and gold.”

For those readers who enjoy painting in watercolour, why not have a go a tackling this painting. I’ve shown the sequence of washes below using just 6 colours.

Instead of an abandoned ship, I used a fishing trawler to create a different narrative from Sargent’s.

The Derelict in Stages
The Derelict in Stages
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