Thursday, 19 January 2017

Pastel Set-up

Above is a photo taken from a high viewpoint, standing on a chair (!) to show you how I set up my palette for Pastel painting. The sticks are placed in receptacles on top of a long board which is wedged into the easel's tray, so that I can see at a glance where my colours are. They are roughly from very light on the left, then the yellows, reds, greens, blues and browns to the right. That is then supplemented with four more trays of each warm and cool colours, on the top of a stool on my swivel chair. And in the bottom left of the photo you can just see the four more wooden trays of new sticks that I might need.

I find it the complete opposite to painting in Oils where I generally use only four or five colours for almost all my paintings. With pastels, although they can be smudged on the painting surface to mix the pigments a little, you really need a LOT of colours at your disposal in order to place all the subtle colours and tones that abound in any painting. I don't paint en plein air with Pastels for that very reason - it's just not practical to have so many sticks spread out in front of you on site, which, for me, out-weighs the advantage with the medium of the more direct way of placing dry colour on a painting surface.

Porcine Glance

 Pastel on Clairefontaine Pastelmat, 13 x 19 inches

The second in my current series of animal portraits, this one is of one of my favourite pals, a lovely Gloucester Old Spot sow that resides in her special meadow with lots of mud and old hat bales to snuffle through.

Because of the shapes of their mouths, pigs always seem to have a grin on their faces, and thus by their nature, make great subjects to paint. The hairy coats are a little more tricky to portray with Pastel sticks, and would probably be easier to paint in Oils, but in general, the pastel medium is sympathetic for animal studies.

In such paintings, I try to exploit plenty of counterchange - where the animal has a dark edge, I put a light background against it, and where the edge is light, I'll put a dark background next to it. This ploy isn't stuck to too ridgedly, and sometimes a 'lost edge' is good to include, but it is a useful device to give the impression of three dimensions and to add drama to the composition.

New Born

Pastel on Pastelboard, 15 x 11 inches

Yes, I know it's a bit twee, but a gorgeous subject to paint, nonetheless. With the sunlight behind the lamb, look at that crimson ear and the lovely highlighted fleece and the beard whiskers. This is another classic case of needing to observe the tones - we know the lamb is white, but because his body is mostly in shadow, it appears a much darker tone with lots of green, brown, pinks and mauves, and if that isn't judged correctly, the highlights won't sing at all.

The subject was a new born lamb I found on our trip to Skye last May. He and his mother were on the top of a rocky outcrop, next to the ocean. Here's a photo of the pair to give you an idea of the height they were:
 

Saturday, 14 January 2017

Quiet Morning

Oil on Board, 6 x 8 inches

This one isn't a demo painting! I have to get down to doing some new work - other galleries want some paintings, and so does PBFA!

This is one of my favourite spots down by the River Nene, where the course of the backwater twists and turns perfectly to make a lovely composition, with the backdrop of distant willows receding into the distance against a gorgeous, early morning yellowy-orange sky at the horizon - magic!

Wednesday, 4 January 2017

Blinding Dawn Light

Oil on Board, 10 x 14 inches

I hesitate to say, but this is ANOTHER demo painting finished orf in the studio! I think this one was at Blaby Society of Artists. 

This was quite a complicated painting, in that there were a lot of subtle colour changes throughout, in the sky, water and the mass of trees. All done with just four colours plus White - Cad Yellow Light, Permanent Rose and Cobalt Blue. Some of the trees had more blue in the mix, some more red, some more green and some darker with less white, accordingly. 

The hook, of course, was the rising sun as it blasted into the morning landscape, and its corresponding dazzling reflection in the river. Such fun and so satisfying to depict with paint. To achieve the illusion of bright sunlight coming out of the painting surface, almost making the viewer squint the eyes to avoid damage to the retina, is the goal, and the only way to get it is to paint what you see - especially the diffuse colours around the aura.

Tuesday, 3 January 2017

Village Skyline

Oil on Board, 12 x 17 inches

I did this commissioned painting a couple of weeks ago, but couldn't post it in case the receiver saw it before Christmas Day!

It's a view in my village from a couple of years ago when we had a good snowfall, transforming the roofs of the barns and buildings into a lovely pattern of blue and white rectangles. Sunlight and shadows on snow is always gorgeous to paint, and with the yellowy sky punctured by the church spire, this was a perfect composition. The brick-red end of the barn provided a lovely touch of warmth too.

The recipient was very pleased with the painting, especially as it was a complete surprise!

Freshly-Cut Hay

Oil on Board, 11 x 16 inches

This is yet another demo painting, this one done last June when I was guest artist at Patchings Art Festival. I duly tidied it up here and there to bring it up to exhibition standard.

The riverside field on the right had just been cut for the hay, and provided a nice foil of dry, pale raw umberish colour next to the vibrant greens of the lush waterside vegetation. I placed two or three figures for added interest.

Eyebrook Summer

Oil on Board 9 x 16 inches

I'm forever digging out previous demo paintings that need 'finishing off', and here's another one I found after a studio tidy-up.

This is a view of Eyebrook Reservoir just down the road from the gallery. It's much smaller than Rutland Water, but it has a charm about it, and I have painted it many times. A view in June, looking straight into the light, with that piercingly bright sunlight glinting off the water was manna from heaven, transforming a fairly ordinary scene, with a few swans and ducks feeding on the water, into a smashing vista. 

It's that moment when the evening sun is low in the sky, just above the top of the picture plane here, and lights up the water beneath. This is great fun to depict in paint, to capture that diffused flare around the intense reflected light.

Friday, 30 December 2016

2017 Calendar!





Hello folks - I completely forgot to tell all you PB Blog readers about my Calendar! It's big, at A3 size, with fourteen A4 sized images - a front cover, one image for each month, and a back cover - just five images shown here as examples. I still have plenty left, so if any of you want one, you can buy via Paypal here: http://www.peterbarkerfineart.co.uk/shop/viewcategory.php?groupid=40 or call me at the gallery on 01572 868460 between 11-4.30, or if you live near enough, just come in to the gallery to avoid postage, for just £13.50.

Thursday, 8 December 2016

Serenity by the Nene

Oil on Board, 6 x 8 inches

By one of my favourite stretches of river again, the River Nene, where it loops via a weir around for about a mile and back to the main river.  It's a gorgeous part of the countryside, with the occasional new Willow sprouting up each year, taking the place of one of its fallen brothers and sisters.

These close-toned subjects are a nice change to paint, with muted shades of greys and dull greens and ochres. 

Wednesday, 7 December 2016

Murky Light

Oil on Board, 7.5 x 10 inches

Sometimes, the softness of murky light, with the sun not quite breaking through the cloud, is great to paint. No flashy, blazing light, but a calmness of tones abound. I loved the pale blue tone of the distant Willows, immediately giving depth to the painting. Pitching this colour correctly is so important - if it's too dark, everything else is thrown out of kilter, so as ever, the tone is absolutely paramount. 

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Wild Wood Sundown

Oil on Board, 6 x 8 inches

Wild Wood is the name of this wood, part of Bedford Purlieus, a huge native wood near my studio. Beech trees are my particular favourite to paint, because the trunks have a smooth, greenish hue to them, and the forest floor is decked with a deep carpet of crunchy, rust-coloured leaves, which is a joy to paint with thick impasto dabs of paint, almost giving the painting a 3D quality.

The light was nearly gone with spotlights of yellow-orange through the distant blue trees.  This is such a glorious time of year to paint - still Autumnal colours abound, with mists and beautiful distant blue-greys, oh yes!

Thursday, 24 November 2016

Subdued Light, Lyndon Lane

Oil on Board, 6 x 8 inches SOLD

Just after a rainy, early morning, and there was little in the way of light, but the Autumn colours appear just as spectacular, with close tones of rust. 

The damp road was just as much of a challenge to paint as 'Down to Threeways' with its strong, cast shadows. Here, the look of the wet surface was achieved by paying close attention to the gradating tones and colours. I liked the little bit of detail of the white posts and rails punctuating the verge on the right, too. 

Much of the russety foliage was painted with my 1" decorator's brush, with a few judicious heavily-laden touches with the tip of my favourite old palette knife.

Out of Lyndon

Oil on Board, 6 x 8 inches SOLD

Another view in the opposite direction to Down to Threeways', going towards Rutland Water, with the sun behind and to my left. All the tree trunks were lit up, but the one I really liked was the one second from the right, just in the shade of its close neighbour, casting those gorgeous green shadows over its form- yummy!

The other 'hook' for this little painting was the dark blue-grey sky, lasting only a very short while, making the distant tree-line appear lighter then the sky - a fleeting light effect, but stunning while it lasted.

Down to Threeways

 Oil on Board, 6 x 8 inches SOLD

Back in the saddle after a long break - not enjoying myself you understand, but running a gallery and doing some manual work for our new orangery, but pleased to be painting again.

This one is a view I've painted a few times before, near the village of Lyndon in Rutland. The row of Oaks provide the most spectacular scenery at this time of year, and I can never resist. Here, painted at the beginning of November, the greens were beginning to change into their Autumn garb. The bright sunshine threw lovely shadows across the road and verges - always a pleasure to paint.