Wednesday, 23 August 2017

On the Move

Oil on Board, 14 x 20 inches

It's that time of year again, when the entries for the Royal Institute of Oil Painters (ROI) close on Friday, and I've wondered whether to enter, not having the greatest success with getting work accepted...but, being naturally competitive, I painted this specifically for it as a submission, so we'll see what happens!

I painted this using a composite of three photos I took down at Eyebrook Reservoir in Rutland. The cloudy sky with the sun piercing through in places provided a powerful back drop for the scene, and this was painted in with a minimum of fuss and brushwork, drybrushing the rays when dry. The cattle strolling along the bank gave a nice lead-in to the picture, taking the eye on a gentle journey through the composition. The loan bullock on the right by the tree provided a bit of a side-show for the eye to rest awhile before moving on through the painting. The blinding light on the water between the cattle on the left was a natural focal point for the eye to circle back to, too. 

We'll see whether the hanging committee see any of that and find it of merit. Having served on the committee for the RSMA this year, I know it's a split second decision to say yes or no, and it's not an easy job, and I respect the judges' decision either way.

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Summer Breeze

Oil on Board, 10 x 14 inches

This one is another demo piece, painted for the lovely folk of the Horncastle Art Group. It's a view from the old bridge over the River Nene at Milton Ferry. 

Painting trees and water are my stock-in-trade, and painting still water is relatively simple - you're just painting reflections, but when the water is ruffled by a breeze, the technical aspect is that bit more troublesome. Using fast-drying Alkyd oil paint, I placed in the reflections of the right-hand bank and suggestions of the trees, then blocked in the sky reflections and left it to dry for half-an-hour or so, then loaded a flat brush with the sky colours again, and dragged it across the sticky underlayer, making use of the texture of the board from my random application of gesso. Hopefully, the effect is an approximation of the wind-ruffled surface.

Below is how far I got with the demo in the allotted two hours, before working over the painting again back in the studio, refining where needed. I added an angler partially hidden in the bankside vegetation, just for some added interest.

 

Saturday, 5 August 2017

The Cuillins, Isle of Skye

Oil on Board, 6 x 8 inches

This is the last painting for the RSMA exhibition, and will go onto the 'small pictures wall', a feature the Society has experimented with for the last couple of years, which seems popular - lots of small paintings displayed together next to the cafe.

I was hoping to produce one more painting for the show...a watercolour, but two efforts ended up on the cutting room floor, just not up to standard. I'm very ring-rusty when it comes to watercolour - that most difficult of mediums...just need more practise after several years not using the fluid medium, but determined to produce something worthy of exhibiting soon!

This little oil I painted en plein air last May on the Isle of Skye, finishing it off in the studio with the aide memoire of a couple of photos for the details of the boats. The distant Cuillins appeared very blue/mauve, still flecked with snow even in the 26 degree heat.

Sunday, 30 July 2017

Forthcoming Demo


I'm giving a demo in Oils next Friday, 4th August at Horncastle from 7.30 - 9.30pm, if anyone wants to attend for a small fee on the door. I shall be painting a landscape with water, from scratch, with an entertaining (hopefully!) commentary throughout. Venue: Queen Street Methodist Church Hall, Horncastle LN9 6BD

Saturday, 29 July 2017

Radiating Ropes and Boats, Mousehole

Oil on Board, 12 x 17 inches

This is another painting for the Royal Society of Marine Artists exhibition. Even though the day was somewhat overcast with little sunlight giving any spectacular lit-up surfaces, I was immediately attracted to the beautiful green water in the reflections of the sea walls - that lovely colour the sea appears looking at the sand beneath, like in those shots of Bermuda beaches!

Although a much smaller painting than the Portree harbour one below, this took just as long to complete, if not a little longer - boats are so damned fiddly! The composition was perfect, especially with the radiating lines of the ropes pointing at the gap in the wall, and I loved painting those seaweed-wrapped ghostly shapes of the ropes beneath the water - worth the struggle!

Monday, 24 July 2017

Sparkling Early Light, Portree Harbour


Oil on Canvas, 18 x 26 inches

We went to the isle of Skye last May, and on several mornings I went down to Portree harbour, where the wonderful weather provided a wealth of painting material, and this is the result of one of those mornings, the obvious hook being that beautiful light bouncing off the water  - just gorgeous!

Painting the smaller boats against the light was reasonably straightforward, but as I always say in my demos, you cannot tell whether the colour and tone you put down initially is right, until you put down the adjacent colour and tone next to it. Similarly in this case, where the colour next to the boats was almost pure Titanium White, it was not easy to judge the boat colours until that light passage was placed next to them. Some adjustment had to be made, so that the boats didn't look 'stuck on', or not really sitting on the water. 

The spots of pure, reflected sunlight were the main problem near the end of the painting. Placing spots of pure white doesn't quite work - theylook like spots of white stuck on, not blinding sunlight sparkles. To achieve the glare, so that the onlooker almost feels he should put sunglasses on, requires a bit of an orange halo placed on the water first, smudged slightly to imitate a star-like flare. Then, when that was tacky (not long, maybe half-an-hour with fast-drying Alkyds), I dabbed on thick, impasto spots of pure Titanium White in the middle of the halos. 

This one is going into the RSMA Exhibition in October.

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Sunlit Boat and Mud

Pastel on Clairefontaine Pastelmat, 13 x 19 inches

I painted this one at Patchings Festival on the last day, when I was one of the guest artists. I finished it off in the studio today.

the gorgeous receding light on the boat was the initial hook for the painting, but the gorgeous, squelchy mud with puddles of water with reflected blue sky, complemented it perfectly. With the posts in the foreground at jaunty angles, the composition was complete.

The Pastel medium seemed an obvious choice and I think it worked quite well, getting down the elements fairly quickly.

Blinding Light, Brancaster Staithe

 Oil on Board, 10 x 17 inches

I painted this one as a demo to the Castor and Ailsworth Society of Art last Thursday, then finished it off at Patchings Art Festival on Sunday morning. 

The photo below shows the painting as it was after the two hours allotted for the demo, and above the finished article. Really, with such bright light bouncing off the mud (one of my favourite subjects to paint), the painting was an exercise in recognising relative tones. The sky was obviously very bright, but a tone down from the reflected sunlight, and everything else - the distant trees, buildings, banks, mid-distant trees, post, boats and mussel bags, were all progressively darker. 

The initial hook for the painting, apart from that pure sunlight on the mud, was the halo effect of Viridian green on the top of the colourful bags of mussels. And I never tire of trying to capture that transition of the pure sunlight and the darker tones next to it - just so exciting to depict!

Thursday, 6 July 2017

Banks of the Nene

Oil on Board, 10 x 17 inches

Here's another demo painting I did a while back, again with a panoramic shape on a 10 x 17 board. It's a view of the River Nene near Waternewton just outside Peterborough. The Nene is pronounced Neen the nearer you are to Northampton and Nen by the Peterborough locals.

Looking into the sunlight, the trees were almost in silhouette, with just a few halos of light round their edges. Capturing the intense light the eye sees when looking directly into the sunlight is never easy with mere paint, so I introduced a few clouds with pure white edges to emphasise the light - just about pulled it off I hope!

The Oak by the Canal

Oil on Board, 10 x 17 inches

I did this painting as a demo to the Napton Art Group, choosing to do a local landscape of the area, in this case the Oxford Canal near Lower Shuckburgh. I liked the barns in the distance on the left, and the towpath on the right, so opted for this panoramic-shaped board.

The big Oak is a little centred, and in fact I painted out some of the tree on the left to balance it a little. The banked hedgerow on the right stopped the eye flying out of the picture, and the main hook to the painting was the lovely ochrey reflections in the disturbed water, so redolent of canals. 

I spent a lot of my childhood by the Oxford Canal at Bodicote, fishing for Roach and Gudgeon, so the area has happy memories for me.

Thursday, 22 June 2017

Swans by the River Coln

Oil on Board, 9 x 13 inches

This one is another verdant landscape, with a mass of May blossom on the hawthorn bushes. Painting white blossom is always a challenge, especially when there is a strong light as there was here. I used my 1" household decorator's brush, firstly placing the dark green foliage, then layering the blossom on top with a light touch, in varying shades of white and mauve and all subtle variations in between, depending on how much the particular bit was in shadow.

The Swans just happened to be in the right spot, acting as a stopper to prevent the eye shooting out of the picture.

Thursday, 8 June 2017

Mellow Windrush

Oil on Board, 7.5 x 10 inches

Another Cotswold-themed painting, this time of the River Windrush near Burford, where the river winds its way through meadows to Swinbrook.

The day was not sunny, so all the tones were somewhat close, and I had to pay special attention to the subtle shifts of colour. 

The pink Willowherb provided a nice touch of colour, and the Thistle seed-heads, which I always think look like the old-fashioned shaving brushes, are always fun to paint, and I suggested the whispy seeds just flying off in the breeze.

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Sherborne Park

Oil on Board, 10 x 17 inches

Another Cotswold painting, this time one of the glorious landscape of Sherborne Park Estate, where this year's Springwatch programme is based.

I felt a panoramic-shaped board would suit the composition, with the Sherborne brook transversing the meadows, with the little weir in the foreground, the white water punctuating the predominantly green landscape. The cattle on the left in the sunlit patch of meadow were perfectly placed for a bit of interest in the distance.

Friday, 2 June 2017

Sunset over the Windrush

Oil on Board, 12 x 17 inches

Another Cotswold painting, this time the River Windrush near Swinbrook, East of Burford, one of my favourite stretches of water. The water always seems to have a slightly milky effect to it, with a tint of blue in it, too.

I used a little artistic license with this one, introducing a sunset sky onto a fairly dull light effect, adjusting the tones of the trees and vegetation accordingly.

Thursday, 1 June 2017

Upper Slaughter

Oil on Linen Canvas, 20 x 28 inches

One of the chocolate-box villages in the Cotswolds, I painted this view of Upper Slaughter in all its verdant, Summer glory. I was lucky that the woman was posing on the bridge, with a lovely, backlit halo around her dark hair and sunlit highlights on her arms. The ancient cottages also provided a nice foil to the abundance of greens in the trees and bankside vegetation. The River Eye and the path, of course, were convenient 'lead-ins' to the composition, with the dark shadowed side of the bridge the darkest dark in the painting.