Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Cattle by the Windrush

Oil on Board, 7.5 x 10 inches

This was an entirely studio painting after a trip to Burford in the Cotswolds last year. Just about every time I've been there, it's been dull with no sunshine, so no sparkling water or sharp contrasts in this painting. But dull days have a certain charm and the true colours of the trees and banks of vegetation are revealed, so special attention must be paid to accurately convey the subtle colour changes.

The sound of Raasay

 Oil on Board, 9 x 12 inches

This started out as a plein air painting I did almost exactly a year ago on the Isle of Skye, when the temperatures were in the mid to high 20s! This was probably the most problematic painting I've done on the spot, with the light changing almost every second. First of all it was sunny, then the clouds tumbled over and the sky became grey and the distant mountains were lost, so I faded them out, then the sun came out again and the sea turned blue again. Having left the painting with a grey sea and dull, formless headland, I tickled it up in the studio and painted over it again and made the sea blue and some gorgeous cast shadows, and painted out the clouds! Talk aout artistic license!

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Late in the Day, Brancaster Staithe

Oil on Board, 12 x 17 inches

I originally posted this painting back on 3rd October - I did it as a demo painting at the Mall Galleries during the RSMA Exhibition last year. I felt it needed a bit of tidying-up, so set about just that in the studio.

I put a little more warmth in the sky, reminiscent of a November afternoon, then worked over the entire painting with some more subtle colour/tone shifts. Wet mud is always a challenge to tackle, especially with low winter sunlight bouncing off it, with lots of jewels of light here and there. Much of the this was done with the palette knife, dragged across the sticky, drying paint underneath.

This painting, along with 'Moorings at Thornham', my last post, are going into the RSMA’s 2017 out of London exhibition, at the Barn Gallery at Patchings Art Centre. The show starts this coming Saturday with a Private View from 11am to 1pm, then continues until 25th June, open 9am - 5pm daily. It will be a great show with work by the best of Marine artists on display.

Sunday, 30 April 2017

Moorings at Thornham

Oil on Board, 10 x 14 inches

This was a demo painting I did at the Peterborough Arts Society a few weeks ago, finished off in the studio. It's going into the Royal Society of Marine Artists Exhibition at the lovely Barn Gallery, Patchings Art Centre, from 13th May - 25th June.

I wasn't sure that this would make a great painting, but having worked on it and judging by the reaction on Facebook, maybe it would have made a big painting! I certainly enjoyed painting the glistening mud at low-tide, especially the darker reflections beneath the boats and the gorgeous purple/grey cast shadows. Bits like these are really the fun part of a painting - the posts and masts, rigging and rails on the boats are a bit of a trudge quite honestly, but then when you move on to these most important incidentals, you can use the palette knife to describe the dark mud in the shadows, and they can really make the painting.

Friday, 7 April 2017

Pines by Buttermere

Oil on Canvas, 18 x 26 inches

This is the first relatively big canvas I've painted for a good while, and it involved a lot of standing back to assess the drawing and tones - it's so much easier when you're working on a small board, because the whole picture plane is so much more condensed.

I loved painting the blues of the distant mountains, conveying the sense of depth and space. Probably the most enjoyable passage was the water in the foreground, where you have the combination of reflections and being able to see the lake bottom with the different coloured stones - magic!  

Friday, 31 March 2017

In Great Langdale

Oil on Board, 14 x 18 inches

Woh, a handbrake turn for a while, away from the relative flatlands of Rutland, I thought I would do three or four from a trip to the Lakes. This one is in Great Langdale showing the Pikes beautifully lit, with a stripe of sunlight across the mountain and the meadows and bare trees below. 

So many spots of contrast and counterchange here, it was a joy to paint, with lots of 'pow' and drama! I deliberately placed the two Herdwicks right at the bottom of the picture to give the Pikes their majesty, towering into the sky above. I painted the sky and the mountains with a No 5 long flat Hog bristle brush, refining the crags with a long flat chisel-edged Rosemary & Co Series 279 brush. All the trees were painted with either a fan brush for the more distant ones, or a 1" decorator's brush for the nearer ones, augmented with a rigger for the thicker branches.

Thursday, 23 March 2017

Lyddington from Bisbrooke Road

Oil on Board, 6 x 8 inches

This morning I was driving slowly the through nearby villages to my studio, and this view struck me as a good subject, with the church splicing the skyline and providing a perfect focal point. So, I parked up, got my plein air kit out of the car and jumped over a ditch into a field and set up to capture the scene.

The view was perfect, with a hazy light, looking directly into the sunlight, but what I hadn't catered for was the gale-force cold north-easterly wind blowing into my back...and neck! After nearly two hours painting, my neck was nearly frozen, despite being dressed up in a thick fur-lined jacket and anorak over the top. So, I packed up having got the painting mostly finished. Having taken off my rucksack from the hook on my tripod which acted as a weighty ballast, the tripod with the painting attached promply blew over, luckily wet-side-up!

I put just a very few finishing touches back in the warmth, and calm, of the studio. Looking forward to the next CALM day outside! 

By the Welland at Wakerley

Oil on Board, 6 x 8 inches

The River Welland trundles through Rutland, and provides an artist like me with a wealth of subject matter. Here, with a ewe and a small gang of lambs munching on the Spring grass near Wakerley was a heaven-sent composition.

With the sunlight coming from the right, behind the bank of trees, the water was bejewelled with sparkles, spotted in with a small rigger or the tip of the palette knife. Most of the tree work was done with my 1" decorator's brush.

Last Hard Frost

 Oil on Board, 6 x 8 inches

As the name suggests, this was the last hard frost of the Winter. Crisp, silver and varying shades of mauve dusting of ice adorned the fields and vegetation - always a joy to paint. The sun broke through the grey, foggy sky, and the perfect vista was complete.
The dark Teasels provided a nice foreground interest, and helped to depict the feeling of spacial depth to the painting.


Wednesday, 15 March 2017

The Sounds of Evening

Here's a 'video' I recorded last night outside my studio at about 7 o'clock...https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=igwJ5hcEyVI
...nothing to see, just the sounds of evening, with a Song Thrush hogging the limelight, distant Rooks, Bats if you're young and can hear them, a Tawny Owl (just after 4 mins) Sheep and Cattle, a light aircraft, traffic on the A47 over a mile away, even though it sounds like we're right next to it, and me opening and closing my studio doors! Eat your heart out Chris Watson!

Early Morning, Duddington Bridge

Oil on Board, 6 x 8 inches

Finally back in the studio to paint this little chap, a view of Duddington bridge at about 8 in the morning, with a residual frost and that lovely bit of steam hanging over the water - how could you not paint it!

I love the Winter colours - so many think that Winter is boring with dull colours, lacking the splendour of Summer, but for me, it is equally beautiful, with the subtle greys, mauves and browns of trees and vegetation in their Winter garb, and the yellow of the low sun.

Thursday, 23 February 2017

Morning Light

Oil on Board, 6 x 8 inches

This, the last of my batch for the AAF, finished at midnight last night, with a fair bit of artistic license in the sky - it was a very misty day when I took a photo as reference.

Rivers almost always provide a custom-made lead-in and give the painting a rhythm. I like to paint in the 'sky-holes' in Winter paintings especially - this gives that lovely glow, hopefully.

Frost and Sunshine

 Oil on Board, 6 x 8 inches

So much going on at the moment with all the gallery work, it's been hard to get any actual painting work done, but a group of eight paintings are off to the Affordable Art Fair in London early next month, so just had to paint the last two 6x8s for that.

This one was a lovely crisp, bright morning on my favourite stretch of the River Welland. There might seem to be a lot of detail, but my 1" decorator's brush was set to use to descibe the complicated network of branches and vegetation in its Winter garb, along with a rigger for the odd trunks and a flat, chisel-edged brush for the water.



Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Swan Rescue!

We had a call last night when we were eating our supper, from my step-daughter’s boyfriend Mark, who works at a local cement quarry. He had spotted a Swan that was seemingly stuck in some mud, so I drove over there to meet him, and in the dead of night we drove in his Landrover through a lot of water and mud to where the Swan was that he had seen earlier. Sure enough, the poor creature was still there, with its head tucked in its feathers, with just the black eye giving away the fact that it was a living animal. 

The Swan was stuck fast in thick limestone mud, and had obviously thrashed around to try and free itself, to no avail – the hapless bird’s plumage was completely covered in ochre-coloured mud.
The next thing was to work out a rescue plan, so we got the torch from the vehicle, and while Mark held it, I tried to get hold of the terrified Swan’s neck in order to stop its attempts to peck us. Throwing a towel over its head calmed it down enough to enable me to grab its neck just below the head, whilst Mark managed to scoop up the Swan from his sticky prison. He bundled the bird into the Landrover and I jumped in and drove to where Mark thought there was a reasonably sized pond where we could release it.

After a few minutes, we reached the spot and I climbed out to have a look to see if it was suitable to drop the Swan in, and was thrilled to see another Swan on the water! Could this be its mate, or another male aggressor?
Mark scrambled down as near to the water’s edge as he could and took off the towel and slipped our muddied friend into the murky water. To our relief, he floated and immediately started scooping water into his gullet. We watched to see what the other bird would do – our poor friend was in no fit state to have a fight. The other bird cruised slowly towards our Swan, and made no threatening display of wings spread and neck ramrod straight, and as they came within touching distance, and this is the tear-jerking moment, they touched heads and almost entwined their necks and let out caressing, acceptance noises like I have never heard a Swan give out before. It was obvious that they were mates, Cob and Pen, and by sheer luck, we had chosen the very pool where our boy’s mate was already.
Proud of our rescue, we watched them for about 10 minutes in the blackness, illuminated only by a torch, whilst our Swan did his best to preen himself and after several neck dives, his head was white again, and his orange and black beak were visible, free of the horrible ochred glue. Mark had his phone with him and took these few grainy and unclear photos, but you can see the state of the bird when we found him, and just about make out the moment the two ‘embraced’ each other in a neck-twine. Moments like this make you pumped with pride that we had helped magnificent bird survive, who knew we were trying to help him and surely wouldn’t have survived another day, with Foxes and huge vehicles about. All together…..aaah!
And here are our two birds, swimming off together, and you can clearly see the cloud of mud beneath our rescued bird on the left.

Thursday, 9 February 2017

Teasels Against the Sunlight

Oil on Board, 6 x 8 inches

Back onto some more oils for my Devon outlet, and this one is from one of my favourite stretches of river near my home in Rutland. Around 9 in the morning, the sun is low in the winter sky, and the pure sunlight bounced off the water straight ahead of me. This always provides a dramatic light effect which I never tire of painting.

Capturing the subtle tones and colours of trees and vegetation in its winter garb is a challenge I love. Pitching the horizon high on the picture plane blocked out the intense light of the sun itself, but the blinding reflection of it in the water is fun to paint and makes a cracking subject, especially with the Teasels silhouetted against it.