Thursday, 29 December 2011

Golden Light by Duddington Bridge

Oil on Board, 8 x 6 inches

This was a view looking from the steep bankside of the bridge at Duddington, a village near me.  Looking straight into the light, the sheep were silhouetted against the late afternoon sky, giving each one a lit halo, and the golden light picked out bits of vegetation and foliage.  And, of course, the intense reflection of the sun itself bouncing off the water was a joy to paint.  
This was really an exercise in tones to make the picture convincing - the water was bright, but a tone down from the pure white diamonds of light. You have to squint and paint what's there.  It's all about tone, tone,, not Blair - that was education, education, education!

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

The Approach to Lyndon

Oil on Board, 7.5 x 10 inches  

Painted this morning en plein air by a nearby village.  It was freezing cold in a brisk wind, but managed to get the bulk of the painting down, wearing gloves, before the sun went in and the view changed totally. 

It's not the greatest composition ever, with the house almost dead centre and road going out of the picture plane, but I loved the sunlit distant trees and the orange glow of the red brick house.  I also liked the big foreground shadow which was like a giant human hand creeping over the road and hedge - that helps keep the eye in the picture as well as the gable end of the house on the far right - that's my excuse anyway!

Saturday, 24 December 2011

River Welland at Barrowden

Oil on board, 6 x 8 inches

This little painting is my local river again in the next village to where I live.  The river provides a nice 'lead-in' to the picture, taking the eye to the focal point of the church to the left of centre and the bluey distant trees.  The bare Willow trees in the foreground were painted in layers with my big household brush. 
May I wish you all a very happy Christmas and a prosperous New Year and thank you so much for reading my jottings and looking at my paintings over the year.  Have fun!

Monday, 19 December 2011

Wothorpe Towers from Tinwell

Oil, 3.625 x 5 inches 

Painted after fresh snowfall from the road down to the River Welland from Tinwell village, this view shows the ruins of Wothorpe Towers standing starkly against the early morning sky.  There is hardly any pure white as can be seen comparing the snow colour against the white border of the photo.  Lots of subtle blues and mauves mixed from my usual primaries of Cad Yellow Light, Permanent Rose and Cobalt Blue with Titanium White.

This is the last of the tiny paintings for now, six in all, so if you want a Christmas present priced painting (£225) get on down to Stamford Artists Gallery in Maiden Lane in Stamford.  The Gallery doesn't have a website, but you can call them on 01780 764074 to enquire about availability.

Friday, 16 December 2011

Day out at the ROI

Yesterday I had a day out at the Royal Institute of Oil Painters (ROI) where the cream of the country's Oil painters have their annual open exhibition. It was a feast for the eye I must say, with a really broad mix of styles and subject matter, from the very loose to the ultra tight in terms of execution.

I took my camera for a day out to London too, but as I forgot to put in a memory card, it just had a lazy day, unused in my bag, durgh!

So, I had to resort to sketches both on the way down on the coach and at the show.  I've included my doodles below.  I'm not much of a sketcher actually, apart from when I'm composing a wildlife subject - I prefer to sketch with my paintbrush as I go and get straight on with the painting.

Roger Dellar gave a demonstration at 2pm, painting the ROI President, Peter Wileman's daughter Olivia. A good crowd gathered and Roger did a fine job - no photo, obviously, but here's my quick drawing of him painting:
Then at 6pm, it was the annual Art Event Evening, when several ROI members and ordinary mortals paint from three models. I was only able to watch for 30 minutes as I had to get to the last coach home at 7pm, but it was really interesting seeing the completely different ways of 'getting into' the portrait.  Lucy McKie kind of brought the head shape tentatively into being from an ethereal background, David Curtis (the guv'nor in my book) started on a very dark toned ground, nervously dabbing in the features then wiping away the lights of the background with a rag, Luis Morris went straight in on a white canvas with blocks of undiluted colour, Roger Dellar blocked in the features (of Peter Wileman doing the modelling) qhickly with broad, strong umber marks, Tony Merrick sketched out the form in his impressionistic manner, whilst Dennis Syrett drew out the head shape with a light colour on a dark background, a new one on me, and others whose names I know not, sketched out the form in dry orangey colour on white ground, very wet washes on toned ground, and so on.  In short, no two started the same way, so ther are no rules for how you start a painting.  I like to start with thin, dryish paint on a toned ground, plotting the darks, then work up with thicker, juicier paint towards the end.

I would love to have seen all the end results, when another master, Trevor Chamberlain was going to give a critique.  A great evening I'm sure!

Back to the exhibition, I met Aderbanji Alade, John Shave, David Curtis, Peter Wileman, Roger Dellar...I know, I'm such a name-dropper, and they all met me! I'm sure you're all perched on the edge of your seats, wondering if I had anything accepted for the show aren't you...AREN'T YOU?  Well, yes I did, one solitary picture, below.  I thought it wasn't as strong as the other four that were rejected, but again, what do I know?

I need to loosen up to curry favour with the judges, so I shall strive for just that next year.  So far the painting hasn't sold, so the buying public in London, at least, seem to prefer the more impressionistic style.

Oh, here are the doodles I occupied my time with on the coach journey down:

Don't know who the character was staring back at me through the reflective plastic shield between me and the driver, but he looks a bit shifty with those up-tuned eyebrows......

Well, they're only very quick sketches - maybe I need to attend the Royal Academy and have some tuition from Professor Tracey Emin, RA...............everyone I spoke to at the ROI couldn't understand it, apart from Aderbanji Alade, (a brilliant painter - see his blog on my list) who said he thought it was great, and I think he was being serious.  The only drawings I can find of Dame Tracey (it's surely only a matter of time before Dave C. recommends her majesty to anoint the chosen one for the honour) are the ones of the parts of her body that most of us prefer not to see the light of day, never mind thrust upon us to exclaim her sexual experiences of her tortured yoof.

Poplar Remains, Bright Willow and Sundown at Tinwell

These three tiny paintings are very much in the Christmas season, all featuring my local waterway, the River Welland in all its snowy glory.  I'm not much into making twee pictures with children in red duffle coats and sledges and cottages with smoke rising from the chimney and a light in the window.  I paint what I see, and in its winter garb, the landscape takes on a gorgeous mantle of white with blue and mauve shadows.  I love its beauty in the raw.

Saturday, 10 December 2011

Sunlight Through Beeches & Hoar Frost near Ketton

These are two little Oils (3.625 x 5 inches) I have done for Stamford Artists Gallery. I've photographed them together, because being so small, they don't look right blown up larger than life if you click on the image, so two at once is little more truthful.

I used to paint a lot of these little guys, but not so many these days. They are a bit more fiddly, but contrary to popular opinion, I don't use extra small brushes.  In fact, the majority of the work is still done with my trusty mate, the 1" household brush.

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Calendar update

Due to overwhelming demand, I have run out of the Calendars as shown in my last post, until more stock arrives, but I can't guarantee delivery before Christmas until I know when they will arrive.

However, I have just two Calendars with black borders as shown below:


Wednesday, 7 December 2011

2012 Calendar

Here is my 2012 Calendar launched on to the world.  There are 12 seasonal images (all shown below) and the size is 8.5 x 11 inches, or 16 x 11 inches hanging open, as above.

The price is £8 including post and packing, available on my website (link on right, click on 'Shop' then on the drop-down menu) where you can pay by Paypal for your convenience, or email me if you wish to pay by cheque or cash.

Limited supplies, hurry while stocks last...said a spokesman.

Saturday, 3 December 2011

NEAC Exhibition

Yesterday I went to the NEAC (New English Art Club) Annual Exhibition at The Mall Galleries in deepest London, for a look at the opposition.  I met Karl Terry (hi Karl, hope lunch was good!) also having a look at the show.

It's a fine show and well worth a look, from the atmospheric impressionistic oils of Diana Armfield, loose oils of Francis Bowyer, Bernard Dunstan, Luke Martineau and Richard Pikesley, the quirky oils of Alan Kingsbury, the colourful landscapes of Andrew Macara and interiors of Susan Ryder, the delicate watercolours of Charlotte Halliday, the sublime oil cityscapes and studio interior of Ken Howard and the utterly brilliant, realistic yet painterly plein air street scenes of Pete Brown.

There were a few paintings that seemed to me to be classic cases of the Emperor's New Clothes, and I shall forever fail to see what others (think they) see, but maybe I'm missing something.....but I don't think so.

If you find yourself anywhere near, pop in and give yourself a treat, and don't whatever you do, miss Pete Brown's paintings - they alone are worth seeing and I can't imagine anyone would not like them.  Many find mine too 'tight', as do I, but Pete's seem to be all things to punters and painters alike - he's damned annoying!  All five of his paintings have sold, not surprisingly, and that's a mark of the man's talent and stature.

Talking of art selling, I can't pass commenting on young Kieron Williamson's latest sell-out exhibition (in just 10 minutes) of 12 paintings, for, wait for it.....pointless drum beat to waste a few seconds, a la strictly or X-Factor.....£106,260, averaging nearly £9,000 a age 9.  

Now, this is going to sound like sour grapes, but can it be right that, entirely because of hype/hysteria, a 9 year old with a modicum of talent is selling at the same prices or more, as Ken Howard, David Curtis or Pete Brown, at the pinnacle of their careers with a whole apprenticeship and a lifetime's (in Ken's case at least) damned hard work behind them?   If young Kieron, a lovely little chap, were my age, or say in his twenties, he wouldn't even get a foot in a Gallery door, let alone sell anything, but because he has been hyped up and all the network television companies have had him on as a novelty because of his age, his promoters can ask almost whatever price they like and there are still enough people with a lot more money than sense, willing to buy them regardless of the artistic merit.  Perhaps they are making a wise investment and young Kieron's paintings will go up and up in value, but to me and all the professional painters I know, it is, sadly, representative of some of the ridiculous capriciousness of our profession.
Hopefully, he will stay a nice young lad, but there must be a danger that he will believe the hype that is whipped up about him, and because EVERYTHING he paints is sold, guaranteed, at least for long enough for him and his parents to become rather wealthy, he will think he is the genius that the unknowledgeable say he is.  He is undoubtedly very good for his age, but no better than any other professional artist I know who started painting as early as him, myself included, not wishing to blow my own trumpet, but true. But then, we know much of the art world is mad, don't we?

November Frost

Oil on Board, 10x14 inches

I do enjoy painting frost.  So few artists seem to paint frost and I don't know why; it's such fun to paint compared to the rich greens of summer, when all the dying vegetation is dusted with icing sugar.  On a cursary glance, it produces a monochrome landscape, but when you really look, there are lots of subtle blues, purples and greys, with touches of warm oranges and browns. 

Just keep it under your hat everyone - if all the others realise frost is great to paint, that's the end of my career, so mum's the word...............

Friday, 25 November 2011

Summer Water

Oil on Linen Canvas, 20x30 inches

This large-ish painting is a commissioned piece of my local River Welland.  Set in July, the greens of the trees are a little more muted than in their vibrant Spring garb, so more satisfying to paint.

I seem to be living life on the edge at the moment, with so many committments, only just getting this latest painting finished tonight, in time for a lick of retouching varnish before fitting in its frame ready for courier collection.

Now, I can look forward to painting some late Autumn/Wintry landscapes - my favourite time of year.

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Iona House Exhibition & new work at John Noott's

I have 11 paintings included in the Winter Exhibition, running from this Saturday 26th November until 15th January 2012, at the Iona House Gallery in Woodstock, Oxfordshire

The 11 PB paintings are these, previously posted on the Blog:

I also have 8 new paintings at the John Noott Gallery in Cotswold Court, Broadway, Worcs.,  details at:

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Hare in North Leigh wood

Oil on Linen Canvas, 20x30 inches

Paintings of Bluebell Woods are always going to look a bit twee, but the sight of a sea of English Bluebells in Spring is just a stunning sight, so I can't resist. 
This quite large painting is, in fact, a re-painting of one I did over a year ago.  I've included the first draft below the revamp for comparison.  It's abit like those 'spot the difference' pictorial quizzes. 
I actually covered the entire surface with fresh paint, so there is a lot of texture that can't be seen in the photo.  I also felt the massive Oak was a bit central and the composition was therefore imbalanced, so I painted in the Silver Birch in the gap to the right of it to add balance, colour and depth.  I think it looks much better, but what do I know - I thought it looked alright last year until I got it back after it didn't sell at a Gallery.  We can always learn, even global megastars like me!
The colour of the photograph lets the painting down a bit - greens hardly ever reproduce well, and neither do lilacs, so this was always going to be a struggle getting the photo to look anywhere near the painting.  So, rest assured, the painting looks miles better than it does here!  If you're anywhere near Broadway in the Cotswolds, pop in to John Noott Gallery in Cotsold Court - that's its new temporary home as from Tuesday 22nd November until a new permanent home can be found for it.  It is very well behaved, needs minimal looking after and all its jabs are up to date, so are you the home this Hare is looking for? 
If anyone is thinking "what's he doing putting a Hare in a wood - they live in open fields"...well, there really was a Hare that scampered off when I was there.  There were fields near, so I guess he was also stunned by the riot of lilac colour!

Monday, 14 November 2011

Summer Banks

 Oil on Linen Canvas, 16x22 inches

This and the last painting I posted, Down in the River, are commissioned pieces if you were wondering why I'm painting Summer pictures in Autumn.

High Summer by the River Welland near me is a riot of Summer colours in July and this is really a study of greens.  Whenever I have given a critique of amateur painters' work of similar subjects, the one thing that lets them down is the uniformity of their greens.  At the risk of repetition, you must train your eyes to really see what's in front of you.  There really is a rich variety of subtlely different hues and tones of green, and it is just that variety that makes a painting appear convincing, and not just a boring sea of monochrome green.
For any of you who have seen me paint at demos or Patchings Art Festival, you will have witnessed me using a 1" household paintbrush to paint the dense bankside vegetation and tree foliage.  Some of you have taken a leaf (see what I did there) out of my book and tried the same technique.  If I see any paintings subsequently produced that are better than mine, there's going to be a LOT of trouble - I know where you all live......

Friday, 11 November 2011

Down in the River

Oil on Linen Canvas, 16x22 inches

This is a painting produced from my wading about in the river back in July, from the Dragonflies' perspective.

I'm generally not that keen on really green pictures, when in high Summer, everything is green, but the bold pinks of the Himalayan Balsam and Willowherb add a touch of non-green to the composition.  

I love painting water when, as it nears you, the painter (or the painting viewer) in the foreground, you can see through it and what lies beneath the surface, and not just pure reflections the further away from you the water is.

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Sparkling Dew

Oil on Board, 12 x 9 inches 

This little painting was completed in the studio with the aid of a photo, after getting as far as I could en plein air (on site). 
The glorious Autumn sunlight glinting on the water and the little jewels of twinkling dew were the catalysts for the painting, and of course, I knew the light would change very quickly with the sun much lower in the sky at this time of year, so speed was of the essence. 
Hands and brushes a blur of frenetic activity, I managed to get enough of the intense sunlight reflecting on the water (a common theme of mine for those of you paying attention), the colour and hazy atmosphere done in the hour before the view changed far to much to continue. You can see just how much the light changed in the photo below showing my outdoor setup with the painting abandoned; with the sun much further to the right, the haziness had gone and there was more colour and definition in the distant trees - completely different feel.

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Teasels in Frost

Oil on Board, 12 x 17 inches

I do like painting frost, probably more so than the rich greens of summer.  The colours are so subtle, much as I love the buzzing life by the river in warmer months. The trickiest part of this painting was doing the backlit Teasels, their dark seed-heads lifting the foreground vegetation from the receding bank.  Each head has a lit halo around it, but lit a little more on the right than the left - awkward little devils, but worth the labour I think.  Without them, the darkest tones in the painting, it wouldn't 'sing' as much, don't you think?
This is my last possible offering for the ROI show to be taken to London at 6.30 Friday morning. I've now got to decide which ones of my recent paintings to submit.  I'll have a meeting with myself and make a decision.

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

ROI Paintings

I'm working on some paintings to submit to the prestigious annual ROI (Royal Institute of Oil Painters) Exhibition at the Mall Galleries in London. Here are three possible candidates for submission to the selection committee next week:

Dazzling Water, Oil on Board, 12 x 17 inches

This was a typically breezy September afternoon, looking directly into the sun.  One second the water was calm with reflections of the trees, the next it was ruffled by the breeze which had the effect of reflecting the brilliant sunlight way above the tree-line.  As I've said before, Titanium White Oil paint is hopelessly inadequate to portray the brilliance of pure sunlight, but with a few tricks, you can assimilate the effect. When you squint at such dazzling light, and you have too, of course, you will see a kind of diffuse, yellowy-orange halo around the edge of the reflected light, and, as I always say to my onlookers when I give demos, paint what you see, as I have here.  If you paint pure white against the grey-blue of the water, it doesn't quite convince and fails to get the effect seen.
You will also see that the sky tones are darker than the light on the water (stand on your head to see what I mean); again, this is as it appears in life, unless the sun is very low in the sky, but here, the sun is way above the top of the painting, but its pure light appears on the water because the angle of the ripples reflect it. 

There I go again, giving away secrets, trashing my own career....... 

Sunlit shallows, Oil on board, 10 x 14 inches

The inspiration for this one was the sunlit water, giving it that gorgeous ochrey colour, and the lovely diffused dark blue shadows from the trees above.  Without the brightly lit weed and shadow on the water, it would be a more boring painting - put your fingers across to obscure to see what I mean - but to me, these made the painting.  I'm a man of simple pleasures...

Glint of sunlight, Oil on Board, 7.5 x 10 inches

I must admit, I really enjoyed doing this little painting.  I love painting frost anyway; it provides a close-toned, almost monochromatic landscape and is great fun to capture in paint. I only used three colours in this, as I do predominantly in all my paintings: Cad Yellow Light, Permanent Rose and Cobalt Blue, plus White of course. These colours in various mixes provide all the subtle greys required and using my 1" household brush, the crunchy reeds are a joy to paint. 
Here again, I angled my viewpoint so that a few twinkles of sunlight glinted on the water - see that orangey edge?