Friday, 28 December 2012

Two more commissioned paintings

I'm currently painting 10,000 acres of walls, ceilings, skirting boards, a huge bookcase and a staircase for the foreseeable future, following considerable renovations going on around my studio.  So, I am, as usual, watching paint dry, but this sort of drying paint is very definitely boring.  In the meantime, here are two more commissioned paintings until my return next year when I get to watch the sort of paint I love to watch drying again...can't wait!

By the River Coln, Oil on Board, 14 x 20 inches
This was a commissioned painting for Christmas of the River Coln in May at Coln St.Aldwyns, a beautiful Gloucestershire village in the heart of the Cotswolds.  The composition was a composite of various requisites; the Church 'moved' slightly to be in view, sheep grazing in the mid-distance, a pair of Swans grooming on the far bank and a pair of Mallards swooping in from stage right to alight upon the water.
Donkey portrait, Pastel on Pastelmat, 10 x 7.5 inches

This again was a commission for Christmas. I was going to put in a fence post and cross-piece at the request of the customer, but being on such a small scale I felt the inclusion of them would have spoilt the composition and provided too much for the eye to concentrate on, so I omitted them at with the client's agreement. Pastel is a great medium for depicting animal fur and lends itself to this sort of portrait.  Note the inclusion of some counterchange throughout the painting - light against dark and the reverse, which always helps to make the whole more interesting.

Monday, 24 December 2012

To all of you who have taken the trouble to read my ramblings about this wonderful vocation that, luckily, provides me with a living, may I wish you a very merry Christmas and a happy and healthy new year!

I hope you keep tuning in and watch my progress from being a predominantly studio painter to becoming much more of a plein air painter.  It's all so comfortable sitting at home with no wind or sun or flies or people, but painting out in the raw with the challenge that presents, is where I shall be headed, so watch this space......

It's been a successful year for sales in this economic climate, winning one award donated by Derwent for a Pastel in the Leicestershire Pastel Society for 'Sequinned Snowscape', below,
but compared to my colleague Haidee Jo Summers
who has great trouble moving around without tripping over all her awards, it's been a bit lean.  Whenever we've seen each other, I've had to look up to her, albeit in a downwardly fashion, Haidee only being 2 feet 3 inches tall.  I think it's easier to paint down there for her, with so much oxygen abounding, compared to the rarified atmosphere up here, in the lower reaches of 6ft that I have to endure.  It's a wonder that David Pilgrim can paint at all, being even taller than me at 8ft 4 inches.  He really needs an oxygen mask.  Together we would look like the famous class sketch in The Frost Report from 1966, with Ronnie Corbett (Haidee), Ronnie Barker (me) and John Cleese (David).  It will be interesting to see the three different perspectives, literally, when we paint out together soon - Haidee's from a worm's angle, mine from a human's and David's from a helicopter's..........

In the meantime, here are one or two more commissioned works I've done recently:

 Dabblers, Pastel on Pastelmat, 16.5 x 19 inches

 Adult Mallard drakes are always good to paint with their gorgeous heads of black, green and purple, and tiny ducklings with their outboard motors whizzing about erratically are always fun subjects.  This painting was more about depicting the water; creating the illusion of a transparent, yet glassy, reflective surface.

Hector, Pastel on Pastel Card, 9 x 7.5 

This portrait was painted as a surprise for a client, reluctantly from their own photograph, having never seen Hector.  It would have been difficult to have taken any photos myself without the recipient knowing, and Hector tended to go out visiting his flock (of sparrows) in the morning, with no indication of when he would return from his rounds.

Pastel is a sympathetic medium for painting fluffy fur and I also made as much use as I could of counterchange, ie., light passages set against darker background and dark passages against lighter background.  This always makes the painting more visually interesting, hopefully, than just painting the portrait on to a monochrome background.

There are a couple more commissioned paintings I've done, but I'd better wait until after tomorrow before I post them, otherwise the recipients' surprise may be never know who's tuning in....walls have ears

Monday, 17 December 2012

Three commissioned paintings

Crisp Morning, Oil on board, 14 x 20 inches

This one was painted by the River Welland at one of my favourite spots, where I have painted many times before over the years in different seasons and weather conditions.  

I love painting silvery frost and the reflected light that bounces off it, illuminating the landscape in the glorious, bright winter morning light as here.  The milky reflections in the river were painted quickly then left to dry before dry-brushing the 'steam' rising off the water with an old Acrylix long flat. Then I had lots of fun with my household 1" brush and homemade long two-haired brush to give lots of texture to the frosted vegetation in the foreground.
 Bluebell Walk, Oil on Board, 12 x 17 inches

Bluebell Woods can look very sharp and contrasty in the sharp light of Spring, but if you can get out on a hazy day, when the sunlight is less intense, the scene can look enchanting and the lighting is softer as in this painting.
Teign Reflections, Oil on Board, 12 x 17 inches

Another bright but hazy light on this scene on the River Teign in Devon.  The main challenge here was in depicting the broken reflections and also the bed of the river in the foreground while maintaining the glassiness of the surface.  This was achieved by being very, very clever........

Another word on my Calendar - if any of you want to order one for Christmas, be quick so that I can get them in the post in time.  Please click on the image of the Calendar near the top right of this Blog, or scroll down to the 'Calendar 2013 pics' Blog Post on Dec 12th, thank you!

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

ROI Opening

Yesterday, I spent a long, immensely enjoyable day at the Private View Day of the Royal Institute of Oil Painters Annual Exhibition at the Mall Galleries in London town. Despite getting none of my own work in this year, not that I'm bitter and twisted in any way you was great to see such a fine exhibition of colleagues' work, all done in the Oil medium.

Outgoing ROI President addressed the enormous audience present, presenting quite a moving speech after his illness, then the irrepressible Giles Brandreth was guest speaker who entertained all with his trademark wit and repartee and dished out the awards to the lucky few.

I hooked up with some fine painters I admire, 'talking shop' with David Pilgrim, Roy Connelly, Haidee-Jo Summers, Adebanji Alade and Ian Cryer 
Posing with Roy, Haidee and David

and here are a few of the paintings exhibited:

 Farmstead at Troutbeck by David Curtis
Unmistakably David's perfectly rendered painting, singing with light
 Incoming Tide, Hook Head by Haidee-Jo Summers
Great use of the blue underpainting and nice, slabby brushstrokes with crisp, white breakers
 Black Dress IV by Tina Spratt
Unusual composition and high viewpoint, but beautifully and softly painted
 Lavenham Church, late Winter light by Roy Connelly
Cold subject, but warm lighting and see the brightest light on the snow, just below the church
 Rowan feeding the red fire by Jane Hodgson
Superb composition and lively paint rendering
 Old Harry Rocks by David Pilgrim
Great use of the underpainting - just look at that shadow!
 Viewing Day by Dennis Gaskin
Superbly economical mark-making
 The Mill at Cley by Dennis Syrett
Gorgeous slabby brushtrokes
 Homelessness, Earls Court by Adebanji Alade
Great portrayal of a homeless man, so typically Adebanji's - just look at that beard
 Old man wearing a bib by Tim Benson
Click on this and just look at those huge brushmarks on this huge painting!
 Luis Morris's paintings
Beautifully painterly nude studies with really expressive brushmarks

Three of Peter Brown's sublime paintings, all painted en plein air with stunning effects

Calendar 2013 pics

Okay folks, fresh off the press, here it is, my new 2013 Calendar, size 81/4 x 113/4 inches, or if you're under forty, 210 x 297 millipedes (A4) 

...and double that opened out on each month when hung as above. All the 12 seasonal images are below. 

Again, if you would like one or more at £10 each, inclusive of postage, you can either order by using this link:
giving your address and how many you would like, then I will post out to you straight away and you can send me a cheque for same, 
OR by emailing me direct at
OR you can buy them via the 'SHOP' page on my website, using your Credit Card in Paypal, by clicking this link:   
Thank you!

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

NEW 2013 Calendar!

At last I hear you all cry, the Peter Barker Paintings Calendar for 2013 is here!  Featuring 12 seasonal images of my Oil and Pastel paintings, the new calendar is of better quality than 2012's and is priced at £10 inclusive of postage - an ideal Christmas present!  I will post photos of the Calendar on Wednesday when I collect them from the printers.

In the meantime, if any of you would like one or more, you can either email me direct via the 'CONTACT' page on my website by clicking on this link: 
giving your address and how many you would like, then I will post them out to you straight away and you can send me a cheque


you can buy them via the 'SHOP' page on my website, using Paypal, by clicking this link: 


Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Lakeland Adventure and a Tale of Two Birds

Last week, we had a trip to the Lake District. Here I am, painting on the shore of Derwentwater last Friday.  I'm distracted here by a Black-Headed Gull (below - its name is misleading because it only has a black head in Summer) which kept us company for the duration of the painting.

The bird alighted on the water and there it stayed, hoping for a scrap of food, silent, except when another of its species dared to fly within its airspace.  When one did, our sentinel would dip its head and let out a familiar gull-cry and, if the intruder dared to close in within 50 yards, would take off and chase the chancer away and return to its post, floating about 6 yards away from my easel.  

Here are a few more photos of the painting (a 9"x12" Oil) in progress:

You can clearly see the sentryman in this one (click to view full-screen)

 Painting the water as it appeared at the start.
Here's how far I got before frostbite set in in all my fingers, despite wearing fingerless gloves, and Janey couldn't feel her feet.  It was a very challenging exercise as the sky was constantly changing, and the far mountains changed in tone, becoming more milky as the weather closed in.  I had to work fast and after an hour and a quarter, I had enough down to take it back to the studio to finish off.

The second bird tale was when we got back to the sanctuary of the car when, having seen this cheeky little Robin on the wall next to the car before we trecked to the painting spot, he had left a considerable pile of poop on the wing mirror.
Here he is, admiring himself.  Actually, being very territorial, he was confused and saw the image looking back at him as another redbreast, and had obviously been attacking the 'intruder' for the last couple of hours and continued to do so as we put the gear back into the boot and climbed into the car.

Thursday, 8 November 2012


Firstly, a huge thank you to all of you who attended the opening day of my exhibition last Saturday - it was great to see you all, and an even bigger thank you if you bought a painting!

I just had notification of paintings accepted for the ROI (Royal Institute of Oil Painters) annual exhibition at the Mall Galleries....and this year I didn't get one accepted. Having got all 6 of my entries through the new preliminary digital selection stage, I was very hopeful of having perhaps 2 or 3 accepted in the final selection stage, but obviously nothing appealed to the selectors in the final analysis.  I thought I must have missed my numbers on the selected paintings list, so scanned it several times, but no, definitely not even one in from the ones I submitted:

I felt really flat and disappointed to say the least, having had 3 accepted for the RSMA exhibition last month and previously having at least one accepted for the ROI in each of the last four years, winning two awards in 2009.  I consoled myself by remembering that Pete 'The Street' Brown also had 6 straight rejections for the ING 'Discerning Eye' exhibition this year - unbelievable to me that a painter of his talent and stature in the art world should not have at least ONE accepted, so I shouldn't take it to heart - it's all very subjective.  

My work sells well, so why should I be bothered, some might say.   Well, that's true, but it's always great to be recognised and accepted (literally!) by one's peers. Anyway, it's time to stop feeling sorry for myself, dust myself off and go back to the drawing board, or at least the easel..............