Tuesday, 31 January 2012

The Big Freeze

Oil on Board, 6x8 inches

I did this little painting from a photo I took last winter in the freezing temperatures we had in December, when the River Welland partly froze over - a pretty rare occurrence. I embellished the sky a bit as it was a rather dull day, so I cheered it up with sunlight breaking through.  The gnarled old willows were a challenge, being covered in hoar frost; just that bit darker, being set against the sky, than the frosted vegetation of the banks.  The sheep moving away in the distant field provided a nice little lead-in through the gap in the willows.

Friday, 27 January 2012

Late September

Oil on Board, 10x14 inches

Okay, how many of you are singing "It's late September and I really should be back at school"?  Is it just me, or did you also immediately think of Maggie May and The Faces with Rod Stewart growling out the lyrics?  Just me eh, oh well, please yourselves.

This one is another painting I'd put aside a while back; it was actually one I did as a demo for an Art Group last year and tweaked a bit today.  The more astute of you will have noticed it's the same view as 'Clear August Air' posted yesterday.  It's a month or so later, the vegetation has died off a bit, and the trees are on the turn, their green colour being replaced with a more yellowy, warmer hue.  You will also see that the atmosphere in this one is totally different - a much more hazy sunlight, with more milky tones as the trees redede into the distance.

If you've spotted both the different atmosphere and the same view AND sangalongaRod, go to the top of the class and adopt a slightly smug look on your face.......

Another TWO!

Summer Breeze by the Coly, Oil on Board, 10x14 inches

This is a painting I did back last summer and put to one side and forgot about, so I gave it a few tweaks today to finish it off.  The sun barely came out that August day near Axmouth in Devon, and there was a thick hazy atmosphere which gives that gorgeous quiet, cool blue colour to distant trees.  I placed myself to get the sweep of the river as a 'lead in' to take the eye round past the willows on the right-hand bank and looping up into the far distant hills and clearing clouds, then back down over the upper left/centre woodland to settle on to the cattle.  

The rich pink of the Himalayan Balsam provided that bit of contrast against the blues and greens. I noticed that these Balsam flowers were a much richer colour than the ones that grow in my local bankside vegetation.

Clear August Air, Oil on Board, 7.5x10 inches

This was another little painting I'd half done and put aside.  As a contrast to the atmosphere in Summer Breeze by the Coly, the air was clear and provided little in the way of recession, but having sunlight coming from the left, gave the middle tree a lit and a shaded side, providing the classic counterchange an artist likes - light against dark and dark against light passages.  This always helps give the illusion of three dimensions...if you're very, very clever, of course...cough.

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Two New Oils

 I know, I know, it's been ages since I've posted - you know how it is when you're a top dauber of pigments suspended in oil, trying to paint from the soul (what a load of cobblers) when your cape keeps getting covered in brick dust from the builders in the next room.  Yes, I'm having a bit of building work done - inglenook, beams, knocking walls down, the usual everyday things you have going on around you, and I've been aging beams, looking at woodburners, carpets and sofas........

I've taken on far too much work this year with two solo shows at Marine House at Beer in May and at John Noott Gallery in November, so there's going to be no peace for the wicked, or you, so get ready for a whole load more paintings coming forth.

 Crisp Frost, Oil on Board, 10x14 inches

ANYWAY, back to painting, the painting above that is. This one will probably going to the Affordable Art Fair at Battersea Park in London in March.  It's as a result of a walk along my local river two weeks ago.  The early morning severe frost adorned everything with that gorgeous, crunchy, dusting of ice, that I find adorable to paint.  It's probably my favourite painting subject, a real challenge of close-toned observation, almost monochrome landscape, with subtle changes of hue and colour. It was great to get back to painting again.

Spring Greens by the Windrush, 
Oil on Board, 12x17 inches

This one is actually a re-painted picture from a couple of years ago.  I felt I hadn't quite got the colours right, so, with some adjustments, ie., painting the entire picture again, it's somewhere nearer what I wanted.  The view is of the River Windrush (isn't that just the best name for a river?) near Burford on Oxfordshire, my home county.  The river had a milky green quality to it after rain, which muted the reflections somewhat, but slow-moving water is such a delight to paint whatever its look, and contrary to popular belief, is far away the easiest bit of a landscape to paint, but keep that under your hat, otherwise everyone will be doing it...........

Sunday, 8 January 2012

David Hockney

I watched 'Countryfile' on the BBC tonight with interest.  David Hockney was giving us a sneak preview of his upcoming exhibition at the RA, much of it based around the East Yorkshire countryside.  Ellie Harrison introduced him as 'Britain's greatest living artist'.  That is a statement open to argument. Whilst Hockney is a superb draughtsman, is his work 'greater' than the subtle, painterly, yet utterly perfect work done by Ken Howard, David Curtis or Peter Brown?  I see no subtlety in Hockney's work, but a rather brash, unsubtle, lurid display of colours in his landscapes.  For me, the painters mentioned above have to work harder to attain the mesmerising quality of their work, but that's personal.  I would like to think that I have an inside, more qualified opinion as a professional painter, than the average Joe, but others may disagree.

I do agree with Hockney's attack on artists who don't actually create their own work, - a thinly veiled side-swipe at Damien Hirst, the darling of the installationists, who thinks of the idea but gets others to actually put the idea into reality. 

"It's a little insulting to craftsmen, skilful craftsmen." Hockney went on to say "I used to point out at art school, you can teach the craft, it's the poetry you can't teach.  But now they try to teach the poetry and not the craft."  He quoted a Chinese saying, that to paint, "you need the eye, the hand and the heart. Two won't do". Bravo!

Hirst himself has defended using assistants to make his spot paintings, saying they could do the work better as he found it boring to paint them himself. That says it all does it not? 

Friday, 6 January 2012

River-Eye View

Oil on Board, 14 x 20 inches

I produced this river-eye view from some reference material I gathered at the end of September - hence the extraordinarily, cunningingly engineered title. 

I've painted this viewpoint of my local river on many occasions, but I wanted something different, so risking life and limb, I clambered down through the vegetation, off came the shoes and I slid into  the beautifully crystal clear water and waded across until I got the view I wanted, looking straight into the sunlight, so that the reeds growing in the middle of the water were dazzlingly lit. I loved the way the light caught that one leaf of the Himalayan Balsam in the foreground as I looked up at it, lighting its underside so that it appeared bright yellow-green.  Little things please me!

I do love these tricky exercises in tone observation; the sky reflections in the water appear very bright, but have a bluish tinge, and are a tone down from the piercingly bright sunlight reflecting off those dazzling reeds.  As I've said before, no paint is adequate to simulate pure sunlight brightness, so you just have to try a few tricks to get as near as you can to fool the eye of the viewer.  Did I?

As it was my Birthday on the 3rd and virtually ALL of you failed to shower me with cards and presents, I thought I would mention it now, at a discreet two days down the line.  It would have been crass for me to have mentioned it on the day, because you all would have sent the interweb into meltdown - I'm considerate like that.