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.

Tuesday, 7 February 2017

Cattle by the Nene

Pastel on Clairefontaine Pastelmat, 13 x 19 inches

My last Pastel for a while - not so keen on the Pastel dust that flies around in the studio, and I need to do some oils for the Affordable Art Fair at Battersea next month, and for PBFA gallery.

I found this one half-finished ina box I stack my Pastels in - it was another demo painting I did last year, and somewhat unseasonal at the moment, but a reminder of what's to come; warm breezes, billowing cumulus clouds and cattle lazily swishing their tales by the river.

I tend to do the majority of my landscapes in Oils, but occasionally I like to do one in the Pastel medium, which lends a slightly 'softer' feel to the painting. By definition, Pastel sticks don't have sharp points, so inevitably, small, crisp details are hardly possible like they are with Oils with sharp brushes, so the 'finish' of a Pastel painting always has a slightly looser look to it. 

Talking of demos as I alluded to above, I am painting a frosty riverine landscape as a demo painting to the Ufford Art Society, near Stamford in Lincolnshire. If anyone wants to attend, you would be most welcome for a nominal small fee on the door, but please let me know if you want to come, thank you! 

Friday, 3 February 2017

British Blue Heifer

Pastel on Clairefontaine Pastelmat, 19 x 13 inches

The last in my current series of farm animal portraits, then on to more oils.

I liked the pose of this one, with the head half-turned and showing the rest of the beast. Horns are always fun to paint, as are cattles' wet noses - the pink on this one was gorgeous to describe, with that lovely little highlight above the nostril, yummy!

I'm not sure I've got the breed right here, so if anyone out there knows better, please let me know!