Monday, 8 February 2016

Late Autumn Glade

Oil on Board, 10 x 14 inches

This is another demo I did a while back and just finished it off in the studio. Quite a contrast to the last few fairly closed-toned paintings, with lots of flashy highlights punctuating the shadows, lighting up the glorious Autumnal shades of ochre and orange, with plenty of punchy impasto marks dragged with my big 1" decorator's brush and some more with the palette knife.

This wood is near home and contains a mix of deciduous trees and conifers, and has an abundance of rises and falls in this part, which provide a wealth of painting opportunities. I'm not so keen on it in Summer, when all is lush and green, but in Spring and Autumn, and Winter for that matter, it comes into its own, and Spring's only around the corner...

Friday, 5 February 2016

Valley near Snowshill, Broadway

Oil on Board, 10 x 14 inches

A very unseasonal green painting - seems very strange painting this in the middle of Winter, but it's for the John Noott gallery, and by the time they get it, Spring will be beckoning...

I do love painting the bare trees and muted tones of Winter, but it was nice for a change to use a lot more yellow and blue in the mixes on the palette, rather than much predominantly blue and red, with just a touch of yellow to make the greys. Same three colours used mind, with just a little raw Umber for the dark tones of the foreground Ash Tree. You can see that the darks in the mid-distance trees are bluer and a little lighter than the big tree, and the darks in the far distant trees, bluer and lighter still. It's all about tones to give your painting depth, and if you can achieve the right colour too, you're on to a winner, but tone is by far the most important.

Tuesday, 2 February 2016

The Forest Beyond

Oil on Board, 9 x 13 inches

I haven't painted a woodland scene for a little while, and I had forgotten just how difficult they are in Oil paint, especially Winter ones with the complex pattern of bare branches and trunks!  Half-way through I thought perhaps I should have tackled this subject in Pastel, so I may well do a Pastel version of it too, to compare the looser technique with the tighter Oil technque. 

With a subject like this, it's a case of where do you stop - the art of suggesting rather than describing every twig - just tell the story, but leave enough for the eye to fill in the blanks. In earlier days I would have painted damned near every branch and twig, but hopefully, I'm learning to leave enough - the one thing I don't want the painting to look like is a photograph, but rather more painterly and textural.

Friday, 29 January 2016

Damp Day

Oil on Board, 7.5 x 10 inches

Here's another one of the River Windrush near Burford, on a damp, flat-light day, very remeniscent of the days of January and December that we have all seen lately. Days like this don't necessarily have the wow factor that the brightly-lit landscape has, but they have their own charm, and every type of landscape deserves its own depiction, and soft greys and browns describe this sort.

Slow-moving water such as this is relatively simple to paint, by describing the milky water with downward and horizontal brushstrokes of the local colour, blended here and there with a few judicious horizontal swishes.

Friday, 22 January 2016

Winter Windrush

Oil on Board, 7.5 x 10 inches

My painting these days is intermittent and although I love running the gallery (other galleries are available, but why bother when you've got the best here) I do miss the freedom of painting when I want. There is always so much to do, but hey, what a great job, being surrounded by some of the best paintings in the country by revered colleagues.

Anyway, here's one I managed to slot in yesterday - a little oil to ease my way back into the painting mode, and a typical one from the last month's weather - wet, a little gloomy and flat light. But every mood of weather has its charm, and the milky flat light provides depth if not flashy highlights. The blues of distant trees is emphasised in Winter, and this lends a hand to help create depth in a painting, as here, I hope!

Sunday, 10 January 2016

Sunspot Glade

Oil on Board, 7 x 9.5 inches

This is a view of a huge woodland near my studio called Bedford Purlieus, purlieus meaning once part of a royal forest.  This is a beautiful ancient wood, dating at least back to Roman times.

I loked the tunnel effect of the canopy closing in the distance, leaving that little bit of light, inviting the viewer to go down that path. There was, in fact, a big five-bar gate across the path, but I removed it for the sake of the composition to stop the eye coming to a halt. Tghe hook really, was the lovely shaft of light melting the frost and giving that glorious bit of green and orange, ooh, yummy!


Thursday, 7 January 2016

Frost and Fog

Oil on Board, 9 x 13 inches

Just when you thought it was safe to come out of your bunker, I'm firing another painting at you, nearly a month after the last one - where did that month go?

I must admit running the gallery has taken a lot more of my time than I would have liked, but it's a blast to be surrounded by such great art every day at work and for the gallery to accepted so well by art lovers. It's great to be painting again though.

This one is a reminder that Winter hasn't hit yet, at least here in Rutland, but there may be time for some hard frosts and fog...and snow.  I love it when these foggy, frosty paintings come off, but they are really so tough to get the relative tones right to be convincing. It's because the tones are so light and close, without the contrasty tones of Summer, that make such subjects tricky. When they do come off, they are very satisfying and the effect can be as striking as a bright, sunlit vista.

There is actually a metal bridge over the river just behind the Willow on the right, but I felt it was too dominant, so I painted it out. One day in another century, they might X-ray this painting and see the hidden bridge, ha ha!

Friday, 11 December 2015

After the Snowfall

"Where have you been?" I hear you all saying!  Yes, just been so busy at the gallery, organising more lighting and hanging upwards of eighty fabulous new paintings from our brilliant artists, it's been hard finding any time to paint. Did I mention my gallery before...Peter Barker Fine Art
If any of you would like to be kept up with our monthly newsletters if you aren't already on our gallery mailing list, drop me a line nd I'll add your email address, thank you.

Anyway, this painting above I did as a demo to the lovely Derbyshire folks at the Breaston Art Group a couple of weeks ago. Below is how far I got at the end of the demo, in its raw state. I spent some more time in the studio yesterday tidying it up to exhibition standard, and Jane sold it whilst it was resting in the gallery, unframed. 

The hook for the painting really, apart from the snow itself, which is so lovely to paint, was that strip of yellowy-orange sky above the blue of the distant trees. The camera hasn't quite picked up the subtle blue/mauve colours of the sky and the greenish/reds in the banks - it all looks rather brown in the photo, which it isn't.

As I said during the demo, the main thing to check in a painting is to paint the tones you see, not what you know - ie, we all know snow is white, but it is only white when the sun is shining on it. Here, it appears much darker, as can be seen against the white background around the photo on Facebook at, and that is the key - if I painted the snow dead white, the sky would appear much darker, and the light in the sky, looking straight into the sunlight, wouldn't appear as light as it is. That really is the key for the amateur painter - to delete what you know - that leaves and grass are green, and snow is white - or what you think you see, and learn to REALLY look at what's in front of you, squint and see the true tones of what you're painting - paint the shapes and their relative tones, and the resulting painting will look more like the reality in front of you.  Oh dear, more secrets revealed - I'm going to have to kill you all...

Tuesday, 3 November 2015

Devon Solo Exhibition

May Burst, Oil on Board, 12 x 17 inches

Just a reminder for you all - my solo exhibition at the Marine House Gallery at Beer starts next Saturday 7th November from 11am to 5pm, and you can come and meet the artist - what a treat!  I hope to see some of you there.

You can see all the paintings in the show, which are for sale now, by clicking this link: Beer Solo Exhibition

Saturday, 24 October 2015

The Idle Ivel

Oil on Board, 11 x 15 inches

This painting was one I did as a demo a few months back and dug out yesterday to finish off. Very green subject and that day back in August, there was flat light, so not much in the way of contrasting lights and darks, so it necessitated a lot of close-toned colours and subtle changes throughout. To make the painting convincing, all these close tones must be observed, so much concentration is needed. 

The flashy lights and darks seen on a bright day are much more dramatic, but these quieter subjects have a certain charm about them, albeit lacking in sparkling highlights.

Thursday, 22 October 2015

Summer Water

Oil on Canvas, 8 x 8 inches

A quick handbreak-turn back to Summer to do this little square canvas as a charity piece I promised to paint to go into an auction, organised by Iona House Gallery in Woodstock, in aid of Mary's Meals (click on the link for details if you want to bid for it!)

Fog on the Nene

Oil on Board, 9 x 13 inches

Continuing the wintry, frosty, foggy theme, I enjoyed painting this one. I painted this first, but then realised that I had made the tones a little too dark, so re-painted it, lightening all the tones. 

I think it's the mystery of what's out there that I enjoy so much about foggy/misty paintings - to capture that enigma, making the viewer make up their own mind, almost seeing the fog clearing, yet no, it's still tantalisingly enveloping the landscape. It lures folks into reaching for their wallet, mesmerised and hypnotised into buying it to study at home, waiting year-on-year for the blanket to clear, yet never quite....

Fog on the Rime

Oil on Board, 7.5 x 10 inches

I do like painting fog, although it is extremely difficult to get the small shifts in tone right - lovely when it comes off. I showed this to Jane when I'd finished it, saying it's going off to another gallery, and she said "don't be ridiculous, are you utterly mad, we're having that one for PBFA!"...seems she liked it! "One of the best you've ever done", apparently - not sure about that, although I was quite pleased with it... 

Rimey Willows

 Oil on Board, 6.75 x 9.25 inches

Well, I've got the brushes out again briefly to do a few small paintings promised for John Noott Gallery and Iona House Gallery, slotted in between countless hours of framing for my Beer Exhibition.

This little one is a two-tone jobby, with the rimey Willow on the right actually in the shade of a bridge over the river, so it appears darker than the sky behind, and the left-hand one sunlit against the slightly darker toned sky - subtle counterchanges that help lift a painting.

Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Red Highland

Pastel on Pastel Card, 15 x 19 inches

This Pastel is a commissioned painting, not dissimilar to a much larger one I did a few years ago that a client had seen.

Highland have a gentle, benign look to them, but you wouldn't want to feel the sharp end of those magnificent horns!

These upward-facing horns present a bit of a compositional problem - obviously, you want to include all the horns, right up to the tip to show up the majesty of the animal, but this means there will be a considerable vacant space from the top of the painting to the top of the head and back. There's no real solution to this conundrum, apart from letting the horns reach almost right to the top of the frame. This applies to all portraits - if more than the minimum is included above the top of the head, the portrait loses its power and majesty. I learned this by trial and error. Now here I am passing this on for free - my generosity knows no bounds...

As ever, I worked up the background with equal importance as the animal itself. I have a pretty clear idea of where I want the darks and lights to accentuate the same in the animal, and decide what tones and colours to use as I procede, hoping that it will all look right in the final analysis. I stand when I'm painting and step right back frequently to assess how the painting is progressing until I'm happy with the result - just hope the customer is!