Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Winter Woollies

Oil on Canvas, 20 x 27.5 inches

This one isn't for my Devon exhibition, yet, but for submission to the Royal Institute of Oil Painters (ROI) annual exhibition. The ROI is a very tough nut to crack and my tight work is generally not in favour among the powers that be, so I'm not expecting anything, but I like to keep trying. Bouquets from the public and buyers is wonderful, and a validation of what you're doing is right, but it's always an ego boost when your respected peers recognise you.

Anyway, I enjoyed painting this one from reference photos taken back in January this year. Snow transforms the landscape and seems a million miles from the verdant greens of late summer - especially after the downpours of late. An awful lot of my 1" decorator's brush was used on this painting, especially on the trees and hedgerow. I like dragging the well-loaded brush over a sticky underpainting to give that broken effect of disappearing snow.

Painting sheep in their sunlit Winter garb is a joyful challenge too - there are SO many subtle warm and cool colours in their woolly coats. I also liked the touch of warm orange in the last leaves in the scrubbery on the right amidst a sea of predominantly cool blues.

Thursday, 20 August 2015

Axmouth Harbour

Oil on Board, 14 x 20 inches

This was yet another demo painting I did for Sundon Park Art Group in Bedfordshire last week, duly tidied up and finished back in the studio. It will be another one for my Devon Solo Exhibition in November.

What really tickled my fancy was the brilliant, pure sunlight bouncing off the water, with the stark silhouette of the building and harbour walls. To achieve the illusion of pure sunlight, with Titanium White being the lightest, brightest pigment in the artist's arsenal, I had to play close attention to the tones of the bright, sunlit clouds, none of which were as bright as the light on the water. If you squint at the painting (which is what you should do when you're out painting to see the tones), you can see that the sky is creamier and peachier in colour, and a touch darker than the reflected sunlight on the water. 

I always say in my demos that the water is the easiest part of the painting - not so in this case, with the surface very much wind-ruffled. Much layering and close-tones were added with a brush, with some dragging of pigment across with a palette knife. The sunlit highlights were also placed in mostly with the knife, using the drying, sticky underpaint to grab the Titanium White. The masts of the boats were placed in carefully using the edge of an old credit card. I also enjoyed placing in the red buoy in the foreground, with the sunlight piercing through it, making it appear translucent - lush!

Friday, 14 August 2015

Autumn Sunlight, Brancaster Staithe

Oil on Board, 10 x 17 inches

Brancaster Staithe is a brilliant place for artists - lots of old sheds, boats, fishing paraphernalia, mud, marsh, posts, rocks - all wonderful to paint. With bright early morning light flooding the scene, there was plenty of contrast with light and shade abounding throughout, yummy! I love painting wet mud, using a palette knife to drag darker spots over the sticky paint underneath - very tactile. For a change, I employed an old credit card to spot in the masts of the distant boats - very tricky with a rigger, or any brush for that matter, but using the card with ust the right amount and mix of paint, I found I could place them in with minimum fuss.

This is my third and final painting submitted for the RSMA Annual Exhibition at the Mall Galleries. I was a little dismayed to get a call from my usual courier on Wednesday night when I was giving a demo in Bedfordshire, to check that it was okay to pick up my three paintings to take to London in the morning at 7.30am... Thinking he would be collecting them on Saturday morning, none was framed and I knew I wouldn't be home until 11.30pm at the earliest, gulp.  So, working until 2.45am to get the frames painted and waxed, varnishing and fitting the two paintings I had finished into them and taped up, labelled and the relevant paperwork done, I managed four hours sleep that night! 

Disappointed that I couldn't submit the third painting allowed as an associate member of the RSMA because it wasn't finished, I was thrown a lifeline - on speaking to my colleague John Lines about having some new work from him for the gallery, he said he was going down on Saturday to take his and some other work down to the Mall. So, I managed to get this one done, and paint the frame and whizz it over to Rugby to give to John to take for me, phew!

I spent half an hour with John, one of my very favourite painters, 'talking shop', and collected a new painting of his for the gallery. He is a genuinely lovely, warm man, and a brilliant artist and someone I would rank as one of the very finest landscape painters living today. And it was refreshing to see that his studio was as messy as mine, too!  Have a look at the painting I collected from him at and after 10.15 today, Saturday on the gallery website at

Monday, 10 August 2015

Ready for the Day's Fishing

Oil on Board, 14 x 20 inches

Beer again this one - another for my exhibition in November. The fishermen gather at dawn and clamber onto the old boats skippered by the regular chaps, and go off before all the tourists come to the beach and collar the deck chairs. 

A good cloudy sky with breaks in it provided the perfect senario for the light effect I wanted to capture, with the foreground boat moving across the brilliant shaft of pure, reflected sunlight on the water, yummy! I love that point where an object is almost obliterated by sunlight and even more in trying to portray it in paint - it makes for a dramatic light effect and gives an otherwise plain and tranquil subject real impact to the eye. I hope, at least...


Tuesday, 4 August 2015

November, Midday, Mousehole

Oil on Board, 14 x 20 inches

Phew, this one was one of those I really wanted to paint - one that fires the artistic juices - so I earmarked it for one of my submissions for the 2015 Royal Society of Marine Artists exhibition at the Mall Galleries in October. Why phew?  Because it was one of the most complex subjects I've ever painted, with SO much going on, so it was actually a relief to get it finally finished after days of toil, repainting passages to correct the subtle colour shifts, especially in the foreground wet sand.

The hook was the sunlight bouncing off the rooftops that were angled to catch the pure glare of the sun. But to paint the rest of the scene to satisfaction, ALL the rest of the cottages, and all their windows had to be painted. I did my best to suggest rather than paint them all, but it's no easy task nonetheless. The all the cars parked on the road up the hill, then the boats, all parked at jaunty angles, and all the other little incidentals too numerous to mention.

I truly admire and revere artists who can suggest such detail without actually depicting it!  

I took three photos along the journey of this one too:

The rough in with the main players loosely drawn in with thin paint and the reat of the shapes scrubbed in.
The sky suggested and some work done on the lit roofs and the backdrop of trees and rocks.
The houses and hillside mostly finished and a start made on the boats and harbour wall, before painting in the wet foreground sand with all its sparkle and radiating ropes which were mostly suggested using an old credit card.

Sunday, 2 August 2015

The Glassy Nene

Oil on Board, 10 x 14 inches

I found this on a shelf the other day - it was a demo I did sometime last year, to whom I can't remember, but it was worth tickling it somewhat, so here's the finished result.

It's the River Nene (pronounced Neen or Nen, depending where you come from) near Peterborough in April. The obvious focal point is the lone Sheep that had come down for a drink, but hopefully, the eye travels on a slow journey along the glassy expanse of water, around the bend and back through the blue gap in the trees on the right to the Sheep.


Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Beer Barrels, Buckets, Buoys and Boats

Oil on Canvas 18 x 26 inches

The first 'biggy' for my solo show in Devon, this one was all about colour and light and tone...but then isn't every painting? Yes, answering my own question, but this has a lot of colour in it, with some rich crimsons, yellows, blues and greens - much more so than in my default landscapes.

Despite no human activity, there was a lot going on in the picture, with all the fishermen's nets, buckets, barrels, buoys, boats and pots scattered to form a perfect composition. The old rubber conveyor belt was placed nicely to provide a 'lead-in' to the red boat and let the eye roam around the the other vessels and back to the clutter in the foreground.

There were quite a few little cameos of light - the bright white light on the left-side of the red boat, the sunlit boat rails, the pinging sunlight on the up-turned yellow boat in the foreground and the beautiful crimson light shining through the plastic of the foreground crate. All great fun to paint and 'hooks' for a painter.

Sunday, 26 July 2015

Golden Downhill Sunset

Oil on Board, 9 x 12 inches

I painted this one in a corner of the gallery, and found at the end of the day after going to switch off the painting light (two 4ft 5400k tubes) that I hadn't had it on! So, I had painted it under the much warmer 4000k gallery lights, and thus had compensated for the warmer tones by painted everything bluer than it should have been, grrrr! So, back in the studio, I repainted the whole thing to get the much redder, richer tone of sunset to the painting.

The view is one near the studio, looking down a steep hill and I loved the rhythm of the zig-zag pattern of hills, which I've painted before, but never at sunset.  

Depicting sunsets is always a challenge in trying to capture that beautiful warm, golden glow that bathes the landscape. To achieve this, the darks of the trees all have a reddish/purple tone to them, and the distant bank of trees on the horizon takes on a golden red, rather than the bluish tone of distance when the sun isn't so close to the horizon. Again, at the risk of being repetitive, all the tones, dark and light, were mixed with varying amounts of my three primaries, Cadmium Yellow Light, Permanent Rose and Cobalt Blue.

Thursday, 23 July 2015

Welland Willows

Oil on Board, 10 x 14 inches

This was another demo piece I did for the Bawtry Art Society a few months back. Having dug it out, I worked quite a bit more on it to bring it up to exhibition standard.

A few people have seen it and have thought they knew where the scene is, but all have been wrong!  it's actually the River Welland near the village of Harringworth and right behind me was the giant viaduct.

I liked the classical meandering river acting as a convenient 'lead-in' to the picture, with a strong vertical of the willow on the left, and echoed by the three trees on the right - note the irregular spacing o as not to appear too regimented and unsettling. In the sunlit field in the distance, I placed a few sheep as a nice focal point for the eye to rest after traversing the river banks.

After the first 8 weeks of the gallery being opened, and the response has been brilliant, it has been great to be back in the saddle again, with paintbrush in hand. Time is running away with me, with about 15 paintings to do for my solo show in Devon, two more for the RSMA exhibition, and three more for the ROI, gulp...

Monday, 6 July 2015

Eye Brook to the Lake

Oil on Board, 12 x 17 inches

This was the demonstration I did last Thursday in the gallery...which gallery I hear you ask? Peter Barker Fine Art gallery of course, as if you didn't know.

With a massive crowd of 6 people at any one time, I thought I would paint this view of the Eye Brook as it runs into the Eyebrook Reservoir just up the road from the gallery in Uppingham. The river course provides a useful 'lead-in' to the picture plane, with the old Willow off-centre to break up the monotony of the largely horizontal composition. Making sure I captured the distant tree line in much paler blue-grey tones gave depth and the illusion of distance to the painting. 

I might just tweak it here and there once it has been languishing on a shelf in the studio, but I really must crack on with more work for my Devon exhibition and some paintings to submit to the RSMA and ROI exhibitions - no peace for the wicked...

Saturday, 20 June 2015

May Burst

Oil on Board, 12 x 17 inches

Rarer than hens' teeth, a new Peter Barker painting - can you believe it? Well, the new gallery has taken up a lot of my time lately and it has gone superbly well, and if you haven't seen it yet, take a look at the website at Peter Barker Fine Art

However, with my own solo show in Devon in November, and with a lot of paintings to do, I have GOT to get down to it.

This one is a view as I drive to the gallery each morning, looking across the Welland valley of the Rutland countryside.  Using a heavily-textured board, I was able to suggest the broken effect of the rape-seed fields luminous yellow, just as the flowers were going over. Using some artistic licence I put some cow Parsley in the foreground in order to create some extra depth to the composition, with the effect of looking over a hedge, which is exactly what I was doing! 

Apart from the glorious May blossoms breaking out across the valley, with the Hawthorns picked out with shafts of sunlight, the hook for the painting was that beautiful white cloud against a dark sky - that fleeting light effect that can disappear in seconds.  Yum-yum!

Saturday, 30 May 2015

Gallery Pics

Here are just a few pics of the gallery the night before and during the opening last weekend, just to give a flavour of how it all looked, but of course, the only way to REALLY comprehend the dazzling talent we have, expressed in the superb two-dimensional paintings on the wall, is to pay us a visit! 

I truly believe we have the best selection of what Inspector Grimm in the Thin Blue Line 
would say is non airy-fairy, arty-farty, namby-pamby, hoity-toity art in the land - absolutely no fannying-about!

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Gallery Launch

Here are a few photos of the gallery hang in progress...

We are thrilled skinny to announce that the Peter Barker Fine Art gallery is FINALLY opening its doors to the world with an official opening next weekend, from 9am-5pm on Saturday 23rd May, 10am-4pm on Sunday 24th and 9am-5pm on Bank Holiday Monday 25th, so please come along and have a glass of something and view what we’re confident in saying is a truly breath-taking selection of wonderful paintings on the gallery walls by 32 hand-picked artists. See the gallery website for details at

Hope to see some of you over the long weekend!

Saturday, 16 May 2015

Demo and Gallery!

We are not quite ready for the grand opening of the new gallery - we've had a lot of teething problems, with seemingly everything going against us one way or another, but we're getting ever closer and will be hanging in earnest over the weekend, then just 190 labels to type out, print and put up....

We've been overwhelmed with all the positive thoughts and good wishes from all our artist exhibitors, so really can't wait now to actually unveil them all - we've got an almost unbelievable array of talented artists from across the country, hand-picked from painting friends and revered colleagues. For now, just take a look at the website at  .....but very, very soon at the paintings in real life!

I truly believe we must have one of the best collections of fine artists in the country, and possibly the best line-up for an opening of a brand new gallery.

Will post some pics over the weekend.

In the meantime, here's a demo painting I did yesterday for the lovely people of Maulden art Group. Hadn't touched a brush in over two weeks, so felt a bit ring-rusty to start.  This is it in its raw state, without any tweaking at home, but will post a finished version soon, when more brush time allows!

Sunday, 26 April 2015

March Evening, Beer

Oil on Board, 9 x 12 inches

Painted from reference last month when dropping off some paintings to Marine House Gallery in Beer, with the sun going down over the great chalk cliffs on the right. The assortment of fishing vessels always provide great painting subjects, together with all the bins, nets and gubbins strewn over the shingle beach. I particularly liked the bright lemon yellow Fairy Liquid bottle (other brands are available) in the foreground, which I moved to the right a little for the sake of composition - not to unsettle the eye, being in the centre of the picture plane.

The red top-lit clouds provided a nice echo to the red boat, with the strong dark cliffs accentuating their colour and giving a good anchor and balance to the L-shaped composition.