Monday, 3 October 2016

Demo at the RSMA, Mall Galleries

Oil on Board, 12 x 17 inches

Here is my demo painting from yesterday at the RSMA exhibition at the Mall Galleries. Completed in four-and-a-half hours from scratch, with quite a few close eyes of scrutiny, after a drive down to the middle of London and back again, I was a pretty tired boy by bed-time!

THe painting needs a few tweaks here and there to bring it to exhibition standard, but I was reasonably pleased with the outcome and the crowd of folks who watched virtually the whole time were very appreciative, and if any are reading this, thanks so much to you for coming!

Wednesday, 7 September 2016

Bonfire and Cloud Shadow

Oil on Board, 7 x 9.5 inches

Titles of paintings are always tricky, and you try not to repeat previous ones. I thought about this for a minute or two...Rutland Cornfields...Distant Bales...Fireweed Roadsides...but eventually I settled on Bonfire and Cloud Shadows, perhaps to explain the blue smoke in the distance, and the darker stripe across the uncut wheat field.

This one is a view from quite a high aspect near Glaston in my adopted county. The crop in the foreground field had been harvested already, and the radiating lines of the tractor provided perfect 'lead-ins' to the picture, taking the eye on a journey down along the road and up through to the distant barns ans farmhouse.

Because of the small scale of this painting, I painted a great deal of it with my faithful old fan brush worked into the dark shapes of the trees. I also used it to descibe the gorgous pinky-purple of the Rose Bay Willowherb, growing in profusion along the near roadsides in the right.


Tuesday, 6 September 2016

Storm Brewing

Oil on Board, 4.5 x 6.5 inches

I rarely do anything smaller than a 6x8 these days, but I had a frame, so did this little painting to fit. 

Continuing in my topical harvest theme, I loved how the yellow ochre fields were lit up against the dark sky above - one of those fleeting light effects you often get at this time of year, with thunderstorms punctuating the hot weather, and the farmers working desperately to cut the corn crops. Often, we hear the sound of the combine harvesters going through the night until 3 or 4 in the morning.

Monday, 5 September 2016

All Peaceful

Oil on Board, 6 x 8 inches

Here's another scene from my local river, in fact the same place as 'Morning Sparkle', but on a quiet, dullish day - a very different feel to it, with close tones and no flashes of sunlit weed and darks and lights, but none the worse for it.

Friday, 2 September 2016

Harvest Bales

Oil on Board, 6 x 8 inches

Another topical harvest painting. I love painting straw bales, and most especially these oblong, angular stacks - they catch the light in the most beautiful way, particularly with the sunlight catching the edges. I describe these with firstly slabs of colour with a Long Flat Rosemary & Co Series 279 Size 5, then work into them with either a 1" decorator's brush, or a large fan brush, well-loaded with paint, almost sculpted on to imitate the texture of the straw - gorgeous!


Morning Sparkle

Oil on Board, 8 x 6 inches

I've painted this little corner of the River Welland often, and it never ceases to inspire me, most especially in the morning, when the sun is straight ahead, and the weedy bits in the water are lit up and give that lovely sparkle on the water surface - who could resist painting it?

Tuesday, 30 August 2016

Sunset Beckons

Oil on Board, 6 x 8 inches

Saw this view a few days ago whilst walking along the backwater of the River Nene, as the sun was near setting in the western sky. I just love a golden sun viewed through the leaves of a tree, so just had to try to capture it.

As I have said many times before, the painter doesn't have a colour bright enough to convey the brightness of our near star, so you just have to use a few tricks in attempting to make the viewer be fooled into squinting at the painting, as if to hide his or her eyes from the sun. What? I can't tell you that, I'd have to kill you all...

Square Bales, near Barrowden

Oil on Board, 6 x 8 inches

Harvest time is always a fascination for artists, and when the farmer uses square, or at least rectangular bales, they form such beautiful patterns, and when the sun shines, the light on them, especially with the sun behind, forms a golden halo around them - such fun to paint!

August Grazers

Oil on Board, 6 x 8 inches

This is a view I have painted several times over the years - the River Welland near Duddington. The Greater Willowherb and Purple Loosestrife abounds at this time of year, but sadly, another intruder is quickly taking over - the giant Himalayan Balsam, a beautiful and showy plant in its own right, but a real bully in the way it chokes all the surrounding vegetation. It has an ingenious way of spreading itself; when the pendulous bag of seeds is ripe, it has a spring-loaded mechanism within, and when the seed-head cracks, either spontaneously, or when a human or other animal touches it, the seeds are propelled, pinging out several feet. So, once it gets a foothold, the plant very quickly speads along a riverbank, elbowing out everything in its path. In some places, because it is such an invasive, unwelcome foreign interloper, attempts are made to eradicate the weed, but it's here to stay methinks, much like the grey squirrel.

Friday, 26 August 2016

January Fog

Oil on Board, 14 x 20 inches

I needed to get one more painting done to submit for the annual Royal Institute of Oil Painters (ROI) exhibition, entries closing today at noon, so I managed to finish it at 1.45 this morning, just ready to photograph and enter on to the long-winded submission form...phew.

I changed my mind about the composition of this - here are a couple of stage photos:
Initial wash stage, with very turpsey, neutral colour put on just like a watercolour wash, letting the colour drain down, giving those gorgeous patterns, a little of which would be left showing here and there to convey the network of feathery branches...
And here, a little further on, you can see I have placed in the cattle and painted the sky, with a watery sun breaking through the fog. After a lot more work on the trees and bank-line, I finally painted in the water, with the corresponding reflection of the sun. After stepping back (I always paint standing up these days) I wasn't happy with the balance somehow. Measuring where the reflection of the sun would be (from the unseen horizon, NOT from the line of the river bank) it was unsettlingly midway between the river bank and the bottom of the picture. It just didn't look right, so I decided to paint out the sun altogether and just suggest the light of it at the very top of the painting, but placed the reflection of the unseen sun near the bottom of the water. I was much happier with the result. We'll see if it will curry favour with the ROI hanging committee - a thankless task, with so many good paintings to be given just a few seconds to look at.

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Golden Summer Sunset

Oil on Board, 10 x 17 inches

This fabulous view was just a few days ago whilst walking with Jane on the banks of the River Nene near Waternewton. The sun was an intense golden orange ball, a colour that is not possible to convey with paint. I used a blob (technical term) of impasto pure Cadmium Yellow for the sun itself, but it's frustratingly inadequate to describe the intensity of the setting firey star.

The painting is dangerously close to being twee, something I always try to avoid, but I just had to paint it!  

Sunday, 14 August 2016

Spring Rain, Moor Lane

Oil on Board, 10 x17 inches

This is just finished, so it's very much a wet painting in more ways than one! The wet road had such beautiful patterns, I just had to paint it.

I paint a lot of rivers as you know if you're a regular visitor to my work, and the road was little different - just a question of observing the reflections in the road, with the drier bits of road punctuating the surface like wind-ruffled river.

Friday, 12 August 2016

Satin Repose

Oil on Board, 12 x 17 inches

I've reworked this painting for the second time now, after re-assessing it. In its previous guise, the pillow and quilt were patterned, and on reflection, I felt it competed too much with the figure, so I've changed it to pure white, which I think looks far better and stops the competition!

The silk top was great fun to paint with all those shiny folds, and here is a perfect example painting what you see, not what you know, or think you see; if I asked what colour the top is, hopefully the vast majority of people would say white, but only the very top accents are pure white - the rest of it is a kaleidoscope of greys, purples, greens and yellows, taking great care to observe those subtle tone and colour changes in the folds.  

Wednesday, 10 August 2016

Cotswold Oak

Oil on Board, 14 x 20 inches

I have provisionally painted this one for the Royal Institute of Oil Painters annual exhibition, in the hope that something traditional might get accepted.

It's a view near Mickleton in the Cotswolds, my old stamping ground - I was an assistant professional golfer at Stratford-upon-Avon for 6 years in the early seventies, and originally hail from Banbury in Oxfordshire. I drove past this corner and looked to my left to see this beautiful, classically-shaped English Oak, with a backdrop of hills and woods, and a couple of barns, with lots of sheep in the field. It was a custom-made composition.

Here are a couple of early stages of the painting, just to show the anatomy of the painting:
Here are the basic shapes scrubbed in with diluted, thin paint, with the rough tones...
 ...and here I've worked on the sky, before going back into the main tree and painting in the other main players. You can see that I placed the sheep, especially the three in the foreground, to direct the eye into the painting, towards the focal point itself.

Right, now on to the next one...

Friday, 5 August 2016


Come and watch me paint a demonstration landscape painting TONIGHT from 7.30 - 9.30, at the Horncastle Art Group, Methodist Church, Queen Street, Horncastle LN9 6BD

You are welcome to attend for a small fee on the door, so if any of you can come, I look forward to seeing you!