Thursday, 21 July 2016

Sheds and Sunlight, Brancaster Staithe

Pastel on Pastelmat, 13 x 19 inches

This is the second Pastel painting that I'm entering for the RSMA exhibition, with one more big one to go...

The gloriously tatty sheds and huts at Brancaster Staithe are gifts for us artists, and, combined with the boats in the staithe, and the sharp, morning light, made this an irrisistible subject for a painting. The only thing I did was to move the foreground boat a little to the left for the sake of balance.

I could equally have tackled this painting in Oils, but I did love painting those dazzling spots of bouncing sunlight on the tops of the boat cabins, which are particularly suitable for the Pastel medium. That lovely, wet mud below the row of wooden posts was alittle more tricky with the dry medium, with myriads of little stabs of blue, mauve, grey, yellow, green-brown and white, whereas with the Oil medium, I would have painted much of this passage with the palette knife dragged over the blue-grey reflected sky colour.  Ah, the joy of painting!

Wednesday, 13 July 2016

Leaving Port, Mevagissey, 5am

Pastel on Pastelmat, 19 x 24.25 inches

I painted this one from a high viewpoint, looking down on the harbour wall at Mevagissey, with a lone fisherman on his way out to make his catch. The light breaking through the clouds was spectacular, and I did my best to capture that fleeting light effect of the light on the sea, this time with the soft Pastel medium.

Pastel lends itself to making lots of little marks as the subject might require, as it did here in the bottom half of the picture. The gentle swell of the sea provided gorgeous stripes of grey and pink as the light reflected off the water.  Placing myself so that the lighthouse punctuated the lightest part of the sea, directly below the break of yellow light in the cloud offered the best composition I felt, and I think it's worked out alright.

Now onto more Pastels...

Thursday, 7 July 2016

Harbour Lights, Mevagissey

Oil on Board, 11 x 16 inches

Another Oil for the RSMA exhibition, but why, oh why, did I elect to do this subject on such a small panel?  What was I thinking of? It is one of the most complicated paintings I've done, with an AWFUL lot of fiddly detail and a seemingly infinite number of colour changes and subtle shifts of tone. 

It was the beautiful half-light one encounters when the sun goes down, and when the shop and restaurant lights appear so much brighter, that drew me to the subject and to tackle it in paint. Those lovely yellow and orange reflections in the water were irresistible and I had to make sure that all the relative tones were dark enough, to give those light reflections the right impact. The red buoys also take on a glow in the evening, so there is a LOT of local colour in the painting.

Saturday, 2 July 2016

Frosty Shoreline at Eyebrook

Oil on Board, 14 x 20 inches

This is a commissioned painting of Eye Brook and the Eyebrook Reservoir in Rutland, in its Winter garb. Actually, painting frost is one of my favourite subjects, especially this one, with lots of tufty grass tussocks, and really lends itself to the Oil medium using my decorator's brush - muted colours, using my usual three yellow, red and blue culprits, with the addition of a little Viridian here and there, and plenty of Titanium White of course.  The Swan and the few ducks lend a little life to the serene scene

Friday, 1 July 2016

Surf and Turf

Oil on Board, 9 x 13 inches

Lovely jagged cliff shape here at Mawgan Porth, set against the late afternoon sky with gorgeous reflections in the wet sand was the inspiration for this one. I opted for a panoramic shape for the composition so as to concentrate the eye on the cliff and piercing yellow sky in the lower portion of it.

All done with four colours, there was a surprising amount of colour - I loved the Viridian in the crashing breakers and the resulting white surf - just perfect! 

Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Tide Out, Porlock Weir

Oil on Board, 9 x 12 inches

Another offering for inclusion in the RSMA exhibition later in the year.  I don't often paint boats in such flat light, because sunlight throws such beautiful shadows from the vessels, and the shape of them is so defined by the highlights and darks.  But this one seemed to offer a lovely composition from the  footbridge at Porlock Weir. There were no shadows at all, but I loved the rhythm of the boats, taking the eye through the painting from bottom to the top, and the complimentary blues and oranges seemed to glow in the dull light - a phenomenon I've often noticed with scarlet poppies in the half-light as the sun goes down.

I've probably taken the detail a little too far, with lots of fiddly buoys and trims, but I inevitably seem to, because I love those subtle shifts of colour and tone in describing objects...ah well. I painted quite a lot of the slippery mud with my palette knife dragged over the undercolour, almost sculpting the paint in three dimensions. I rarely use the knife, but I do love it for this technique.  I put the figure in, just for a bit of life.

Thursday, 23 June 2016

Blinding Light, Brancaster Staithe

Oil on Board, 7.5 x 10 inches

This is just a little painting, and should have been dashed off pretty quickly, but I did a lot of repainting in an effort to get the relative tones right - those progressively lighter tones of the background buildings.  I tend to paint the tones just a bit too dark, and it was quite a struggle in this case to pitch the tones in a high enough key.

This is a painting I shall be putting in to the Royal Society of Marine Artists annual exhibition at the Mall Galleries - one of six. I wasn't quite sure this was a real winning composition, but having done it, maybe I could have done a bigger version - I'll see what the response is here and on Facebook - always a good arbiter of such things!

Saturday, 4 June 2016

The Pink Hat

Oil on Board, 12 x 17 inches

This is another one I had forgotten about, having done it as a demo last year, I think!  It too, was tucked away in a corner of the studio, and I felt it was worth working up into exhibition standard.

On that point, I think it's worth mentioning that some plein air artists tend to leave their work 'as is', and consider working on it in the studio to be taboo. Having run a gallery now for over a year, listening to the public's comments, I have realised that buyers don't give a damn whether a painting was completed on site, or in the studio. All they want when they part with their hard-earned money, is a beautiful piece of art on their walls - that is their ONLY consideration.  Re-working a painting and bringing it to a more 'finished' standard should not, in my eyes, be considered a no-no, and after all, we artists want to sell our work, don't we - there is nothing more heartening than to hear from a gallery that your work has sold.  It is definitely not prostituting your work to use a photo as an aide memoire - the spade-work is done on site after all. Why I'm telling you I don't know - I should be telling artists this!  

Having said all that, to work in the open air is much more stimulating than the comfort of a studio, and nothing compares to the drama of having to fight with changing light, and when you do bring home a 'finished' painting, the sense of achievement is exhilarating.

Eye Brook to Eyebrook

Oil on Board, 12 x 17 inches

I actually posted this one last July when I painted it as a demo in the gallery, (did I mention I have a gallery....) but I felt it was a little blue, which is always a problem when painting under artificial, warm lights - your eyes compensate for the yellowy-orange lights and paint cooler, bluer tones.

So, having languished in the studio for nearly a year, I reworked it under daylight lights, and the result is more pleasing, I think.

The view is one of the Eye Brook near the gallery (I did mention I have a gallery, didn't I?), which runs into the beautiful Eyebrook Reservoir...hence the title. 

Wednesday, 1 June 2016

Burdock and May Blossom

Oil on Board, 6 x 8 inches

Hawthorns are adorning our hedgerows with their beautiful May blossom at the moment, and here they are by the River Welland, in various states of bloom and wain.

A lot of this little painting was done with my 1" decorator's brush, save for the sheep, the grass they're feeding on, and the water. The big leaves in the left foreground are those of the Burdock, with last year's dried seedheads next to them. Goldfinches love these seeds, and they supply our most beautiful finches with food throughout the Winter. Sometimes there are as many as twenty or so feeding on the heads of one plant whenever I have walked this bank in January.

Quiet Summer Day by the Nene

Oil on Board, 5.25 x 7.25 inches

Not a 'shouty' painting this one, with summer clouds stopping sharp, sunlit highlights so that the whole scene is somewhat muted, and none the worse for it.  
I placed the horizon relatively high on the picture plane, about in the middle actually, to focus the eye on the water, which was relatively the easiest passage of a painting. The picture would have been a little boring with the reflections mirroring the trees, but the foreground reeds provide a convenient foil to disrupt the otherwise uniformity.

I'm often asked if I use a rigger to paint the reeds; actually, I paint them with my favourite brush - a No 5 Long Flat Series 279 by Rosemary and Co. This brush forms the most beautiful chisel edge, and when loaded with paint, can describe the perfect shapes of reeds, maintaining its keen edge like no other brush can - I LOVE it!  A rigger can't do the job nearly so well, and I only use it to pick out the occasional sunlit reed in the distance, or some tree branches, and to sign my name!

Slow River

Oil on Board, 5.25 x 7.25 inches

Simple composition this one, and very much my sort of painting of high Summer on the River Welland in Rutland, with thick vegetation of reeds and pink Willowherb and Yellow Water Lilies punctuating the water surface.

Monday, 30 May 2016

Big Clouds

Oil on Board, 5.5 x 7.5 inches

I'm going to be guest artist at Patchings Art Festival on Friday June 10th - next week - and suddenly realised that I'm going to have very little to have displayed because we've sold my work so well in the gallery...did I mention that I have a gallery, Peter Barker Fine Art: (other inferior galleries are available :))

So, I'm going to be grafting away in the next week to get a few little'uns painted and framed-up ready for the festival, so watch this space for more! 

Here's the first one - very topical, with so many bright yellow oilseed rape fields adorning our countryside. Often, skies are very secondary to the rest of the landscape in my paintings, but here, with those lovely billowing cumulus clouds, the sky had to have at least equal billing, so I made the horizon low in the picture plane to emphasise the majesty of the clouds.

Friday, 27 May 2016

Snow Lane

Oil on Board, 10 x 12 inches

Can it really be a month since I last posted a painting - blimey! I have done a couple during a trip to the Isle of Skye, but this is the first exhibition standard effort. It's actually a commissioned piece, hence the non-seasonal theme.

Oaks generally are the last leaves to turn their Autumnal brown, and this scene in December shows a lot of leaves still hanging on, providing a lovely foil to the cool blues and white of the snow. The view is a lane not far from my studio, with a little artistic licence employed by putting in the two barns as required by the client.

Friday, 29 April 2016

River Welland by the Harringworth Viaduct

Oil on Linen Canvas, 16 x 22 inches

This is the first in a string of commissioned paintings I have to complete. The couple concerned wanted a view of the iconic Harringworth Viaduct which crosses the River Welland on the border of Northamptonshire and Rutland. It is 1,275 yards long - the longest masonry viaduct across a valley in Britain, has 82 arches, each of which has a 40 feet span, took 2 years to build and was completed in 1878 - I'm full of useless information... 

Anyway, fantastic structure though it is, I felt a painting just of the viaduct would be somewhat dull and boring, and inevitably repetitive - an arch is an arch, and with 82 of them, all identical, there's little to make a painting interesting. A photograph, yes, but a painting, hmmm. So, I guided the clients to opt for a painting of the beautiful river, with the viaduct as a backdrop, simplified against the strong morning sunlight into a predominantly blue shape, rather than a portrait of the structure itself, and hopefully, this has worked.