Wednesday, 17 December 2014

2015 Calendar!

I have a limited number of 2015 Calendarsfor sale at £12.50 including postage and packing. As the shop page of my website is misbehaving at the moment, if any of you would like to buy a calendar, please email me by clicking HERE, and say whether you would prefer to pay by credit or debit card via Paypal, or send me a cheque. 

The layout looks like this, with 12 seasonal images, and the size of the calendar is 8.5" x 11", or twice that opened out for each month, looking like this:

Friday, 12 December 2014

Oak Shadow

Oil on Board, 10x14 inches

Here's a snowy painting, upon request from Iona House Gallery in Woodstock for their Winter Exhibition next month. 

Painting snow holds great attraction for most artists, me included. It's not that easy to paint either - as I always say in my demos, we all know that snow is white, but to paint an effective and convincing painting, we have to observe both the colour and tone, and that is where so many budding painters fall at the first hurdle. Snow is only white when you look at it face on with the sun shining on it. Otherwise, it only appears white because of its surrounding colours and tones - our brain tells us it's white, even though  a lot of it here is quite a dark blue/mauve colour.

There is actually no pure white at all in the snow in this painting - the only bit of pure white is near the top left, depicting the blinding sun, and even that will appear darker than the surrounding white on your screen! The photo doesn't quite pick up all the colours accurately, but the entire picture was painted with my usual three colours, Cadmium Yellow Light, Permanent Rose and Cobalt Blue, plus Titanium White of course.

A little nuance I did like, was the gorgeous light underside of the big branch in the upper centre of the picture plane, receiving reflected light from the gleaming snow beneath.

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

The Deer Look-Out

Oil on Board, 9 x 12 inches

Well, back to the drawing board, or at least the easel...just as soon as I finished all my framing for my show at John Noott's (see previous post), and basked in the ego-boosting of an exhibition opening, another gallery calls me and asks for some new work for their winter show next month. However, having not painted anything for over four weeks, it was lovely to be putting brush to board again, and despite the inevitable "I wonder if I can still do it" thought, happily, and with a big sigh of relief, I find I CAN still do it....phew.

This one is a December view, at a local woodland called Bedford Purlieus. An odd name, dating back to 1598, when the purlieus was a term for woodland law, and the Bedford bit dates back to when the wood was owned by the Duke of Bedord. The title refers to the look-out partly hidden in the left-centre of the picture, from where observers can see deer beneath, who are unaware of being observed.

Yesterday, it was the annual mecca for oil painters - the opening of the ROI Annual Exhibition at the Mall Galleries. It was a great day, seeing all the great work in the show, and 'talking shop' to painting pals like Haidee Jo Summers, Roy Connelly, Tom Hughes, David Pilgrim, Graham Webber, Gerald Green, Penny German, Hannah Merson, Peter Brown, Trevor Chamberlain, Oliver Bull and David Curtis. The show is on until the 21st December and is well worth a trip, as is my own exhibition at John Noott's of course - on until Christmas Eve!

Friday, 5 December 2014

Solo Exhibition reminder

Please forgive another reminder that my solo exhibition starts tomorrow, Saturday 6th December! I hope to see some of you there. All 41 paintings, 7 of which have already sold, can be seen at Peter Barker Solo Exhibition

Thursday, 4 December 2014

Royal Institute of Oil Painters Annual Exhibition

Fresh Snowfall by the Welland 
Oil on Board, 10x14 inches

Next week, the ROI Annual Exhibition at The Mall Galleries opens on Tuesday 9th with the Private View, and then opens officially to the public on 10th December until 21st December. It's a superb exhibition and represents the cream of painters who use the oil medium. A selection of works can be seen by clicking here.

I have one painting in the show, photo above. Anyone who would like to attend the Private View next Tuesday 9th December, please email me by clicking Email and I will send you an E-invite for you to print off and get in the show FREE.

Saturday, 29 November 2014

Solo Exhibition!

Well, after nearly three weeks of frantic framing, including working until past 3am yesterday morning, finishing off the last few frames ready to deliver the paintings, my solo exhibition at the lovely John Noott Gallery in Broadway, Worcestershire, is now ready! These few above are in the show and all 41 paintings can be seen online on the Gallery website by clicking HERE and the paintings are for sale now.

The exhibition opens next Saturday 6th December, so come along and meet yours truly and have a free glass of wine - that's all that's free mind you - it would be lovely to meet you, especially if you have your credit card with you!  Anyone who would like an illustrated catalogue, please telephone the Gallery on 01386 858436, thank you. The exhibition continues until Christmas Eve.

Sunday, 16 November 2014

World War 1 Memories

Oil on Board, 10 x 15 inches

With all the excellent documentaries and docu-dramas on the telly about the First World War, I thought it would be apropos to post this painting I did way back in the '80's. I set up the still-life with two postcards sent to my nana from my grandad during WW1, together with his war medals. The sepia photograph shows my grandad in his army uniform, and my nana together, Harry and Elizabeth Hutchings.

This was really a labour of love, painting such intricate details in oils, especially the stamp and the writing on the postcard, which reads "Dear Lizzie, This will give you an idea of what our huts are like, of course you can see it is me. With love, Harry" and at the top "I have sent one to Sally", my nana's sister. Just a tiny snapshot of 'normal' life from that very abnormal time.
I know little about my grandad's WW1 experiences, only that he was 30 when he enlisted, and was listed as missing in 1917, but returned home in 1918 and was completely loused up, in the true sense of the word, and when my Uncle Arthur, two years old at the time and having not seen him before, said "what's that" on seeing his father.

It's only now, with my grandad long dead, that I would love to have talked to him at length about his Great War experiences. Like most of the lucky soldiers who lived to tell the tale, he never did speak of it, and being from that austere time, he took his memories to his grave. If only he had written it down. As a boy of course, I had no interest in what he did, but now, as an adult, with the awareness of mortality, I would dearly love to know exactly what he went through in the hell of the trenches. Using the BBC's iwonder link, I hope to find out something of where he went, but nothing will ever come close to hearing the words from my grandad's mouth. A lost memory.

Here's a pencil drawing I did of him back in 1982, from a photograph taken not long before he died.
 Harry Hutchings, born 1884

Monday, 10 November 2014

ROI success...JUST!

Fresh Snowfall by the Welland, Oil on Board, 10"x14"

Well, third year lucky, I got ONE painting accepted for the ROI Annual Exhibition at the Mall Galleries, after having none accepted in the last two years. The ROI panel are a tough nut to crack, and it's a real honour to be included with the cream of British Oil painters.

I submitted four to the final stages, but these three below didn't make it:

They will, however, be included in my own solo exhibition at the John Noott Gallery next month, from 6th to 24th December, together with 44 other new paintings.  Anyone wanting an invitation, please email me your details HERE

Thursday, 30 October 2014

January Sunlight

Oil on Board, 14 x 20 inches

Well, it's been a manic few days, slightly more than usual...

I wanted to do one more painting to submit for the Royal Institute of Oil Painters (ROI), and somehow managed to get this one done in the midst of hand-finishing three big frames for the said pictures.  I finished this painting at around 5pm, spent the next seven hours finishing off the frames and fitting the paintings and backboards, taping up, etc., then got up at 5.30 this morning to give this last painting a lick of Retouching Varnish. I painted this one entirely with Griffin Alkyd fast-drying oil, so the painting was just dry enough to varnish, save for a few still-tacky impasto flicks of paint, which I had to be very careful to varnish around, then just let a drop on to these tacky bits without brushing out which would have smeared the paint - a bit like diffusing a bomb...

The painting itself is right up my street; I love painting frost as regular readers will know, and this subject has everything that sparks my painting juices: frosted vegetation, water and spectacular lighting, with bright sunlight from stage right lighting up the water and picking out a fewhighlights - the left-hand arches of the bridge and the Willow on the left, and the patches of frosty grass around the big tree on the right.

With four paintings submitted for the ROI, it's now down to the hanging committee as to whether any get accepted. I was chuffed to bits to become an associate member of the Royal Society of Marine Artists last year, but was stung by having all six of my ROI submissions rejected last November, so I'm not expecting anything this time. We shall see. Being naturally competitive, failure doesn't come easy, but one must keep trying! To be accepted by your peers at the UK's premier exhibition of oil painters is what we all strive for, regardless of how well we might sell our work. I'll know by November 6th so watch this space for elation or depression!

Friday, 24 October 2014

Bird Watching

Oil on Board, 10 x 14 inches

This was yet another demo painting I did back in the heady days of Summer, again completed in the studio today, probably to be included in my upcoming solo-show at John Noott Gallery in December.

I remember the day I was by the River Nene; the field where I've placed the figure is a silvery green colour, because the hay had just been cut. I also remember looking up and seeing a Buzzard and a Sparrowhawk having a sparring contest - I think the smaller raptor was bombing the Buzzard for being in his territory - he certaily seemed very angry and all the aggression came from him. I managed to take a poor photo of them way high above me:

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Frost in the Reeds

Oil on Board, 9x 12 inches

This painting was another demo I did earlier in the year, to which Art Group I can't remember, again finished off in the studio.

Frost, as you know if you've read my Blog before, I love to paint, and this was no exception. I've painted at this spot on numerous occasions, where the river bubbles around the corner where the sparkly bit is in the centre of the picture. The water this morning had a glassy feel to it, a joy to depict in paint. I used two brushes, a Rosemary Ivory Long Flat to block in the colours, and a Mongoose Long Flat, my favourite all-time brush, to blend and simulate the shimmering quality of the reflections. Again, lots of work was done with my 1" decorator's brush, including the trees and the bankside vegetation.

Tractor Ruts

Oil on Board, 6 x 8 inches

Just a little oil I've slotted in for the Autumn/Winter exhibition at the Norton Way Gallery in Hertfordshire. Busy with the last few paintings for my solo exhibition at the John Noott Gallery in December and another one for the ROI, this really is a hectic time for the brush!

I was drawn to the interesting patterns the tractor had made in the squelchy mud, leaving deep ruts filled with water from the recent heavy rain - yum yum - plenty of fodder for the painter.

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Hay Bales and Thistledown

Oil on Board, 14 x 20 inches

I liked the low viewpoint of this composition, with roly-poly bales I love to paint, with a good bunch of Thistles in the foreground in their gorgeous seed-head stage, with bunches of candyfloss down ready to blow away and colonise elsewhere. I've always thought that the seed-heads of Creeping Thistle are very much like the old-fashioned shaving brushes!

I put a figure running a terrier in the mid-distance, just to add a bit of life to the pastoral scene. I might put this as a late entrant for the ROI exhibition, depending what reaction it gets here and on Facebook. With the Thistledown, I might normally have tackled this in Pastel, but I rather enjoyed trying to depict the down with Oil, using a hog brush to describe the softness.

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Afternoon Delivery

Oil on Board, 12 x 17 inches

I did this one as a demo to the Mickleover Art Group a couple of weeks ago, finishing it off in the studio at my leisure, without fifty pairs of eyes staring over my shoulder!

I've painted along this road many times before from different angles and places, and it always offers something new. With rich Autumn colours it's simply irristible with the avenue of trees forming a cathedral-like tunnel. I felt the road was a little empy, so I put in the white van coming up the hill in the distance. When painting at this spot en plein air, it's surprising how many white vans do come up this way, flashing past at speed of course, almost rocking the easel as they flash past.

It's the juxtaposition of the blue distant colours next to the rich oranges and yellows of the foliage that give this painting such a vibrant feel to it. And being a bright, but hazy day, the recessively paler and bluer tones of the trees going down the hill helped create depth and three dimensions on a two-dimensional surface, a quality I tried to instill throughout the demo.

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Feeding Swans by the Bridge

Oil on Linen Canvas, 22 x 30 inches

Having got my last big painting, 'Sharp Frost by The Settings' through the ROI (Royal Institute of Oil Painters) digital selection process, along with one other, I thought I'd better do another big frosty painting for my own solo exhibition at John Noott Gallery in December, just in here it is, finished today.

This was a bit of a labour of love...yes, I know, Swans again, but set on a frosty backdrop, it was irrisistible! The entire painting was painted using just five colours plus White - Cadmium Yellow Light, Permanent Rose, Cobalt Blue, Raw Umber and a touch of Viridian here and there. There was that glorious 'steam' of water vapour hovering over the surface near the bridge, lit up a golden colour from the early morning sun from the right of the picture. I thought of leaving out the concrete bridge, which I have done previously when I've painted from this spot, but I loved the warm reddish reflected light bouncing up from the water, lighting up the underside of the bridge, so I left it in. Also, with the river, everything is taking the eye out of the painting to the right, so, combined with the slanting vegetation in the right foreground, putting the figure walking towards the left of the picture, helps push the flying eye back in again.