Saturday, 31 August 2019

Bright and Breezy

Oil on Board, 10 x 14 inches

This one was a last second (literally!) submission for the ROI exhibition, painted much more loosely then most of my efforts. I've used a decorator's brush to depict tree foliage for years, but here I again used just a large, flat, Eclipse synthetic brush from Rosemary & Co., and the entire painting was painted with standard oils, rather than my usual fast-drying Alkyds - I'm enjoying the different technique involved, placing colour on top of wet paint.

Thursday, 29 August 2019

Harvest fields near Morcott

Oil on Board, 10 x 14 inches

I started this painting on site, in extreme heat, even at 10am, with the sun beating down on me from my left, but after 3/4 of an hour, it became unsustainable, not from the heat, but the thousands of small flies in clouds above my head and landing on the wet paint every few seconds, requiring lifting off with the corner of the palette knife. So, I got as far as I could then finished it off in the studio.

I again adopted a far looser approach than has been my modus operandi for a long time, using a big, Rosemaryandco Eclipse Short Flat brush for all the tree, hedgerow and field work. I'm liking the more 'painterly' feel, the less photographic look, so might even submit this to the Royal Institute of Oil Painters and see if they like it...

Sunday, 25 August 2019

Sun Going Down, Harvest Bales

Oil on board 7 x 10.75 inches

Another very loose painting, for me. For small paintings like this, I have always used fast-drying Alkyds almost exclusively, but for this I used only standard, slow-drying oils. The technique is different - previously, I have always scrubbed in the dark shapes and by the time they have dried sufficiently, half-an-hour or so, I have worked into these with heavier paint, using a 1" decorator's brush. This can give a very realistic finish, which buyers do like. But this can be difficult to achieve in the time allotted to en plein air work. So, here, I painted in the dark shapes with reasonably heavy paint, and worked back into them with the paint obviously still very wet - quite enjoyed it actually. 

The foreground 'stripes' of stubble were going straight out of the picture, stage left, so I used some artistic licence and painted them turning inwards, directing the eye through to the descending sun. The temptation to depict the stubble in much more convincing detail was strong, but somehow I managed to curb the urge! My feelings are that artists will prefer this looser approach, but will the collectors who give me a living...?

Distant Fire, Rutland Water

Oil on board, 10 x 14 inches

I was out painting en plein air the other evening, starting at around 6.30pm. I was looking more or less straight into the sun, which was shining brightly, but, inevitably, as sunset was approaching, the sky changed beyond recognition...and I ended up chasing the light! Painting the way I do, it's never easy to get things down really quickly, so a changing scene is a real challenge. I took a photo just before I packed up, and opted to paint the sky as the sun was descending - painting to be completed in the studio. But, this got me thinking - perhaps I should adopt a very different approach outside, and paint very much more loosely. I love the work of painters who paint big paintings with ease, in a short amount of time, with broad brushstrokes, like the New Zealander, John Crump, so I attempted this one above in a similar fashion. When you love putting in detail, it's extremely difficult to loosen-up. Anyway, here's one - any comments as to what you think would be welcome, good or bad!

Wednesday, 14 August 2019

Rising Sun and Tide at Thornham

Pastel on Pastelmat 13 x 19 inches

I was going to put this paintng into the RSMA exhibition, but didn't get it finished in time, so it will shortly be on view and for sale in my gallery, you lucky people!

It started life as a demonstration piece, but having assessed it in the studio, I have to confess I used a little artistic licence in putting in the rising sun, which I think improves the composition and overall impact of the painting. 

Saturday, 10 August 2019

Glistening Mud, Porthleven

Oil on Linen Canvas 18 x 26 inches
This painting involved probably the most intense periods of concentration of any painting I've done, with so many boats lined up, all with so much more boat to paint when their hulls are exposed at low tide. 
It was a really bright Summer's day, with strong, crisp shadows thrown across the mud, and those sunlit roofs etched across the skyline of the row of houses looking down on the harbour. I had to get the tones of all the relevant players right, in order for those sunlit roofs to really 'pop' - too bright a sky and they wouldn't pop at all. Then all those beautiful red buoys of varying tones and subtle hues, and when I'd finished them and all the boat shapes were more or less completed, I had to attack the mud flats and gorgeous little rivulets of blue water running through them, again paying careful attention to the relative tones of both. Here's where I used the faster drying qualities of Alkyd Oil, letting the paint underneath dry a little and become very stiff and tacky, so that I could use a brush and palette knife to drag more light, thick paint over the top to get the effect I wanted. It feels like my 'Bohemian Rhapsody'! 
The painting will be in the RSMA Exhibition at the Mall Galleries in London in October.

Monday, 22 July 2019

Dawn Light, Mevagissey

Oil on Board, 7.5 x 10 inches

The last small oil for the RSMA exhibition in October - now to a BIG one, well, relatively so...

People often very kindly comment that I paint water well, and I generally say that actually, painting water is a darned sight easier than painting trees and the other stuff above water. But, in this case, it was a lot more tricky. The water was ruffled by the early morning breeze, breaking up any reflections and casting very subtle streaks of dark and light tones on the sea. I blocked in the rough tones with a fairly 'dry' brush, not laying too much paint on, so that it dried relatively quickly, then dragged the adjacent tones and colours over the underpainting, using a palette knife and hog brush. Then, with a little blending here and there with a Rosemary Eclipse Long Flat no 6 brush, I peppered the rest with a well-loaded a 1" daler-Rowney Script System 3 Rigger, varying the colours throughout to suit. Quite enjoyed it actually!

Saturday, 20 July 2019

Into the Light, Burnham Overy Staithe

Oil on Board, 10 x 12 inches

Another smallish oil for the RSMA show. The hook for this one was the intense sunlight bouncing off the water, spots of sparkling light twinkling like jewels. The Poppies growing in the foreground bank echoed the red buoys in the water, too - and yes, they were actually there! Boats are terribly fiddly creatures, and they have to 'look' right - getting their sexy curves is paramount. The next big studio painting is going to be a real challenge, with a LOT of boats resting at low tide on mud - right up my street, so look out for that one a-coming... 

Friday, 12 July 2019

Remus and Fearnot at Brancaster Staithe

Oil on Board, 12 x 14 inches

Another painting for the RSMA exhibition this October. I've painted this boat on numerous occasions, in different light and changing seasons and from different angles. Resting on wet, sparkling mud is always what attracts my eye the most, and oil paint is the most perfect medium to depict it. I love dragging a palette knife across a tacky underpaint to get the effect I'm looking for.


Wednesday, 3 July 2019

Lion Rock, Near Kynance Cove

Oil on Belgian Linen Canvas, 18 x 24 inches
Here's my second painting for the RSMA exhibition,  The glorious West Coast Patch is just full of paintable subjects, and on a bright, hazy Summer's day, there's no finer place to be. Looking down from the high cliffs on the surf crashing onto the rocks below makes us, mere human beings, seem very small and insignificant, compared to the power of nature. And what a superb subject to paint, rocks galore, all described with halos of light. I found the best vantage point with some lovely Gorse and Heather in the foreground, and placed a couple of figures on the top of the cliffs in the distance, which gives some scale to the majestic rocky outcrops.

Towards Morton

 Oil on Board, 9 x 12 inches

This one is a commissioned painting, looking down towards Morton, a village near Bourne in Lincolnshire.

From the top of the hill, there was a nice progression into the distance across the fen, with a lovely blue on the horizon line. The strip of bright yellow Rape field provided a stripe of gorgeous colour, and lots of umbellifored Cow Parsley adorned the roadsides for more interest. The sky was a uniform blue when I was there, which was a bit boring, so I used a little artistic licence and conjured up some light clouds for more interest too.   

Thursday, 20 June 2019

Leaving St.Mary's

Oil on Board, 11 x 24 inches

This is the first painting that I'm submitting for the Royal Society of Marine Artists annual exhibition this year. Based on a couple of photos I took when we were leaving the glorious Scilly Isles last October. I loved the overall grey tones, punctuated by that flash of yellow light near the horizon. And the lovely orange and blue of the lifeboat provided a gorgeous touch of colour - put your thumb over it and it would have been a very boring seascape!

Painted entirely with Titanium White, Cad.Yellow Light, Permanent Rose and Ultramarine Blue, it was mostly about getting the mixes right, especially for the choppy sea, and changing those subtle variants accordingly.

Tuesday, 11 June 2019

Beech Spring

Oil on Board, 12 x 17 inches

This is the second in a series of four commissions I am painting for a client, all from the same spot, Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter, this being the spring version, as if you hadn't guessed!

Beech leaves are a spectacular sight at any time of year. Here, in May, they are fresh acid green, getting a deeper green tone in Summer, before transforming into the orange of Autumn - quite looking forward to painting that one! There is always a bed of composting old leaves at any time of year beneath beech trees, and I suggested these with lots of palette-knife work over a sticky underpaint. the same technique was used for some of the leaves nearer the viewer, too.

Thursday, 6 June 2019

Birches and Bluebells

Oil on Board, 6 x 8 inches

The Bluebells are all gone now for another year, but just can't resist painting them each year. These were in Barnsdale Wood on the banks of Rutland Water, a beautiful woodland, carpeted with these glorious flowers. I used a bit of artistic licence, adding the two Silver Birches for interest. 

Most of the painting, aside from the trees themselves, was done with my trusty 1" decorators brush and a large fan brush, which can load sufficient paint on and apply in the right manner to depict foliage and flowers.

Tuesday, 28 May 2019

Oaks Under an Indigo Sky

Oil on board, 6.5 x 10.5 inches

I was playing golf a couple of weeks ago when a thundery storm was brewing all around us, and looking to my left, there was this magnificently dark sky, with sunlit Oaks and a yellow Rape field set against it. I took a quick snap with my phone, then this fabulous light effect, where the foliage of the trees was lighter than the sky (so rare that it happens) was gone in a few seconds. But I had enough to make a painting from, fortunately, and here it is.