Thursday, 16 April 2015

Leaving Port

Oil on Board, 10 x 14 inches

Another one for my solo show in Beer. The early morning fishermen gather on Beer beach and go off on the gloriously colourful boats for a day's Mackerel fishing with rod and line. These boats are a dream for artists like me, especially in the morning light, when the dawn sun pierces through from the east, lighting up the sides of the vessels.

I liked the nicely placed old conveyer belt on the right, which provided a nice lead-in, and on the right the ruts in the stones did similar, to push the eye into the picture plane to the triangular focal point.

The boats are relatively straightforward when you've done the drawing, a bit fiddly, but straightforward. The most difficult part of the painting is making the pebble beach look convincing. Sand's a doddle, but depicting a million pebbles, all lit by the sun, is more tricky. I tackled them by laying down a relatively thin underpainting, then dragged progressive layers of colour with a pallette knife, then when the whole surface was just tacky, dragged the lightest tone over with the knife again to simulate the sparkling highlights.

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Summer Sparkle, Burnham Overy Staithe

Oil on Board, 10 x 14 inches

This one is a Norfolk painting that I did as a demo piece for another art society, finished off in the studio yesterday.

The hook for this one was the gorgeous sunlight reflected in the water, with the boats arranged in a perfectly haphazard way, pointing every which way. I love putting in the little nuances in a painting, like the pure sunlight bouncing off the gunwale of the boat just off-centre, above the children swimming in the water, and the highlight on the head of the chap wading in the shallows - they all help to give added interest to a piece.

Friday, 10 April 2015

Moon Rising, Beer

Oil on Board, 6x8 inches

Well, it was about time I started painting in earnest for my solo show in November in Beer, Devon, so here's one for start-off.

I liked the moon starting to glow in the fading light, and the echoed spheres of the equally glowing red buoys - seemed to make a pleasing composition, together with the great chalk cliff and fishermen's boats and lobster pots.

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Rutland, the most desirable rural place to live in England!

From the Telegraph a couple of days ago:

''Residents of the picturesque county of Rutland can lay claim to having the highest standards of living in rural Britain, after it was declared the country's best rural place to live.

The sleepy county of Rutland in the East Midlands countryside has been named as the best rural place to live in Britain."

Why do journalists always describe idyllic rural places as 'sleepy'?  I've never noticed anyone falling asleep in the leafy lanes around here!

Anyway, it's another great reason to come and visit my new gallery, Peter Barker Fine Art, when we open for business SOOOOON!  I can testify that the coffee and cakes in the adjoining Orchard Café are worth a visit alone, so look out for our opening and have another butcher's at the fabulous line-up of artists we've gathered together at

Saturday, 28 March 2015

Mighty Beech Corner

Oil on Board, 9 x 12 inches

I did this en plein air a few weeks ago and have only just got around to finishing it off in the studio. I finished off the bulk of the massive Beech in the foreground, but realised I had bitten off more than I could chew in the two hours spent on site, with the fishing-line tangle of branches in the upper section.

February is never the most colourful of months, apart from when there's a good frost or layer of snow on the ground, but this spot offered a good composition after driving around for as while, looking for inspiration. The main hook was the lovely light on the foreground Beech, with that great bough growing over the road, with those branch shadows describing its form.

I may have overworked it a little, but I do love painting enough of the tree branches to do it justice.

Friday, 27 March 2015

March Shimmer

Oil on Board, 10 x 14 inches

Back in the saddle painting again, and it's great to have a brush in my hand once more. I actually painted this one as a demonstration piece for the Tamworth Art Group a couple of weeks ago, finishing it off in the studio yesterday.

The bridge is over the River Welland at Duddington in Rutland, a stretch of river that owes me nothing, having painted it in all weathers, moods and seasons. 

I deliberately toned down the sky a little in order to reserve the pure Titanium White sparkles on the water. The back end of Winter/early Spring everything looks a little tired just before the growth of new shoots appears, but there is a surprising amount of colour still, with the gorgeous blues of distant trees and the warm accents of last year's dead reeds. The key is to observe the progessively lighter and bluer tones of trees as they recede into the distance - getting those tones right will give your own painting depth too.

Monday, 23 March 2015

New Gallery!!!!

So, you've probably been wondering where I've been for the last 5 weeks?  Well, I've had my head down planning, writing lots of artists' blurbs and bumph for various pages and loading lots of photos of fabulous paintings for my new fine art gallery, Peter Barker Fine Art, in Uppingham in Rutland.

The gallery will feature some of the very best paintings by 27 esteemed colleagues as well as my own work. The website is now live and you can see for yourselves the sheer quality of work that will be hanging on our walls, by clicking PBFA

Here are just a few of the paintings available at the gallery, which opens next month, date to be announced soon:
A Sunday Stroll, Scrooby - Oil on Board 10 x 14 ins
by David Curtis ROI RSMA

 Green Fields - Oil on Board 10 x 14 inches
by Graham Webber ROI AIEA EAGMA

Whitby Harbour, Evening - Oil on Board 16 x 12 ins
by Haidee Jo Summers
Studio Stuff with Green Striped Sock Monster - Oil on Board 12 x 16 ins by Tom Hughes

 Looking for Conkers - Oil on Board 8 x 12 ins
by Leslie Stones

Monday, 16 February 2015

Ocean Sunlight

Oil on Board, 6x8 inches

Haven't painted for a couple of weeks - too busy with other things, but more of that in a while...

So, here's a little chap just to oil the wheels (did you see what I did there?) I based it on a snap I took of then morning sunlight bouncing off the sea at Mousehole, in the bit that most tourists go - beyond the harbour wall. Sunlight on a relatively dark sea and sky, with wet stones reflecting little spotlights, is an irresistible subject and I hope I've done it justice. 

Friday, 30 January 2015

Imminent Demo!

If anyone is interested, I'm painting a demonstration painting to the Oadby Society of Artists on Monday next, 2nd Feb at Beauchamp College, Oadby LE2 5TP.

The subject will be 'Sparkling Coastal Light' and will be in Oils.

Any non-members are welcome for a nominal fee of £5 on the door. Hope to see you there!

Winter Orange

Oil on Board, 103/4 x 143/4 inches

Another seasonal Wintry job; this time an almost monochrome landscape, save for that gorgeous slash of orange we often see early or late in the short Winter days.

The composition is unusual in that there's no 'lead-in', but rather the picture plane is divided roughly into three thirds - the sky and distant blue trees, the bank and the water.

Painting snow is fascinating and it's vital to get the tone of it right, depending on the prevailing natural lighting.  Here, it was roughly the same tone as the sky, with that orange slash the lightest tone in the painting, drawing the eye in.

The trickiest part of the painting was depicting the network of frosted branches of the big, gnarled Ash tree, being right in the foreground. I didn't want to paint every branch in, and at first, I made them a little too insistent and false. Using fast-drying Alkyd Oil, I let the sky colour dry too much - painting branches over a dry sky doesn't seem to work and looks too 'cardboard-cut-outy'. So I painted over much of the passage again with slabs of the appropriate sky colour, cutting into the main branches, then immediately worked back into it again with a few twig tones dragged across with a soft flat Rosemary Mongoose brush. Then I added some fine branches with a deliciously long Rosemary Mongoose Rigger, holding it at the end of the 12" handle perpendicular to the board surface, letting the very point of the brush dance over the wet paint. I was much happier with the resultant, more painterly look.

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Hard Frost and Sun Glint

Oil on Board, 9 x 12 inches

This is another one bound for Iona House Gallery to join their continuing Winter exhibition.

I love this sort of subject, but I find it the toughest to paint - those incredibly subtle tones of bare trees looking straight into the light. I almost invariably paint the more distant tree tones a little too dark and have to adjust them until the right balance is achieved. I could have left them as they were and adjusted the other tones accordingly, but I wanted to portray that really bright sunlight piercing through the trees, so I opted not to be lazy and repaint them.

As ever, I love painting frosty grass, which is such a gorgeous silvery colour, very light, but a couple of tones down from the intense light on the water, which in turn is marginally lighter than the sky. That sunlight reflected on the water is really the coup de grâce to complete the scene, without which would lack a little punch.

Monday, 26 January 2015


 Oil on Board, 103/4 x 143/4 inches

Iona House Gallery in Woodstock have run out of my wintry paintings, so have asked if I can do one or two more, so here's the first.

I actually really ejoyed this one and felt 'in the zone' whilst painting it, probably because it has just about everything this landscape artist loves - snow for a start, trees in their winter garb, slow-moving water and gorgeous shadows and singing light passages.

I meant to take a few more photos of stages of the painting, but forgot about it early on because I was immersed in the painting process, but here's the initial blocking-in stage, with the rough tones to set the scene, using no white at all, just paint thinned down a little with White Spirit and scrubbed in with a worn-out brush.

 A little further on now and most of the key players are more or less completed, with the basic tones of the snow placed in, and the network of branches on the Elder bush left of centre and the trees on the right have been layered-in using my 1" household decorator's brush with a few structural trunks and branches put in with a rigger.

A little more work has been done in the water here, and then and to complete, I went all over the painting refining here and there, with more reeds and vegetation dragged in with the decorator's brush.

Thursday, 22 January 2015

Over the Hedgerow

Oil on Board, 6 x 8 inches

The title of this one does what it says on the tin. It's another summery one for the AAF in March. 

The sun's spotlights were moving about on this May day, lighting up the distant and near fields and the heady Hawthorn blossom momentarily, then seconds later casting shadows across them - so typical of an early Summer's day, with puffs of Cumulus clouds drifting across the sun's path.

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Towpath Jogger

Oil on Board, 6 x 8 inches

Hardly seasonal is it, but I've been asked for some Spring paintings for the Affordable Art Fair at Battersea, so here's the first. 

It seems strange to talk about the heady May blossoms of Cow Parsley in the middle of a cold snap in mid-January, but it won't be too long will it....?

Anyway, briefly, because I don't have the time to talk to you lot, the towpath had some interesting shadows across it, and when a runner came past, it seemed a fortuitous thing to pop her in for a focal point, with some lovely sunlit top edges to her arms.

Thursday, 15 January 2015

Winter Exhibition

I have seventeen recent paintings in the Winter Exhibition at the Iona House Gallery in Woodstock, starting next Saturday 17th January - a few are below, but to see all the paintings click here: Iona House Gallery