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.

Thursday, 14 April 2016

Light Summer Breeze

Oil on Board, 11 x 16 inches

This was another demo painting I did to the Colourwheel Art Group at Alwalton in Peterborough a few weeks ago. It's a view of the River Nene from a bridge at Cotterstock near Oundle. 

I've painted from the same spot before, and in summer too, but this one has a different feel to it - the first one I did was on a sharp, bright Summer's day, with billowing cumulus clouds and blue sky, with the water very ruffled by the wind. This one, the sky was somewhat overcast, with the occasional shaft of sunlight lighting up the landscape - one of my absolute favourite light effects. As I said in my demo, the lightest part of the painting are the Yellow Water Lily pads in the right foreground of the river. To make these 'sing', the sky and water had to be painted correspondingly darker - as ever, the tones are THE most important parts to get 'right', so that the eye 'reads' everything correctly, and the light effect I experienced can be conveyed to the viewer.

Wednesday, 13 April 2016

Roach Pool on the Nene

Oil on Board, 10 x 14 inches

I found this painting on a shelf - painted last year and forgotten about, so dug it out and framed it!  I actually did a small study of this a few years ago and revisited it with this larger version, with one or two alterations. I also did a same-sized plein air painting from almost the same spot a couple of Summers back - a most glorious bit of river near Waternewton.

Friday, 1 April 2016

River Shadows

 Oil on Board, 10 x 14 inches

This painting was also one I did as a demo to the Castor and Ailsworth Art Society a couple of weeks ago, and finished off today.

Stop press! I looked at the painting with fresh eyes this morning and decided it was a little too dark in places and din't quite capture the intense brightness of an early morning frosty light, so I reworked it and am now much happier with it. I also took out the dark tree on the left, which on reflection competed too much with the dark mass on the right - the joy of oil paint, being able to edit and lighten, after you've 'finished' a painting!

It's a view from the bridge over the River Welland in a village called Harringworth near me, famous for the Harringworth Viaduct. The strong morning sunshine cast stripes of light and shadow across the water beyond the foreground bank of trees on the right. Although we are still having early frosts, these sharp mornings are fast being taken over by signs of Spring, with birdsong now very evident, Blackbirds and Songthrushes exulting, and the huge Red Kites and Buzzards pewing, and the diminutive Wrens bellowing out jubilant claims for their territories and calls for mates, and we even had a pair of Yellowhammers 'cheesing' in the garden yesterday. Soon the lanes will be green with the first flush of leaves...aaaah, bliss, a new year!

Thursday, 31 March 2016

Snow Banks

Oil on Board, 10 x 14 inches

This is another demo painting I did few weeks back, duly finished off in the studio before the memory of cold January days fades away....

As I always say in my demos, we all know snow is white, but it only appears white when it is lit by sunlight, so this painting is a classic case of painting what you see, not what you know, or think you see. And that is the key to painting, aside from drawing skills - observing colours and tones and translating those observations to your board or paper.

The snow here is quite dark, relatively speaking, and the brightest passage of the painting is the flash of yellow/orange in the sky, and everything else, snow included, is darker relative to that.

Friday, 11 March 2016

Ocean Light

Oil on Board, 7 x 10 inches

Last one bound for Cornwall, this one is a view from St.Anthony Head, looking across towards Falmouth, with a couple of container ships leaving port. Of course, the light on the sea was captivating - that blinding light you get when pure sunlight is reflected off the water. Everything is a tone down from that - the clouds hace a creamy highlight to them, and this tone has to be right so that the ocean light is the brightest light in the picture.


Over the Gorse to St.Mawes

Oil on Board, 12 x 17 inches

This is another painting destined for the Harbour Gallery in Portscatho, it being of that locale.  

There were several 'hooks' that made me want to paint this one - the changing light every few seconds, so that some trees were lit up, then moments later cast in deep shadow, and similarly the foreground Gorse lit in bright yelling yellow, then cast dark and unobtrusive ochre. 

So, having taken a few photos of the view, I had to take the best of each light effect to make the optimum view available. I used a shaft of light to light up St.Mawes castle itself and the rocks on the end of the promontory, and of course that gorgeous stripe of turquoise sea - yum-my! 

I left the Pines on the nearer jut of land in shadow so as not to compete with the castle and sunlit part, but let the Gorse have it's say, sunlit and shouty to provide a lovely foil of complementary colour to the purple/blue sea. The lighter twiggy bits also stood out well against the darker ocean tone - lots of counterchange abounding, providing interest for the eye, hopefully.