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 



Monday, 12 January 2015

Frost by The Welland

Oil on Board, 10 x 14 inches

This painting is a commissioned piece for a customer who wanted a painting similar to one in my exhibition last month. I will never repeat a painting that I have done before, because paintings are sold as originals, but sometimes I will paint a similar view/feel to a previous piece, and this is one such painting, a little further downstream to the one before.

Painting a composition such as this is quite involved, with a lot of spidery winter tree tracery to depict - a little trickier than the same trees in their summer garb. Without any obvious light and dark side of a green tree that conveys a three dimensional shape, describing a bare tree is more difficult and requires more subtle application of brush strokes, at least the way I paint it does! 

For the more bushy trees, I describe them using my trusty 1" decorator's brush, applying many judicious layers with paint not too heavily-laden on the hairs. 

For the main bare trees at the rear centre of the picture, I scrub in the basic shapes with a dry brush with not too much pigment, then paint in the sky around them, then stroke the same colour over the tree with a hog brush held almost parallel to the board surface for the 'sky holes' seen between the branches. Then I describe the branches with a long rigger held almost at the end of the handle (not the hair end!) - that way, conversely to what you might think, you can stroke really delicate lines where needed. Holding the rigger near the ferrule end, which is the temptation, only results in clumsy, thicker lines, spoiling the look of tree branches. For the feathery ends of the branches, I place them in with the decorator's brush, pushing gently into the wet sky paint so they don't appear too 'sharp' and hard. What lets a lot of amateur paintings down, is the lack of painting the branches that are growing 'out of the picture', so to speak, coming towards the viewer, which appear foreshortened. This is what gives the illusion of three-dimensional depth to the painting, although it is on a two-dimentional surface.

All the frosty vegetation is painted with the decorator's brush again, heavily loaded for the few warm sunlit highlights. 

I've just realised I've given away far too many secrets...I'm going to have to kill you all.

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Swans at Dawn

 Oil on Board 10 x 17 inches

This was a race against time to get this finished for possible inclusion into Iona House Gallery's E-brochure for their Winter Exhibition. I was going to take a few stage photographs along the way, but forgot having got absorbed in it, in between painting frames for the show. I did take one photo after the initial scrubbing in of the rough tones stage, thus:

I swept a neutral grey wash over the board to start with, as can be seen in the unpainted parts of the sky and water. This produces lovely rivulet patterns as the wash (very diluted paint with White Spirit) runs down the board. This entire painting was done with just three primary colours and white - my usual suspects of Cadmium Yellow Light as the yellow, Permanent Rose as the red, and Cobalt Blue as the blue, with Titanium White. This was done not with bravado to say how clever am I, but as an exercise just see if any more colours were needed. Without any greens in the painting, no other colours were required, and all the subtle shades of greys and browns, both light and dark, were mixed with varying proportions of the three colours and little or more white added to the mixes, as needed. I find it good discipline to mix the colours and tones with such a limited palette, and it simplifies things so, to have just four blobs of paint squeezed out.


No painting today, but a personal bugbear...the national virus of saying "I was sat, or stood"...aaaaaaaaaaaaaargh!  

This mangling of the English language seems to have insinuated its way into every corner of these isles!

Would anyone ever dream of saying "I was ate"?  No, they would say "I was eating". So, why on earth does seemingly 90% of the population now say "I was sat", or "he was stood", when they mean "I was sitting" or "he was standing"?

I'm amazed at how many extremely bright and erudite people on Radio 4 say "he was sat, etc." and how most BBC reporters say "I am stood here, etc."  I believe that most people actually believe it is correct. IT DAMN WELL ISN'T!  So, let's have a campaign to rid the country of this sloppy, lazy, ugly manipulation of our language that has infiltrated its way into the mainstream of life, before it becomes accepted as correct!

And another thing - why do SO many people preface or end what they say with "to be honest", the inference being that normally they'd be dishonest, otherwise, why bother saying it? 

Rant over! Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!