Sunday, 20 July 2014

Morning sunlight, Mousehole

Oil on Board, 12 x 17 inches

A studio painting this for the upcoming RSMA exhibition, involving a lot of fiddly work on the boats. I loved the composition, with the eye being taken on a journey through the painting, from the two little girls and mum on the beach to each boat and out through the harbour gates to St.Clements Isle and onto the gleaming sunlight on the sea horizon and then back again, checking out the odd few figures on the harbour wall and cars with intense reflected light bouncing off them, then passing a few more boats missed the first time round and back to the figures again. Is that how your eyes travelled?

The main problem with this sort of painting is not to make it looked too laboured, but there is plenty going on, with lots of little cameos on the way, like the dazzling sunlight below the blue boat left of centre and to the left of the blue vessel in the foreground right of centre. It was another case of "maybe I should have made it a bigger painting" with such a lot going on, but there we are, don't always get it right!

Saturday, 5 July 2014

River Nene at Waternewton

Oil on Board, 7.5 x 10 inches

Sometimes as an artist, you look at a subject and think "hmm, it's quite pleasing, but it doesn't have the knockout composition that warrants a big canvas or board", which was the case here, so I opted for a small board....and wished I'd gone for a bigger one!

This was a very green picture, but as I painted it, I really started to love it, and the slow-moving water of the Nene was captivating with the shadows running across the water.  The main thing to make a green painting convincing is to try to observe all the myriads of subtley different tones and shades of green. 

Ah well, could maybe do a big version, but unlike many of my colleagues, I don't really like repeating a painting - the juices just don't flow a second time for me.

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Tumbledown Barn near Oundle

Oil on Board, 10x12 inches

I spotted this glorious old barn with its collapsed roof and just a few orange tiles clinging stoically to the timbers. With a lovely cumulus-clouded sky with blue patches as a backdrop and lots of Hogweed and a broken gate, I couldn't resist painting it. I moved a few things around for the sake of the composition, like shifting the gate to the right and making it a little smaller so not to dominate, and bringing in the distant fields to give a sense of depth, but really it was a perfect subject.

Thursday, 26 June 2014

Scarlet Meadow

Oil on Board, 10 x 14 inches

What artist can resist a field of Poppies? Their bright scarlet colour just stirs the soul. This painting is actually an amalgam from three photographs. The view is from the top of our village cricket field and the poppies and field margin are from a field towards Barrowden. I know some of you like to see the stages of a painting, so I took a few as I progressed:
Stage 1 and I scrubbed in the basic tones with very thin paint, diluted a little with white spirit, and put a wash of neutral grey over the sky.
Stage 2 and I painted in the sky, partly from photos and partly from the sky outside my studio.
Stage 3 and I painted in the backdrop of distant trees and fields and established the darkest bluish tones of the mid-distant trees.
Stage 4 and I painted in the lighter tones of the trees with my 1" household brush, then put in the line of Poppies. Then I continued to refine the near tree on the left and added a few more details on some Poppies, using a palette knife, then dragged in some layers of paint to establish the grasses of the field margin, as can be seen in the finished painting at the top.

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Oxford Canal Wharf, circa 1968

Monochromatic watercolour on cheap school paper, 15.5 x 18.5 inches

I went down memory lane yesterday in my home town of Banbury, looking for my haunts from childhood by the river at Grimsbury where we lived. I found it, but it had changed almost beyond recognition. The shallows where Graham Hale, Paul Humphries, Nick Batley and I would catch tiddlers was now much deeper, and access was almost impossible.
But driving over the canal bridge towards Grimsbury sparked a memory...I remember going out with the school and painting by the wharf in Banbury and being less than interested, as can be seen with the rather sloppy reflections and sloping buildings!  However, the painting survived and I dug it out this morning, so here it is, purely as an historical piece. I was far more interested at the time, aged 14, in painting Jackie Stewart, Graham Hill and Jim Clark racing, or painting birds and animals, until landscape painting enchanted me, 15 years later.

Friday, 20 June 2014

Breezy Day at Cotterstock

Oil on Board, 9x12 inches

With so much going on lately, I somehow managed to get this painting done today. It's the River Nene a few miles from my studio by the village of Cotterstock (isn't that just a beautiful name?) just outside Oundle.

There was a brisk, warm breeze blowing which provided a lively sky of broken clouds and the partly disturbed surface on the water. The distant trees were partly in shadow and partly in full sun, giving a pleasing arrangement of blues and greens.

I painted the water by dragging a soft brush over the top of the underpaint with a darker grey/blue to simulate that effect of wind breaking up the surface, and then a few spots of pure white gently dabbed on with the tip of the palette knife to add those touches of sunlight sparkles.

Thursday, 12 June 2014

PB Masterclass!

Luggers Hall, Oil on Board, 12x17 inches SOLD

Yesterday, I painted this en plein air piece as a grandly entitled 'Masterclass', in front of a very appreciative audience as part of Broadway's Arts Festival. This was at the beautiful home of Kay and Red Haslam, formerly owned by Alfred Parsons, the famous Victorian Royal Acadamy artist, who along with other famous artists such as Frank Millet and John Singer Sargent lived in Broadway in the latter part of the 19th and early part of the 20th century.

We were wonderfully looked after and plied with tea, coffee, biscuits, sandwiches and cake by the lovely Kay and willing friends.

The painting itself was a quite a challenge for me, not generally known for my architectural pieces - I leave that to the genius that is 'Pete the Street', whilst I stick to my default subject of rivers and streams, thus my epithet 'Pete the Stream' - doesn't quite have the same ring to it does it!

The day was bright, but mostly cloudy with the sun occasionally bursting through, so the changing light was not too much of a problem - always the bain of the plein air painter. Perspective was much more of a problem to get right with this subject, never quite so paramount with painting rivers. The gravelled path provided a nice 'lead-in', but I think feels a bit empty, so I may well add a figure in the studio, together with a few finishing touches, to be posted soon.

In the meantime, here are a few pics, courtesy of Amanda Noott, of yours truly beavering away in the heat:


Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Masterclass at Broadway ALERT!

For anyone interested, I am taking part in the biennial Broadway Arts Festival, celebrating some of the great artists who painted in this lovely English village, including the celebrated John Singer Sargent. I shall be demonstrating at Luggers Hall, painting in the beautiful garden there. Tickets are £30, including refreshments and light lunch, and numbers are strictly limited to 20 people. I believe some are still available, so waste not any more time, check for details and go to Peter Barker Masterclass

Monday, 9 June 2014

Patchings Festival ends!

Well, it's another half year gone, and Patchings Festival is over again. Lovely to meet so many folks there, and thank you all for your very kind comments. Above are two photos I took at the end of day three, showing my stall with 30 of my paintings on show.

I managed to paint three new paintings during the festival, in between chatting to so many people, and here they are:
 Moor Lane after Heavy Rain, Oil on Board, 7.5 x 10 ins

I took a photo of this view in between my village and the next after a really heavy downpour last week, and felt it would make a good painting, with plenty of recession provided by the blues of the distant trees beyond the railway bridge. Painting the road was almost akin to painting a river, with plenty of greeninsh reflections.
Sharp Evening Light, Eyebrook Reservoir, 
Oil on Board, 9 x 12 inches

I particularly enjoyed this one, again basing it on a recent photo. I accentuated the light on the water, aided by my memory - a photo never quite captures the sheer intensity of light without bleaching out all detail. Using a well-loaded brush, I dragged pure Titanium White across the tacky underpainting to assimilate the broken light on the water - the sort of passge I love to depict.  The sheep were added for a bit of life and scale.

The Staffs and Worcs Canal, Oil on Board, 9x12 inches

I painted this one on the last day, and it was a joy to paint the shadows on the water and the varying degrees of light on the Cow Parsley adorning the bank. The temptation is always to paint white flowers with white paint, but they are only white where the sun is shining on them, just to the left of the towpath in the upper section where the path turns left. Even here, the colour was modified with a little greenish hue, but elsewhere, the tone was surprisingly dark on the pallette, but appeared very light against the dark of the water. It's all about careful observation and that's the key to producing a convincing painting, one that 'reads' right.

I managed to have a quick chat and a gander at David Curtis's paintings that he brought along in his tent when he did a demo on Saturday.  As ever, David provides, for me, the absolute benchmark for artist like myself to aspire to, and his paintings are intoxicating.  I can't wait to have some of his work in our new gallery in Uppingham, news of which soon...

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Patchings Art Festival

Just a reminder to all you art-lovers - it's the annual Art Festival at Patchings Art Centre at Calverton in Nottinghamshire, from Thursday 5th to Sunday 8th June this week. For more details, click on this link: Patchings Festival

I shall be demonstrating in the painting marquee and you'll find my stand next door to my mate Haidee-Jo Summers, right next to the entrance to the materials marquee. Stop by and make yourself known to me as one of my Blog followers - you'll find I'm still just as approachable as I was before megastardom enveloped me...

Thursday, 29 May 2014

May Breeze

Oil on Board, 6x8 inches

Up to my eyeballs framing paintings this week, but somehow squeezed this one out yesterday morning. It's the River Welland on Stamford Meadows, with the hawthorn in fall bloom. 

Most of this little painting was completed with my 1" household brush, save for the dark tree bows on the left and the water. The suggestion of the breeze ruffling the water was done by placing in the tree reflections, then dragging a reasonably well-loaded brush across with a light sky colour, because that, of course, is what happens when the wind blows across water - the mini-peaks created reflect the sky instead of the trees, until calm is restored and the tree reflections are restored.

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Receding Tide, Mousehole

Oil on Board, 10x14 inches

I painted this oil as a demonstration painting to the Victory Painting group at Lower Penn near Wolverhampton last week, and managed to finish it off yesterday in the studio. 

Boats with red buoys make very colourful subjects, and with a lively sky, this was a gorgeous subject, especially with the low tide exposing the weed and detritus on the harbour floor beneath the water.  I had fun painting the green exposed weed and wet mud, using my palette knife, not an implement I use very freely, but it is perfect for depicting mud and such-like of harbours and estuaries.

Life is incredibly hectic at the moment, painting frames, getting stuff ready for the patchings Art Festival next week, 5-8th June, and the little matter of planning our new gallery, of which more news very soon.

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Across the Welland Valley

 Oil on Board, 6x8 inches

I was determined to paint something en plein air today, after a disastrous morning yesterday, when I ended up scraping and wiping the painting I was doing by the River Welland. This morning was better, despite an incredibly changing sky and the consequent lighting conditions. I painted in the landscape, leaving the sky till last to get the optimum lighting when the sun shone and lit up the side of the church and the tall mid-distant trees.

Sunday, 18 May 2014

Bumble-Bee update...

Photo taken today, you can see that the entrance to the nest has been nearly sealed and the workers are gathered around the roof of the box.  I think the nest inside has grown so large that the bees can hardly get in - compare this photo to the one taken on Wednesday 14th and you can see the difference to the hole. It will be interesting to see what happens in the next few days and weeks.  Watch this space for the next episode...

Saturday, 17 May 2014

Down by the River

Oil on Board, 6 x 8 inches

Got this little painting completed this afternoon. It's on the River Welland, on a favourite bend where it turns around the Sallow in the centre here and traverses across the shallows, where, in high summer, I love to get into the river and feel at one with nature. The current is strong, but being only about 18 inches deep, it's a joy to wade through and feel the ice-cold water.
You can just make out the river-bed where I've denoted it with a few orangey-brown streaks in the water and the Duckweed in the right foreground. Right up my street in terms of subject matter, and so reminiscent of my childhood down by the River Cherwell in Banbury. Happy days with my mates, catching Minnows and Sticklebacks and Bullheads in our hands by lowering our fingers into the water gently. Bullheads, rather ugly looking brown bottom-feeders, are also called Miller's Thumb because of the gnarled look about them.