Sunday, 2 August 2015

The Glassy Nene

Oil on Board, 10 x 14 inches

I found this on a shelf the other day - it was a demo I did sometime last year, to whom I can't remember, but it was worth tickling it somewhat, so here's the finished result.

It's the River Nene (pronounced Neen or Nen, depending where you come from) near Peterborough in April. The obvious focal point is the lone Sheep that had come down for a drink, but hopefully, the eye travels on a slow journey along the glassy expanse of water, around the bend and back through the blue gap in the trees on the right to the Sheep.


Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Beer Barrels, Buckets, Buoys and Boats

Oil on Canvas 18 x 26 inches

The first 'biggy' for my solo show in Devon, this one was all about colour and light and tone...but then isn't every painting? Yes, answering my own question, but this has a lot of colour in it, with some rich crimsons, yellows, blues and greens - much more so than in my default landscapes.

Despite no human activity, there was a lot going on in the picture, with all the fishermen's nets, buckets, barrels, buoys, boats and pots scattered to form a perfect composition. The old rubber conveyor belt was placed nicely to provide a 'lead-in' to the red boat and let the eye roam around the the other vessels and back to the clutter in the foreground.

There were quite a few little cameos of light - the bright white light on the left-side of the red boat, the sunlit boat rails, the pinging sunlight on the up-turned yellow boat in the foreground and the beautiful crimson light shining through the plastic of the foreground crate. All great fun to paint and 'hooks' for a painter.

Sunday, 26 July 2015

Golden Downhill Sunset

Oil on Board, 9 x 12 inches

I painted this one in a corner of the gallery, and found at the end of the day after going to switch off the painting light (two 4ft 5400k tubes) that I hadn't had it on! So, I had painted it under the much warmer 4000k gallery lights, and thus had compensated for the warmer tones by painted everything bluer than it should have been, grrrr! So, back in the studio, I repainted the whole thing to get the much redder, richer tone of sunset to the painting.

The view is one near the studio, looking down a steep hill and I loved the rhythm of the zig-zag pattern of hills, which I've painted before, but never at sunset.  

Depicting sunsets is always a challenge in trying to capture that beautiful warm, golden glow that bathes the landscape. To achieve this, the darks of the trees all have a reddish/purple tone to them, and the distant bank of trees on the horizon takes on a golden red, rather than the bluish tone of distance when the sun isn't so close to the horizon. Again, at the risk of being repetitive, all the tones, dark and light, were mixed with varying amounts of my three primaries, Cadmium Yellow Light, Permanent Rose and Cobalt Blue.

Thursday, 23 July 2015

Welland Willows

Oil on Board, 10 x 14 inches

This was another demo piece I did for the Bawtry Art Society a few months back. Having dug it out, I worked quite a bit more on it to bring it up to exhibition standard.

A few people have seen it and have thought they knew where the scene is, but all have been wrong!  it's actually the River Welland near the village of Harringworth and right behind me was the giant viaduct.

I liked the classical meandering river acting as a convenient 'lead-in' to the picture, with a strong vertical of the willow on the left, and echoed by the three trees on the right - note the irregular spacing o as not to appear too regimented and unsettling. In the sunlit field in the distance, I placed a few sheep as a nice focal point for the eye to rest after traversing the river banks.

After the first 8 weeks of the gallery being opened, and the response has been brilliant, it has been great to be back in the saddle again, with paintbrush in hand. Time is running away with me, with about 15 paintings to do for my solo show in Devon, two more for the RSMA exhibition, and three more for the ROI, gulp...

Monday, 6 July 2015

Eye Brook to the Lake

Oil on Board, 12 x 17 inches

This was the demonstration I did last Thursday in the gallery...which gallery I hear you ask? Peter Barker Fine Art gallery of course, as if you didn't know.

With a massive crowd of 6 people at any one time, I thought I would paint this view of the Eye Brook as it runs into the Eyebrook Reservoir just up the road from the gallery in Uppingham. The river course provides a useful 'lead-in' to the picture plane, with the old Willow off-centre to break up the monotony of the largely horizontal composition. Making sure I captured the distant tree line in much paler blue-grey tones gave depth and the illusion of distance to the painting. 

I might just tweak it here and there once it has been languishing on a shelf in the studio, but I really must crack on with more work for my Devon exhibition and some paintings to submit to the RSMA and ROI exhibitions - no peace for the wicked...

Saturday, 20 June 2015

May Burst

Oil on Board, 12 x 17 inches

Rarer than hens' teeth, a new Peter Barker painting - can you believe it? Well, the new gallery has taken up a lot of my time lately and it has gone superbly well, and if you haven't seen it yet, take a look at the website at Peter Barker Fine Art

However, with my own solo show in Devon in November, and with a lot of paintings to do, I have GOT to get down to it.

This one is a view as I drive to the gallery each morning, looking across the Welland valley of the Rutland countryside.  Using a heavily-textured board, I was able to suggest the broken effect of the rape-seed fields luminous yellow, just as the flowers were going over. Using some artistic licence I put some cow Parsley in the foreground in order to create some extra depth to the composition, with the effect of looking over a hedge, which is exactly what I was doing! 

Apart from the glorious May blossoms breaking out across the valley, with the Hawthorns picked out with shafts of sunlight, the hook for the painting was that beautiful white cloud against a dark sky - that fleeting light effect that can disappear in seconds.  Yum-yum!

Saturday, 30 May 2015

Gallery Pics

Here are just a few pics of the gallery the night before and during the opening last weekend, just to give a flavour of how it all looked, but of course, the only way to REALLY comprehend the dazzling talent we have, expressed in the superb two-dimensional paintings on the wall, is to pay us a visit! 

I truly believe we have the best selection of what Inspector Grimm in the Thin Blue Line 
would say is non airy-fairy, arty-farty, namby-pamby, hoity-toity art in the land - absolutely no fannying-about!

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Gallery Launch

Here are a few photos of the gallery hang in progress...

We are thrilled skinny to announce that the Peter Barker Fine Art gallery is FINALLY opening its doors to the world with an official opening next weekend, from 9am-5pm on Saturday 23rd May, 10am-4pm on Sunday 24th and 9am-5pm on Bank Holiday Monday 25th, so please come along and have a glass of something and view what we’re confident in saying is a truly breath-taking selection of wonderful paintings on the gallery walls by 32 hand-picked artists. See the gallery website for details at

Hope to see some of you over the long weekend!

Saturday, 16 May 2015

Demo and Gallery!

We are not quite ready for the grand opening of the new gallery - we've had a lot of teething problems, with seemingly everything going against us one way or another, but we're getting ever closer and will be hanging in earnest over the weekend, then just 190 labels to type out, print and put up....

We've been overwhelmed with all the positive thoughts and good wishes from all our artist exhibitors, so really can't wait now to actually unveil them all - we've got an almost unbelievable array of talented artists from across the country, hand-picked from painting friends and revered colleagues. For now, just take a look at the website at  .....but very, very soon at the paintings in real life!

I truly believe we must have one of the best collections of fine artists in the country, and possibly the best line-up for an opening of a brand new gallery.

Will post some pics over the weekend.

In the meantime, here's a demo painting I did yesterday for the lovely people of Maulden art Group. Hadn't touched a brush in over two weeks, so felt a bit ring-rusty to start.  This is it in its raw state, without any tweaking at home, but will post a finished version soon, when more brush time allows!

Sunday, 26 April 2015

March Evening, Beer

Oil on Board, 9 x 12 inches

Painted from reference last month when dropping off some paintings to Marine House Gallery in Beer, with the sun going down over the great chalk cliffs on the right. The assortment of fishing vessels always provide great painting subjects, together with all the bins, nets and gubbins strewn over the shingle beach. I particularly liked the bright lemon yellow Fairy Liquid bottle (other brands are available) in the foreground, which I moved to the right a little for the sake of composition - not to unsettle the eye, being in the centre of the picture plane.

The red top-lit clouds provided a nice echo to the red boat, with the strong dark cliffs accentuating their colour and giving a good anchor and balance to the L-shaped composition.  

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Spring Meadows

 Oil on Board, 7.5 x 10 inches

I painted this one en plein air on Monday morning, but what with the new gallery stuff taking up my time, I've only just managed to tinker with it in the studio and finish it off to satisfaction - probably tinkered a bit too much, but that's me!

Here's a few stages taken on site:
The initial scrub-in as I call it, just plotting the main shapes and basic undertones in diluted, thin, turpsy paint.
Now a little more definition using white in all the mixes, apart from the darks of the hedgerow, ready for lighter tones to be added.
As far as I got in the two hours before the light changed too much, but the basics dealt with. I just refined everything a little and toned down that cloud, making it a little pinker which is how I remembered it. It's never easy painting with full sunlight on the board, and harder still when the sun turns around and the light falls across, showing every contour of the surface.

But, it was a joyous experience, being serenaded by Buzzards pewing, Magpies chattering, Chiff-Chaffs chiff-chaffing, lambs bleating, Weasels scampering and the general glorious cacophony of birdsong.

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 CafĂ© 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