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!

Tuesday, 6 January 2015

Willow Spotlight

Oil on Board, 10 x 14 inches

I liked the light of this subject, predominantly in shade, with a few spotlights from the early morning sunshine picking out the Willows' branches. I particularly liked the orangey-red of the top of the Willow in the back centre of the composition. It's never easy to stop the eye whizzing out of the picture when following a river, but nature provided an old, fallen tree on the right bak to poke the eye back again.

Most of the tree work was done with my 1" household brush, layering subtle colours and tones on top of each other to give that sense of depth, with a few soft strokes of a more heavily loaded brush dragged over for the highlighted tracery.

I went out on Sunday morning, opting for taking some photos of the sun rising through the morning fog and frost, rather than a round of golf, and had a great time drinking in the atmosphere and watching the birds. Goldfinches were busily teasing out the seeds from the heads of the abundant Burdocks, a pair of, arguably, England's most spectacularly beautiful birds, male Bullfinches, were hopping along a hedgerow, keeping just ahead of me, and a three or four of the country's smallest bird, Goldcrests, were busying about amongst a thicket of brambles, with their tiny, mouse-like seeps calling out.

I stopped off at a local wood on the way home, where a stand of Beech trees was alive with Blue and Great Tits, all feeding amid the lush carpet of fallen leaves and Beech mast. It's great to be at one with nature sometimes - just to stop and watch as our fellow creatures go about their business of staying alive.

In sharp contrast, I watched a short video and made a donation to PETA, who do stirling work to promote the ethical treatment of animals. This film shows the bloody hell of a Chinese slaughterhouse, where, one after another, dogs who have been bred or stolen, are pushed into a room and are clubbed to death, or near death, before being skinned for making leather goods. It's sickening and harrowing, but needs to be watched. It was my birthday three days ago, and it would be a wonderful present if some of you would consider donating to PETA, whether you can stomach watching this gruesome short film or not. Here's the link:

Thursday, 1 January 2015

Sunlit Trees

Oil 6 x 8 inches

My last painting of 2014, painted en plein air on the last day of the year in freezing temperatures, unusually for me with the sun behind me. Thought I'd catch the last of the frost on the reeds before this warmer weather has hit us again. 

Painting outside on site has its downsides - no comfortable heated studio with reference material that doesn't change with the movement of the sun, with all the gubbins needed for painting spread around - but nothing quite has the excitement of painting directly from the subject. I can't pretend it's easy though, because the lighting of the subject does change considerably over the period of a painting, no matter how slick you are. In this painting, the dead vegetation dripping into the water in the right foreground was darker than the bank behind it when I started, but I opted to make it lighter with the sun shining on it, as it was at the end of the painting. Also, the patches of blue frost had completely disappeared when I'd finished, but I liked the contrast they provided in an otherwise brown painting, so I popped them in. The whole exercise was doubly challenging because having got my whole kit set-up and started painting, I realised I hadn't brought my little tin for cleaning the brushes in White I had to use only the tiny dipper, which was awkward to say the least!

Anyway, I'd like to sincerely thank all of you who have followed my Blog in 2014 showing my paintings and ramblings, and especially if you've gone to the trouble of leaving comments - it's always much appreciated, and even more so if you're one of the lovely people who have bought my work and kept me off the streets! 

2015 will be a very exciting new year with a major project coming to fruition - more of that in a while... In the meantime, thank you again for looking in and may I wish you a Happy New Year!

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

2015 Calendar!

I have a limited number of 2015 Calendarsfor sale at £12.50 including postage and packing. As the shop page of my website is misbehaving at the moment, if any of you would like to buy a calendar, please email me by clicking HERE, and say whether you would prefer to pay by credit or debit card via Paypal, or send me a cheque. 

The layout looks like this, with 12 seasonal images, and the size of the calendar is 8.5" x 11", or twice that opened out for each month, looking like this:

Friday, 12 December 2014

Oak Shadow

Oil on Board, 10x14 inches

Here's a snowy painting, upon request from Iona House Gallery in Woodstock for their Winter Exhibition next month. 

Painting snow holds great attraction for most artists, me included. It's not that easy to paint either - as I always say in my demos, we all know that snow is white, but to paint an effective and convincing painting, we have to observe both the colour and tone, and that is where so many budding painters fall at the first hurdle. Snow is only white when you look at it face on with the sun shining on it. Otherwise, it only appears white because of its surrounding colours and tones - our brain tells us it's white, even though  a lot of it here is quite a dark blue/mauve colour.

There is actually no pure white at all in the snow in this painting - the only bit of pure white is near the top left, depicting the blinding sun, and even that will appear darker than the surrounding white on your screen! The photo doesn't quite pick up all the colours accurately, but the entire picture was painted with my usual three colours, Cadmium Yellow Light, Permanent Rose and Cobalt Blue, plus Titanium White of course.

A little nuance I did like, was the gorgeous light underside of the big branch in the upper centre of the picture plane, receiving reflected light from the gleaming snow beneath.

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

The Deer Look-Out

Oil on Board, 9 x 12 inches

Well, back to the drawing board, or at least the easel...just as soon as I finished all my framing for my show at John Noott's (see previous post), and basked in the ego-boosting of an exhibition opening, another gallery calls me and asks for some new work for their winter show next month. However, having not painted anything for over four weeks, it was lovely to be putting brush to board again, and despite the inevitable "I wonder if I can still do it" thought, happily, and with a big sigh of relief, I find I CAN still do it....phew.

This one is a December view, at a local woodland called Bedford Purlieus. An odd name, dating back to 1598, when the purlieus was a term for woodland law, and the Bedford bit dates back to when the wood was owned by the Duke of Bedord. The title refers to the look-out partly hidden in the left-centre of the picture, from where observers can see deer beneath, who are unaware of being observed.

Yesterday, it was the annual mecca for oil painters - the opening of the ROI Annual Exhibition at the Mall Galleries. It was a great day, seeing all the great work in the show, and 'talking shop' to painting pals like Haidee Jo Summers, Roy Connelly, Tom Hughes, David Pilgrim, Graham Webber, Gerald Green, Penny German, Hannah Merson, Peter Brown, Trevor Chamberlain, Oliver Bull and David Curtis. The show is on until the 21st December and is well worth a trip, as is my own exhibition at John Noott's of course - on until Christmas Eve!

Friday, 5 December 2014

Solo Exhibition reminder

Please forgive another reminder that my solo exhibition starts tomorrow, Saturday 6th December! I hope to see some of you there. All 41 paintings, 7 of which have already sold, can be seen at Peter Barker Solo Exhibition

Thursday, 4 December 2014

Royal Institute of Oil Painters Annual Exhibition

Fresh Snowfall by the Welland 
Oil on Board, 10x14 inches

Next week, the ROI Annual Exhibition at The Mall Galleries opens on Tuesday 9th with the Private View, and then opens officially to the public on 10th December until 21st December. It's a superb exhibition and represents the cream of painters who use the oil medium. A selection of works can be seen by clicking here.

I have one painting in the show, photo above. Anyone who would like to attend the Private View next Tuesday 9th December, please email me by clicking Email and I will send you an E-invite for you to print off and get in the show FREE.

Saturday, 29 November 2014

Solo Exhibition!

Well, after nearly three weeks of frantic framing, including working until past 3am yesterday morning, finishing off the last few frames ready to deliver the paintings, my solo exhibition at the lovely John Noott Gallery in Broadway, Worcestershire, is now ready! These few above are in the show and all 41 paintings can be seen online on the Gallery website by clicking HERE and the paintings are for sale now.

The exhibition opens next Saturday 6th December, so come along and meet yours truly and have a free glass of wine - that's all that's free mind you - it would be lovely to meet you, especially if you have your credit card with you!  Anyone who would like an illustrated catalogue, please telephone the Gallery on 01386 858436, thank you. The exhibition continues until Christmas Eve.

Sunday, 16 November 2014

World War 1 Memories

Oil on Board, 10 x 15 inches

With all the excellent documentaries and docu-dramas on the telly about the First World War, I thought it would be apropos to post this painting I did way back in the '80's. I set up the still-life with two postcards sent to my nana from my grandad during WW1, together with his war medals. The sepia photograph shows my grandad in his army uniform, and my nana together, Harry and Elizabeth Hutchings.

This was really a labour of love, painting such intricate details in oils, especially the stamp and the writing on the postcard, which reads "Dear Lizzie, This will give you an idea of what our huts are like, of course you can see it is me. With love, Harry" and at the top "I have sent one to Sally", my nana's sister. Just a tiny snapshot of 'normal' life from that very abnormal time.
I know little about my grandad's WW1 experiences, only that he was 30 when he enlisted, and was listed as missing in 1917, but returned home in 1918 and was completely loused up, in the true sense of the word, and when my Uncle Arthur, two years old at the time and having not seen him before, said "what's that" on seeing his father.

It's only now, with my grandad long dead, that I would love to have talked to him at length about his Great War experiences. Like most of the lucky soldiers who lived to tell the tale, he never did speak of it, and being from that austere time, he took his memories to his grave. If only he had written it down. As a boy of course, I had no interest in what he did, but now, as an adult, with the awareness of mortality, I would dearly love to know exactly what he went through in the hell of the trenches. Using the BBC's iwonder link, I hope to find out something of where he went, but nothing will ever come close to hearing the words from my grandad's mouth. A lost memory.

Here's a pencil drawing I did of him back in 1982, from a photograph taken not long before he died.
 Harry Hutchings, born 1884