Monday, 24 July 2017

Sparkling Early Light, Portree Harbour


Oil on Canvas, 18 x 26 inches

We went to the isle of Skye last May, and on several mornings I went down to Portree harbour, where the wonderful weather provided a wealth of painting material, and this is the result of one of those mornings, the obvious hook being that beautiful light bouncing off the water  - just gorgeous!

Painting the smaller boats against the light was reasonably straightforward, but as I always say in my demos, you cannot tell whether the colour and tone you put down initially is right, until you put down the adjacent colour and tone next to it. Similarly in this case, where the colour next to the boats was almost pure Titanium White, it was not easy to judge the boat colours until that light passage was placed next to them. Some adjustment had to be made, so that the boats didn't look 'stuck on', or not really sitting on the water. 

The spots of pure, reflected sunlight were the main problem near the end of the painting. Placing spots of pure white doesn't quite work - theylook like spots of white stuck on, not blinding sunlight sparkles. To achieve the glare, so that the onlooker almost feels he should put sunglasses on, requires a bit of an orange halo placed on the water first, smudged slightly to imitate a star-like flare. Then, when that was tacky (not long, maybe half-an-hour with fast-drying Alkyds), I dabbed on thick, impasto spots of pure Titanium White in the middle of the halos. 

This one is going into the RSMA Exhibition in October.

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Sunlit Boat and Mud

Pastel on Clairefontaine Pastelmat, 13 x 19 inches

I painted this one at Patchings Festival on the last day, when I was one of the guest artists. I finished it off in the studio today.

the gorgeous receding light on the boat was the initial hook for the painting, but the gorgeous, squelchy mud with puddles of water with reflected blue sky, complemented it perfectly. With the posts in the foreground at jaunty angles, the composition was complete.

The Pastel medium seemed an obvious choice and I think it worked quite well, getting down the elements fairly quickly.

Blinding Light, Brancaster Staithe

 Oil on Board, 10 x 17 inches

I painted this one as a demo to the Castor and Ailsworth Society of Art last Thursday, then finished it off at Patchings Art Festival on Sunday morning. 

The photo below shows the painting as it was after the two hours allotted for the demo, and above the finished article. Really, with such bright light bouncing off the mud (one of my favourite subjects to paint), the painting was an exercise in recognising relative tones. The sky was obviously very bright, but a tone down from the reflected sunlight, and everything else - the distant trees, buildings, banks, mid-distant trees, post, boats and mussel bags, were all progressively darker. 

The initial hook for the painting, apart from that pure sunlight on the mud, was the halo effect of Viridian green on the top of the colourful bags of mussels. And I never tire of trying to capture that transition of the pure sunlight and the darker tones next to it - just so exciting to depict!

Thursday, 6 July 2017

Banks of the Nene

Oil on Board, 10 x 17 inches

Here's another demo painting I did a while back, again with a panoramic shape on a 10 x 17 board. It's a view of the River Nene near Waternewton just outside Peterborough. The Nene is pronounced Neen the nearer you are to Northampton and Nen by the Peterborough locals.

Looking into the sunlight, the trees were almost in silhouette, with just a few halos of light round their edges. Capturing the intense light the eye sees when looking directly into the sunlight is never easy with mere paint, so I introduced a few clouds with pure white edges to emphasise the light - just about pulled it off I hope!

The Oak by the Canal

Oil on Board, 10 x 17 inches

I did this painting as a demo to the Napton Art Group, choosing to do a local landscape of the area, in this case the Oxford Canal near Lower Shuckburgh. I liked the barns in the distance on the left, and the towpath on the right, so opted for this panoramic-shaped board.

The big Oak is a little centred, and in fact I painted out some of the tree on the left to balance it a little. The banked hedgerow on the right stopped the eye flying out of the picture, and the main hook to the painting was the lovely ochrey reflections in the disturbed water, so redolent of canals. 

I spent a lot of my childhood by the Oxford Canal at Bodicote, fishing for Roach and Gudgeon, so the area has happy memories for me.

Thursday, 22 June 2017

Swans by the River Coln

Oil on Board, 9 x 13 inches

This one is another verdant landscape, with a mass of May blossom on the hawthorn bushes. Painting white blossom is always a challenge, especially when there is a strong light as there was here. I used my 1" household decorator's brush, firstly placing the dark green foliage, then layering the blossom on top with a light touch, in varying shades of white and mauve and all subtle variations in between, depending on how much the particular bit was in shadow.

The Swans just happened to be in the right spot, acting as a stopper to prevent the eye shooting out of the picture.

Thursday, 8 June 2017

Mellow Windrush

Oil on Board, 7.5 x 10 inches

Another Cotswold-themed painting, this time of the River Windrush near Burford, where the river winds its way through meadows to Swinbrook.

The day was not sunny, so all the tones were somewhat close, and I had to pay special attention to the subtle shifts of colour. 

The pink Willowherb provided a nice touch of colour, and the Thistle seed-heads, which I always think look like the old-fashioned shaving brushes, are always fun to paint, and I suggested the whispy seeds just flying off in the breeze.

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Sherborne Park

Oil on Board, 10 x 17 inches

Another Cotswold painting, this time one of the glorious landscape of Sherborne Park Estate, where this year's Springwatch programme is based.

I felt a panoramic-shaped board would suit the composition, with the Sherborne brook transversing the meadows, with the little weir in the foreground, the white water punctuating the predominantly green landscape. The cattle on the left in the sunlit patch of meadow were perfectly placed for a bit of interest in the distance.

Friday, 2 June 2017

Sunset over the Windrush

Oil on Board, 12 x 17 inches

Another Cotswold painting, this time the River Windrush near Swinbrook, East of Burford, one of my favourite stretches of water. The water always seems to have a slightly milky effect to it, with a tint of blue in it, too.

I used a little artistic license with this one, introducing a sunset sky onto a fairly dull light effect, adjusting the tones of the trees and vegetation accordingly.

Thursday, 1 June 2017

Upper Slaughter

Oil on Linen Canvas, 20 x 28 inches

One of the chocolate-box villages in the Cotswolds, I painted this view of Upper Slaughter in all its verdant, Summer glory. I was lucky that the woman was posing on the bridge, with a lovely, backlit halo around her dark hair and sunlit highlights on her arms. The ancient cottages also provided a nice foil to the abundance of greens in the trees and bankside vegetation. The River Eye and the path, of course, were convenient 'lead-ins' to the composition, with the dark shadowed side of the bridge the darkest dark in the painting.

 

Thursday, 25 May 2017

The Oxford Canal

Oil on Board, 10 x 14 inches

I did this as a demo painting last week at Napton-on-the-Hill, and I took a few photos of the local landscape having got there early, so opted to paint this view of the Oxford Canal.

The big Oak tree provided a perfect focal point with its ochrey reflections in the canal. Canals invariably have these tainted, or tinted reflections because the mud at the bottom is constantly stirred up by the narrowboats traversing back and forth.

The little brown dots in the water are not paint slashes - they are the little ducklings which were everywhere, with their tiny outboard motors whizzing about like toys.

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Cattle by the Windrush

Oil on Board, 7.5 x 10 inches

This was an entirely studio painting after a trip to Burford in the Cotswolds last year. Just about every time I've been there, it's been dull with no sunshine, so no sparkling water or sharp contrasts in this painting. But dull days have a certain charm and the true colours of the trees and banks of vegetation are revealed, so special attention must be paid to accurately convey the subtle colour changes.

The sound of Raasay

 Oil on Board, 9 x 12 inches

This started out as a plein air painting I did almost exactly a year ago on the Isle of Skye, when the temperatures were in the mid to high 20s! This was probably the most problematic painting I've done on the spot, with the light changing almost every second. First of all it was sunny, then the clouds tumbled over and the sky became grey and the distant mountains were lost, so I faded them out, then the sun came out again and the sea turned blue again. Having left the painting with a grey sea and dull, formless headland, I tickled it up in the studio and painted over it again and made the sea blue and some gorgeous cast shadows, and painted out the clouds! Talk aout artistic license!

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Late in the Day, Brancaster Staithe

Oil on Board, 12 x 17 inches

I originally posted this painting back on 3rd October - I did it as a demo painting at the Mall Galleries during the RSMA Exhibition last year. I felt it needed a bit of tidying-up, so set about just that in the studio.

I put a little more warmth in the sky, reminiscent of a November afternoon, then worked over the entire painting with some more subtle colour/tone shifts. Wet mud is always a challenge to tackle, especially with low winter sunlight bouncing off it, with lots of jewels of light here and there. Much of the this was done with the palette knife, dragged across the sticky, drying paint underneath.

This painting, along with 'Moorings at Thornham', my last post, are going into the RSMA’s 2017 out of London exhibition, at the Barn Gallery at Patchings Art Centre. The show starts this coming Saturday with a Private View from 11am to 1pm, then continues until 25th June, open 9am - 5pm daily. It will be a great show with work by the best of Marine artists on display.

Sunday, 30 April 2017

Moorings at Thornham

Oil on Board, 10 x 14 inches

This was a demo painting I did at the Peterborough Arts Society a few weeks ago, finished off in the studio. It's going into the Royal Society of Marine Artists Exhibition at the lovely Barn Gallery, Patchings Art Centre, from 13th May - 25th June.

I wasn't sure that this would make a great painting, but having worked on it and judging by the reaction on Facebook, maybe it would have made a big painting! I certainly enjoyed painting the glistening mud at low-tide, especially the darker reflections beneath the boats and the gorgeous purple/grey cast shadows. Bits like these are really the fun part of a painting - the posts and masts, rigging and rails on the boats are a bit of a trudge quite honestly, but then when you move on to these most important incidentals, you can use the palette knife to describe the dark mud in the shadows, and they can really make the painting.