Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Five New Old Paintings

I re-visited these five paintings after finding them languishing in the hidden depths of the spare bedroom after having a tidy-up. 
Vintage Car Rally, Stamford, Pastel, 121/4 x 181/2  inches
This is a Pastel I painted five or six years ago from a snap I took at a vintage car rally in Stamford.  I've added a figure walking on the bridge to push the eye back into the picture, and a few Mallards dabbling in the sparkling water.  The real inspiration for this picture was the dazzling light bouncing off the green tent in the background - I just love the way light plays on certain objects and partially diffuses things around them.  The heads of the people was good fun to paint too, with a halo of light on each one, that effect you get when looking into the light - you all know by now that that's my favourite.  

Padstow Harbour, Pastel 15 x 23 inches

 With fresh eyes, I realised I had painted the bottom half of the sky too bright, so I toned it down a shade to give more impact to the pure sunlight glinting off the water.  Pure sunlight bouncing off water always appears brighter than the sky above it, apart from the sun itself, so I think the painting has more punch now.

 Hauling-in, Cromer Beach 
Watercolour 14 x 21 inches

I painted this Watercolour, yes, Watercolour, way back in 1988 - 24 years ago when I was but a young buck of 34.  The sky was accurate, very light and very well painted, though I say so myself, but it was terribly dull and lifeless and hardly surprisingly, didn't sell.  So, having re-stretched the paper by soaking the back and taping it all round with gummed tape, I decided to open my shoulders and let myself loose with a big mop brush.  I wetted the paper and flooded varying washes mixed with Cadmium Yellow Light, Permanent Rose and Ultramarine Blue, carrying on the washes over the sea and wet sand, using more red and yellow further down.  I lost control a bit, but having not done a Watercolour for three years at least, it was inevitable, but good fun nonetheless.

Evening Sunlight, Halvergate Marshes
Pastel 14 x 21 inches

Halvergate Marshes are in Suffolk, and I went there after seeing Gordon Beningfield's paintings of the area in his superb books on the countryside.  

Stupidly, I forgot to photograph this one before I put it back in its frame, so the photo doesn't do it justice and it looks a lot better than here, the darks being much less saturated.  I didn't do much to the actual painting, just a little more pigment on and around the sun itself.  When I painted this about 20 years ago, I was using hard Pastels on Canson paper, but now I use very soft Pastels on Clairefontaine Pastelmat, the combination giving a much richer feel to the finished painting, more Oil-like.  But the addition of the Schminke and Sennelier brand light pigments helped give this painting more impact. 

I actually did more work on the frame which was a gaudy, burnished gold colour.  I painted it with Farrow & Ball 'Mizzle', a pale grey-green colour, then when fully dry, rubbed over the high points with a medium-grade wire wool, exposing the 'high' points, then waxed it with neutral Liberon Fine Paste wax before buffing.  I love the finish I got and it gives a more 'contemporary' feel to the painting.  I hate the word contemporary when it comes to a painting - it's almost invariably a euphamism for a talentless daub, but I do like a lot of modern frames.  Here's a photo of my handywork anyway:

Sunlit Willow, Pastel 10 x 14 inches

I also forgot to photograph this one before putting it behind glass, so again it's not a great photo of it.

I painted this one back in the early '90's, again on Canson paper.  I totally changed it, depicting a darker, brooding sky, with the silver-tipped Willow set against it and darker Oaks pitched against the lighter part of the sky.


  1. Peter nice to hear from you once more. How on earth do you manage such fine detail in pastel.The watercolour of Cromer Beach has a wonderful atmosphere and I love how the sand looks so wet. Hope the sun shines for you at the weekend in your village and you have a good turnout. Ve

    1. I'm just very clever Ve! I just put it on till it looks right. I quite enjoyed the Cromer beach watercolour - I'm a bit out of practice, but look forward to doing more. Thanks for your thoughts Ve!

  2. Good reading Peter and lovely paintings. Love the watercolour especially. Good paragraph on fettling a gold frame. Thats brill. I must ask you more about the method. Best Regards

    1. Thanks Trevor - not in your class mate! Ask away about the frame - send me an email.

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  4. Hi Peter
    I'm new to this type of communicating so I hope my message is appropriate for this forum! My husband turns 60 very soon and fell in love with your works at an exhibition in a gallery in Woodstock, I would love to buy him one of your original paintings but where is the best place to go to see them. Thank you

    1. Hello Anonymous. Thank you for your kind words and enquiry. If you would like to email me at peter_barker@tiscali.co.uk with an idea of what sort of subject you are looking for, I can point you in the right direction. Regards, Peter


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