Monday, 25 February 2013

Built for Dartmoor

Pastel on Pastelcard, 223/4 x 221/2 inches, repainted
First version

I painted this gorgeous little guy back in 2011, but decided to take it out of the frame and repaint it. It didn't seem quite to ring true, having done a portrait of the foal, with all of his body and an ethereal background, so I turned it into a landscape with a foal in it, which I think improves the painting.

This painting, along with five others, will be in an exhibition, 'The Power and the Glory' at the Iona House Gallery in Woodstock, with the champagne reception on Saturday 2nd March between 10am - 5pm

Thursday, 21 February 2013

Sunlit Willow

Oil on Board, 10 x 14 inches

I painted this one as another demonstration piece to an arts group last year and put it to one side, finally finishing it off in the studio today.

As I said in the last post, I love painting frost, almost making the landscape monochromatic.  But this early morning scene was too good to miss, with the low golden sun lighting up in orange the distant willow and uppermost branches of the foreground Oak, everything else in shadow, apart from the distant bank of trees on the right and a patch of sunlit meadow below them.  There was a bush immediately to my left, but I left it out as I felt it would be a little too insistent.  Instead, I put in a few sheep in the distance for a bit of interest and life.  The hint of maroon in the foreground bush were Haw berries and I also put in the few rust-coloured leaves left on the bottom branches of the great Oak with my (new) palette knife, echoing the sunlit Willow.

Burdock and Teasels

Oil on Board, 71/2 x 10 inches  SOLD

I love painting frost, and looking directly into the low winter sun, with broken water below it, throws reflections of intense jewels of light upon it. As I've said before, no paint in the artist's arsenal is bright enough to depict such intensity, so you have to be a bit cunning in attempting to portray it, using touches of yellowy-orange to try and give the illusion you're after.

I chose a spot where last year's Teasels and Burdock seed-heads punched dark spots against the water and haloed globules and egg-shapes against the light frosty vegetation.  The darker Sallows and Willows on the left proved useful to push the eye back into the picture plane and wander over the blue distant banks of trees.

Saturday, 16 February 2013

The Animals went in Two-by-Two

Oil on Board, 6 x 8 inches  SOLD

This is the seventh and last 6 x 8 frisbee required for the Affordable Art Fair next month. 

I liked the counterchange going on here - the light Swans set against the dark water and the darker Greylag Geese set against the light spring grass.  I put the ewe and her lamb to top the triangle with a double counterchange - the lit top edges against the dark backdrop of trees and the dark legs alongside the lit grass - cunning eh.....

Thursday, 14 February 2013

Long Shadows

Oil on Board, 6 x 8 inches  SOLD

Well, I had to paint an Autumn one too!  When the sun shines on Beech Trees, the leaves look like orange and russet jewels, and as well as my 1" household brush, I used a lot of impasto dabs with three palette knives.  

"Three palette knives" I hear you say, with a vision of Edward Scissorhands.....yes, I've lost my favourite very thin knife that I love to use for such dabs and other effects.  So, I was seriously hampered, trying to use inferior wide palette knives.  I think I must have left it in the snow on one of my plein air sessions outside.  So, if you've found it, please hand it in to the nearest police station - no questions asked - you know there's a knife amnesty......

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Article in 'Leisure Painter'

I've just had an article published in the March edition of 'Leisure Painter' magazine, written by Robin Capon, author of over 30 books on art.  Available in all discerning newsagents...

Reflections of Summer

Oil on Board, 6 x 8 incheSOLD

Another green one for the Gallery - seems strange painting a summery one in the depths of winter!  It's funny though, I get so absorbed, I'm actually back there, standing on that river bank on that glorious late summer afternoon.  

I've painted this scene several times, from different angles, times of day and season.  Regular readers of my Blog will know that I like to paint directly into the light, and when you have Lillies or any surface weed on the water, the sunlight bounces of these and they become the brightest lights of the painting..gorgeous....I'm easily pleased!

Monday, 11 February 2013

Sunset Meadows

Oil on Board, 6 x 8 inches  SOLD

My Devon Gallery needs something else apart from snow scenes, so here's today's painting done from a reference photo taken in December a few miles away.

Apart from the obvious stunning sunset sky, what attracted me was the gorgeous glint of orange on the fence wire as it turned around the corner of the foreground hedge. 

Snow Covered Banks

 Oil on Board, 6 x 8 inches  SOLD 

Looking almost directly into the sunlight, I loved the cloud patterns above the distant Willows.  I was going to use a bit of artistic licence and not put in the new bridge spanning the river in the left middle distance, but on reflection, I decided to include it as it broke up the monotonous backdrop of trees.

As I write, another 2 inches of snow has fallen overnight and the land is once more transformed into a white wonderland.  I couldn't bear to live in a land without our seasons, and for a painter, this, right here, is paradise! 


Sunday, 10 February 2013

Willows in the Fog

 Oil on Board, 6 x 8 inches  SOLD

Just a little one today.  I love painting fog - it's deceptively difficult because the tones are so delicate and soft and close. It's actually easier to paint strong, contrasting tones produced by bright sunlight, which is obviously more vibrant and striking; but mist and fog naturally has an ethereal, mysterious, restful quality to it, if the painting is successful of course. 

A watery sun was just breaking through the mist, providing a little focal point left of centre for the eye to bounce off.  The entire painting was done with just three colours plus white, and the sun itself was the brightest light in the painting, using pure Titanium White, and everything else was toned down relative to it.

Friday, 8 February 2013

November by Duddington Bridge

Oil on Board, 10 x 14 inches  SOLD

I painted this one back in November at a workshop, but finished it off today.  

Duddington, a village four miles from my studio, has this ancient arched bridge over the River Welland, where I gain an awful lot of my subject matter for my riverscapes. I've painted the bridge many times, at different times of day and in different seasons and weather.

The crisp morning light lit up the undersides of the arches to provide an obvious focal point, together with the willow on the left, its lit side set against the backdrop of purple-grey trees. The darkest darks are in the right foreground and the little projection of vegetation poking out into the shaft of light on the water.  Careful observation of the relative tones will help give the painting recession and reality if that's what you strive for.  If you're not interested in depicting the fantastic reality of nature out there, it won't help you at all, but then I doubt anyone who isn't will be reading this anyway!

Thursday, 7 February 2013

Snow at Normanton

Oil on Board, 71/2 x 10 inches

Painted this one today in the studio. I would love to have got out more painting en plein air in the snow when we had it, but a lot of boring decorating and moving stuff had to take precedence before the carpets arrived.  However, I always try to attack the painting in the same manner as if I was painting on the spot.

This is the road from Ketton towards Normanton, whose parish now mostly lies at the bottom of Rutland Water (you would have thought they would have told the parishioners first wouldn't you?).   

There is actually no pure white in the painting.  The brightest lights are on the sunlit barn on the left and the stripe of light across the road and onto the snow-covered verge, but for these I mixed a touch of Permanent Rose and Cadmium Yellow Light with Titanium White. It was these very lights and the relatively dark blue sky that attracted me to think the view would make a painting.  It's these relative lights and darks that excite the painter's eye and successful paint-ing is all about putting down those relative tones so that the image reflects a reality, if you are a realist painter that is.

As you may have read before if you're a regular reader of this nonsense - and why wouldn't you be? - I'm at somewhat of a crossroads on this journey of becoming a proper painter, in trying to depict my subjects in a looser manner.  I think I'm getting there; in the big tree on the left I used a Hog brush to describe the feathery branches, but I resorted to my trusty 1" Household paintbrush to describe the hoar-frosted network of tree branches on the right.  Trouble is, using this method with the big brush, my paintings tend to look too 'tight' and resolved...but it's effective, and fast!  Having said that, I love the tree on the left, painted a little more loosely, or at least giving that impression.

Look here, I haven't got time to carry on articulating my deepest painting thoughts to you lot.....I've got to start the next one while you watch telly and enjoy yourselves.  Cheerio for now.

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Sunlight Reflection

Oil on Board, 71/2 x 10 inches  SOLD 

This is another studio painting done from reference photographs taken on the day I painted 'First Snow of Winter' (15th January Post) en plein air.  

Inevitably, this one is a little 'tighter', with the comfort of the studio allowing longer consideration of technique to produce a more resolved painting. Painting 'looser' is a constant battle for me, and I really should set myself a certain number of hours to paint a picture, depending on its acreage.  Out in 'the raw', you have no choice - time is of the essence and you are forced to work quickly, getting the important elements down without prevarication.

Right, on to the next....

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Autumn Light

Oil on board, 10 x 14 inches  SOLD

This one is obviously a studio painting.  In fact it started out as a demo painting to an art group last year and I've finally got round to finishing it off.

Autumn by the River Nene backwater on a gorgeous, bright October morning, with a lone Swan dabbling in the reeds; it's really my sort of painting material.  Subtle warm tones are added throughout as the brash Summer greens are replaced by the yellowy russets of the reeds and trees.

I'm back painting furiously now, with gallery commitments demanding 20 odd new paintings by the end of February, gulp, so stand by for lots more irritating emails coming your way in the next few weeks!

You may have noticed, if you've been paying attention, that my blog has a new look for the new year too.  I've been tinkering with background colours just to keep you on your toes....

Road Closed

Oil on board, 71/2 x 10 inches

I ventured out on another late afternoon to paint this view just 50 yards from my studio.  Looking down the hill, I liked the lovely red of the bricks against the monochrome landscape and the gorgeous bit of crimson of the road closed sign on the left.  Scrubbing in the composition at lightning speed, fingers a blurr, I managed to get the basics down quickly and painted in the cold for an hour-and-a-half before the light went. 

Despite the light being very flat, with no lit surfaces and dark shadows, it makes painting on site easier because the light doesn't change, although I had to work fast because it was 3.30pm before I started, so by 5 o'clock, all available light was gone.

Setting Sun at Duddington

Oil on board, 6 x 8 inches  SOLD

When the snow arrived three of weeks ago, I took time off my decorating and went down to Duddington where the River Welland flows.  It was getting late in the afternoon, but I was determined to paint something en plein air, in front of the subject, having been couped-up for so long.

This little painting already has a chequered past in its very short on.  I set up to paint the river from the top of a precariously slippery hill, but the light suddenly changed and I decided to up-sticks and move upstream a bit.  I set up the gear with another view of the river, then once more the light changed and the setting sun broke through behind and to the left of me.  I settled finally on this view to capture the last of the light...then realised I had dropped the lens cap of my Nikon camera up at the top of the hill. So, off I trudged up the north face of the Eiger again, knowing there would be no chance of finding it if I left it any later with the fading light and more snow forecast.  I did find it by the fence where I'd originally set up, then scurried back as fast as I could, dressed like a Michelin Man with several layers on against the freezing temperatures.

Finally, with the time already 4 o'clock and the light disappearing very fast, I managed to paint something super fast before it was impossible to carry on.  I was quite pleased with the result, packed up the gear and trudged back to the car, putting the wet painting on top of the roof attached to it's panel holder (yes, some of you are ahead of me now aren't you?) whilst I extricated myself from my backpack and tripod.  I drove off gingerly on the icy, ungritted surface, reaching the A47 after a couple of hundred yards and accelerated away, only to hear something crash on to the road.  I jammed on the brakes, remembering the wet painting. Luckily, no other cars were following and I found the shed cargo in the middle of the normally very busy road.  Amazingly, the painting was hardly damaged, just a little scuff on the top edge and some dirt on the wet paint, but I managed to rescue it on return to the studio and finished off the painting in the warmth.