Saturday, 21 September 2013

Threatening Skies over the River Soar

 Oil on Board, 12 x 17 inches

I painted this one as a demo to the Vale of Belvoir Art Society.  It was slightly ambitious to complete it to exhibition standard in the allotted two hours, and I failed miserably!  Mind you, I was up against it a little in that I went down with a stinker of a cold virus in the morning.  I did feel a bit rough and was sneezing and dripping (too much information) onto the palette throughout.  That did enable me to ham it up a little and get the sympathy vote...didn't work though - they're a hard lot at Bottesford!

Having completed it back in the studio, I'm reasonably pleased with it.  There aren't a lot of lit surfaces in the painting, but I loved the dark clouds hanging over and their dark reflections in the water, with a few flecks of light, thus giving quite a dramatic light effect, despite the lack of direct sunlight.  The winding River Soar, near Loughborough, gives a nice 'lead-in' to the picture, and the figure and cattle provide a little scale - always a useful feature.

Thursday, 19 September 2013

Almost, BBC

Amazingly, 'The Culture Show' on BBC2 last night didn't make me switch over, because it was a portrait of Jonathan Yeo, fine portrait painter of various celebs, politicians and prominent people.  I actually thought it was going to be a really interesting look into how the artist went about constructing his portraits, but, alas, it quickly descended into lots of clever shots of the painter wielding tiny little brushes, side-on with sunlight glinting off the canvas, so no marks could actually be seen.  All we saw was the near-finished and final portrait of actor Tom Hollander, who was sitting for the artist, with no footage of the gorgeous, slabby strokes from large brushes, just the aforementioned arty-farty tickly dabs with a rigger filmed with more attention to getting sexy back-lighting than actually enabling us to see what was being painted.  The portraits were great, but what a chance missed to actually show us HOW they were painted, and I'm sure I speak for the majority in saying it would have been far more interesting to watch than just seeing finished paintings and poncey, pretentious lighting.  One day....

Friday, 13 September 2013

Bright Hoar Frost

Oil on Board, 6 x 8 inches

Last winter, notwithstanding the icy grip that it held on us, was a joy for us artists.  I love painting frost and snow and bare, skeletal trees.  The landscape is transformed into a wonderland of silver and I just love the more subtle, less shouty colours of winter.

Once the dark tones of the trees were scrubbed in quickly witha worn Hog brush, I set to with my 1" Household Decorator's brush to paint in the gorgeous, feathery tracery of the Willows' branches, making a concerted effort to try and make the trees look three dimensional and not just flat pancakes. The water was a simple affair, with a few blocky strokes of my Ivory Flat brush, the colours partially blended, then a few judicious, horizontal strokes with a Mongoose Flat.

This is the last little painting for my Devon exhibition...sigh of all I have to do is frame them...

Wet Lane near Postbridge

Oil on Board, 6 x 8 inches

A gleaming, wet road against the sunlight is right up my street (excuse the pun).  That blinding light you get when the sunlight bounces off a wet surface is joyous, almost pure Titanium White used to depict it, slightly lighter than the sky tone just above it, though difficult to see in the photo.  Coupled with the rich colours of Autumn, and the branches forming a tunnel, this was a little gem to paint.

Ready for the Off

Oil on Board, 6 x 8 inches

If you go down to the shingle beach at Beer (where my upcoming exhibition is), a working fishing village in Devon, early in the morning, the fishermen are getting ready to either go off fishing themselves, or take Mackerel fishermen with their rods out for a morning's fishing.  Kim, one of the well-known local fishermen, was just about to go out with his own catch of anglers on this particular morning, his boat set against a milky gray/green sea and the fret starting to lift, with the familiar backdrop of the chalky Beer cliffs as a backdrop.

Mist Clearing from Axmouth Road

Oil on Board, 6 x 8 inches

This was a pleasant little study of Seaton from the other side of the Axe estuary in Devon.  Misty vistas give nice soft tones and of course with this sort of scene, a good illusion of recession with very muted, pale tones of the town in the distance.  As I've said countless times before, tones are all in a painting, and the key is to place all your tones down together, never working on one part of the painting in isolation, otherwise a good-looking painted passage on its own can look totally wrong when the tone next to it is placed.  So, keep all the parts of your paintings moving along at the same pace.  I'm going to have to kill you all again aren't I....

Autumn by the Teign

Oil on Board, 7.5 x 10 inches

I've often said that painting still water or slow-moving rivers is the easiest part of any painting, but painting fast-moving water is a different kettle of fish altogether.  

This was a relatively overcast day, but just for a few seconds only, the evening sun broke through and danced on the water providing jewels of sparkling light.  I actually enjoyed painting the myriads of slightly different, subtle marks of colour to depict the water tumbling over the rocks and undulating riverbed, and was really pleased with how this one worked out.  Sometimes a painting just works and sometimes it doesn't.  When it does come off the brush well, first time, without fiddling, it's just a joy! 

Devon Reds and Oaks

 Oil on Board, 7.5 x 10 inches

'Devon Reds and Devon Oaks and little lambs eat ivy, a kid'll eat ivy too, wouldn't you'.  All right, it's 'Mares eat oats and does eat oats and little lambs eat ivy', a little dittie my mum used to sing - a wartime song performed by various artists at the time, but popularised by Sherri Lewis with Lamb Chop.

Anyway, I digress...I just liked the way these Devon Red cattle were standing between the Oak trees on a ridge in the field, with their calves just below, partly hidden, so i thought it would make a nice little study with the arrangement as it was.

Thursday, 12 September 2013

The Bank Vole

I found this delightful little chap just sitting hunched-up on the lawn just outside my current studio.  I picked him up and put him in a small box and gave him the once-over.  He seemed okay physically, apart from his left eye being closed, so it could be that he had injured it.  I gave him a few grains of bird seed which he gratefully nibbled at and then a Blackberry, which he ate half of after an hour or so.  Then I put him back in the hedgerow, well out of harm's way, and he had gone when I checked later.  So, I hope the little guy recovered enough and continued his voling life...

Bank Voles are beautiful little creatures, pint-sized versions of the endangered Water Vole, and at this time of year they feast on the abundant hedgerow berries and seeds, climbing easily amongst the spiky vegetation.

I mentioned this particular handsome rodent was just outside my current studio, because I am having a purpose-built new one erected at the end of my long garden, a 9m x 3.6m log cabin with a studio one end and gallery the other, so watch this space for news on that...

Exhibition in Woodstock

I have five paintings as support to an exhibition by Catherine Hyde, 'The Twilight Garden', at the Iona House Gallery  starting this Saturday, 14th September, running until 13th October.  Click on the gallery link and then my name on the gallery home page to see the paintings I am exhibiting.

Thursday, 5 September 2013

Four Finished Orf!

Wind in the Reeds, Oil on Board, 9 x 12 inches

Very simple composition this one, and is the River Welland at one of my stretches near Duddington in Rutland. I painted it as a demonstration piece and refined it a little more in the studio and finished off the reeds in the foreground, which were bending over in the fresh breeze, giving lots of different tones and colours as the varying angles changed.   

I'm often asked how I paint reeds, so if you value your life again, stop reading now.  For you brave souls still reading and riding your luck, these were painted with a No4 Rosemary&Co long-handled Long Flat, Series 279, but keep it quiet....

Grazing by the Nene, Oil on Board, 9 x 12 inches

This one I painted in July, en plain air, but just finished it off.  Those sharp-eyed ones among you will recognise it from my July 15th post, when I showed a few steps to the painting.

   Moody Morning, Derwentwater
Oil on Board, 9 x 12 inches 

Again, this was another one painted en plein air last November, just refined a bit in the studio.  I also added the red ferry boat that takes folks around the lake, just for a spot of colour in an otherwise grey landscape.

The Reed Dabbler, Oil on Board, 10 x 14 inches

This was another painting I did as a demo to an art society earlier in the year, duly finished off.  A classic riverine view in high summer, but can you spot the female Mallard?