Thursday, 29 May 2014

May Breeze

Oil on Board, 6x8 inches

Up to my eyeballs framing paintings this week, but somehow squeezed this one out yesterday morning. It's the River Welland on Stamford Meadows, with the hawthorn in fall bloom. 

Most of this little painting was completed with my 1" household brush, save for the dark tree bows on the left and the water. The suggestion of the breeze ruffling the water was done by placing in the tree reflections, then dragging a reasonably well-loaded brush across with a light sky colour, because that, of course, is what happens when the wind blows across water - the mini-peaks created reflect the sky instead of the trees, until calm is restored and the tree reflections are restored.

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Receding Tide, Mousehole

Oil on Board, 10x14 inches

I painted this oil as a demonstration painting to the Victory Painting group at Lower Penn near Wolverhampton last week, and managed to finish it off yesterday in the studio. 

Boats with red buoys make very colourful subjects, and with a lively sky, this was a gorgeous subject, especially with the low tide exposing the weed and detritus on the harbour floor beneath the water.  I had fun painting the green exposed weed and wet mud, using my palette knife, not an implement I use very freely, but it is perfect for depicting mud and such-like of harbours and estuaries.

Life is incredibly hectic at the moment, painting frames, getting stuff ready for the patchings Art Festival next week, 5-8th June, and the little matter of planning our new gallery, of which more news very soon.

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Across the Welland Valley

 Oil on Board, 6x8 inches

I was determined to paint something en plein air today, after a disastrous morning yesterday, when I ended up scraping and wiping the painting I was doing by the River Welland. This morning was better, despite an incredibly changing sky and the consequent lighting conditions. I painted in the landscape, leaving the sky till last to get the optimum lighting when the sun shone and lit up the side of the church and the tall mid-distant trees.

Sunday, 18 May 2014

Bumble-Bee update...

Photo taken today, you can see that the entrance to the nest has been nearly sealed and the workers are gathered around the roof of the box.  I think the nest inside has grown so large that the bees can hardly get in - compare this photo to the one taken on Wednesday 14th and you can see the difference to the hole. It will be interesting to see what happens in the next few days and weeks.  Watch this space for the next episode...

Saturday, 17 May 2014

Down by the River

Oil on Board, 6 x 8 inches

Got this little painting completed this afternoon. It's on the River Welland, on a favourite bend where it turns around the Sallow in the centre here and traverses across the shallows, where, in high summer, I love to get into the river and feel at one with nature. The current is strong, but being only about 18 inches deep, it's a joy to wade through and feel the ice-cold water.
You can just make out the river-bed where I've denoted it with a few orangey-brown streaks in the water and the Duckweed in the right foreground. Right up my street in terms of subject matter, and so reminiscent of my childhood down by the River Cherwell in Banbury. Happy days with my mates, catching Minnows and Sticklebacks and Bullheads in our hands by lowering our fingers into the water gently. Bullheads, rather ugly looking brown bottom-feeders, are also called Miller's Thumb because of the gnarled look about them.

Wednesday, 14 May 2014


If you are anywhere near Letchworth, you can see my recent paintings below at the Norton Way Gallery, where Collette Hoefkens, the owner, presents her Spring and Summer Show which officially starts this weekend. If you give her a call, you might be able to squeeze into the Private Views this Thursday and Friday. For details click this link: 
August by the Welland, Oil 11x15 ins

April Reflections, Oil 9x12 ins

Summer Clouds, Oil 9x12 ins

May Crops, Oil 9x12 ins

Glorious Autumn, 9x12 ins

Early Frost, Oil 6x8 ins

Janey's Paperback

Janey's newly published book is now available as a proper, physical, paperback book, as well as a kindle download!  It could be the new Bridget Jones's Diary - brilliantly written  and will have you laughing and crying. Have a look at her Blog for full details at Janey's Blog  

Bumble Bee Nest!

In 2011 and 2012, Great Tits nested in my specially constructed nestbox fixed to the outhouse next to my old studio. Last year, a small colony of Tree Bumblebees took over the premises. This year, the nestbox is crammed full of the little flying, furry humbugs, as you can see from the photos above. The Tree Bumblebee only arrived in Britain in 2001, but has since spread very well, and have made a great home in our garden.  This year we have planted a wild meadow, so the Red Clover flowers are providing a rich sauce of nectar for these charming little insects.

Monday, 12 May 2014

Cow Parsley by the River Coln

Oil on Board, 6x8 inches

I've been busy framing these last few days, but managed to get this little one done yesterday in the studio as the rain was pelting down. I was hoping to get out and do a little plein air study, but the foul weather prevented any thought of that.

Cow Parsley at this time of year adorns much of our hedgerow margins and combined with the may blossom of the Hawthorns, provides us with the most beautiful feast for the eyes.  Painting the umbellifore flowers was done with a cheap paste brush, the type we used to use in school with gloy glue, holding the well-loaded brush on the bristles between the thumb and forefinger. Similarly, the May blossom was placed on with the same technique with my 1" household brush, taking particular care with the relative tones, only using pure white tinged with pink on the outer edges that were catching the sunlight. 

Monday, 5 May 2014

New Novel !!!!!

No, not mine, but my Janey's first novel, 'Walking on Marshmallows' is out now on kindle: 
Go on, make her day and have a read of it, it's brilliantly funny and will make you laugh and pull at your heart strings!  The hard copy, or at least the paperback version will be available at the end of the week - watch this space...

Many thanks to my painting colleague Roy Connelly, who has been an incalculable help to Janey the last few weeks, holding her hand throughout the publishing process, cheers Roy.

Writing a book is no easy venture, and as the great Christopher Hitchens said "most people have a book inside them, and that is exactly where it should stay!"  But Janey has laboured long and hard on this, crafting the story from her head, a process I and most of us wouldn't have a clue how to start.  She's been through the mill with it, at times elated that it looks good, at other times in utter despair - much like an artist - but somehow, she's finished it after much editing, soul-searching and questioning as to its validity. She would appreciate ANY input by way of a review on Amazon if you have the time to read and comment, thank you!

Sunday, 4 May 2014

Barnsdale Wood

Oil on Board, 6x8 inches

So many of the local woodlands in Rutland are carpeted with English Bluebells which grow in such profusion at this time of year. One can never tire of seeing such splendour, and although I've painted Bluebell woods countless times in the last 30 years, I never tire of painting them either.

The dappled sunlight produced lovely dancing, soft shadows and jewels of light, and capturing these is a joy, with all the subtleties of greens and browns and purples, mmmm.......

May Crops

 Oil on Board, 6x8 inches

This is a view near my village with quite a bit of artistic licence used. The oil-seed rape fields are as is, but the country track is acually a tarmac road, but having painted it, I felt it was a little too clinical, so I painted over it and turned it into a grass track, laden with cow Parsley that grows in such profusion at this time of year, and is known coloquially as 'ladies lace'.
I just loved how mauve the distant tracks and hedgerow lines appeared next to the brilliant cadmium yellow of the crops, and being complimentary colours, they fitted very nicely together and suggested the aerial perspective of the valley.