Friday, 11 December 2015

After the Snowfall

"Where have you been?" I hear you all saying!  Yes, just been so busy at the gallery, organising more lighting and hanging upwards of eighty fabulous new paintings from our brilliant artists, it's been hard finding any time to paint. Did I mention my gallery before...Peter Barker Fine Art
If any of you would like to be kept up with our monthly newsletters if you aren't already on our gallery mailing list, drop me a line nd I'll add your email address, thank you.

Anyway, this painting above I did as a demo to the lovely Derbyshire folks at the Breaston Art Group a couple of weeks ago. Below is how far I got at the end of the demo, in its raw state. I spent some more time in the studio yesterday tidying it up to exhibition standard, and Jane sold it whilst it was resting in the gallery, unframed. 

The hook for the painting really, apart from the snow itself, which is so lovely to paint, was that strip of yellowy-orange sky above the blue of the distant trees. The camera hasn't quite picked up the subtle blue/mauve colours of the sky and the greenish/reds in the banks - it all looks rather brown in the photo, which it isn't.

As I said during the demo, the main thing to check in a painting is to paint the tones you see, not what you know - ie, we all know snow is white, but it is only white when the sun is shining on it. Here, it appears much darker, as can be seen against the white background around the photo on Facebook at, and that is the key - if I painted the snow dead white, the sky would appear much darker, and the light in the sky, looking straight into the sunlight, wouldn't appear as light as it is. That really is the key for the amateur painter - to delete what you know - that leaves and grass are green, and snow is white - or what you think you see, and learn to REALLY look at what's in front of you, squint and see the true tones of what you're painting - paint the shapes and their relative tones, and the resulting painting will look more like the reality in front of you.  Oh dear, more secrets revealed - I'm going to have to kill you all...

Tuesday, 3 November 2015

Devon Solo Exhibition

May Burst, Oil on Board, 12 x 17 inches

Just a reminder for you all - my solo exhibition at the Marine House Gallery at Beer starts next Saturday 7th November from 11am to 5pm, and you can come and meet the artist - what a treat!  I hope to see some of you there.

You can see all the paintings in the show, which are for sale now, by clicking this link: Beer Solo Exhibition

Saturday, 24 October 2015

The Idle Ivel

Oil on Board, 11 x 15 inches

This painting was one I did as a demo a few months back and dug out yesterday to finish off. Very green subject and that day back in August, there was flat light, so not much in the way of contrasting lights and darks, so it necessitated a lot of close-toned colours and subtle changes throughout. To make the painting convincing, all these close tones must be observed, so much concentration is needed. 

The flashy lights and darks seen on a bright day are much more dramatic, but these quieter subjects have a certain charm about them, albeit lacking in sparkling highlights.

Thursday, 22 October 2015

Summer Water

Oil on Canvas, 8 x 8 inches

A quick handbreak-turn back to Summer to do this little square canvas as a charity piece I promised to paint to go into an auction, organised by Iona House Gallery in Woodstock, in aid of Mary's Meals (click on the link for details if you want to bid for it!)

Fog on the Nene

Oil on Board, 9 x 13 inches

Continuing the wintry, frosty, foggy theme, I enjoyed painting this one. I painted this first, but then realised that I had made the tones a little too dark, so re-painted it, lightening all the tones. 

I think it's the mystery of what's out there that I enjoy so much about foggy/misty paintings - to capture that enigma, making the viewer make up their own mind, almost seeing the fog clearing, yet no, it's still tantalisingly enveloping the landscape. It lures folks into reaching for their wallet, mesmerised and hypnotised into buying it to study at home, waiting year-on-year for the blanket to clear, yet never quite....

Fog on the Rime

Oil on Board, 7.5 x 10 inches

I do like painting fog, although it is extremely difficult to get the small shifts in tone right - lovely when it comes off. I showed this to Jane when I'd finished it, saying it's going off to another gallery, and she said "don't be ridiculous, are you utterly mad, we're having that one for PBFA!"...seems she liked it! "One of the best you've ever done", apparently - not sure about that, although I was quite pleased with it... 

Rimey Willows

 Oil on Board, 6.75 x 9.25 inches

Well, I've got the brushes out again briefly to do a few small paintings promised for John Noott Gallery and Iona House Gallery, slotted in between countless hours of framing for my Beer Exhibition.

This little one is a two-tone jobby, with the rimey Willow on the right actually in the shade of a bridge over the river, so it appears darker than the sky behind, and the left-hand one sunlit against the slightly darker toned sky - subtle counterchanges that help lift a painting.

Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Red Highland

Pastel on Pastel Card, 15 x 19 inches

This Pastel is a commissioned painting, not dissimilar to a much larger one I did a few years ago that a client had seen.

Highland have a gentle, benign look to them, but you wouldn't want to feel the sharp end of those magnificent horns!

These upward-facing horns present a bit of a compositional problem - obviously, you want to include all the horns, right up to the tip to show up the majesty of the animal, but this means there will be a considerable vacant space from the top of the painting to the top of the head and back. There's no real solution to this conundrum, apart from letting the horns reach almost right to the top of the frame. This applies to all portraits - if more than the minimum is included above the top of the head, the portrait loses its power and majesty. I learned this by trial and error. Now here I am passing this on for free - my generosity knows no bounds...

As ever, I worked up the background with equal importance as the animal itself. I have a pretty clear idea of where I want the darks and lights to accentuate the same in the animal, and decide what tones and colours to use as I procede, hoping that it will all look right in the final analysis. I stand when I'm painting and step right back frequently to assess how the painting is progressing until I'm happy with the result - just hope the customer is! 

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Autumn Orange

Oil on Board, 9 x 12 inches

Autumn can be a colourful time of year, but often the trees and grassbanks can look tired, with quite muted tones. However, if the winds haven't been too strong, and there is plenty of suger in the leaves and the sun shines, it can be a glorious sight.

This spot is just on the approach to Lyndon again, with an avenue of Oaks - always the last to hang on to their leaves. Along with the hedgerow greens and yellows, what a riotous patchwork of colour!

I loved the damp road surface, reflecting the warm orange of the Oaks down the lane. The greater majority of the painting was done with my big household decorators' paintbrush, save for the road and gate and network of branches.

this is the very last painting for my Beer exhibition, so now I can catch up with my other commitments and also do some new work for Peter Barker Fine Art, that fine, established mecca for fine art in Rutland!

Allotment Bonfire, from Beer Head

Oil on Board, 7.5 x 10 inches

The last but one painting for my Beer exhibition in November this, with an angle I've not tackled before. It's a great view from Common Lane on Beer Head, with the allotments all along the road, but of course I had to get that smashing bonfire in, just lit by one of the residents, burning some cardboard in an incinerator barrel. I spent a fair bit of time painting the chalk cliff and distant cliffs at Seaton, and all those beach huts down below, but I couldn't wait to paint the fire itself, with that glorious flash of orange and attendant thin pall of blue smoke...ooh la la!

Parsley Sidings

 Oil on Board, 10 x 14 inches

This was another demo painting I did a while back, finally finishing it off in the studio.

Spring greens are tough to paint and can look very acidic if you're not careful. I rarely paint such harsh colours, but Bluebell woods and roadsides adorned with Cow Parsley are hard to resist.

This is a road near me which I've painted numerous times, down from the village of Lyndon. Cow Parsley, or Ladies Lace, so-named for its delicate, lace-like appearance, is such a welcome sight after a long Winter - I always love to see it and it gladdens the heart. As country kids we always called it ceck.

I've called this painting 'Parsley Sidings' after the radio serial from the early '70s, starring Arthur Lowe and Ian Lavender, playing father and son in a sleepy, out-of-the-way railway station. There's no station, but I liked the word sidings - a good term for roadsides, don't you think?

As Happy As...

Pastel on Sennelier Pastelcard, 23 x 19 inches

I just love painting pigs, mainly because of their gorgeous, pink noses! This chap, a Gloucester Old Spot, was a wonderful subject with his coarse hair and the black and white markings. 

I like to employ as much counterchange as I can with my portraits - dark against light and light against dark - it just gives the subject a three dimensional quality. I think it gives the animal or human more energy somehow, rather than appearing like a cardboard cut-out on a plain background. And it serves another purpose - it doesn't matter about getting marks on the background, because you can cover them up! I get plastered in Pastel when I use the medium, so it's much easier to paint the background as well, and I think it is just as important as the subject, giving it more life. 

I also like to blurr the edges of the painting to focus the eye on the eyes and head. I don't like to see sharp cut-offs on some otherwise brilliant portraits of animals, because there is always the danger of them appearing like portraits of severed heads, rather than living characters, full of joie de vivre

Colours of Winter

Pastel on Clairefontaine Pastelmat, 19 x 27 inches

I've painted this tree in various guises before and especially in the snow, often looking straight into the sun, but here I'm looking up river, with strong winter sunshine from stage left. 

I know some folks find it interesting to see how a painting is built up, so I took a few photos of the stages:
The composition is sketched out in charcoal and the first dark strokes of the main tree are placed in.
More dark tones and a few broad suggestions of the backdrop of trees are suggested.
The sky is next to be placed, without which it is very difficult to see whether the tree tones and colours are anything like correct. The blue tones of the far
distant trees are adjusted accordingly.
More work is done on the bank of middle distance trees, together with the sunlit and shaded snow colours - no pure white is yet used. Some of the main tree branches are also drawn in, scrubbing out the underpigment where needed with an old oil painting hog brush. The river is also suggested with a few purple/grey/brown downward strokes.
More work is done on the shaded far riverbank, river and near bank, and much more branch-work.
With the 'easy' bit out the way, now I could concentrate on the foreground, which, as I suspected, proved to be the most challenging, with all the lumpy snow and strong cast shadows. I blocked in the rough tones with broad slabs of Pastel to delineate where the shadows stripes were.
I've deliberately repeated the photo of the finished painting above so that you can see the final stage without scrolling to the top again.

I have literally dozens of pinks, blues, greys and mauves in my tray of Pastels laid out all around my easel, but do you think there are any that are the right tone or colour? You're right, there aren't, so I had to layer and rub just about every one of those pinks, blues, greys and mauves over each other to get what I wanted, and when I had finished, my camera failed to pick up the subtleties, so, as ever, the painting looks far better than the photo. 

I worked all over the painting, refining here and there, with a special emphasis on the tree branches growing towards us, appearing light against the dark trunk. To complete the painting, I srubbed out pigment all around the tree and squashed in some lovely warm russet tones of the Oak leaves, still hanging on from autumn, which provided a nice foil to the inevitably cool overall feel to the piece. Orange and blue are complementary colours, so they always sing well together in a painting.


Thursday, 17 September 2015

Bad Hair Day

Pastel on Sennelier Pastelcard, 23 x 19 inches

I haven't done an animal study for a goodly while, so it was nice to paint this sheep, which I think is a Black Lincoln, though my knowledge of sheep is very limited compared to that of wildlife.

Soft Pastel is a lovely medium to use for animal fur, although I find Pastelcard rather coarse with its surface of compressed cork particles. To alleviate this far too abrasive problem for me, I rub the surface quite hard with a very fine grade wet or dry paper, which removes a lot of the cork particles and leaves the paper with a much smoother feel, yet still able to grab plenty of pigment, without the need for fixative.

Gentle Swell, Beer

 Pastel on Clairefontaine Pastelmat, 19 x 27 inches

This one I did as a demo to the Horncastle Art Group a few weeks back, finally getting around to finishing it in the studio.

The reel hook for this was the gorgeous reflections of the sunlit chalk cliff on the almost calm sea. Water remains a constant inspiration, and I wanted to depict that gentle swell as the tide lifts up, almost sucking the shingle from the shoreline, before flattening again against the beach. Hopefully I've caught that feeling, using a darker grey/purple as the wave surface tilts towards us rather than remaining flat, reflecting the blue sky.

Shingle is a pain to paint, but from this distance, it was much more simple to paint, especially in the Pastel medium, using several layers of similar colours and tones. In an otherwise fairly bland-coloured backdrop, the rich crimsons and blues of the boats provided lovely splashes of colour to the composition.

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Last Leaves

Oil on Canvas, 16 x 22 inches

Well, yes, it's a bit early for that, but I had to do a wintry one for my exhibition. Personally, I love all the seasons in our country and its mixed weather, and much as I like the sun on my back, I look forward to the frosts and crisp days of Autumn and Winter - rich fodder for us artists!

Regular readers of my Blog will know how much I love painting into the sun, especially when it's partially hidden by a tree, as here. I just loved that shadow of the beech tree on the right, with the duller coloured russet leaves in its wake and the bright orange leaves each side of it, picked out by the low Winter sun.

On another note, back into the present mid-September, I was thrilled skinny to see another fairly uncommon, beautiful moth - one of the day-flying species, a Hummingbird Hawk Moth:
It rested briefly on one of the garden chairs before jetting off like a rocket to find some more early Autumn flowers, hovering, as its name might suggest, like a Hummingbird, using its incredibly long proboscis to sip the nectar - a beautiful sight, so rarely seen. Often people have mistaken it for an actual Hummingbird, because the body of the moth is big, with black and white markings and it has orange underwings. The photo above is one I took myself a few years ago when I last saw one in the garden, but the one below shows the moth in flight, hovering over a Buddleia flower:

Cold Start

Oil on Canvas, 16 x 22 inches

An even more Wintry painting this time, with two of my favourite subjects in one - a sharp, silvery frost and fog. My pallette is the same as almost all my other paintings, but a lot more Titanium White in the mixes.

The red bobble hat of the angler provided just a little bit of primary colour in an otherwise silver/grey landscape - put your thumb over the figure and see how much it improves the composition - bit boring without him innit?

On another wildlife note, when I'd finished this painting in the early hours two nights ago, I noticed what I first thought was a big slug on the ground outside the studio, but on further inspection, I realised it was a Common Newt, a good 40 yards away from the nearest pond, so I took a photo of the beasty:

I've noticed before that Newts 'play dead' when you touch them - must be a good defence mechanism, whereas Common Lizards (used to see them a lot by the compost heap) scuttle away at lightning speed.

Friday, 4 September 2015

Towering Clouds over the Nene

     Oil on Canvas 16 x 22 ins
I just loved those dark towering clouds, with the band of white clouds behind them, so I opted for a low horizon, making the focal points the clouds themselves, rather than the secondary water and cattle. 

Using variable mixes of my three primaries, Cadmium Yellow Light, Permanent Rose and Cobalt Blue, mixed with more or less Titanium White, I love painting these Cumulus clouds.

Thursday, 3 September 2015

September Dawn, Beer

Oil on Canvas, 24 x 30 inches

Sometimes you paint a picture and ask yourself "why did I take on this?", and this was one of those occasions. At the time I thought all those gorgeous primary colours of the deck chairs flapping about, set against a big, towering sky with the dawn sun silhouetting the clouds would make a great painting....and I hope it has, but boy, I wouldn't want to paint deck chairs for a living, especially 30-40 of them! 

That aside, I think it's captured that early morning feel of the beach at Beer on the South Devon coast, with the fishermen about to depart for the day before all the holidaymakers come onto the beach and look out to sea. Probably going to be the biggest painting for my exhibition in November.

I finished this one at 2 o'clock this morning, and when I switched off the studio lights and was about to walk back to the house, I noticed a very large moth on the window, attracted to the lights. Not being able to see what it was, I tried to coax it onto my finger to have a look under the floodlight that comes on when I walk down the path, but it flew off. When the floodlight came on, I saw that the moth was on my sweatshirt and to my delight as it flew off a few feet I instantly recognised that it was a Red Underwing, one our most beautiful and rarely seen moths. Most people think that moths are those little brown jobs, but this species is spectacularly big and colourful with its radiant black and crimson bands on its hind wings - what a treat before bed!


Monday, 31 August 2015

River Derwent in Borrowdale

Oil on Board, 18.5 x 27 inches

Phew, finished this one at last...I submitted it to the ROI after working on it until 3am on Friday morning!  Didn't finish it, but felt it was far enough along for the committee to judge whether they want to see it in the flesh for the final selection.

Usually, I say to any audience when I'm giving a demo, that the water in any painting is the simplest passage to paint, but in this case, it entailed an intense period of concentration, with three elements to intertwine - shadows across the water, reflections and the stones on the riverbed. Whilst very tricky, it was an enjoyable battle royal to try to give the illusion of the transparency of the water. 

The fastest passage of the painting was the bank on the left foreground with all those tufty, lumpy tussocks of grass, depicted with my 1" decorator's brush - yummy! 

A painting like this, looking into the sun, with a lot of darks in it in the form of shadows under the far bank and dark, silhoetted rocks, can look very contrasty if you don't pay attention to the colours and tones within the darks - there is no black in the darks, and I don't possess a black in my armoury. All the darks in this painting are mixed from Cobalt Blue with Permanent Rose and Cadmium Yellow - at the risk of being repetitive, the same three colours I use for all my paintings. I used a tiny bit of Burnt Sienna in the mix for the darks on the nearer right-hand bank and the left bank and the rocks, but really the use of the thre primaries gives a lovely range of cool purpley darks to warmer browny darks.

There's such a lot going on in this painting, and there may be too much depicted for some people, but it's the way it comes out for me, regardless of whether I paint in the studio from reference photos and memory, or en plein air. I adore the economical looseness that so many of my friends and revered colleagues employ, but as my friend and fantastic wildlife painter David Cowdry said the other day in a comment on my Facebook page, " Its often all those little details that we love about the landscapes we live in, and to put them in, I think, is to show just how much we love all those intricacies of the natural world. I'd love to paint looser too but I just can't help myself." That encapsulates it in a nutshell - I love all those little bits of detail in nature and to put them in is a joy and a celebration.

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Winter Woollies

Oil on Canvas, 20 x 27.5 inches

This one isn't for my Devon exhibition, yet, but for submission to the Royal Institute of Oil Painters (ROI) annual exhibition. The ROI is a very tough nut to crack and my tight work is generally not in favour among the powers that be, so I'm not expecting anything, but I like to keep trying. Bouquets from the public and buyers is wonderful, and a validation of what you're doing is right, but it's always an ego boost when your respected peers recognise you.

Anyway, I enjoyed painting this one from reference photos taken back in January this year. Snow transforms the landscape and seems a million miles from the verdant greens of late summer - especially after the downpours of late. An awful lot of my 1" decorator's brush was used on this painting, especially on the trees and hedgerow. I like dragging the well-loaded brush over a sticky underpainting to give that broken effect of disappearing snow.

Painting sheep in their sunlit Winter garb is a joyful challenge too - there are SO many subtle warm and cool colours in their woolly coats. I also liked the touch of warm orange in the last leaves in the scrubbery on the right amidst a sea of predominantly cool blues.

Thursday, 20 August 2015

Axmouth Harbour

Oil on Board, 14 x 20 inches

This was yet another demo painting I did for Sundon Park Art Group in Bedfordshire last week, duly tidied up and finished back in the studio. It will be another one for my Devon Solo Exhibition in November.

What really tickled my fancy was the brilliant, pure sunlight bouncing off the water, with the stark silhouette of the building and harbour walls. To achieve the illusion of pure sunlight, with Titanium White being the lightest, brightest pigment in the artist's arsenal, I had to play close attention to the tones of the bright, sunlit clouds, none of which were as bright as the light on the water. If you squint at the painting (which is what you should do when you're out painting to see the tones), you can see that the sky is creamier and peachier in colour, and a touch darker than the reflected sunlight on the water. 

I always say in my demos that the water is the easiest part of the painting - not so in this case, with the surface very much wind-ruffled. Much layering and close-tones were added with a brush, with some dragging of pigment across with a palette knife. The sunlit highlights were also placed in mostly with the knife, using the drying, sticky underpaint to grab the Titanium White. The masts of the boats were placed in carefully using the edge of an old credit card. I also enjoyed placing in the red buoy in the foreground, with the sunlight piercing through it, making it appear translucent - lush!

Friday, 14 August 2015

Autumn Sunlight, Brancaster Staithe

Oil on Board, 10 x 17 inches

Brancaster Staithe is a brilliant place for artists - lots of old sheds, boats, fishing paraphernalia, mud, marsh, posts, rocks - all wonderful to paint. With bright early morning light flooding the scene, there was plenty of contrast with light and shade abounding throughout, yummy! I love painting wet mud, using a palette knife to drag darker spots over the sticky paint underneath - very tactile. For a change, I employed an old credit card to spot in the masts of the distant boats - very tricky with a rigger, or any brush for that matter, but using the card with ust the right amount and mix of paint, I found I could place them in with minimum fuss.

This is my third and final painting submitted for the RSMA Annual Exhibition at the Mall Galleries. I was a little dismayed to get a call from my usual courier on Wednesday night when I was giving a demo in Bedfordshire, to check that it was okay to pick up my three paintings to take to London in the morning at 7.30am... Thinking he would be collecting them on Saturday morning, none was framed and I knew I wouldn't be home until 11.30pm at the earliest, gulp.  So, working until 2.45am to get the frames painted and waxed, varnishing and fitting the two paintings I had finished into them and taped up, labelled and the relevant paperwork done, I managed four hours sleep that night! 

Disappointed that I couldn't submit the third painting allowed as an associate member of the RSMA because it wasn't finished, I was thrown a lifeline - on speaking to my colleague John Lines about having some new work from him for the gallery, he said he was going down on Saturday to take his and some other work down to the Mall. So, I managed to get this one done, and paint the frame and whizz it over to Rugby to give to John to take for me, phew!

I spent half an hour with John, one of my very favourite painters, 'talking shop', and collected a new painting of his for the gallery. He is a genuinely lovely, warm man, and a brilliant artist and someone I would rank as one of the very finest landscape painters living today. And it was refreshing to see that his studio was as messy as mine, too!  Have a look at the painting I collected from him at and after 10.15 today, Saturday on the gallery website at

Monday, 10 August 2015

Ready for the Day's Fishing

Oil on Board, 14 x 20 inches

Beer again this one - another for my exhibition in November. The fishermen gather at dawn and clamber onto the old boats skippered by the regular chaps, and go off before all the tourists come to the beach and collar the deck chairs. 

A good cloudy sky with breaks in it provided the perfect senario for the light effect I wanted to capture, with the foreground boat moving across the brilliant shaft of pure, reflected sunlight on the water, yummy! I love that point where an object is almost obliterated by sunlight and even more in trying to portray it in paint - it makes for a dramatic light effect and gives an otherwise plain and tranquil subject real impact to the eye. I hope, at least...


Tuesday, 4 August 2015

November, Midday, Mousehole

Oil on Board, 14 x 20 inches

Phew, this one was one of those I really wanted to paint - one that fires the artistic juices - so I earmarked it for one of my submissions for the 2015 Royal Society of Marine Artists exhibition at the Mall Galleries in October. Why phew?  Because it was one of the most complex subjects I've ever painted, with SO much going on, so it was actually a relief to get it finally finished after days of toil, repainting passages to correct the subtle colour shifts, especially in the foreground wet sand.

The hook was the sunlight bouncing off the rooftops that were angled to catch the pure glare of the sun. But to paint the rest of the scene to satisfaction, ALL the rest of the cottages, and all their windows had to be painted. I did my best to suggest rather than paint them all, but it's no easy task nonetheless. The all the cars parked on the road up the hill, then the boats, all parked at jaunty angles, and all the other little incidentals too numerous to mention.

I truly admire and revere artists who can suggest such detail without actually depicting it!  

I took three photos along the journey of this one too:

The rough in with the main players loosely drawn in with thin paint and the reat of the shapes scrubbed in.
The sky suggested and some work done on the lit roofs and the backdrop of trees and rocks.
The houses and hillside mostly finished and a start made on the boats and harbour wall, before painting in the wet foreground sand with all its sparkle and radiating ropes which were mostly suggested using an old credit card.

Sunday, 2 August 2015

The Glassy Nene

Oil on Board, 10 x 14 inches

I found this on a shelf the other day - it was a demo I did sometime last year, to whom I can't remember, but it was worth tickling it somewhat, so here's the finished result.

It's the River Nene (pronounced Neen or Nen, depending where you come from) near Peterborough in April. The obvious focal point is the lone Sheep that had come down for a drink, but hopefully, the eye travels on a slow journey along the glassy expanse of water, around the bend and back through the blue gap in the trees on the right to the Sheep.


Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Beer Barrels, Buckets, Buoys and Boats

Oil on Canvas 18 x 26 inches

The first 'biggy' for my solo show in Devon, this one was all about colour and light and tone...but then isn't every painting? Yes, answering my own question, but this has a lot of colour in it, with some rich crimsons, yellows, blues and greens - much more so than in my default landscapes.

Despite no human activity, there was a lot going on in the picture, with all the fishermen's nets, buckets, barrels, buoys, boats and pots scattered to form a perfect composition. The old rubber conveyor belt was placed nicely to provide a 'lead-in' to the red boat and let the eye roam around the the other vessels and back to the clutter in the foreground.

There were quite a few little cameos of light - the bright white light on the left-side of the red boat, the sunlit boat rails, the pinging sunlight on the up-turned yellow boat in the foreground and the beautiful crimson light shining through the plastic of the foreground crate. All great fun to paint and 'hooks' for a painter.

Sunday, 26 July 2015

Golden Downhill Sunset

Oil on Board, 9 x 12 inches

I painted this one in a corner of the gallery, and found at the end of the day after going to switch off the painting light (two 4ft 5400k tubes) that I hadn't had it on! So, I had painted it under the much warmer 4000k gallery lights, and thus had compensated for the warmer tones by painted everything bluer than it should have been, grrrr! So, back in the studio, I repainted the whole thing to get the much redder, richer tone of sunset to the painting.

The view is one near the studio, looking down a steep hill and I loved the rhythm of the zig-zag pattern of hills, which I've painted before, but never at sunset.  

Depicting sunsets is always a challenge in trying to capture that beautiful warm, golden glow that bathes the landscape. To achieve this, the darks of the trees all have a reddish/purple tone to them, and the distant bank of trees on the horizon takes on a golden red, rather than the bluish tone of distance when the sun isn't so close to the horizon. Again, at the risk of being repetitive, all the tones, dark and light, were mixed with varying amounts of my three primaries, Cadmium Yellow Light, Permanent Rose and Cobalt Blue.

Thursday, 23 July 2015

Welland Willows

Oil on Board, 10 x 14 inches

This was another demo piece I did for the Bawtry Art Society a few months back. Having dug it out, I worked quite a bit more on it to bring it up to exhibition standard.

A few people have seen it and have thought they knew where the scene is, but all have been wrong!  It's actually the River Welland near the village of Harringworth and right behind me was the giant viaduct.

I liked the classical meandering river acting as a convenient 'lead-in' to the picture, with a strong vertical of the willow on the left, and echoed by the three trees on the right - note the irregular spacing so as not to appear too regimented and unsettling. In the sunlit field in the distance, I placed a few sheep as a nice focal point for the eye to rest after traversing the river banks.

After the first 8 weeks of the gallery being opened, and the response has been brilliant, it has been great to be back in the saddle again, with paintbrush in hand. Time is running away with me, with about 15 paintings to do for my solo show in Devon, two more for the RSMA exhibition, and three more for the ROI, gulp...

Monday, 6 July 2015

Eye Brook to the Lake

Oil on Board, 12 x 17 inches

This was the demonstration I did last Thursday in the gallery...which gallery I hear you ask? Peter Barker Fine Art gallery of course, as if you didn't know.

With a massive crowd of 6 people at any one time, I thought I would paint this view of the Eye Brook as it runs into the Eyebrook Reservoir just up the road from the gallery in Uppingham. The river course provides a useful 'lead-in' to the picture plane, with the old Willow off-centre to break up the monotony of the largely horizontal composition. Making sure I captured the distant tree line in much paler blue-grey tones gave depth and the illusion of distance to the painting. 

I might just tweak it here and there once it has been languishing on a shelf in the studio, but I really must crack on with more work for my Devon exhibition and some paintings to submit to the RSMA and ROI exhibitions - no peace for the wicked...

Saturday, 20 June 2015

May Burst

Oil on Board, 12 x 17 inches

Rarer than hens' teeth, a new Peter Barker painting - can you believe it? Well, the new gallery has taken up a lot of my time lately and it has gone superbly well, and if you haven't seen it yet, take a look at the website at Peter Barker Fine Art

However, with my own solo show in Devon in November, and with a lot of paintings to do, I have GOT to get down to it.

This one is a view as I drive to the gallery each morning, looking across the Welland valley of the Rutland countryside.  Using a heavily-textured board, I was able to suggest the broken effect of the rape-seed fields luminous yellow, just as the flowers were going over. Using some artistic licence I put some cow Parsley in the foreground in order to create some extra depth to the composition, with the effect of looking over a hedge, which is exactly what I was doing! 

Apart from the glorious May blossoms breaking out across the valley, with the Hawthorns picked out with shafts of sunlight, the hook for the painting was that beautiful white cloud against a dark sky - that fleeting light effect that can disappear in seconds.  Yum-yum!

Saturday, 30 May 2015

Gallery Pics

Here are just a few pics of the gallery the night before and during the opening last weekend, just to give a flavour of how it all looked, but of course, the only way to REALLY comprehend the dazzling talent we have, expressed in the superb two-dimensional paintings on the wall, is to pay us a visit! 

I truly believe we have the best selection of what Inspector Grimm in the Thin Blue Line 
would say is non airy-fairy, arty-farty, namby-pamby, hoity-toity art in the land - absolutely no fannying-about!