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.

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