Saturday, 27 February 2016

Cloud Shadows, the Fal Estuary

Oil on Board, 6 x 8 inches

This little painting is destined for the Harbour Gallery in Portscatho. I liked the distant headland with all the little buildings picked out in various shades of white, but the real hook was the changing stripes of green on the foreground fields, lit by shafts of light through the scudding clouds.

Broadway from Snowshill

Oil on board, 10 x 17 inches

This is a beautiful view across the valley from near the top of Snowshill in Broadway, Worcestershire. I liked the placement of the sheep, pointing the eye towards the distant blue horizon.

Not done many green paintings for a while - just not the season for it, but this one is for the Spring/Summer season in my Broadway outlet. I've been asked on a few occasions about mixing greens, and do I use a proprietary green straight from the tube. I remember a few years back that a chap came into my local art shop when I was in there, and he was clutching a photo of a painting and asked the assistant if they had a tube of a green he had outlined in the picture, hoping that would solve all his problems!  Actually, there is no magic green - it's just a question of really looking at the greens in front of you, and mixing them from what you have.  I do sometimes use Sap Green as a base green, but never on its own, and more often I mix the green I want from Cadmium Yellow Light and Cobalt Blue, modified throughout each passage with Permanent Rose, Raw Umber, Viridian and titanium White, of course. But the tones and shades are constantly changed for each brushstroke so that the greens have interest, just as they do in nature, rather than a blanket emerald stripe, which is dull and does not represent reality.

Monday, 15 February 2016

Beech Fall

Oil on Board, 12 x 17 inches

This one is all about the complementary colours that give the subjectit that zing - the orange against the blue/grey of the distant woodland, making the warm tones 'pop'.  

Beech trees, in England at least, give the most spectacular leaf colours in Autumn and throughout Winter, their leaves somehow hanging on to the twigs for a long time, and the crunch of stepping through a carpet of Beech leaves (in a dry Autumn!) is such a tactile pleasure. Painting such a carpet of russet and orange presents a challenge, and for me, it is only convincing when layer upon layer of paint is applied, some with my 1" decorators brush, some with an old hog, some with an old rigger and a lot with the tip of my pointy palette knife. Eventually, the surface is almost three-dimensional, being almost sculpted!

The trunks of Beech trees are also interesting to paint, and with strong sunlight coming from the right, the lit sides are a creamy-green, the middle (nearest the viewer are a the darkest tone of brown/purple/grey, and the left sides appear slightly lighter and greeny-brown. It's the observation of all these subtle changes that make the painting appear that bit more onvincing of reality...hopefully!

Monday, 8 February 2016

Late Autumn Glade

Oil on Board, 10 x 14 inches

This is another demo I did a while back and just finished it off in the studio. Quite a contrast to the last few fairly closed-toned paintings, with lots of flashy highlights punctuating the shadows, lighting up the glorious Autumnal shades of ochre and orange, with plenty of punchy impasto marks dragged with my big 1" decorator's brush and some more with the palette knife.

This wood is near home and contains a mix of deciduous trees and conifers, and has an abundance of rises and falls in this part, which provide a wealth of painting opportunities. I'm not so keen on it in Summer, when all is lush and green, but in Spring and Autumn, and Winter for that matter, it comes into its own, and Spring's only around the corner...

Friday, 5 February 2016

Valley near Snowshill, Broadway

Oil on Board, 10 x 14 inches

A very unseasonal green painting - seems very strange painting this in the middle of Winter, but it's for the John Noott gallery, and by the time they get it, Spring will be beckoning...

I do love painting the bare trees and muted tones of Winter, but it was nice for a change to use a lot more yellow and blue in the mixes on the palette, rather than much predominantly blue and red, with just a touch of yellow to make the greys. Same three colours used mind, with just a little raw Umber for the dark tones of the foreground Ash Tree. You can see that the darks in the mid-distance trees are bluer and a little lighter than the big tree, and the darks in the far distant trees, bluer and lighter still. It's all about tones to give your painting depth, and if you can achieve the right colour too, you're on to a winner, but tone is by far the most important.

Tuesday, 2 February 2016

The Forest Beyond

Oil on Board, 9 x 13 inches

I haven't painted a woodland scene for a little while, and I had forgotten just how difficult they are in Oil paint, especially Winter ones with the complex pattern of bare branches and trunks!  Half-way through I thought perhaps I should have tackled this subject in Pastel, so I may well do a Pastel version of it too, to compare the looser technique with the tighter Oil technque. 

With a subject like this, it's a case of where do you stop - the art of suggesting rather than describing every twig - just tell the story, but leave enough for the eye to fill in the blanks. In earlier days I would have painted damned near every branch and twig, but hopefully, I'm learning to leave enough - the one thing I don't want the painting to look like is a photograph, but rather more painterly and textural.