Monday, 24 July 2017

Sparkling Early Light, Portree Harbour


Oil on Canvas, 18 x 26 inches

We went to the isle of Skye last May, and on several mornings I went down to Portree harbour, where the wonderful weather provided a wealth of painting material, and this is the result of one of those mornings, the obvious hook being that beautiful light bouncing off the water  - just gorgeous!

Painting the smaller boats against the light was reasonably straightforward, but as I always say in my demos, you cannot tell whether the colour and tone you put down initially is right, until you put down the adjacent colour and tone next to it. Similarly in this case, where the colour next to the boats was almost pure Titanium White, it was not easy to judge the boat colours until that light passage was placed next to them. Some adjustment had to be made, so that the boats didn't look 'stuck on', or not really sitting on the water. 

The spots of pure, reflected sunlight were the main problem near the end of the painting. Placing spots of pure white doesn't quite work - theylook like spots of white stuck on, not blinding sunlight sparkles. To achieve the glare, so that the onlooker almost feels he should put sunglasses on, requires a bit of an orange halo placed on the water first, smudged slightly to imitate a star-like flare. Then, when that was tacky (not long, maybe half-an-hour with fast-drying Alkyds), I dabbed on thick, impasto spots of pure Titanium White in the middle of the halos. 

This one is going into the RSMA Exhibition in October.

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Sunlit Boat and Mud

Pastel on Clairefontaine Pastelmat, 13 x 19 inches

I painted this one at Patchings Festival on the last day, when I was one of the guest artists. I finished it off in the studio today.

the gorgeous receding light on the boat was the initial hook for the painting, but the gorgeous, squelchy mud with puddles of water with reflected blue sky, complemented it perfectly. With the posts in the foreground at jaunty angles, the composition was complete.

The Pastel medium seemed an obvious choice and I think it worked quite well, getting down the elements fairly quickly.

Blinding Light, Brancaster Staithe

 Oil on Board, 10 x 17 inches

I painted this one as a demo to the Castor and Ailsworth Society of Art last Thursday, then finished it off at Patchings Art Festival on Sunday morning. 

The photo below shows the painting as it was after the two hours allotted for the demo, and above the finished article. Really, with such bright light bouncing off the mud (one of my favourite subjects to paint), the painting was an exercise in recognising relative tones. The sky was obviously very bright, but a tone down from the reflected sunlight, and everything else - the distant trees, buildings, banks, mid-distant trees, post, boats and mussel bags, were all progressively darker. 

The initial hook for the painting, apart from that pure sunlight on the mud, was the halo effect of Viridian green on the top of the colourful bags of mussels. And I never tire of trying to capture that transition of the pure sunlight and the darker tones next to it - just so exciting to depict!

Thursday, 6 July 2017

Banks of the Nene

Oil on Board, 10 x 17 inches

Here's another demo painting I did a while back, again with a panoramic shape on a 10 x 17 board. It's a view of the River Nene near Waternewton just outside Peterborough. The Nene is pronounced Neen the nearer you are to Northampton and Nen by the Peterborough locals.

Looking into the sunlight, the trees were almost in silhouette, with just a few halos of light round their edges. Capturing the intense light the eye sees when looking directly into the sunlight is never easy with mere paint, so I introduced a few clouds with pure white edges to emphasise the light - just about pulled it off I hope!

The Oak by the Canal

Oil on Board, 10 x 17 inches

I did this painting as a demo to the Napton Art Group, choosing to do a local landscape of the area, in this case the Oxford Canal near Lower Shuckburgh. I liked the barns in the distance on the left, and the towpath on the right, so opted for this panoramic-shaped board.

The big Oak is a little centred, and in fact I painted out some of the tree on the left to balance it a little. The banked hedgerow on the right stopped the eye flying out of the picture, and the main hook to the painting was the lovely ochrey reflections in the disturbed water, so redolent of canals. 

I spent a lot of my childhood by the Oxford Canal at Bodicote, fishing for Roach and Gudgeon, so the area has happy memories for me.