Tuesday, 4 December 2018

Passing Car

Oil on Board, 3.625 x 5 inches
I do love the sparkle on water when the sun is straight ahead of you. This painting was all about tone - that progression of darks to lights, judging that very pale backdrop of distant woods. As I always say in my demos, you must keep the painting going at an even pace - if you dwell too long on one passage, adding detail, and don't place adjacent tones down first, you may find the tone you thought was right first, is actually too dark in all likelihood. Every tone and colour you place down will change as soon as that adjacent one is placed next to it. If you then plough on without getting the lightest tone right, everything else will be correspondingly darker, and the finished painting will lack the depth and impact you desired.

The delightful finishing flourish to a panting like this, is to place those tiny dabs of pure white to simulate the twinkling jewels of refected sunlight on the water.

Frosted Track

Oil on Board, 3.625 x 5 inches
I love painting Silver Birches - they're such beautiful trees, rather like the Aspens over the pond. Frost, too, is a delight to capture in paint - that lovely silvery green as if the grass is dusted with icing sugar!

Oaks at Morcott

Oil on Board, 3.625 x 5 inches
This is a view I pass every time I drive to the gallery - have I ever mentioned that I have a gallery, Peter Barker Fine Art? Glancing across the Welland Valley presents this lovely view and never better than contre jour, looking straight into the light as it is in the morning. Painting on this scale really concentrates the eye, still using a 1" decorator's brush to describe the three Oak trees.

Lyndon Avenue

  Oil on Board, 3.625 x 5 inches
I've painted this wonderful avenue of Oaks many times, and never is it more majestic than in late Autumn when the colours are simply awesome and the foliage produces dancing, dappled spots of light on the road and verges.

Wednesday, 21 November 2018

Sunset /sky over Rutland Water

 Oil on Board, 3.625 x 5 inches

'Sunset Sky over Rutland Water', oil 3.625 x 5 inches
I felt it was time to paint half-a-dozen Christmas-present-sized paintings, so here's the first one out of the blocks. I've deliberately reduced the size of the file - at high res, because that comes out much bigger than the actual painting on the screen, it looks awful and shows up every flaw, so here it is, more or less actual size on a screen so it doesn't look too bad!

Hay Bales near Preston

 Oil on Board, 3.625 x 5 inches

'Hay Bales near Preston', Oil 3.625 x 5 inches
I've been meaning to paint some bales for a while - just love the light effects on these roly-poly rolls - they have the most subtle tone and colour shifts. I aranged the bales into a pleasing composition - a reminder of late Summer as we head into the cold Winter months!

Monday, 19 November 2018

Beech Fall

Oil on Board, 12 x 17 inches

I painted this a couple of years ago and have revisited it, adding some Fallow Deer for interest, repainted the background and reframed it. Sometimes there's no reason why a painting doesn't sell, and other times it's obvious. Not sure which sector this fits into, but you as an artist have to put yourself into the shoes, or eyes, of a buyer and ask "would I buy this...does this have what it takes for me to fork out my hard-earned money?" A painting has to have a hook, be it bravura brushwork, a familiar place, a romantic vista, an atmospheric quality, a light effect...some sort of impact on the viewer. I think this one is better now, but we'll see by the reaction in the gallery!

St. James's Park

Oil, 9 x 12 inches

Here's my two-hour effort from the magnificent British Plein Air Painters' paint-out at St.James's Park back in October, where the entire park was monopolised by artists, causing lots of passers by to have a chat and wonder what was going on! I couldn't resist the contrast of the overhanging foliage set against the backdrop of blue trees on the distant shreline. The chap leaning against the fence was there for about a minute allowing me to dash him in. I tickled it up in the studio with the help of a couple of photos as aide memoires, and hopefully it captures the beautiful warm hazy light we were blessed with all day.

Tuesday, 18 September 2018

Autumn Larch by Buttermere

Oil on board 10 x 14 inches

A yellow/orange tree set against a mauve/grey backdrop of mountains - what's not to paint! By the steep shores of Buttermere in the Lake District, a beautiful part of our country and an artist's paradise.

The sky, backdrop and water were all painted with hogs and softer flats, then my 1 inch decorator's brush came into its own, with lots of texture pushed in with that gorgeous colour of the foreground tree...yummy! And those dark tussocks of grass were also pushed in wwith the same brush, as was the rest of the grassy bank.

Friday, 14 September 2018

River Brathay in Little Langdale

Oil on board, 10 x 14 inches
The beauty of the Lake District is astounding, and I'm asking myself why I haven't painted it more. I guess because I live in middle England, but I can feel another trip coming on...
I painted this from a reference photo taken a few years ago from exactly this time of year, with just a hint of Autumn colours appearing. How can you not be drawn to paint this glorious place in our country? 
I used my 1" decorator's brush for most of the painting apart from the distant mountains. Sometimes I think I should use conventional brushes like my esteemed colleagues, but then maybe it's my stamp, and whenever I do try to use them beyond the underpainting, it never looks as I want, so maybe I should just accept that it's my way, and contrary to opinion, it's fast, too.

Thursday, 30 August 2018

Broken Willow at Harringworth

Oil on board, 9 x 12 inches
I did this one at yet another demo at Bawtry a couple of years ago, polishing it off yesterday in the studio again. Very unseasonal, but nice for a change instead of the verdant greens of the countryside at the moment. It was a change, too, to paint sunlit yellowy-green branches, with shadows cast all over them by their near neighbours. With the wonderful Summer we've had, you forget the silvery, frosted meadows, but it won't be too long now...soon be Christmas 😱

Wednesday, 29 August 2018

Dashing Moorhen

Oil on board 12 x17 inches

This was yet another demo painting I did sometime this year. A Moorhen dashed across the water just as the pleasureboat appeared around the bend, so I included it in the painting and used it for the title.


Oil on board, 12 x 17 inches
I painted this on the Mall Galleries stand at Patchings Festival this year when I was guest artist, just titivated in the studio to exhibition standard. 
This bit of water, a backwater of the Nene near Waternewton, has given me a lot of subject matter over the years, and the stretch of river changes remarkably each year as new Willows sprout up and in no time become significant trees.

Monday, 27 August 2018

Harvest Fields, Towards Seaton

Oil on board, 9 x 12 inches
I painted this one en plein air last week in an hour-and-a-half in very blustery conditions, barely able to place the paint on the board. I finished it off yesterday in the studio. 
The hook was that lovely dome-shaped tree against the bright sky, silhouetted against the bright sky at the end of the tractor tracks, directing the eye straight to it!

Friday, 24 August 2018

Cattle by the Canal

Oil on Board, 10 x 17 inches

This was yet another demonstration painting done a while back, now finished off. That stately Oak tree on the opposite bank was a gorgeous shape, and with its attendant brown reflection, it made a for a classic composition. Luckily, the cattle in the mid-distance, grazing on the buttercup meadow were perfectly placed and were facing to the right, helping the eye not fly out of the painting on the left. The big trees in shadow on the hill in the distance also made a nice foil to the sunlit fields below.

Thursday, 23 August 2018

The Oxford Canal, by Paddock Farm

Oil on Board 10 x 14 inches

I originally painted this as a demonstration piece last year and now finished off in the studio. That lovely, rusty, sunlit roof of the barn was the hook for this one as I was standing on a bridge over the canal, hence the elevated viewpoint.The canal of course takes the eye on a little journey, down into the shadowy area of water with the moored narrowboat just before the next bridge, and on to the distant hills. My old warhorse car is also in the picture, parked up on the road near the bridge.

Canals have always been a fascination for me - as a boy, I spent a lot of my days with my friend Michael Clifton, fishing for Gudgeon and Roach by the Oxford Canal at Bodicote, watching the now almost extinct Water Voles as they paddled furiously along the water margins, in and out of the Arrowheads, Reeds and Yellow Water Lilies. The water was always an ochre colour, constantly stirred up by the plethora of water craft lazily chugging up the canal, and the water in this picture was no exception, which adds a new dynamic to the painting, especially on a sunny day like this one, when the shadows across the water are all the more distinct - lovely for an artist!

Friday, 3 August 2018

Evening Sky, Mousehole

Oil on board 6 x 8 inches

Probably my last painting for the RSMA exhibition on the small paintings wall. The hook for this one was, of course, the fabulous orange in the sky, lit-up by the setting sun on the opposite side of the harbour. I originally painted the sea with a brush, but felt it lacked some oomph (technical term), so decided to go over it with a palette knife to give it some texture and vibrancy, so hopefully that's worked.

Mousehole Moorings

Oil on board, 14 x 21 inches 
Another painting of beautiful Mousehole, that lovely little fishing village in deepest Cornwall. This was another very complicated backdrop to paint, with all those little cottages and chimney pots, done as loosely as I can do. The only restful area is the water itself, and that was complicated enough, requiring great concentration to get all the colours in the right place and rippled together to simulate gently moving water. I'll go and have a lie down now...

Receding Tide, Mousehole

Oil on board, 14 x 20 inches

I've been working on this one in fits and starts for the RSMA exhibition. It's not a huge painting, but with 24 boats in it and 36 cars, it was a complicated piece, but pleased to have finished it, at last. Probably the favourite passage to work on was the foreground wet mud, with the reflections of the boats still showing.

I t's no longer going into the RSMA exhibition, because a couple of my favourite collectors have bought it - always the best reason why a painting doesn't make it into a show!

Wednesday, 25 July 2018

Moored at Mousehole

Oil on board, 13.25 x 9.25 inches. 

Wet mud is a joy to paint, and the ropes and little running rivulets of water down to the boat provided a perfect composition. All that was needed for balance was to move the red buoy over the the right a little.  If the painting is ever X-rayed in a couple of hundred years time on Fake or Fortune, the original position of the buoy will be seen!

Thursday, 14 June 2018

Early Morning Light, Brancaster Staithe

Oil on Board 10 x 14 inches. 

This one I originally painted as a demo last year, so dug it out and tidied it up to get to exhibition standard, refining the drawing and adding more details. I do enjoy painting mud in Norfolk, when the sunlight is reflecting off it - the dark stones and mussel shells can be depicted with a palette knife dragged across the sticky, drying paint underneath - just a lovely aspect of oil paint.

Broad Haven Breaker

 Oil on Board, 9 x 12 inches. 

This one is intended for the RSMA exhibition in October. I had to ensure I got the colours and tone of the wave spume registered correctly, so that the bright, white sparkles on the flat sea appeared very bright to give that sensation that the viewer was looking into the light.

Thursday, 24 May 2018

Rainstorm at Morcott

Oil on board 4.5 x 5.75 inches

Yes, I know I said 'Sunset over the Mill' was going to be my last little one for the time being, but I found I had 6 frames, not 5, so here is definitely the last one for now! 

Storm clouds are so dramatic seen from a distance, and coupled with rape fields, May blossom and Cow Parsley, it made a great subject for a painting. Might do a watercolour version of this..

Tuesday, 22 May 2018

Sunset over the Mill

Oil on board, 4.5 x 5.75 inches. 

The last of my series of tiddlers for now, I based this partly on a photo I took yesterday on the way home from Stamford - the sun was a fireball just about to slip below the cloud, and I didn't have my camera with me, so I raced back and of course, the sun had gone, but I took a couple of snaps anyway and tried to remember how it looked, and with the aid of the sunset behind be in the studio just now, I substituted the rest.
Oil on board, 5.75 x 4.5 inches 

Another little Spring painting of the River Welland near home - a lovely stretch of river as it winds through meadows. The sparkle on the water was the real 'hook' for the painting, and placing these last made the painting come to life with that little extra impact.

Monday, 21 May 2018

Grazers by the Welland

Oil on Board, 4.5 x 5.75 inches.

I've deliberately cut the size of the photo down to approximately life-size, otherwise the large file shows the brushstrokes as very clumsy and I wanted them to look brilliant, ha ha!

Saturday, 19 May 2018

Bluebells and Campions, Short Wood

Oil 4.5 x 5.75 inches

Short Wood at Glapthorn, near Oundle, is one of the finest Bluebell woods in the country, always begging to be painted!

Tuesday, 15 May 2018

May at Barnsdale

Oil on Board, 4.5 x 5.75 inches

Having just done a 24 x 36 oil, a handbrake turn onto a diddy painting! A tiny size, but plenty of palette knife work in the foreground tree and nearer foliage, and a lot of work with the 1" decorator's brush.

The Fairy Pools, Isle of Skye

Oil on Canvas, 24 x 36 inches

I've been working on this big commissioned painting on and off for a couple of weeks now, and it's finally finished, ready to go to its home at Portree on Skye. 

Getting the relative tones right was the main concern - the gorgeous blue tones of the distant mountains was paramount to make them appear much further away and give the painting depth. 

Onwards now to paint some smaller Spring paintings, as Summer is rushing towards us at a great rate of knots!

Monday, 2 April 2018

Glint on the Water

Oil on Board, 10 x 7.5 inches

Sometimes, the simplest of subjects can prove quite compelling, as was the case here. Generally, this view wouldn't have cried out "paint me", but at the moment the sun poked through the clouds straight ahead of me and the blinding reflected light bounced off the water with scattered jewels of twinkling diamonds, I knew it was a painting. 

Snow is white as we all know, but when facing into the light, it is predominantly in shadow, and with pure sunlight on the water, everything else, including the snow, had to be a tone or two down from it to appear convincing. You can see how relatively dark the snow is in the foreground compared to the white of the surrounding page and the light on the water.  This is often where amateur paintings fall down - keen observation and consequent translation through the brain, down through the hands is the critical thing which separates a painting that just doesn't convince the viewer, from one that does.

Thursday, 15 March 2018

Sundown at Uffington

 Oil on Board, 9 x 12 inches

I went out to paint one afternoon at 4pm, determined to get a little en plein air piece done/half-done, and here's the result...half-done, in an hour-and-a-quarter. I was surprisingly warm, despite a howling gale blowing behind me, but with my padded old painting coat which Jane loves (haha!), overtrousers, scalf and Muckboots (unbelievably warm for the feet), it was all fine, except that...I didn't have my specs with me, durgh! Having set up, I was not going to let a tiny thing like being unable to see the board in front of me stop me, oh no! It was super-challenging with the sun moving incredibly quickly straight ahead of me, and chasing the light (doubly blinding) isn't a good idea. I persevered, and these two pics are one hour apart, and you can see how much the light changed and moved as the sun went down. The painting looked awful when I got home and finally put my glasses on, but I managed to rescue it with the aid of a couple of photos. Great experience though, nonetheless, out in the raw, and when clearing up, unable to wear gloves, frostbite soon set-in the fingers with temperatures around -7, but a simple swipe with a sharp knife soon got rid of all four fingers and I'm as right as rain now

Nature Notes

Nature Notes:I had a walk alongside the river after the heavy snowfall a couple of weeks ago, and within a couple of hundred yards, startled a Brown Hare just six feet from me, near the bank, and as it shot off like a...Hare...I just managed to get a snap of it before it was a hundred yards away as fast as a Ferrari would have got there. Second pic shows its 'form', the term for a Hare's resting place, quite cosy beneath a covering of vegetation and snow, a nice little igloo, before yours truly disturbed him.
Spot the Swans in the next pic - can you see them, just before they slipped into the water? So well camouflaged - surely they evolved from Arctic regions and haven't caught up yet with green!

These next three pics show a Grey heron after it had seen me before I it. I love the way the long neck acts like an independant counter-weight, moving backwards and forwards as the rest of the body gains momentum.

It was really hard-going, walkng a couple of miles through thick snow - up to the top of the wellies, and over, as you can see here:
Some of the snow had a hard crust on it and I could walk ON it, but every few steps the boot would sink down 18 inches, as you can see in this next photo, and I was exhausted at the end. I did also attempt to cross over the river in the shallows....but not quite shallow enough...yes, you guessed it, a bootful of icey water later, I had an even more uncomfortable track back to the car.
This last pic shows the Winterwonderland view from the house looking down to my studio before my outside light went off, as the snow continued to fall - just love that long shadow of the Oak tree!

Three more 6 x 8s!

 A Corner of the Welland

A little oil from a recent trip to my river. Grey day, but the snow looks so white when it's overcast like this.

 Bank Drift

This one was all about that amazingly sculpted snow drift on the opposite bank. There were so many such drifts on the roadsides around here, but I've never seen snow drifts like this on a riverbank - just beautiful!

Snow by the Welland

Here's the last of my subdued snow paintings, well, not subdued paintings - they were all completed with slashing gusto, obviously...🙄🤔 The lighting was subdued, making the snow appear very white. I do love the subtle colours of Winter, without the flashy greens of summer, and in this one there were maroons, browns, greens, ochres and blues, as well as the obvious white.

Glint of Sunlight


Here are a few stage photos showing the painting evolving to the finished article, which I know some folks like to see. The painting is only a little one, at 6 x 8 inches.