Saturday, 21 December 2019

Frost Spangles

 Oil on Board, 12 x 17 inches

I painted this as a demonstration painting for Blaby Society of Artists a couple of weeks ago, finishing it off in the studio this morning. I love painting the lovely silvery colour of frosted grass, just before the normal green colour returns as the sun heats up the icing sugar dusting. This painting was largely about the subtle tones looking straight into the sun. The white colour of the bark of a birch tree only appears white if the sun is shining on it, but here, looking directly into the light, it appears quite a dark shade of blue, yet our eyes tell us it's white. See how dark it is next to the sky colour. The spangles of the title are those lovely little jewels of light that twinkle on the leaves and twiggery, spotted in with a palette knife. #silverbirch #woodland #frostedgrass #frostedvegetation

Patrick's Byre

Oil on board 7.5 x 10 inches. 

Jane's been on at me to paint this since we got back from our holiday in the Dordogne, so today, I did it while she was at work in the gallery. Who said I can't do loose?! Painted in 1 and a quarter hours, it was a refreshing change to 'dash one off' with free brushstrokes. #frenchbyre #frenchbarn

Beacon by the Brathay

Oil on board, 10 x 14 inches.
This was a fleeting light effect which lasted for all of 5 seconds, never to reappear again. It was by the River Brathay in Langdale, when the sun suddenly came out and shone on that young Oak tree on the mid-distance hill, lighting it and it alone, like a bright orange beacon - hence the title. I managed to get a photo of that moment and painted this from it. #sunlitoak #riverbrathay #langdale #autumncolours #paintingofautumn #fallpainting

Saturday, 23 November 2019

Autumn Oaks above Buttermere

Oil on board, 9 x 12 inches.

I painted this one on site last week on a trip to The Lakes, but had to abandon it when the light faded and my hands got frostbite. I liked the great purple-grey mountain looming up into the clouds, and the orange of the Oak trees seemed perfect against the blue curtains behind, so I scrambled up a hill to find the best vantage point and quickly sketched out the composition and got the gist of it down and finished it off in the studio.

I can't express enough how important it is to keep standing away a couple of yards from the painting in order to see any drawing faults and check the colour and tone put down. It's much better to keep assessing, rather than ploughing on and finding it's wrong when you're nearly finished. That's why I like to stand when I'm painting, even in the comfort of the studio, because it's so much easier just to step back, instead of getting off your chair.

Friday, 15 November 2019

By the River Brathay

Oil 6 x 8 inches SOLD
Here's a little painting I painted on site on a trip to the Lake District to absorb the breath-taking Autumn Colours. Having got home, I tickled it a bit in the studio. The river is a deep, slow-moving one, where it flows from Elterwater and winds around the subtle bends, providing lots of beautiful reflections - right up my street...or river!

Friday, 1 November 2019

Castle Crag, above Grange-in-Borrowdale

Oil on Board, 6 x 8 inches 
A quick oil sketch of the River Derwent where it turns under the iconic bridges at Grange, with Castle Crag in the background.

Still endeavouring to paint more loosely and painterly - the journey continues...

Tuesday, 29 October 2019

Barns near Hawes

Oil on board 12 x 17 inches.
Strong sunlit lights and dark shadows, with lovely stone and metal textures, this was a dream subject. Lots of tones to observe and replicate in this, and if you can get them right, you can create a sense of depth and distance.
Learning to loosen-up a little, with trees that look as though they've been painted by someone else, but really enjoying the process - you never stop learning in this game, and if you think you know it all, you don't!

Saturday, 19 October 2019

Langstrath Beck, by Eagle Crag

Oil on board, 6 x 8 inches. 

I particularly enjoyed painting the backdrop of Larches, moving the oil paint around with a large flat Rosemary&co Eclipse brush. It looks complicated, but the painting came together very quickly - always lovely when that happens! For sale at #langstrath #lakedistrict #lakeland #cumbria #landscape #waterfall

Towards Wardley Wood

Oil on board, 10 x 12 inches. 

I don't often paint on a squarer format 10 x 12 board, but this subject lent itself perfectly, with those towering cumulus clouds as a backdrop. I'm persevering with the big flat brush to describe the trees, which definitely gives a more painterly feel, so a new chapter continues with my painting...
For sale at
#wardley #rutland #clouds #landscape #oilpainting

The Borrowdale Derwent

 Oil on board, 9.25 x 13.25 inches.

I painted a very similar view some years ago, but wanted to attack this one with a much looser approach, and am quite pleased with the result. To paint really loosely is practically impossible for me, so a middle ground might be a happy compromise...
For sale soon at
#landscape #riverine #riverDerwent #artlovers #artwork #artist #allaprimapainting #oilpainting #oilpaintingsforsale #representationalart #realisticpainting #Lakedistrict

Early Spring at Barnwell

Oil on board, 6 x 8 inches
An experimental small painting, done from a photo, using much freer, looser brushtrokes than my 'normal' way of painting. I'm liking the looser look - just looks as though it's been done by someone else! Now SOLD #landscape #riverine #artlovers #artwork #artist #allaprimapainting #oilpainting #oilpaintingsforsale #Barnwellcountrypark

Purple Loosestrife by the Nene

Oil on board, 10 x 14 inches

This started life as a demo earlier this year, so it deserved to be finished off. It's a little easier to paint water with Alkyds, but just about got away with it with standard oils - might try with a little white Alkyd next time...
#landscape #riverine #rivernene #artlovers #artwork #artist #allaprimapainting #oilpainting #oilpaintingsforsale #representationalart #realisticpainting

Wednesday, 25 September 2019

Afternoon Glare on Rutland Water

Oil on board, 7.5 x 10 inches
I painted this one last August en plein air, and polished it off yesterday. The sky changed very much in the two hours I was on site, so by the end, the light had changed hugely. In these circumstances, it's almost impossible to carry on, because you will have two pictures in one. There was no sparkling light at all on the water at the end, so it was very different. Time to pack up and head for the studio with aide memoire of a photo, which, in this case, I didn't take, so memory had to do!

Sunday, 22 September 2019

Langstrath Beck

 Oil on Board, 7.5 x 10 inches

Experimenting again using a reference photo, this is similar to one I painted a few years ago from a different angle. I really loved painting the main tree with the wet, standard oil paint. It's a bit tight in places, but the overall result I'm reasonably happy with. Work in progress...

Reflections near Tixover

Oil on Board, 9 x 12 inch

I painted this one en plein air and finished it off in the studio. It's a mixture of my old familiar style and new, looser mode of painting. I think my new method will prove easier to paint en plein air, and I can feel a new chapter beginning...

Saturday, 21 September 2019

Stormy Sky over Farmstead by Lyddington

 Oil 7.5 x 10 inches 

Still experimenting with my looser method of painting, which I'm really enjoying. The entire landscape was done with a large flat, quite different to my modus operandi, but great fun.

Addendum - I wasn't convinced about the brown ploughed field in the forground, so I changed it to a stubble field, which I think improves matters - see the two versions above!

Evening Hack, near Glaston

Oil 9 x 12 inches. 

I painted this one a couple of weeks ago out in the raw, if a very warm September evening can be considered 'in the raw'! It was a bit of a struggle with the light changing all the time, but I wanted to capture that lovely, golden light as evening comes. I finished the painting off in the studio. This is a slight mix of techniques, using a large, flat brush to paint all the trees, but I switched to my trusty 1" decorator's brush to paint the foreground roadsides - this is a very quick method and although the effect is a little more photographic then painterly, perhaps, it works, is fast and helps to give depth to the painting, rather than being all painterly, or less fully described.

Saturday, 31 August 2019

Bright and Breezy

Oil on Board, 10 x 14 inches

This one was a last second (literally!) submission for the ROI exhibition, painted much more loosely then most of my efforts. I've used a decorator's brush to depict tree foliage for years, but here I again used just a large, flat, Eclipse synthetic brush from Rosemary & Co., and the entire painting was painted with standard oils, rather than my usual fast-drying Alkyds - I'm enjoying the different technique involved, placing colour on top of wet paint.

Thursday, 29 August 2019

Harvest fields near Morcott

Oil on Board, 10 x 14 inches

I started this painting on site, in extreme heat, even at 10am, with the sun beating down on me from my left, but after 3/4 of an hour, it became unsustainable, not from the heat, but the thousands of small flies in clouds above my head and landing on the wet paint every few seconds, requiring lifting off with the corner of the palette knife. So, I got as far as I could then finished it off in the studio.

I again adopted a far looser approach than has been my modus operandi for a long time, using a big, Rosemaryandco Eclipse Short Flat brush for all the tree, hedgerow and field work. I'm liking the more 'painterly' feel, the less photographic look, so might even submit this to the Royal Institute of Oil Painters and see if they like it...

Sunday, 25 August 2019

Sun Going Down, Harvest Bales

Oil on board 7 x 10.75 inches

Another very loose painting, for me. For small paintings like this, I have always used fast-drying Alkyds almost exclusively, but for this I used only standard, slow-drying oils. The technique is different - previously, I have always scrubbed in the dark shapes and by the time they have dried sufficiently, half-an-hour or so, I have worked into these with heavier paint, using a 1" decorator's brush. This can give a very realistic finish, which buyers do like. But this can be difficult to achieve in the time allotted to en plein air work. So, here, I painted in the dark shapes with reasonably heavy paint, and worked back into them with the paint obviously still very wet - quite enjoyed it actually. 

The foreground 'stripes' of stubble were going straight out of the picture, stage left, so I used some artistic licence and painted them turning inwards, directing the eye through to the descending sun. The temptation to depict the stubble in much more convincing detail was strong, but somehow I managed to curb the urge! My feelings are that artists will prefer this looser approach, but will the collectors who give me a living...?

Distant Fire, Rutland Water

Oil on board, 10 x 14 inches

I was out painting en plein air the other evening, starting at around 6.30pm. I was looking more or less straight into the sun, which was shining brightly, but, inevitably, as sunset was approaching, the sky changed beyond recognition...and I ended up chasing the light! Painting the way I do, it's never easy to get things down really quickly, so a changing scene is a real challenge. I took a photo just before I packed up, and opted to paint the sky as the sun was descending - painting to be completed in the studio. But, this got me thinking - perhaps I should adopt a very different approach outside, and paint very much more loosely. I love the work of painters who paint big paintings with ease, in a short amount of time, with broad brushstrokes, like the New Zealander, John Crump, so I attempted this one above in a similar fashion. When you love putting in detail, it's extremely difficult to loosen-up. Anyway, here's one - any comments as to what you think would be welcome, good or bad!

Update - I repainted the foreground and the sky a little, so have added the newer version at the top for comparison... 

Wednesday, 14 August 2019

Rising Sun and Tide at Thornham

Pastel on Pastelmat 13 x 19 inches

I was going to put this paintng into the RSMA exhibition, but didn't get it finished in time, so it will shortly be on view and for sale in my gallery, you lucky people!

It started life as a demonstration piece, but having assessed it in the studio, I have to confess I used a little artistic licence in putting in the rising sun, which I think improves the composition and overall impact of the painting. 

Saturday, 10 August 2019

Glistening Mud, Porthleven

Oil on Linen Canvas 18 x 26 inches
This painting involved probably the most intense periods of concentration of any painting I've done, with so many boats lined up, all with so much more boat to paint when their hulls are exposed at low tide. 
It was a really bright Summer's day, with strong, crisp shadows thrown across the mud, and those sunlit roofs etched across the skyline of the row of houses looking down on the harbour. I had to get the tones of all the relevant players right, in order for those sunlit roofs to really 'pop' - too bright a sky and they wouldn't pop at all. Then all those beautiful red buoys of varying tones and subtle hues, and when I'd finished them and all the boat shapes were more or less completed, I had to attack the mud flats and gorgeous little rivulets of blue water running through them, again paying careful attention to the relative tones of both. Here's where I used the faster drying qualities of Alkyd Oil, letting the paint underneath dry a little and become very stiff and tacky, so that I could use a brush and palette knife to drag more light, thick paint over the top to get the effect I wanted. It feels like my 'Bohemian Rhapsody'! 
The painting will be in the RSMA Exhibition at the Mall Galleries in London in October.

Monday, 22 July 2019

Dawn Light, Mevagissey

Oil on Board, 7.5 x 10 inches

The last small oil for the RSMA exhibition in October - now to a BIG one, well, relatively so...

People often very kindly comment that I paint water well, and I generally say that actually, painting water is a darned sight easier than painting trees and the other stuff above water. But, in this case, it was a lot more tricky. The water was ruffled by the early morning breeze, breaking up any reflections and casting very subtle streaks of dark and light tones on the sea. I blocked in the rough tones with a fairly 'dry' brush, not laying too much paint on, so that it dried relatively quickly, then dragged the adjacent tones and colours over the underpainting, using a palette knife and hog brush. Then, with a little blending here and there with a Rosemary Eclipse Long Flat no 6 brush, I peppered the rest with a well-loaded a 1" daler-Rowney Script System 3 Rigger, varying the colours throughout to suit. Quite enjoyed it actually!

Saturday, 20 July 2019

Into the Light, Burnham Overy Staithe

Oil on Board, 10 x 12 inches

Another smallish oil for the RSMA show. The hook for this one was the intense sunlight bouncing off the water, spots of sparkling light twinkling like jewels. The Poppies growing in the foreground bank echoed the red buoys in the water, too - and yes, they were actually there! Boats are terribly fiddly creatures, and they have to 'look' right - getting their sexy curves is paramount. The next big studio painting is going to be a real challenge, with a LOT of boats resting at low tide on mud - right up my street, so look out for that one a-coming... 

Friday, 12 July 2019

Remus and Fearnot at Brancaster Staithe

Oil on Board, 12 x 14 inches

Another painting for the RSMA exhibition this October. I've painted this boat on numerous occasions, in different light and changing seasons and from different angles. Resting on wet, sparkling mud is always what attracts my eye the most, and oil paint is the most perfect medium to depict it. I love dragging a palette knife across a tacky underpaint to get the effect I'm looking for.


Wednesday, 3 July 2019

Lion Rock, Near Kynance Cove

Oil on Belgian Linen Canvas, 18 x 24 inches
Here's my second painting for the RSMA exhibition,  The glorious West Coast Patch is just full of paintable subjects, and on a bright, hazy Summer's day, there's no finer place to be. Looking down from the high cliffs on the surf crashing onto the rocks below makes us, mere human beings, seem very small and insignificant, compared to the power of nature. And what a superb subject to paint, rocks galore, all described with halos of light. I found the best vantage point with some lovely Gorse and Heather in the foreground, and placed a couple of figures on the top of the cliffs in the distance, which gives some scale to the majestic rocky outcrops.

Towards Morton

 Oil on Board, 9 x 12 inches

This one is a commissioned painting, looking down towards Morton, a village near Bourne in Lincolnshire.

From the top of the hill, there was a nice progression into the distance across the fen, with a lovely blue on the horizon line. The strip of bright yellow Rape field provided a stripe of gorgeous colour, and lots of umbellifored Cow Parsley adorned the roadsides for more interest. The sky was a uniform blue when I was there, which was a bit boring, so I used a little artistic licence and conjured up some light clouds for more interest too.   

Thursday, 20 June 2019

Leaving St.Mary's

Oil on Board, 11 x 24 inches

This is the first painting that I'm submitting for the Royal Society of Marine Artists annual exhibition this year. Based on a couple of photos I took when we were leaving the glorious Scilly Isles last October. I loved the overall grey tones, punctuated by that flash of yellow light near the horizon. And the lovely orange and blue of the lifeboat provided a gorgeous touch of colour - put your thumb over it and it would have been a very boring seascape!

Painted entirely with Titanium White, Cad.Yellow Light, Permanent Rose and Ultramarine Blue, it was mostly about getting the mixes right, especially for the choppy sea, and changing those subtle variants accordingly.

Tuesday, 11 June 2019

Beech Spring

Oil on Board, 12 x 17 inches

This is the second in a series of four commissions I am painting for a client, all from the same spot, Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter, this being the spring version, as if you hadn't guessed!

Beech leaves are a spectacular sight at any time of year. Here, in May, they are fresh acid green, getting a deeper green tone in Summer, before transforming into the orange of Autumn - quite looking forward to painting that one! There is always a bed of composting old leaves at any time of year beneath beech trees, and I suggested these with lots of palette-knife work over a sticky underpaint. the same technique was used for some of the leaves nearer the viewer, too.

Thursday, 6 June 2019

Birches and Bluebells

Oil on Board, 6 x 8 inches

The Bluebells are all gone now for another year, but just can't resist painting them each year. These were in Barnsdale Wood on the banks of Rutland Water, a beautiful woodland, carpeted with these glorious flowers. I used a bit of artistic licence, adding the two Silver Birches for interest. 

Most of the painting, aside from the trees themselves, was done with my trusty 1" decorators brush and a large fan brush, which can load sufficient paint on and apply in the right manner to depict foliage and flowers.

Tuesday, 28 May 2019

Oaks Under an Indigo Sky

Oil on board, 6.5 x 10.5 inches

I was playing golf a couple of weeks ago when a thundery storm was brewing all around us, and looking to my left, there was this magnificently dark sky, with sunlit Oaks and a yellow Rape field set against it. I took a quick snap with my phone, then this fabulous light effect, where the foliage of the trees was lighter than the sky (so rare that it happens) was gone in a few seconds. But I had enough to make a painting from, fortunately, and here it is.

Beech Trees in Spring

Oil on Board, 9.25 x 13.25 inches
This beautiful wood is part of an ancient woodland called Bedford Purlieus in Cambridgeshire. Beech trees are beautiful at any time of year, but in Spring, their acid green leaves are just an emblem of the season. With a few Bluebells on the woodland floor, a painting subject is made.

Wednesday, 22 May 2019

January Light, Wakerley Wood

Oil on Board, 6 x 8 inches

I did the underpainting for this little oil a while ago, and have another big one on the back-burner of a similar subject - very much looking forward to finishing that one. 

I just love the muted tones of Winter, here with blue frost still in the shadow of the mid-distant field, providing a lovely complement for the orange of the leaves still left on the Beech trees and the russet-toned carpet of leaves on the ground. Lots of impasto dabs to depict the leaf carpet - delicious! The sunlit bright yellow-green headwear of the tree stumps were also a delight to paint.

Daffodil Wood at Manton

Oil on board, 7.5 x 10 inches

I passed this wood a few weeks ago in the car and spotted Daffodils, and thought this might make a painting. So, I popped back when I had more time. Someone had obviously planted them, along with some Fritillaries, neither of which grow wild in woods, but what a sight they looked - cue the oils! There was just a distant haze of Bluebells,which provided a nice foil to the predominant yellows and greens.


Wednesday, 3 April 2019

Sun Reflection

Oil on Board, 10 x 14 inches

Orange and blue are complimentary colours and always sing together, and there are plenty of both in this painting, which again started life as a demo last year. It would have made quite a nice composition without it, but the reflection of the sun glaring full power off the water really was the obvious hook.


Wednesday, 30 January 2019

Teasels by the Welland

 Oil on Board, 9 x 13 inches
I'm rattling through all these demo paintings I've had stacked in the studio for months, and here's another one finished off. There's a common theme in nearly all these recent efforts - contre-jour, ie, facing into the sun. This tends to create strong highlights and shadows, so that there is plenty of contrast in the painting, giving it interest and often more impact. I love a Wintry subject for this light effect too - pale blue-greys for the distant trees, getting ever darker and warmer towards the foreground

Tuesday, 29 January 2019

Winter Grazers near Gretton

Pastel 13x 19 inches
Yes, another demo painting I did last year, at Peterborough Art society I think. I finished back in the studio today. I reserved the pure Titanium White Schmincke Pastel stick, the softest, most buttery stick, to knock-in those gleaming jewels of sunlight. I say knock-in, because it is exactly the noise it makes, banging in those spotlights with the edge of the stick, rather like an impasto blob of Oil paint, after brushing off a tiny bit of underlying pigment with a Hog brush. Hmm, a bit more info divulged...I'll have to kill you all.

Rising Sun at Wakerley

 Pastel 13 x 19 inches
From the bridge on the Wakerley Road between Barrowden and Wakerley, I've painted this view a few times, and with a little artistic licence, I moved the dawn orb a little to the right of centre. Who can resist painting such a subject? Not me!

To Pastures New

 Pastel 13 x 19 inches
Yet another demo I painted last year from a 14 x 20 Oil painting, shown here. I changed a couple of the postures and plumage of the cattle, but otherwise, painted it pretty much as was - interesting to compare the two mediums. It would be even more interesting to compare a Watercolour to the Oil, but I've not had the courage to paint a Watercolour for a goodly this space!

Monday, 28 January 2019

Banks of Frost

Pastel 13 x 19 inches
I'm ploughing through a few demo paintings I did last year, just refining them to exhibition standard, beyond the two hours of the demo.
Almost a monochrome painting, with a lot of close tones, it was an exercise in capturing various subtle greys to achieve the desired result. I find using the Pastel medium tougher than Oils for this kind of subject, because you need so many close colours, and finding them on my extensive palette is no easy task, especially being an untidy painter - I get so into the painting that I put a stick down, grab another one and before I know it, the colours are all mixed up, which is fatal, and it stops the flow. 
I love the 'softer' look and feel of Pastels, but Oils will always be my preferred medium for most subjects, although using Pastels also makes the desire to grab the brushes again even stronger!

Saturday, 26 January 2019

Winter Reedmace

Pastel 13 x 19 inches
Yes, I am still alive, and this is the first painting for 51 days - I've been doing work on the new PBFA gallery in Uppingham which has kept me from the easel, but it's good to be back in the saddle again!

This was the final demo I did last year, duly polished off in the studio. Winter can be a somewhat monochrome season, but when it snows, then there's sunshine, the beautiful, subtle, complimentary colours are a dream to paint - lots of greys, browns, oranges and blues - scrummy! 

Describing the background trees set against the distant backdrop is the most challenging, and in this case, it's firstly choosing the right colour, then applying the stick using its point for the trunk and on its side with the most gentle pressure for the feathery tracery.