Thursday, 28 June 2012

Village Exhibition

Just a last minute reminder to you all about my exhibition - please scroll down to June 22nd post below for all the details.  I've gathered together, astonishingly, something like 64 paintings, old and new, if I can fit them all in that is!

I shall be in attendance throughout and it would be great to see some of you sometime over the three days.  I'm the short, dark handsome one.....

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Five New Old Paintings

I re-visited these five paintings after finding them languishing in the hidden depths of the spare bedroom after having a tidy-up. 
Vintage Car Rally, Stamford, Pastel, 121/4 x 181/2  inches
This is a Pastel I painted five or six years ago from a snap I took at a vintage car rally in Stamford.  I've added a figure walking on the bridge to push the eye back into the picture, and a few Mallards dabbling in the sparkling water.  The real inspiration for this picture was the dazzling light bouncing off the green tent in the background - I just love the way light plays on certain objects and partially diffuses things around them.  The heads of the people was good fun to paint too, with a halo of light on each one, that effect you get when looking into the light - you all know by now that that's my favourite.  

Padstow Harbour, Pastel 15 x 23 inches

 With fresh eyes, I realised I had painted the bottom half of the sky too bright, so I toned it down a shade to give more impact to the pure sunlight glinting off the water.  Pure sunlight bouncing off water always appears brighter than the sky above it, apart from the sun itself, so I think the painting has more punch now.

 Hauling-in, Cromer Beach 
Watercolour 14 x 21 inches

I painted this Watercolour, yes, Watercolour, way back in 1988 - 24 years ago when I was but a young buck of 34.  The sky was accurate, very light and very well painted, though I say so myself, but it was terribly dull and lifeless and hardly surprisingly, didn't sell.  So, having re-stretched the paper by soaking the back and taping it all round with gummed tape, I decided to open my shoulders and let myself loose with a big mop brush.  I wetted the paper and flooded varying washes mixed with Cadmium Yellow Light, Permanent Rose and Ultramarine Blue, carrying on the washes over the sea and wet sand, using more red and yellow further down.  I lost control a bit, but having not done a Watercolour for three years at least, it was inevitable, but good fun nonetheless.

Evening Sunlight, Halvergate Marshes
Pastel 14 x 21 inches

Halvergate Marshes are in Suffolk, and I went there after seeing Gordon Beningfield's paintings of the area in his superb books on the countryside.  

Stupidly, I forgot to photograph this one before I put it back in its frame, so the photo doesn't do it justice and it looks a lot better than here, the darks being much less saturated.  I didn't do much to the actual painting, just a little more pigment on and around the sun itself.  When I painted this about 20 years ago, I was using hard Pastels on Canson paper, but now I use very soft Pastels on Clairefontaine Pastelmat, the combination giving a much richer feel to the finished painting, more Oil-like.  But the addition of the Schminke and Sennelier brand light pigments helped give this painting more impact. 

I actually did more work on the frame which was a gaudy, burnished gold colour.  I painted it with Farrow & Ball 'Mizzle', a pale grey-green colour, then when fully dry, rubbed over the high points with a medium-grade wire wool, exposing the 'high' points, then waxed it with neutral Liberon Fine Paste wax before buffing.  I love the finish I got and it gives a more 'contemporary' feel to the painting.  I hate the word contemporary when it comes to a painting - it's almost invariably a euphamism for a talentless daub, but I do like a lot of modern frames.  Here's a photo of my handywork anyway:

Sunlit Willow, Pastel 10 x 14 inches

I also forgot to photograph this one before putting it behind glass, so again it's not a great photo of it.

I painted this one back in the early '90's, again on Canson paper.  I totally changed it, depicting a darker, brooding sky, with the silver-tipped Willow set against it and darker Oaks pitched against the lighter part of the sky.

Friday, 22 June 2012

Village Exhibition

You are all invited to an exhibition of my work in my village.  Details:

Preview Evening 
Friday 29th June, 7-9pm
South Luffenham Church, Rutland LE15 8NX
Wine and Canap├ęs
Tickets £5
from Janet Bentley 01780 722414 or Helen Saunders 01780 720688
the exhibition will also be open on
Saturday 30th June, 2 - 5pm
entrance £3 payable at the church
and on
 Sunday 1st July, 1 - 6pm
Open Gardens in the village
entrance £5 payable at the church

home-made Cream Teas available
in the Village Hall all weekend

Tickets will also be available on the door for the Preview Evening on the Friday, but it would help if you could let me know if you intend coming, so that we know how many hundreds to cater for, thank you!  As you can see, the exhibition will be open on Saturday afternoon too, but if gardens are your thing, then Sunday afternoon will be for you. I hasten to add that the entrance fees do not go to me, but to the upkeep of the village church!  I hope to see you!

Pictures from Patchings Festival

I had a great four days at Patchings with the weather being reasonably kind despite the dire forecast, although we did have a mini hurricane which lifted up the steel support by my stand and moved it a full 6 feet!  

I'd like to thank all of you who stopped by and had a chat and watched me paint, and for your very kind comments.  Mind you, not many folks take the trouble to actually say you're rubbish to your face, even if they think it!

Here are a few pics from the show.  I completed three paintings during the four days, the finished images to follow when I've titivated them a bit.  I've spent every day this week colouring frames, ready for my exhibition next week in my village

Day 1 under close scrutiny, painting an oil from a previous Pastel painting

 Day 3 explaining technique and colour to an onlooker

 Day 3 sharing some frivolity

Day 3, some chap pretending
 to be me with a bald patch

Day 4, two avid fans 'sitting on my shoulder'

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Patchings Art Festival

I shall be demonstrating at Patchings Festival from Thursday to Sunday this week, so please come and look me up in the big Painting Marquee.  There will be original paintings, prints, cards and postcards for sale.  But please, no ugly scenes, scrambling to get near me for autographs or just to touch me - it's so unseemly........

There will be over 50 other artists demonstrating in the same marquee, along with guest artists within their own tent each day, including David Curtis (I've taught him all I know) on Saturday. 

For more details go the festival website at

Hope to see you there!

Sunrise, Aberglaslyn Pass

Oil on Board, 6 x 8 inches

This is another little painting I did 6 years ago which lacked a bit of punch, so I've contrived a sunrise, looking upstream using a little artistic licence.  I think it's given the painting a bit more impact, hopefully, in its new guise.

Autumn, Derwentwater

Oil on Board, 9 x 12 inches

This is a painting of Derwentwater I did a few years ago which I've re-painted, titivating it a bit here and there.

Friday, 8 June 2012

Quiet Day Towards Widford

Oil on Board, 10 x 14 inches

Here's another studio painting from my Cotswolds painting trip.  This was about a mile downstream, two days after I saw "JR Hartley" and painted 'Bright Evening by The Windrush'.  The light was very different; gone was the bright sunlight, and the landscape took on a much more close-toned, calmer feel to it, ironically much easier to paint en plein air, because the light doesn't change much, but I didn't have time, only enough to take a few photos and some mental notes.

I made the mistake of contriving a brighter sky for the subject, but near the end, I felt it didn't work, so I re-painted it with more sombre tones, which seemed to sit better within the overall tone of the piece.  Listen to me...I almost sounded a bit precious then for a moment...'piece' indeed...I should be an art critic!  The greeny-white Cow Parsley was good fun to paint, and a test of getting the colours right, sitting against the bluey-grey water.  The hay field on the far bank had just been cut and provided a nice ochrey foil to all the greens.

Anyway, I'm happy with the result, despite the lack of contrast.  It can be a mistake sometimes to search out the sunlight and ignore the seemingly dull scene in front of you.  If you take a look at my fellow artists' websites and blogs on their links to the right, you can see that they have made some terrific plein air studies in very overcast conditions.  Talking of overcast, have a look at David Pilgrim's two cracking paintings of the Queen's pageant last Sunday at, both painted in the pouring rain! 

I must apologise for the deep, gravelly tone of my words on this post - I contracted some horrible cold virus that has made its home in my chest and throat, making me sound firstly like Joe Pasquale, and now like Barry White.  I shall, hopefully, be well and sounding normal (just plain sexy) by the time you all come to see me at Patchings Art Festival next week, where I shall be demonstrating all four days in the painting marquee, Thursday 14th through to Sunday 17th inclusive, more details to follow.

Monday, 4 June 2012


 Oil on Board, 10 x 14 inches

This one is a studio painting after my Cotswold sojourn.  The elderly gentleman was fly-fishing with a Mayfly fly, and I took a couple of photos into the sunlight as he cast his fly, hoping to get something I could make a painting from.  It was about 24 degrees and I did my best to get that feeling of a warm sultry evening, looking straight into the sun.

Oh yes, the title. I was going to call it 'The Old Master', but then I remembered the old Yellow Pages advert on the telly - the slightly older ones amongst you in the UK will remember - where the fictitious old gent was calling in all the old bookshops for a copy of Fly-fishing by JR Hartley, without success.  His daughter then gave him Yellow Pages and he called all the bookshops until he found one that actually had a copy.  The shop asked him his name so that they could put it aside for him....his name of course was JR Hartley himself.  I just thought of him when I saw this chap of similar vintage, so there was the title.

I loved the spots of pure sunlight on the water and glinting off his rod, but most of all, that look of concentration on an old master of the craft, watching his lure as it passed over a previous rise of a Brownie.  He didn't catch one when I watched, and he graciously apologised for not 'performing' on cue.  I carried on walking upstream to paint 'Bright Evening by The Windrush' and the angler caught up with me later, saying he had a painting by that great Cotswold Watercolourist James Fletcher-Watson, painted from a spot near where I had chosen.

Broadway from Snowshill

Oil on Board, 7.5 x 10 inches

Another plein air painting from the Cotswolds trip, this time from Snowshill looking back down to Broadway, with a field of Sheep and magnificent Oaks in the foreground.
Broadway looked gorgeous in the distant haze, a recession of paler blues as a foil to the vivid May greens.
Here's a view of the painting on site:

Bright Evening by The Windrush

 Oil on Board, 9 x 12 inches

I painted this one en plein air on a trip to The Cotswolds last week.  This was the River Windrush just east of Burford.  Painting on site is a challenge at the best of times, especially when you are facing into the sun, but this was even more trying on this occasion because the Mayfly hatch was at its peak, with billions of them flying everywhere.  They hatch from their nymphs during the day, fly about in an enthusiastic, mesmerising dance, mate during the evening, then drop their eggs into the water for the whole two-year process to start again, whilst all the adults are either eaten by Chub, Brown Trout, Swallows and Martins, or die overnight anyway. 

I've included a few photos of me painting, showing the Mayflies on my tee-shirt and on the back of the painting (not on the actual painting which was in shade - they liked the sunlit back of it) and a couple showing the painting in progress and how bright the sun was right in front of me.