Thursday, 30 January 2014

Sunset over the Thames at Richmond

Pastel on Clairefontaine Pastelmat, 13 x 19 inches
Back in November, my friend Haidee-Jo Summers (a familiar name to many of you) and I went down for a day of plein air painting by the Thames at Richmond with a band of painters called the Brass Monkeys.  We only did one painting each, nowhere near finished, because poor Haidee developed a migraine (I have this effect on people!), so I dashed to the nearest chemists to get her some Migralieve, which, fortunately, did the trick for her.
On walking back to the car, I snapped a photo of the glorious sunset, which provided the basis for this painting, with a little artistic license.  As you'll know if you're familiar with my daubs, I tend to paint trees with perhaps more apparent detail in oils, so it's sometimes nice to ring the changes and tackle them with Pastels, which gives a softer, more painterly feel, I think. There were an awful lot of subtle changes of tones in the mauves and yellows and the corresponding darker notes, and these had to be observed with a lot of concentration (just in case you thought we artists just hold a magazine in one hand and paint with the other, barely glancing at the paper!)  Sunsets are tricky, getting the brilliance of the oranges and warm sky tones to shine out without getting the darker tones too dark.

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Towards Falmouth Docks

Pastel on Clairfontaine Pastelmat, 9 x 13 inches

As I still had my Pastels spread out on my enormous palette (a long piece of wood) after painting Ruffin, I thought I would do this little study from a trip to St.Anthony's head in Cornwall last September.

Pastels are a bit fiddly on this scale with this sort of subject, with blunt little stubs to manouevre around, but I quite enjoyed the looseness of the water. Being a dull day, there was little light casting any interesting sparkles and shadows on the vista, so the close tones had to be carefully observed, a little more difficult with the dry medium.

Sunday, 26 January 2014


 Pastel on Clairefontaine Pastelmat, 12 x 9 inches

I rarely do pet portraits these days, but this is Ruffin, and he is a surprise present. Ruffin is a Border Terrier and is very much a typical member of the breed, with a rugged, scruffy coat, boundless energy and packed with the sheer indomitable spirit of being alive on this planet.  This is what I desperately wanted to capture with this painting and I think I've just about got him.

Thursday, 16 January 2014

Swans by the Bridge

Oil on Board, 12 x 17 inches SOLD

This is the final painting destined for the Marine House Gallery stand at the Hong Kong Affordable Art Fair.  

I never tire of painting Swans, and this family group were particularly appealing, the juveniles' plumage echoing the frosted vegetation beautifully.  The dark band of tone on the top right section is actually the embankment of the 'new' concrete bridge over the River Welland at Duddington in Rutland, with the ancient, handsome bridge in the mid distance.  Although ugly in itself, the new bridge cast a nice shadow over the water, with the low morning sun just peaking over the top of it, reflected here in the water, breaking up the area.  As you all know who read this highly entertaining Blog, I love painting the effect of pure sunlight, especially on water, so this was right up my street, or stream...

When you have a river that traverses across the picture plane, there is always the danger of the eye flying out of the picture, but the tree branches on the top left poke the gaze back and the ducks invite you through the bridge arches.  Another bit of the painting I loved depicting was the sunlit steam hovering over the water before the old bridge, achieved mostly with the paint wet, but with a little drybrush afterwards.

Friday, 10 January 2014

Late Autumn Reedmace

Oil on Board, 6 x 8 inches SOLD

I don't know why Blogger is publishing photographs with much more saturation than from my file, but if it appears that way on your screen, I can assure you the painting looks a lot less colourful than here! A far better, more accurate photo (from the same file) can be seen by clicking on my Facebook page at 
NB...I've changed my settings and turned off Google's 'auto-enhance' button, so the photo is now more accurate (thanks to Andy for the tip!)
I rather liked the jaunty angles of the Reedmace with their characteristic long brown seedheads - often wrongly called Bullrushes, which look totally different. The seedheads release their fluffy cream cotton wool-like seeds, rather like Dandelions. 

I quite enjoyed painting the woodland in the background, with a lot of the warm colours of Autumn, but quite a bit of blue and white in the mixes to make the wood recede. Sadly, in the photo here, those subtly blued tones don't appear, so I urge you to look on my FB page to see that I haven't got cataracts!

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Willows in the Fog

Oil on Board, 6 x 8 inches

I find painting trees in fog the most difficult thing to achieve convincingly. It's the subtly close tones where the tree tops almost disappear into the mist that makes it so tricky - you really have to pay very close attention to get these right. I used my finger a lot to smudge where appropriate.
This is almost a monochrome landscape, with just three colours used, plus white, in varying combinations.  Although painting trees in fog is very tricky, I adore painting frosty ground, using my 1" household brush to get the texture required.  It's actually a little more challenging on this small scale, but still the big brush does the bulk of the work, just with more of a deft touch required Luckily, being a very young man......I'm able to wield it with aplomb...ahem. 

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Warm Spring Sunset

Oil on Board, 6 x 8 inches

Here's today's effort.  The gallery wanted a sunset painting, so this should fit the bill. 

I find the tones of landscape sunsets quite tricky to get right.  As I've said before, we artists only have Titanium White as the brightest, lightest colour in our arsenal, not anywhere near as bright as the sun itself when looking straight into it.  So, you have to employ some tricks, by toning down the surrounding sky tones to give the sun sufficient punch in a painting. The tones of the landscape must be paid close attention to too - not too dark that they are appear almost black, but not too light to compete with the toned-down sky colours.  Just about made it!

Monday, 6 January 2014

Slim Pickings

Oil on Board, 6 x 8 inches SOLD

This is the second of the four little paintings for Devon.  It's a view in my village from last February, the group of farm buildings making a pleasing composition with the backdrop of trees and the gorgeous old Willow on the left.  Being predominantly a bluish monochrome landscape, the lovely rich red-brick barn provided the perfect foil of warmth to the picture.  I included the two horses for a bit of life, one munching on the little patch of grass and the other sunning himself against the barn in the thin sunlight. The flooded foreground finally gave some nice reflections for added interest.

Saturday, 4 January 2014

Summer Water

 Oil on Board, 6 x 8 inches
Here's the first painting of 2014 off the press - a little one of four needed by my Devon Gallery.  A summer scene just down the road from me by the River Welland which meanders through the Rutland countryside.  Won't be that long now before the green shoots appear - probably the kiss of death!

Christmas Present!

Oil on Board, 8 x 10 inches

Here's a little painting I did for my darling Jane for Christmas.  It's her eldest daughter Milena with her son Remi having fun on the beach in Spain.  I had to do this one surreptitiously so Jane knew nothing about it, having been asked if I would do it many months ago.  Tears flowed on Christmas day as she opened it - no, not because she thought it was awful!

And here's one of her looking very coy climbing over a stile after walking off some festive nosh.
and here's one of yours truly using an unusual cushion after another festive feast...
Yesterday was my birthday, a big one between 50 and 70 (obviously there's some terrible error on my birth certificate), and we had a lovely meal at a pub, paid for by my dear brother (many years older...) and sister-in-law...nom nom!