The dahlias are out in my garden and I thought that I would have another go at some of the cactus dahlias. I have tried this same subject before on my blog. This time I think I got the fluffiness of the flower along with it’s intricacies, but I was hoping for a looser and more vibrant background, although I was trying to keep to a fairly tight colour range at the same time. I may burden you with this subject again. We’ll see.
Another plein air painting I was forced to complete at home. It was nearly done when my stool started making strange noises underneath me so I stood up and it fell apart at my feet. As the place was covered in sheep droppings I decided to pack up and continue our walk up the hill and on to Cooden.
The day before I had gone to Hastings and walked to Fairlight where this row of coastguard cottages stand on top of the cliff at the highest point. I left out the radio and communications mast and hid the large radar behind the bushes on the right. I certainly wouldnt like to live there with the houses being continually bombarded by large doses of radio waves even though they are relatively low frequency.
Here are a couple of sketches I am less happy with. The one above is of Ecclesbourne Glen a deep ravine on the sandstone cliffs east of Hastings. The hillside is covered in a mass of amorphous vegetation which I knew was a bad thing to try to paint but I have a long affinity with the topography, having run it many times in my youth before heading off on the run along the cliff-top path to the next ravine and another lung-bursting descent and climb.
This last one is of a newly mown field in a valley on the edge of Friston Forest. I was taken by the illumination on the row of trees at the foot of the slope. Behind is the deep valley in shade beneath the forest. I didnt do the contrast justice, but sitting in the afternoon sunshine in isolation amid the birdsong was a pleasant way of passing the afternoon.
We went for another walk, this time near to Pevensey, close to where the Normans landed to invade England – but that was a while ago and they had moved on. My planned circular route was scotched by a group of heifers which had gathered around the gate we needed to negotiate which caused my wife to refuse to enter the field. So we had to go back the same way. On the walk I sat down and did a sketch of the flat marshlands. As I worked a bull strolled into view. Now that is a field even I might refuse to enter.
I did this second painting of Litlington and its 12th century church, in East Sussex on the same day as I painted the sketch of the walk in the woods posted on my last blog. It got delayed as I had to finish it at home. I ran out of time on the day, because I had arranged to meet my wife at Alfriston Church at 4pm and didnt want to keep her waiting – I didnt want to to risk walking home.
I am on the south coast of England visiting friends and family for a few days and decided to take a walk along part of the South Downs Way which mainly strides grassy chalk uplands along the south coast. I started my walk in the Cuckmere valley estuary where the river winds across the broad valley and headed north but very quickly found myself in Westdean Country Park and quite dense forest. In the breaks in the trees the light broke through the canopy and there were some lovely areas of light and shade, particularly where the copper beech trees hung over the path. I might work this up into a painting. As I worked, a number of walkers passed and I snapped a few of them as they cut between the light and shade. Hopefully I will get to do a few more paintings in the coming days.
Continuing with my painting of the locality. This one is again of the ‘Village’ with the train station behind the two figures and the level crossing behind the central car. A previous post ‘ Sitting Pretty in Birkdale’ is situated in front of the last house in the main grouping. I did like this mass of buildings with all the internal shapes and the early morning sun shining on one of the faces. I added the two figures and was quite pleased with the outcome.
Continuing my series of paintings of local landmarks. This is one of Duke Street Cemetery. I posted a version in May, but had reservations about it. So I had another go. The buildings are a bit more proportional and believable – the tower is a very peculiar shape and I got some more shots of it to double check the shape. I also got the headstones in better proportion on this one. I still have my reservations about it, but I need to move on. I read an article by an artist who said that when they completed their work they put it away immediately and reviewed it after a couple of weeks. They felt that they got a much more objective view of it after a decent break. So we’ll try that.
Another in my series of local paintings I am doing for a show later in the year. This one is of Birkdale Village, a vibrant cluster of shops and restaurants, some under a Victorian- style veranda. I frequently walk around here in the mornings and, on one occasion, the early summer light shining on the newly unfurled leaves played well against the buildings in shadow. I populated the bench with a figure sitting in the sunshine. There is a beauticians called Sitting Pretty on the corner – you can see the name board in the background – so I thought that might give it a bit of a hook.
I did intend posting a new watercolour, but with distractions and problems it has drifted behind schedule, so here are some paintings from recent life sessions. I decided to revert back to tonal work with conte pastel pencils for this. To get some darker darks I introduced a black conte crayon which was a bad mistake.
I liked the power I achieved with the pastel on this one. I find a lot of the time my pastel work lacks authoritative punch. With this in mind I am thinking of going on a figutative workshop with someone who does strong pastels. I am making some enquiries at present.
This is what I mean in getting a scatchy effect which lacks punch. I start off with a few colours and cover the paper in a random fashion before working into these marks with the drawing and more layers of pastel. It does give dynamism with the early colours breaking through the later marks, but I am dismayed by the saturation particularly in the areas defined by the earlier marks.
But then that is the point of experimenting with these approaches.
I wanted to continue with my local paintings but had nothing ready and being out of sorts with a persistent cough, I thought I’d take a break, have an easy time, and try this scene. I find these vertical extended paintings sell well. Perhaps they fill awkward spaces and this view, with a bit of juggling, seemed to fit a long format well. It also helps me in adding to the selection of canal scenes I am also working on for an exhibition later in the year. I liked the different layers of interest in this with the background landscape, the canal and narrowboats and then the dogwalker – who came in from another couple of photos.
Well maybe I’m starting to get somewhere on my project of painting local scenes. At last a picture I am happy with. I was aided by some scratching out on this one and I also must admit to using a bit of gouache – but all in the best possible taste.
I did the original version of this on site in May, sitting in the evening sun. It does contain a wide range of colours, but then that is how it is, though on the final version I did some glazing to try and unify it. Looking back I didnt post the original sketch, so here it is.
Below is a snap of the scene, as I sat on top of the dunes.