Sitting outside the pub, I was taken by this view of Tarleton – a village to the north of Southport, where I live. We were enjoying some refreshment on a walk along the River Douglas and sat in the afternoon sunshine. It was soon after we spotted the errant geese I painted for the previous blog. Probably one of the last days of summer and now only a distant memory.
I had taken a few photos, so was able to cobble together a wide format painting with the lead-in of the red brick houses, cut with shadows, and the view past the trees to the local church. Pity about the car park on the right, but it was a challenge.
I thought I’d have a bit of fun painting a gaggle of geese I saw the other week. They all appeared to be heading in different directions – though if trouble did get too close there was no argument and they were off back into the water – together.
A slightly less edgy landscape than my previous serving. I originally sat down and painted this scene, in watercolour, with my back to the Leeds and Liverpool Canal, early last year. I was reminded of it when I walked past the view last weekend and noticed that the tractor track is still visible in the field about 18 months later – I dont know what was on its tyres. Maybe it was driven by Richard Long or Andy Goldsworthy…
I’ve used this motif before as part of other paintings, but decided to make it a painting in it’s own right. I roughly covered over an old painting to inject some energy and mystery to the final piece and then let both the underpaintings come through all over the image.
I love this half shadowed cluster of farm buildings at the foot of Clieve’s Hills, near Ormskirk in Lancashire, and this was mainly from photos I took when I painted the same scene outdoors in May this year. Like some other landscapes I have done recently, I have distorted the colour range and heightened saturations. Though I hope to have imparted a bit more edginess into this one with the underpainting and rough handling of the foreground.
Using the backs of old paintings I wanted to try and create textured watercolour abstracts that avoided the washed out look that results when working with copious amounts of water to create movement and texture.
I had the notion of rusty metal when I selected the colours for this one. Perhaps more contrasting tones and depth could be achieved by adding even more pigment to specific areas – which was the method I applied to reduce the washed out look I described above in all these sketches.
Well, figuration had to creep in with my background and the ethereal rising of lighter tones hinted, for me, at some spiritual mumbo jumbo, so a few figures were cut into the patterns.
And representation made further inroads in this final piece.
All have the seeds for further development and I will stow them away in my sketch book for future reference. It was nice to play aimlessly and see what developed for once. The main purpose was to maintain a good range of tonality amid splashing and spraying and I think I see how I can achieve this.
Looking over recent output I realised I hadnt done a pastel in a while, so here is another view of the River Wear, in Durham. This one was glimpsed as I was hurrying past to do some painting in fields alongside the river, downstream. I suppose I could have done this scene, but it would have meant sitting in the road – and whenever I do that a lorry or tractor comes along, so I took a few photos and proceeded onwards.
I was struck by the light on the grasses and foliage which made them stand out against the shadows and reflections of the trees. I did some thumbnails of this and decided on a portrait format, but now its done perhaps a landscape format would be better.
In this painting I blocked in the darks with acrylics before starting out on the pastels. It does save a lot of time, and pastel, getting variegated darks in with paint and gives a great base to build up texture.
Another view I have attempted in the past and have been slightly dissatisfied with the outcome, but recently walking down the street at just the right hour of the day I saw how the light strafed the architecture, picking out walls, towers, roofs and cupolas of the Victorian buildings whilst plunging the rest into shade.
This rhythm of light and shade seemed to energise the scene. When I started painting I was tempted to hit the right hand side in one frantic wash to capture the energy, but refrained, and built up washes slowly – mixing colours on the paper. Gradually I built up the tonal differences in specific areas to allow subtle hints of architecture to come through and create realism without getting too pedantic.
Hopefully it has worked. I was very pleased with the way the offset windows on the red Prudential Assurance building got picked out and the loose rendering of the left hand side buildings have the appearance of being hit by bright light.
I posted the first version of this a little while ago and it has since sat in my studio in a tray frame I made for it, but I became aware that the foreground looked a bit timid and tentative and so I decided something had to change.
Out came the brushes and I started scumbling, getting rid of the prissy field break in the lower part and giving the foreground texture. I am happier with this version and having just had an invite to join a mixed exhibition in December ( Covid permitting) along with a solo show at my framers, I have now got a small collection of these stylised landscapes to show.
A couple of paintings of buildings from around Sucre in Bolivia. Sucre was once the capital of Bolivia and is the now the constitutional capital of the country – whatever that means. However, it is a lovely old colonial styled city featuring whitewashed walled buildings with tiled roofs in an absolutely amazing country.
I did some sketches of the rooftops of Sucre whilst I was there and someone spotted them and wanted a few pictures of their own. Above is the roof and towers of the Convent de San Feilipe Neri which we visited in the centre of the city.
The one below is a building I never went to, Castillo de la Glorieta just outside the city.
I do find architectural drawings very demanding and if I am working for myself I try to simplify them by working into the light for instance. However, it sharpens up your observational and drawing skills to give the customer what they want.
Having done this pair it will be good to get back to doing something in a looser style.
I`m working on a commission at present so here are a couple of paintings I did a while ago but didnt get around to posting. This one above is from a set of photos taken earlier in the year when it was too cold to paint outside – well for an impatient wimp like me who spends sunny, summer mornings waving paintings in the warm air getting the washes to dry.
I had posted an earlier version of these autumnal birches in our local woods, but decided to have another go. Lots of spraying and splattering, but not much progress. It seemed to go downhill from the start with a pallid sky which I had hoped to to use to accentuate the warm autumn oranges.