Climbing a hill, last year, I saw this ragged clump of thistles about to shed their seeds over the fields. I love the way the thistle down glows in the sunlight and this is enhanced against the darkness of the distant trees.
I posted a sunlit painting of a snicket along the railway track a few days ago. If you continue down that snicket, it comes out on the right, in what they call Birkdale Village – part of Southport, where I live. Here you are actually standing on the rail track with part of the station, the building on the far right.
I think it was the old phone box, lit by the early morning sun that caught my eye and the fact that the sixties carbuncle, on the left – the Spar supermarket – is mellowed and put in the shade by the light coming in over it. Colours are subdued with hints of spring leaves in the background.
A quiet scene of morning stirrings in the suburbs.
With a new laptop and other issues there isnt much new painting to show you so I am reverting to two old watercolours of the canal sold a long while ago and which have never been put on this blog. The first is a canal mooring in Burscough in Lancashire, close to a long defunct mill which I think they are now converting into flats.
This second is of another favourite haunt of mine at Haskayne, further along the same canal, which is always enchanting on a cloudless summer morning, as this was. Just around the corner there is a lovely canal-side pub, which we used to paint at when I was a member of a local painting group.
This is a scene I see almost daily on my walk. Well, that is, when I get up in time and the sun shines and… So sometimes, anyway. These early summer mornings with the colours of young leaves in sunshine lift the spirit. I also like the old cast-iron bollards that guard the alleyway and which seem isolated and redundant now. Not to mention the old street lamp, still in its old borough colours of cream and red.
Further on my morning route is the site of another painting I did – and posted here – a couple of years ago, at a similar time of the year with the bright morning sun shining through the new leaves.
Being in the middle of projects I didnt have much to show today, so here is a set of old paintings I never put on the blog. I called them The Upside of Down. This was the first I sold. Below is the second one sold.
They came from one picture, it was oil on paper. I treated the ordinary, 90lb watercolour paper with a mix of exterior emulsion and PVA. This prevents the oil from sinking into the paper – rather like rabbit skin gesso. Here is the completed piece with me taking a rest – if you take a nap always put an open book on your lap; you appear productive.
I have my doubts about the vertical lines and because the paper was only 90lb it started to tear with the weight of the paints and gesso. So I cut it up and sold it like pieces of cake.
Here is another cut off the old block which has since found a new home:
I think I sold another one as well and still have a couple more available. It might be an exercise worth repeating. It is a variation on selecting a favourite passage of a painting and developing another from it and also the size allows some big gestures even if a few of them aren’t very nice.
The image of this face reminded me of something you see carved on stone memorials with the sadness of a pieta. I thought that the addition of outstretched arms might convey the wings of this descending spirit and I set it against the bright colour of stained glass to push the spirituality further, though the resulting cruciform seemed enough.
Besides, life sessions are starting around here soon and I thought I needed practice and the different angle of the head appealed. I was going to do so much during this last year on figurative approaches but other things got in the way. Maybe with the pastels out I will have a flick through old sketch books and see if anything appeals.
Having spent the last couple of weeks completing four commissions, I needed to let off some steam. I had some images of jazz players and thought about combining them into a painting. I intend to do the final version in acrylics, using liquid acrylics to get the effect of the watercolours – but watercolours allowed some easy explorations. The theme is still developing and I’m considering putting in further additions, so these are first steps. My initial one is below, then I decided to add a bassist.
Knowing me I will end up with a full orchestra for the final piece.
This is the last of a recent clutch of commissions: the village church at Halsall. On the right is what was the village pub – with its old sign, but is now a financial consultancy – how times have changed – and the war memorial is just visible in front of the church.
I originally did this plein air, tucked on a bank out the way, hoping not to slip into the stream as I worked, early one morning. I then turned that sketch into a painting which sold and now someone else has asked for a version. So you may have seen this before as I posted both the other versions.
On the original version I realised I had the church spire slightly out of proportion and by shortening the spire to the correct size meant I could include more of the foreground and shadows, which gives a better lead in. I was taken by the light creeping in from the right – just starting to illuminate the church and gravestones and allows for some nice tonal interchanges. I’ll keep this for a few days and see if I need to do any further adjustments
Those who read my last blog will be aware that I am painting a couple of commission pieces. Here is the second – part of the front of the house. Some of the house is presently under scaffolding and boarded up, so I had to use some old photos to complete this painting. Anyway, I’ve just finished it and I need a while to look at it and see if there are any adjustments to be made. Putting it out on my blog will help, as I will see it every time I go in.
I posted the buyer a copy of the first painting and he seemed happy. Hopefully I’ll get a similar reaction when I send him the final copy.
Then, as I was painting this, I got another enquiry for a painting which had been sold, so I’ve been asked to do a copy of that. Its like the old story – you wait ages for a bus and then three come along at once – well four in this case. So I’d better crack on and start it…
I mentioned in my previous blog a number of commissions I have been asked to do. This is one of a local fee paying school. It shows the rear of the hall, a later addition, around 1900, I think. In this view it has the air of an Oxbridge college. The style of the house is mock Gothic and includes a tower which was designed by Augustus Pugin as a dry run for the one he built for the houses of parliament. At the time of my visit it was clad in scaffolding – but it bears a striking resemblance.
Inside the house are some incredible wood carvings. I was told some came out of Buckingham Palace – and the quality certainly bears that out. I am working on a second view at present and will show that on this blog later.
Hopefully the owners will be happy with the views.