Back to the Leeds to Liverpool Canal at Halsall for my subject. The view from the bridge over the canal by the old pub, The Saracen’s Head – which is out of sight, directly to the left.
With the light coming in from the left it almost silhouettes the narrowboats and other craft moored close to the pub.
I have posted views of this scene painted further along the canal from where the man is taking his morning constitutional. I did a sketch on the spot and then worked it up into a painting. I posted this painting in early 2020: Approaching the Saracen’s Head – Watercolour Painting In this view you can see the bridge peeping from behind the foliage in the background, along with the roof of the pub.
A familiar scene in my local woods which run behind the beach. Instead of pushing the tonal range, as I normally do, I wasn’t as aggressive with the darks, particularly the background. I also restricted the palette to a violet/yellow scheme and nearly succeeded, before dropping in muted reds to further enliven the foreground.
I did this painting sitting in our pop-up gallery in the arcade last Friday. The shopping arcade now has few operating shops and footfall is low. I wonder how long we will have the opportunity to exhibit here. We sold a few cards and , I’m glad to say, one painting, though not one of mine. I was also in another exhibition as well, last weekend, but sold nothing. It dampens your enthusiasm when you see little return from your efforts.
Last Sunday was the final day for our exhibition in the arcade, but suddenly the group who were due to take over from us have apparently found greener pastures, in the local art gallery. I’m not sure if they are that green as I am about to retrieve two paintings from this gallery which have done nothing for the past couple of months. I will be collecting them on Monday – presumably to make way for this group. So the upshot is, we can remain in our venue until Christmas which means I will be sitting painting in the gallery for a while longer.
Another painting for the upcoming exhibition and one worked up from a sketch made on site, along with photographs. This scene is from further down the same lane that I showed in my previous post, but it wasnt done on the same day. The day here was much brighter and showed off the emerging leaves in their spring colour. I loved the reflections and shadows in the ditch water, and the winter skeletons of the trees before they get clothed in dense summer greenery.
Also, there was a good place to sit off the lane. The road is only wide enough for one car and sitting painting on the verge risks you having to move all your gear when a tractor comes bouncing along, normally pulling an even wider trailer.
It maybe isnt the kind of thing for many people, but it was something I enjoyed doing.
Another painting worked up from my sketchbook and photos in readiness for an exhibition at my framer’s shop. I posted the sketch earlier in the year after doing it. This lane is so typical of the roads which crisscross the moss behind Southport where I live. Rich agricultural land is divided up between deep ditches. I’ve seen a few cars in them, due to driver inattention or intoxication. You dont get out without a crane – always assuming you survive.
The roads – one of which you see here – tend to sink over the years resulting in roller-coaster ride as you drive along them. As I worked on the original sketch a couple of fellows came along on their bikes, past the houses you see, and up towards me. They were also taking advantage of the first good day of spring we had this year. They paused to see what I was up to and I showed them what I was working on. Apparently they had spotted me earlier on a similar lane, as I was painting another view. Now they were now on their way home when our paths crossed again.
Another in the series for an upcoming exhibition. I’m not sure of the painting’s commercial potential, though I love the subject. Again it was worked up from my sketchbook and some photos and I took the opportunity to rotate the footbridge to reveal the opening at the far end. When I originally painted it, the view was more side on.
These splayed bridges are designed to prevent livestock moving out of the field , but give free passage to walkers. I like the light and shade on the footbridge. I used tinted gouache, dry brushed onto the foreground grasses to imitate seedheads.
I have an exhibition planned at my framers in December and so I have been going through my sketchbooks for scenes of local interest that I can show. Here is one I sketched back in the summer which I worked up into a painting. The colours were very muted given the mistiness that prevailed, and I have added more to the foreground to push the background back. I might darken the clouds slightly to bring out the sun breaking through the mirk. It certainly did that, as by the time I finished painting that morning, the sun was out and there wasnt a cloud in the sky.
This is another version of a painting I did and posted in January. January’s painting was part of a group of eight that I had entered for an exhibition that is about to start in two weeks time. Last Friday a lady from Scotland contacted me, wanting to buy this painting and four others. Having already submitted my selection for the catalogue, I had to get my skates on and paint another version. Unfortunately it was one of my bigger ones, on a half imperial sheet. This time I did it in portrait format. The first one, the one the lady has purchased, which I did in January, is in landscape format.
So today I will take down my eight paintings to the exhibition venue in readiness for them to hang and yesterday I sent off the five paintings to the lady in Scotland. Fortunately I was able to talk her out of receiving the paintings framed. I always dread sending framed and glazed paintings by post. Four of these were watercolours and sending four glazed paintings was just a recipe for disaster.
Yesterday I went to a life session organised by a friend of mine. He runs it once a month. Despite the stiff poses it was good practice to work under a time constraint and here I managed to get around behind the model to catch him dozing off and paint this in acrylics.
The early poses had some life in them and got me back into the swing of things. Another weekly life session started up when I was on holiday the other week, but they decided to fold after two meetings. Such a shame, I was looking forward to restarting with the group on my return. The only other sessions around here are in small, crowded venues and with the level of contagion we have at present I am reluctant to join them. So it is a self inflicted exile.
The stiff pose did me no favours on this pastel. In hindsight I should have opted for a more focussed image, but I perversely wanted to draw the full figure and it suffers because of it. Still, I suppose that is what these sessions are for – making mistakes and learning from them.
Still, it was good to get back to something that I did two or three times a week before covid, though the way things are, my next session wont be for another month.
You can be forgiven for thinking you’ve see this before. I put a sketch of this track on my blog a while ago. Recently, I have been going over sketchbooks looking for topics to show at my Christmas exhibition and this was one of the first that popped up.
It’s a track – I think called The Runnel – I used to cycle along, to and from work. Despite it having a cobbled surface it has been submerged in mud which is then churned up by the farm vehicles. So cycling down it after a wet spell, like you can see here, ends up with your bike getting covered in grit and mud. the only advantage is that it keeps you away from traffic.
As a subject though, it contains a favourite topic of mine – puddles. I might even try it out at the group exhibition I am in at present. I am minding the shop tomorrow, so I could see if there is a space for it there.
A view from my recent walking holiday in Portugal. We had been on the top of the sea cliffs for most of the day when the path turned inland, into a wooded area. It twisted and turned and came out along the edge of a field with the trees on one side. Walking along, I spotted this gap in the trees, revealing the coastline and sea.
I was well ahead of the group and contemplated the opportunity for a quick painting. So I entered the half lit glade looking for a spot to settle down. As I dropped my rucksack I heard rustling off to the left. There was a guy in the wood moving around. Not sure what he was up to, I took a few photos, picked up my bag and headed on my way on the path alongside the field.
The path dropped down the high ridge towards a river which I knew we had to traverse. As I sat on the banks waiting for the rest of the group, the man in the woods came down and waded the shallow river. Perhaps I had spooked him as much as he had done me.