I showed some acrylic sketches recently and had hoped to spend more time developing them further. But then Christmas appeared and you know how it is… So I havent progressed too far on my journey. Here are a couple I did manage to squeeze in, based on applying mixtures of acrylic from a palette knife onto damp paper. It produced some interesting textures on which I added further layers of more solid paint. When looking at the images of the two I prefer the one above.

Looking at this bottom painting in the flesh I feel that the image doesnt do it justice. In reality it has a lovely airy feeling and I cant get the colour balance to match the actual image (to be honest I cant get it right for the first one either, but the match there is a bit closer) – for a start there is far too much yellow and this image fails to show the far greater contrast between the lights and darks that there actually is. Again I used a palette knife to apply paint onto paper sprayed with water in an uneven way. Here you can see more clearly the varied textures that are achieved before I went in with acrylic ink.

When the guests eventually depart and the dust settles I’ll be setting off again. Happy New Year.

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In my previous blog I showed the church at Lydiate which I passed on my recent walk. This is the start of that walk.The low winter’s afternoon sun picking out the fence wires and forcing shadows across the path and field caught my attention. I also liked the bare oaks leaning away from the prevailing wind. Enough, I thought, to try a painting. So here it is.

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In early December we had a prolonged snap of cold weather which started to drain my motivation to do much; even painting. Many days were dark, foggy and sub zero, but the few times the clouds lifted all I wanted to do was get out and walk in sunshine. This image came from one of those escapes. I’ve painted St Thomas’ church before, once plein-air. Below is this sketch which I posted in 2018. I was sat by the canal and turned around to see the tracks in the barley field leading to the church amongst the trees. That is the trouble with getting a decent view of this church – it is surrounded by trees.

On my latest winter walk the trees had lost their leaves and the church was revealed, illuminated in the low afternoon sun. Then, as I came back to my car I noticed the ivy-clad oak partially framing the church. The opportunity was too good to miss.

So the image is somewhat apposite for my last blog before Christmas. May I wish my readers a merry Christmas.

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As the year has progressed I have upped the frequency of life sessions I attend, now about once a week. It isnt up to my prepandemic level mainly because some groups have folded. This Sunday I attended my last session of the year. It was rather a rushed affair as I realised late on that it clashed with my neighbour’s Christmas party not forgetting a world cup final. In the end I managed them all, getting two paintings in before an early departure, (the pastel above and the acrylic below), which left me time for indulging in some festive cheer and watching a bit of football.

In this Sunday sessions the model adopts one pose for the day, So here is Sarah, from two different angles. Sarah is quite proactive and has ideas for relatively interesting poses. Other models just come for a sit down and you can finish up with some very stiff poses which can come out looking strange like this one from the previous week.

This last one is also in acrylic and I have recently adopted a new approach in that I just mark the positions of the main features in charcoal before going in with colour, influenced by the position of the sitter. When the paint is dry I then restate and develop the figure in charcoal before continuing with painting. This results in some surprising colour combinations and so far I am pleased with the results and think there is plenty of scope for further development and refinement.

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Now that my exhibitions are well underway, though failing commercially, I have some time to play around. I thought I would get the acrylics out and these two appeared.

Many people just go straight in with abstracts, throw intuitive marks onto the support and out comes a coherent painting. It rarely happens for me. I need to plan a little, otherwise things go muddily awry. This painting, above, is a case in point. It started out as something completely different and has morphed into this, which has, for me, the feel of the city. It isnt very big 10×14 inches approx but the process might allow me to put it on a canvas, now that I have some vision where the end point could be. Not that I wont still experiment, but I have a visual structure to base things on and hopefully contain any mud.

With this second one there is still work to be done to get to a conclusion I will be satisfied with. However, I feel that I can see a way forward. The process has also allowed me to ponder on other potential themes which I can use in the future which is a good by product of the process. With many of the elements of the first painting, such as the inclusion of line and the predominance of the blue greys it perhaps doesnt feel very different, though I have plans which may develop it into a more organic piece, as opposed to the structural assembly of my top painting.

So back to the easel and have a bit more play and perhaps get myself a completed painting.

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A few weeks ago I posted a version of this painting of Ainsdale Woods, near Southport, where I live and multiplemichael multiplemichael offered the criticism that it lacked a focus. I thought that I would repeat the painting and test this idea out. The only way I could introduce a focal point and maintain the spirit of the piece, as far as I could see, was to place two sunlit birches into the foreground to lead the eye into the scene and onto the spotlighted trees which was my initial impetus for the piece.

So here is my interpretation and I do think that the addition brings something extra to the image. Though, as is often the case when you repeat any painting, some of the subtleties of the first painting, which I liked, got lost. I may be able to regain these by further small adjustments.

A big issue I have had is getting a faithful reproduction of these images which, having a wide tonal range, can give some strange colour effects.

I have put a copy of the first version below for comparison. I certainly appreciate any critical comments, as it makes me aware of issues I may have overlooked. It can prove very useful and I value it higher than praise.

Just a pity the spineless troll doesnt possess the same skillset, then it might be worth reading its splenetic autorepeat-rants.

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I have painted and posted a version of this scene before, in 2019. It is of our main street in town on a winter’s evening, just as the sun is going down. I was never completely happy with it and it never sold – always a sign -yet I did like the basic concept. Now there is less detail in the upper buildings, lights in the shops under the arcade and a whole new crew of pedestrians. I also tried to do it in single washes, mixing paint on the paper to prevent muddiness.

So even though there still are some minor issues – but what painting doesnt have them – I am much happier with the outcome and we will see if this version sails off to someone else’s wall.

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An old, sold painting, this morning, of flooded fields. The area behind our town is low lying, reclaimed, marshland and despite the many drainage ditches it can get flooded after torrential rain. So the farmer may be unhappy, but it can give great contrasts in lowlight such as sunrise and sunset.

I’ve been busy setting up an exhibition at my framers and manning a collective exhibition in the town centre. I also took a couple of paintings to the main art gallery which got some funding to stage an exhibition of the architecture and buildings of the town centre – a subject, on which, I have many paintings. I missed the opening as I had already promised to go to a life session that day.

Nothing of mine has been sold at the collective, though a few – and cheaper – paintings are going. I think that this will be my last time in this show after participating for twelve years. The numbers visiting are going down and down. Last Friday I had the lowest visitors for any day I’ve been in attendance. A sign of the times I guess.

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Our pop-up exhibition in the Wayfarer’s Arcade in Southport has started and I have manned it on two occasions. Visitor numbers on Sunday were lowish though we managed to sell four paintings, but on Friday we only had 4 visitors all day – the worst I have ever known in the eleven years we’ve been doing this – happily, we did manage to sell one painting.

So you have a lot of time to kill waiting for the crowds. I did the painting above on Friday. A rather flippant comment on climate change, though perhaps apt to feature an animal that is listed as vulnerable.

I did the second one, above, on Sunday – a view of our local pier at Southport at sunset. A view I’ve done before, but this time from a slightly different angle in order to flatten out the subject to be able to present in a squarer format.

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A fellow painting blogger mentioned her drawer of shame for paintings that failed to meet expectations. I felt that the title was harsh but then thought she could mean: ‘shame, a few bits let it down – I’ll have another go later’ drawer . This latter title describes a pile of paintings that I have. They just need tweaking to get to the conclusion I would be more comfortable with.

A version of the painting above – of a summery Ainsdale woods, the same place I did a mini series of paintings recently – was on that pile. I liked the contrast of lights and shade in the first version, but too much of it was variations of green. So the other day I picked it up and had another go. This time I accentuated the colours: greens, blues and purples in the shadows and a real hit of red on the path. Just taking the scene and pushing it a little further.

There may be a little more to be done. I have, so far, resisted putting texture on the path as there is loads of texture and busyness everywhere else and I am wondering whether to further darken the shaded areas at the sides, but am wary about losing the gentle purples and blues. So this may be the finished version.

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