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.
There has been much uncertainty and quite a few false starts of late with my painting. I have been wanting to produce some stylised landscapes in acrylic alongside developing the ink and wash paintings I have shown recently. Not much progress has been made.
With the landscape, I couldnt settle on a subject. Then I recalled a wonderful morning I had spent on Cleives’ Hills this summer, with my watercolours, painting some cottages on the edge of the hill. I put the painting I did that day on the blog some time ago and I enclose it below.
I thought I might try this scene both in watercolour and acrylics. So here is the first one, in acrylics, with the cottages and the view of Liverpool in the morning haze in the distance. Fresh off the easel. There may be some more changes to be made, though I think I ‘ve got the punchiness I was after.
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.
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.
The post before last I showed 3 morning sketches, the first one of a single cottage. This was the view behind me, as I painted – one of the many drainage ditches that crisscross this marshy land, surrounded by flattened reeds and grasses.
I loved the myriad of warm colours picked out and accentuated by the rising sun. A new day and the crows descend to squabble over the remaining grains of cereal.
With the sun shining I got up early on Monday morning and headed to Clieves Hills on my bike. On my last painting trip I spotted this cottage at the foot of the hills from another angle and made a mental note, but returning on Monday, I was more taken with this view, with sweeps of stubble leading the eye. Comparing it to the other sketches I did on the day I feel I have captured a dose of morning freshness under the sun’s first rays.
I then headed up the hill and, from across the field, spotted this group of buildings nestling under a tree. This is the kind of light I want, crisply defining shape and form and keeping me warm as I paint.
Then I shuffled a good hundred yards along the ridge and set my stool down to paint these cottages that almost hang in the air looking out to Liverpool and the Welsh hills beyond. I have been reluctant to paint these before as it is at a well frequented viewpoint. Casting shyness aside, no-one even noticed me as I painted away.
The grasses, plants and flowers in the foreground were a picture in themselves and I might turn this into a painting in the near future.
Back in June this year, I published a post where I displayed 3 paintings all done from the same spot, my sketching stool, just looking in different directions on Clieves’ Hills. This latest offering is based upon one of them. It is brassy, stretched out and made to look like an old steam train destination poster, but the essential elements have been retained, including the Church.
This is another in the graphic style I was exploring, using the local vicinity as my reference point. It may have got a bit fussy in the foreground, but I like its boldness and colour and it complements the others paintings in the series.
I may be tempted to get out and gather some more reference material for the dark winter nights ahead.
This image was developed from a plien air painting I posted at the start of June.
I wanted a bit more colour and punch and also thought that a graphic style could enhance the saturated colours so I gessoed over an old painting on canvas and set to work. I had been influenced by work by Fred Ingrams amongst others and although I havent achieved his brave use of colour it is an early step.
It might be worth producing a small set of paintings in this style and see if they develop. I have plenty of raw material both photos and sketches to draw from.
I have been going through my back catalogue after the surprise sale of nine paintings. My framer should have six more frames ready today and I have some paintings to go in them – so we can bring the exhibition back up to 30 paintings with a few in reserve. However, I didnt have many larger paintings that I felt comfortable showing. I decided to redo a painting, but this time in acrylics, to fill a larger frame. This is a view over the Lancashire Plain back to where I live in Southport, on the coast. Just beyond these hills – and they are only small bumps – sits the town of Ormskirk, which would be behind the viewer.
Out one morning painting, I spotted this footpath across a field that the farmer had preserved. If I had come across it earlier I would have used that as my subject, but I had just completed two watercolours, so I took a few photos instead. On the other side of the lane I I discovered a cherry tree and got a bagful of cherries to supplement the morello cherries on my tree at home. I made three pots of cherry jam yesterday. I love cherry jam on toast – particularly after a tough morning with the paintbrush..