Some time ago I reported, after painting the plein air Downholland Farm I posted, that I had left my portable palette behind. When I came back to search for it I came in my car and had to park on some waste land and the easiest way was to cut through this small copse. I loved the evening light coming in through the trees and the branches and trunks cutting across the scene making an almost stained glass effect. When I came out of hospital last week I thought that I could do this in pastel and sat down and cracked on and produced this pastel below:
I thought that the pastel would allow me to get the criss-crossing branches easier and also allow me to work up the foliage catching the light in the shadows. I was unhappy with the results and decided to have another go in watercolour. I tried a splattering approach with the foliage on the watercolour and got some wonderful textures, but had to go over a lot of it in order to get the tonal contrast I was after. In the end the result was better but still it lacked the impact that I was after.
Just playing around with hard and soft edges. I cobbled together this painting from three photographs I took in Richmond Park some time ago. I tried to keep the painting loose and also vary wet washes with dry brush work and scratching back.
Being a sort of obsessive I do paintings over and over again. This is the latest version of this path which connects the north end of Formby with the sea via the pinewoods and skirting one of the many golf courses here. I am beginning to feel a bit satisfied with the outcome. I initially went in with warm red, blue and yellow and mixed the colours all over the paper, spraying and mixing the quite strong colours. Then, when dry I rewet some of the paper with spray and mixed in the foliage, extending the trunks at the same time. I am pleased with the effect of the light even though I have painted over the whole paper. On a previous edition I deliberately left the area of the sun white, yet it doesn’t have the same impact of lightness – see below.
Also the trees on the right now have more vitality and their warmness complements the colder colours on the left. I feel there is a greater sense of mystery in the new painting.
I was watching TV and there was an artist Norman Ackroyd painting some watercolours of woods in winter. I loved the greyness of these images along with the bare trees and after the programme I made up an image, just using washes of greys blues and purples just to see where it went.
Norman Ackroyd is a printer and I think he coordinated this year’s Royal Academy summer show. Some time ago there was an infrequent series on the tele called “What do Artists do all Day” – a title which amused me. He was featured in it and it showed him working on an etching of seabirds encircling a far flung Scottish Island. Needless to say some of his day was spent in a hostelry whilst he was waiting for things to develop. It’s a hard life, but someone has to do it.
Whilst out painting one morning I cycled back home through the coastal pine forest which runs between the railway track to Liverpool and the local airfield on one side and the sandy beach on the other. There aren’t people around at that time and the forest is still, warming under the first rays of the morning sun.
I was browsing on Google and happened upon a forest scene which caught my eye. I found it was by an American Artist called Nita Engle. I liked her style and discovered a book by her called ‘How to Make a Watercolor Paint Itself.’ I thought I’m up for that: while it’s painting itself I can go for a cup of tea, come back and it’s ready to frame. The book was very cheap and now having read it I realise that I use a lot of her techniques already, but not in a coherent way. It was also inspiring to see the reasons and philosophy behind her approach.
So now I am applying some of her approaches myself in these two paintings, which I have painted before and the forest one I have posted earlier on this blog. Its interesting to see the textures possible when not using a brush for application, but taking other approaches. However, it is a bit heart in the mouth stuff, but certainly worth a try and I am trying some more at the present.
I’ll post them in due course, but just having sold a few pastels I need to replace them on my website. It’s just like being back at work.
I was playing around with some small pieces of pastel paper I found in an old sketchbook, just exploring some possible subjects. On one sheet I wanted to create a stained glass effect, using the trunks and branches of trees as the lead support. As I worked the image seemed a little stilted with the dark interstices so I started to overpaint some of the branches and trunks with the blues yellows and greens and with some blending it gave a pleasing effect. Once I fixed the painting I could then overlay further colour and built up the image, creating texture with the top layers.
I was pleasantly surprised with the result; the image has an undersea feel, which might open up some other images. I might try a bigger version and then work out from there. For the moment here’s the first version.