This is the third painting in my mini series of life on the park bench. This time the subjects are in full light and I think I got clocked by one of them. I liked the way they were looking in different directions, each, almost oblivious of the other.
On holiday the other week I took to sketching people sat on benches. I worked a couple up to see what they looked like with the idea of doing a small set of work. Here are the first two. I liked this view of mother and daughter? with the girl sitting in a casual pose and the pair in deep conversation.
This one was of a couple in Manor Gardens, in Bexhill – the subject of a couple of paintings I posted recently. It looked like they made a habit of having their lunch in a shady spot in the gardens and looked well at home there. They observed the comings and goings and commented on them as they ate.
I tried to keep these painting loose, using a palette knife in parts. I am looking to do about four of them.
I used to run almost everyday – for 53 years – until the surgeon who replaced my right hip socket advised me against doing any more. I miss it, and the feeling of well being I felt afterwards – maybe a result of the adrenalin. So these days I get up early and walk the course of my shortest run around the neighbourhood. And my mind starts to wander at this slower pace. A version of this vision above, popped into my head the other day on my walk. Well, some of it anyway. Then as I started painting, more got added. It kept me occupied for a morning.
When I completed it, I googled ‘dog eats dog’ and unsurprisingly, it’s been painted before – but not in red stilettos (the dog’s not mine – mine are blue) Just dont ask questions it’s solely here for your amusement.
Still on holiday, we visited friends near my home town. One couple have just moved back to the area and they were showing us around their new house and on the wall was a familiar painting – one I did around 2013. It was pleasing to see it again, after all these years. I dug up this image of it from my files. I called it Early Start.
Here is another long forgotten painting I saw yesterday. I sold it to a lady who lived in the same block of flats as my step mother. The lady has since moved to a care home due to dementia and her family cleared her flat for renting out. This painting was then hung in one of the corridors of the block of flats. I just caught sight of it as I was passing and it made me pause. I had to ask my stepmother about it, who assured me it was the painting I had originally sold to Shirley.
Apologies for the light reflections from the glass. I like the almost abstract shapes at the bottom of the painting which slowly evolve into vegetation and buildings. I have used this approach before, and was pleased with the result here.
It’s not a subject I would choose, but the view means something to someone and so long as it has a resonance with a viewer, that’s all that matters.
I had previously painted someone’s cottage in Cartmel ( which is at the southern edge of England’s Lake District) as a small commission, and it was spotted on the web by a lady wanting a birthday present. She asked to do this view. It appears I have become the go-to artist for Cartmel.
I have only been to Cartmel once, in June of 2010. On that day a gunman was rampaging a few miles north of the town on a killing spree. Fortunately Cartmel was well out the way of his trajectory, but earlier in the day we were closer to the incident, which unfolded over a number of hours, before the gunman shot himself.
It was only when we got home, later that day, did we hear of the incident.
Anyway, the lady who commissioned it for her father seems happy with it and I hope it gives her father – whose birthday present it is – some fond memories.
I joined in a group exhibition in Southport where I live, and have been manning the gallery for a couple of days this week, as I am going on holiday the week after next. The shop is in a beautiful Victorian arcade, but unfortunately most of the shops are empty and footfall is low. To occupy my time between visitors, I painted this scene which is about 200 yards from the exhibition intending to put it in the exhibition. I have done quite a few of this street, called Lord Street, in the past and they have sold. The exhibition is on for six weeks and I have done quite well at this venue previously, though this time I am not holding my breath. I may try and get this painting in next week as there is still a bit of wall space available.
I put up a couple of Liverpool Street scenes, shown on the right, and the Southport street scene may fit in amongst them.
Nothing for a month and then two commissions turn up in quick succession. So I’m a bit busy at present. This is the first one which I am handing over today. It is of a local church close to where the customer lives. He had seen something like this view as he travelled home and asked me to look at it. I’ve painted this church a few times, but not from this angle and distance.
Last week I went over to reacquaint myself with the view. Sitting down the bank by the roadside, with passing cars whizzing past my head, I produced this watercolour.
This is a fairly faithful version of the view. The trouble is the hedge from the road runs right across the base of the church and there were no decent trees or hedges to break the vertical plane. The customer specifically didnt want a watercolour, so I then produced two acrylic sketches which introduced some hedges and created zig-zags to inject energy. The customer had seen another painting of mine and wanted the stylised wheatfield in the foreground, which I had used.
I did one version in a landscape format.
And another in portrait format. The customer originally wanted it in landscape, but I managed to persuade him into a portrait format, which allowed for a greater depth of field and allowed me to increase the size of the church without losing the context.
I must admit that I am pleased with the final piece, as is the customer, and the series of sketches helped in getting to this resolution.
I took the opportunity to play around with colour on this painting of a country lane close to Little Crosby. Blocks of discrete colour arranged according to tone. In the shadows it allowed some quite diverse and strange selections which added punch and when completed, surprisingly, looked quite natural.
I was also pleased with the feeling of light I achieved which reflected the the bright summer’s evening with the wheat ripening in the field beyond.
The process is quite time consuming. Normally I can cover big areas with quick brushstokes – but not on this one. The methodology slowed me down and made me consider the placement of colour more analytically.
I added the dogwalker at the end as an afterthought, subsuming them into the landscape as I had been that day, painting in the evening light.
I was a bit low after my last plein air outing and the resulting paintings produced (last post). Wanting a change from another landscape, I rummaged among my pile of the incomplete and abandoned paintings in search of fresh leads. This one above was an abstract attempting to recall the wonderful colours seen on a visit to Corsica a few years ago. The trouble was, I wasnt getting the deep blues and clear turquoises I was after and the whole thing looked a bit sombre and so it got abandoned. I decided to lighten it up and add flecks of colour. The process lifted my spirits and it occurred to me that it was like coming back to the familiar, a return to comfort and I thought about the effect of the sight of harbour lights for a crew returning in the evening gloom. So I had a title. The process opened me to similar themes on the subject and to the possibility of repurposing old paintings. I have another one on the go at present.
Over the last few weeks I have been wanting to get outside painting, but the mornings have been unpredictable. They forecast cloud, so I don’t make plans, and when I wake up it’s bright sunshine and, conversely, with all my gear packed, I wake up to cloud. So, the other day, I decided to change tactics and go out to the beach one sunny afternoon. Once there though, it seemed like everyone else had decided that the beach was the place to be (though not to paint) and it was crowded. I did this in acrylics, above, when I got home.
Despite the crowds and interruptions I did a few sketches in watercolour. I wanted to get material for some more finished pieces.
I’m not sure I got much material. I might have a look at the sand besieged pines on the right, but I was working directly into the light on this one and the contrast is perhaps too much. It wasnt helped by a trail of passing sunburnt and sand-covered daytrippers, children and dogs knocking over my water pot and covering my palette in sand as they wended their way back to their cars.