PORTRAIT AND LIFE – PASTEL PAINTINGS

I was going to show life paintings today, but on Sunday, when I turned up for the session, I was told that the model booked had called in at around 11pm on the previous night to say he couldnt make it. With some quick thinking, Phil, the guy organising the session, had roped in a fellow drinker at the pub he was at, to sit for a portrait. Who would have that job of organising models – it’s like herding cats? Well, you do get a few reliable ones, but the flakes make the job an unnecessarily difficult one.

So Trevor strode into the studio on Sunday morning. Two things I hate when painting people are glasses and beards, so I wasnt hopeful at the beginning, but decided to give it a go. However, the lighting was good and gave some interesting shadows and the greyness of the jersey, hair and beard seemed to set off the flesh tones well. So in the end it wasnt a wasted morning.

The previous week, at a different session, the model – Sarah, who is very reliable, did turn up. Though for her efforts it seems that I turned her into the ice maiden for reasons even unknown to me.

Though Roy, the organiser, had turned the heating full on so, rest assured, no model suffered unduly in the making of this picture.

Other figurative work is available for sale on my website: grahammcquadefineart.com

LAST LIFE SESSIONS OF 2022 – PASTEL AND ACRYLIC

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.

Other life paintings are available for sale on my website: grahammcquadefineart.com

SUNLIT BIRCHES BY THE FOREST PATH 2 – PASTEL PAINTING

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.

Other forest scenes are available for sale on my website: grahammcquadefineart.com

MORE LIFE PAINTING – PASTEL AND ACRYLIC

My life (though, not the painting of it) has been a bit hectic of late, getting ready for 3 exhibitions, one solo and two joint. Tomorrow I am manning one of these as someone has dropped out – and it is only the second day. Anyway, it will allow me to paint all day at least. I’m not hopeful, in this present economic climate of sales or even visitors at our exhibitions. So there may be plenty of time to fill, though maybe I am being overly pessimistic as I did sell a painting this week from my website.

So without any of my landscapes or seascapes to show, here are some of the figurative sketches I’ve done recently at workshops. I have been trying to get along at least once a week to one of the sessions held in these parts.

I find I am labouring when I use acrylics – failing to get the effects I am after. The top two paintings are pastels and I am trying a direct approach with these, though I do want to introduce more colour, but not as much as I’ve done in the past. With the acrylics – these last two paintings – I still have issues with the tonal changes.

With the Eve, above, I realised late on, that her lower right arm was about to be too long and I spent the last fifteen minutes of the session, frantically reworking the legs and right arm and hand: she doesnt appear to be too happy about it.

Perhaps with this one of Arthur, above, in acrylics, I started to get a more painterly effect, but it still needs to be worked on to get further variation of hue that I am after.

But it is all practice, challenged by a ticking clock, it does make you speed up and make quicker decisions – occasionally the right one.

Other figurative work is available for sale on my website: grahammcquadefineart.com

SUNLIT BIRCHES BY THE FOREST PATH – PASTEL PAINTING

I mentioned in my previous post about a cycleride in the afternoon sun, last Saturday. Here is another in the small series of paintings from that trip. This one’s a pastel. The low afternoon sun pierces through gaps in the forest, picking out skeletal birch trees, which hang there, like automatons on a ghost train ride, scaring no one.

A fellow blogger, N, from Ink,Yarn and Beer told me to look at the pastel work of Karen Margulis. In one utube video she used a wet brush to spread and mix the pastel across her support. When I’ve done this the paper cockles, making further work difficult. But recently I have been using gouache as a base for dark areas in my pastels and havent had any issues. So, for the forest background, I dragged down purples, siennas and browns with a wet brush to create a backdrop, using Karen’s approach. I also did it in the sky. With the amount of water kept to a minimum it seemed to work. When the sky and backforest was dry, I went in with the foreground trees, grasses and the leaf covered path.

It is a dark piece and I am a little undecided about it, particularly its commercial potential, but I’ll put it up and see how I feel about it in the coming days. I have another watercolour on the go from this trip and am thinking of making the previous painting of the birch copse with shadows, into a bigger acrylic piece.

Other landscapes are available for sale on my website: grahammcquadefineart.com

AFTERNOON AT FORMBY POINT – PASTEL PAINTING

This was the last of a series I recently painted of our local coastline. They have familiar themes to others I have painted. In this one I liked the shadows cast by the nearest clump of marram grass and the distant beach as it drifts away into infinity. It is an expansive area of sand where, in some areas, you barely see a soul as you walk beneath the towering dunes.

This set of paintings gives me some choice when I come to select paintings for the exhibitions which are fast approaching.

Other seaside and beach paintings are available for sale on my website: grahammcquadefineart.com

INCOMING TIDE – MIXED MEDIA

Last month I published a set of sketches for a watercolour and pastel beach scene. I combined aspects of two of them to produce this on a half imperial sheet – 35x52cm. I will display it in a group exhibition we are staging in the Southport Wayfarers Arcade from the end of November until Christmas. So book yourself a flight to bag a bargain at our pop-up exhibition before someone else grabs them. Alternatively I can post it to you.

Other seaside and beach scenes can be purchased on my website: grahammcquadefineart.com

BACK TO THE BEACH – PASTEL PAINTING

With this painting I’m staying with the pastels and riffing on a familiar theme in preparation for upcoming exhibitions. I was pleased with the colours I got into this familiar view of the beach at Formby – simple pleasures, but I’m a simple man. I had to include some old fencing as I was demonstrating a similar painting at a club in Blackpool on Thursday, so the practice helped. Tomorrow I will be running a pastel workshop. Hopefully, after that, things will quieten down and I’ll try to explore some other themes and media, though I do want to do a larger version of the mixed media offering of breaking waves I posted a week or so ago.

Today I am off to a life session run by an old mate of mine. He told me that he has got a great model, someone I havent seen since before covid. I just hope we can get some good lighting as well.

Other seaside paintings are available for sale on my website: grahammcquadefineart.com

THISTLE PATCH – PASTEL PAINTING

I’ve been doing some pastels of late, but mainly seascapes. So, for a change, I thought I’d slip in a pastoral scene.

I saw these thistleheads whilst out walking in the grounds of Kenwood House, north London in September. I put out an acrylic painting a week or so ago, entitled Perfect Day. That painting showed a view of this hill from the other side of the lake. It indeed was a perfect day; the pleasure of the open air after negotiating three train rides which brought us from Liverpool to the capital.

In this pastel scene the parched ground acted as a foil for the clump of thistles and bank of trees. The light on the thistle seed heads made them almost glow. Then, just an arrangement of the thistle clump to run counter to the slope of the ground.

I hope it brings you calm.

Other landscapes and floral paintings are available for sale on my website: grahammcquadefineart.com

AUTUMN ON THE ALT ESTUARY – PASTEL PAINTING

I’ve painted this view before but had forgotten about it until I was preparing this blog.

With the sale of a coastal painting this week as well as preparing for a couple of exhibitions and doing a lot of pastel work, especially for the demos and workshops I’m running this month and next, I was looking around for likely subjects.

So I had a go at this, which is the estuary of a small river, the Alt, as it empties out into the bigger Mersey Estuary at the north end of Liverpool. In the summer, the channel, close to the dunes, is lined with moored yachts, but as the year dwindles towards its end they are brought ashore and placed in a compound.

This view is from the dunes looking over the Mersey towards the Wirral peninsular that can be just picked out in the haze. If you look hard there is a tanker making a break for the Irish sea.

The dark headland behind the marram grasses is made up of building rubble from the bombed out Liverpool, which was dumped there after the second world war. As you walk along the beach you can find carved fascias to old buildings amongst the sea smoothed bricks and concrete. Someone once told me that they found half of a tombstone there.

Other Sefton beach scenes are available for sale on my website: grahammcquadefineart.com