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.
Regulars may be tired of this subject, but it shows the heart of my town, Southport, and the subject is still popular at exhibitions. For me, I like the challenge of the architecture and the figures. On this one I battled with the shop windows, as on my main source photo the windows were obscured by a figure and on the other shots, with the focus on the street, they were too dark to be meaningful. I was pleased with the outcome. Abstract marks, some on damp paper, others on dry gave the reflective qualities I was after and made a good contrast to the brightness of the street. They also feel right.
I also wanted a view without much of the traffic. For me it is a busy thoroughfare and cars are part of that, but a lady who bought a painting of the street earlier in the year, made the comment, that there was too much focus on the traffic on paintings I showed her. This comment made me think that for many, the focus is really on the buildings, pavement bustle and the shops under the arcade. So, here is my attempt at redressing the balance. Hope you like it.
On Saturday I received an anonymous wordpress comment on my email. I assumed it was from Troll and deleted it. Then it struck me that it had arrived in the middle of the day and Troll unleashes it’s invective at night, probably fuelled by alcohol. I decided to chance a look at the comment.
It was from a lady who had seen a copy of this painting, of one of our local parks. Posted in 2016. She asked if it was available for sale. The image she had seen was the one below which was half imperial. Since then I had cut it down to quarter imperial – the one you see above.
But the story begins much earlier. After blogging the painting, I exhibited it at my local framers. Someone quickly decided to buy it, but wanted it in another frame. Glyn, my framer, obliged, without taking a deposit. However, when I packed up the exhibition some six weeks later they hadnt returned.
In the meantime, an acquaintance, after visiting my exhibition, gushed that she would have bought the painting of Hesketh Park if it hadn’t been sold. So I contacted her and told her that the painting was now available. It became quickly apparent that what she had told me contained as much bullshit as the promise the first ‘buyer’ had given to my framer.
So the painting came back home. I told Glyn to contact me if the first punter returned, but they never did.
I then put it into other exhibitions, cut down, in an attempt to sharpen it up. To no avail. I even removed it from my website. So when I received this enquiry I had a bit of a frantic search trying to locate it. Fortunately I still had it, but at first I didnt realise the painting the lady was looking at was the old one.
Anyway, all’s well. The lady should receive the painting today. It is a present for her son, to remind him of the days when they visited the park.
Most mornings I cross Crescent Road and see this view. It is close to where I live and on a sunny morning the glow of the red bricks complementing the verdant hedges and other foliage as well as the patterns of light and shade always captures my attention. So I thought I would paint it and add it to my small collection of local paintings. And here it is for you, a small snapshot of where I live.
You may recall in the post before last the gloomy vista of rain clouds about to come over Birkdale beach – and I said it was part of a series, so here is the next one, a contrasting evening on the beach, with the sun hanging low and the light shimmering off the wet sands in the distance. I did this type of evening view in watercolour and it sold a year or two back, so I thought that I would try a version in pastels, placing tonal washes down in gouache first and then working over them in pastel as I had in my earlier pastel.
Mystery encroaches at this hour. The low light casts shadows and darkens ravines between marram covered dunes. Tracks of past beachgoers get highlighted by a glow on the raised edges that is then underscored by the shadow of the depression. Wisps of grass, catch the low sun and seem to glow against shadowed inclines. Soon the mystery will be complete.
I am working on a small series of local beach scenes in pastel. It gives me an opportunity to try out the use of gouache to quickly block in masses of light and shade. Darker passages can take a lot of pastel to build up and painting in a mixture of colours that can be added to with pastel seems to give a fresher result. I have done it with acrylic before, but I felt gouache will retain a better tooth to the paper.
On the beach, the marram grass covered dunes give way to lonely wet sands stretching way out to the breaking waves, almost imperceptible, in the distance. Above, dark clouds gather across the Irish sea in readiness to sweep in eastwards, lashing the country with the moisture picked up when crossing the Atlantic.
It is a good place to walk, in waterproof boots, on a windswept days past wading birds, to view what flotsam the preceding tide has deposited on the wet sand. Broken branches, like reaching limbs, festooned with flags of algae and black jewels of coal scoured from the Welsh coast dot the sand like pebbles.
A view I’ve done before, but this time I thought I would make more of the sunset and it’s effects. I’ve used the woman crossing the road with her shopping bags in another painting, but she fits in well here.
I think I’ve mentioned before, in earlier blogs, how the sunset in winter months is quite spectacular on Lord Street, the main street in Southport, where I live. I also spotted the light reflecting off the surface of a puddle in the gutter and, if nothing else, that was reason enough for me to do a painting.
Another in the mad scramble to get some paintings ready for a local show. This one is of the main street in Southport where I live. I think I have mentioned this before, that the low winter evening sun ( on the rare occasions when we see it) casts a golden glow over the shopfronts and lends a dreamlike feel to the street. I think I have captured that feel down the end of the street. I also liked the long shadows cast by the pedestrian and cars. In the past I have perhaps got a little dark with the buildings but hopefully, this time, have dodged that particular pitfall.
Yesterday I put this in our pop-up gallery off this very street, but I will probably move it to my solo exhibition at my framers, if and when he lets me start. I want a body of paintings of local scenes and this really fits the bill. Normally I would have high hopes for it, but slow sales at our pop-up gallery have dented my confidence of late.
This was the subject of my second ever post. It is a view of part of our pier at Southport. As the beach faces in a westerly direction you can get some great sunsets like this one.
With our pop up gallery suddenly and unexpectedly being given a months extension and a planned solo show looming at my framers I am in need of more paintings of local interest. This view is an image I have had for a while and I thought that it might make a popular subject. I love mixing the colours on the paper for the reflections and then tempering them with dry-brush darks. The only issue I had were the supports under the pier which always seem to look awkward.
The painting above followed my image, but I wondered whether I could display the painting at both venues and so set about doing a second version.
This time I thought that I would introduce the sun as it dipped towards the horizon and introduced the resulting reflections off the wet sand.
You can but try – they made for some satisfying painting, without too much detail -I’m just hoping that I have enough frames left for both exhibitions.
It’s been an unusually busy week, so I am showing an old painting that I havent posted before. It is of part of Lord Street, in Southport, where I live. It depicts busier times. Yesterday and today I’m doing a double stint at the pop up gallery which is feet away from where this painting was painted from. In fact, this painting was sold at the same pop-up around 10 years ago when sales were much better.
Having said that, I sold a painting at the shop this Thursday. It was of the canal, a painting I posted recently. I think the low sun clinched the deal, as you can see below.
Yesterday we had 13 people visit all day – life can be very lonely as a gallery worker and we only managed to sell 4 cards.
I took a painting to work on, but only managed to do a bit as I left my glasses at home. I’m clearly in need of an assistant
On Wednesday this week, I did a watercolour demonstration at a small town just north of Blackpool, it was my first demo since the first lockdown in March 2020. It seemed to go well. The painting I demonstrated was the puddles on Back Street South which I sold the last time I was at the pop up gallery – but that was the only one I did sell all month. I think I posted that very recently, but I still like it, so here it is again.
Well it’s Saturday, today, so we might get a few more punters at the gallery. I left my quarter completed painting there overnight, so I will try and remember my spectacles today and then I might have something to show for my next post.