This is from some photos I took last year. Almost a year ago, as the field of bright yellow rapeseed testifies. Here a view of the Leeds to Liverpool canal and one of its many bridges in the village of Haskayne on the Lancashire Plain. Makes me itchy to get out on the bike and start painting in the spring sunshine.
We have been having some unseasonal weather of late in the UK with high pressure bringing plenty of sun and also sweeping up southerly air to warm us all. So on Sunday we went for a walk along the river in the bright warm sunshine. Returning to the car I noticed the hazy blueness of the trees and decided to set this off against oranges and yellows of the fields – exaggerating the colours and putting a toe into the surreal. It reminded me of a recent sketch I blogged of a puddle filled lane.
With great contrast coming from the strong, low sun other possibilities for paintings also offered themselves – so there may be more on the way.
Another old favourite – Halsall Church, the village church, which is a few miles across the Moss from where I live in Southport. I did a similar view ages ago which sold. In spring, summer and autumn the church is obscured by foliage and it was only in December that I spotted the view again as I cycled around on a sunny day. The sandstone of the church in sunlight blends well with the winter coats of trees, and in this view I focussed more on the Church. The painting now sits in the window of my framer, hopefully awaiting purchase.
I did this a couple of weeks ago, but it got forgotten in the pile. I was after the smoky blues you get in the still early mornings and did resort to a glaze of blue tinted gouache. Perhaps more foliage detail in the foreground might add to the depth, but there is an understated calm about it which is what I was after.
A couple more sketches taken from photos, but painted in one sitting, quickly as if I was on site. This is a path I’ve been along many times, cycling to work. The photo was taken a few weeks ago when good weather coaxed me back on the bike. I am a sucker for puddles and here they are in bucket loads. It was painted in three main washes. Sky and puddles, then land and the blocks of trees and finally all the left hand trees, house details, shadows and fiddly bits. I feel I went in too dark with the muddy track and that limited my options for building up texture there.
This is an image from late summer and it started to get a bit overworked trying to get the tufts of seeding rosebay willowherb ( I think) in shadow. This one probably needed masking fluid, but as I dont use it in the field I resorted to scratching back with a scalpel to get the delicate fronds of decaying flowers.
If nothing else it was a good exercise should I want to paint a bigger or more finished painting.
Another canal painting. I liked the dark form of the narrowboat melding into the bridge in shadow. There was also a lot of foliage and I tried applying paint to sprayed water to get lost and found edges. It took a few goes to build up the volume. Because of all the green I introduced some warms to break the monotony, though not too much as the subdued colour range pulls out the central figure and hopefully focusses the eye on the detail.
As practise for future plein air work I did this quickly on the back of an old painting, so I may not have got the proportions of the hill correct. I had an old photo and pretended that I was sat in a field getting it down with the minimum of washes. I also took the opportunity to jazz up the light at the same time. I was pleased with the result and I think the sky helps; along with ignoring a lot of the detail in the landscape. Its something I need to do more out in the field, putting in just enough detail to capture attention, but not getting bogged down.
Having recently sold a couple of canal scenes I thought that I would paint a view of the Leeds to Liverpool Canal at Parbold. Another reason was to rattle the Troll’s cage – it gets agitated when it sees a canal – though never reading its rants, it might have changed for all I know or care.
I liked the boat tucked into the sunny mooring though I changed it to a narrowboat and the figures I borrowed from another photo. I saw some guys in a narrowboat when I was painting along the canal in the summer. They didnt look your usual barge folk. When I packed up to leave I walked past them and heard them speak in a foreign language. Later, it occurred to me that perhaps they were using narrowboats to house foreign workers – or perhaps illegal immigrants, who knows. There are quite a few craft well past their prime moored along the canal so that might be an easy way to raise some income. Though once you`ve handed the keys over your asset might disappear off into the sunset, never to be seen again.
A view of Liverpool city towards the Mersey with the tall commercial buildings blocking out the bright sunlight until the sun’s persistence starts to break through and tear open the gloom. On the right, towering above the street, is the Liver Building with its clock tower and the Liver Birds balanced on the cupolas above.
I think I had just come out of a life drawing session and crossed the road to spot this. The life drawing group had been forced to move here from a decrepit but lovely light building to one on the right, There wasnt much natural light on the model down at the bottom of this valley and added to that the room was smaller.
Last summer I climbed Parbold Hill which is close to the M6, south of Preston. It looks out west over the Lancashire plain towards the Irish sea, amongst other places. This was the view I saw as I made my way back to my car. Earlier I had sat and painted a number of sketches which I posted at the time.
Here is the first one of the day, on the way up the hill.
The trees, in a line in the mid ground, on the top painting, I think are hawthorn trees, though I have never gone to investigate. This line of trees in the centre of the field have always interested me. In 2015 I was painting on the hill in the evening and took some images of the trees and did a pastel from it. Same trees, different angle – again I posted this one at the time. I loved the shadows cast by the trees from the setting sun and so did someone else as the painting was purchased soon after.