Last week we stayed in a cottage in Settle on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales. In the main the weather was overcast, particularly in the morning when I went out to sketch. Towards the afternoon and evening the sun broke through the clouds. Here is a sketch from, memory, of a view I saw as we drove back from a walk in Hawes – another Dales’ village. High on the moorland these isolated farmhouses dotted the road and as we climbed the hill the silhouette of the buildings stood out against a break in the clouds.
I did another version, even more sparsely:
This was at a stage before I started to add detail and ruin it.
Because of the flat light my morning sketches disappointed me. I was also hindered by drizzle and inquisitive cows which nearly trampled over my painting gear.
The middle sketch above shows similarities to the first sketches, except that the building was a small electricity substation. I sat balanced on a dry-stone wall painting it, packing in when a light drizzle started to fall.
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.
I have been continuing to play with acrylic inks. I completed a painting on canvas using inks and acrylic paint which I was pleased with. It had a floral connotations so have I have been searching for other themes for a new painting.
So I started to look at dance and movement which the ink lines can evoke. So this was the idea behind the top two – though the top one did take on a life of it’s own.
Continuing the movement theme, above, I tried to run the watercolour washes counter to the movements of the acrylic inks.
Another potential theme was the urban environment. The straight lines that the droppers of ink can easily produce convey man made objects.
And of course, I looked at the landscape, but this time I added the ink to watercolour washes rather than the other way around as I had done on the first four above.
Finally another landscape theme on a preprepared watercolour wash, but along with the acrylic inks I added some pastel as well.
I was playing with my pastels, looking at options for an abstract, and turned this pair into something else. Though all the time fighting to keep to the spirit of abstract and not being too descriptive with a view to painting a bigger piece. With the first one I did a similar painting in acrylics some time ago and was pleased with it. The second one, I feel, could be developed by deconstructing it a little and playing the large areas of grey off with the smaller and more intense patches of colour.
I might do a few more, as it happily occupied an hour without any pressure of a result.
Continuing the local landscape theme on canvas I pushed on from the graphic style I have been showing recent. This time starting with some loose washes and textural work to see where that brought me out. I have done similar things in the past, favouring blue/purple/yellow orange combinations, but this time went for greens and reds, though yellow seemed to pushed its nose in there as well.
And this was the result. Too messy? too many motifs? I’m certainly undecided. I also wonder whether adopting this complementary colour approach also causes confusion. Keeping things in one colour segment and working tonally might calm things down.
I had previously mentioned a number of paintings I have been struggling with of late and this is one of them. It started out as an evocation to lush swaying grassland but the final result left me unsatisfied. Instead of getting the gesso out and starting again I thought I could use the movement I had created and so pressed on to bring it to this, its latest manifestation. It’s taken on a topographical feel – like the view you might get moments before impact. So here it rests in my studio – at least I feel more satisfied now.
And whilst on the subject of reworking here are a couple more paintings I’ve shown of late having undergone further tweaking. Firstly, Early Crops Under Clieves Hills:
Second in the series of the graphic and colour-centric landscapes I am completing. Not sure if there is too much detail in the foreground here and that a further paring down could prove beneficial. I am already reworking the foreground of the first in the series I presented earlier, and painting a third.
I did a watercolour of this farm a long time ago and there isnt a lot going on though I love the outline of the buildings and the wind sculpted trees. This time I added the storm and am very pleased with some of the outcome.
I need thirty paintings for a show in a couple of weeks and started getting things together before I left for holiday. The exhibition is based on paintings of the area around where I live. Most are in a realist or naturalist style but I have one abstract work and although I have some expressionistic works I wanted another abstract to complement it. It then takes the viewer on both a topographic and a stylistic journey. On the plane home I had an idea for something reflecting the canal where I live and do a lot of my plein air painting.
This was the result and may get further tweaked in the next weeks. I did do a couple of pastel sketches, but felt that they were a little busy.
This was the first one and on the second I decided to kill some of the blue
I liked the idea of building up the complexity in the middle, but keeping the outsides open and airy and decided to emphasise that on my acrylic piece. Perhaps I have gone too far now. I will leave it alone and make a decision later.
As I worked on the acrylic piece I started to think of the Nile – a little distance from the Lancashire plain where I started out.
Things are getting a bit hectic around here. I am off on holiday shortly and I needed to get an exhibition up and running yesterday. I am also just completing a commission that came in last week and when I come back from holiday I have another exhibition. This painting is for that later exhibition. The exhibition is about the local landscape and I need a bit of time to assess this latest effort and see whether I want to include it. I may be forced to as I need 30 pictures.
This was another response to to the forest walks we went on, described in previous blogs. In fact I completed this one before the last blog I posted. I tried some sketches first in pastel and in the end decided to combine them all for the final piece.
Any resemblence to Mondrian’s Broadway Boogie Woogie is coincidental and I did get increasingly aware of it as I built up the painting, with its lines and small blocks of colour particularly as he did some very inspiring trees as well – well worth a look at.