I did this painting just before I departed for Portugal at the end of September. It came from my visit to Formby Beach when I was collecting material for a commission and seeing what else was about.
I loved the wind-sculpted shapes of the trees, though they are in peril. The sea is encroaching and pushing the coast back and this small cluster of trees will soon be no longer. You can see the next line of the pine forest in the background.
I think there is mileage in making the trees starker and I was going to introduce some reds and other colours into the trunks and foliage, but for now exploring the shapes of the trees and their relationship to the landscape is enough.
In the past I have sold many floral paintings in watercolour, but of late they haven’t been as popular. Despite being pleased with the ones I recently exhibited, they followed me home. So when I saw some floral paintings in acrylic, presented as single flowers I wondered whether I should follow this approach.
Here’s the first one – a single flowerhead, without my usual adornment of foliage. I have painted flowers in acrylic before, but more in the style of my watercolours and wasn’t taken with the result, despite the fact that acrylics can give much more saturated colour, in keeping with the flowers themselves.
In this painting the flower is big and brassy and demands attention without distraction. I mixed a greeny/black background to work against the pinks and reds of the flower and push the luminosity further.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I suppose this could be worked on a little more, but I took a photo of it to see how it was looking and decided to post it. Apposite as they are opening up shops and other non essential outlets tomorrow in our neck of the woods. However, cafes and pubs can only serve customers outside – so those inside on this painting are mere reflections., and with our weather, those on the outside will soon be wrapping their coats around them – but for now it’s sunny – it could be France – but it’s Parbold.