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.
This is the third painting from a recent local walk. The two others I posted were watercolours, but I decided to do this in a stylised way with acrylics. I was taken by the illumination of the ivy on the tree trunks and thought that the potency of the saturation of the acrylic paint would better show this off and the bright reflections off the leaves had the feeling of a mosaic. The ivy clad trunks were in conflict with the bare winter branches which added more incongruity. So here it is – on our way back to the car.
The other two were the Boatyard at Banks and Afternoon Stroll. So in the end it proved a fruitful afternoon`s stroll.
Well, summer seems to be peeping around the corner around here, so why not paint another beach scene. This is a subject I tackled a long time ago, but the figures were just part of a bigger beachscape. I love this grouping and thought that it might be worth focussing in on the four of them walking along the wet sand in the morning.
And whilst I am the subject of repeats, here is another version of a painting I did post a few weeks ago. Breakout, though in that version not all the figures were breaking out – one seemed to be very occupied with their phone.
So I got rid of the texting man and added a running female. I also pushed her and the dog closer to the smaller boy and reduced the size of the painting from 52x35cm to 35x25cm and in doing so, got closer to the action. Hopefully I’ve got more of the exuberance of a summer’s day than I first had – days to come.
I recalled that story of guilt-ridden dieters who, in desperation, stood, teetering awkwardly on one foot on the bathroom scales in an attempt to ameliorate the effect of their indulgences. I thought of the parallels between that and our attempts to reduce our carbon footprint. We carry the baggage of our carefree lives and old habits making it very hard to change our ways – ways that are channelled and shaped by big business who are themselves driven by the cold god of growth.
Many try hard, some succeed, others are green in parts. Perhaps there’s just too many of us. Still, on the bright side, I read that male sperm counts were decreasing.
This painting follows one I posted years ago, in 2013, entitled All the King’s Men. The first version of this finished up on a placard for the local Greenpeace Group.
I posted a version of this before, but on further reflection, felt I had pulled back too far from the subject and allowed other distractions into the first version. This time I have focussed on the figure – getting him to fill the frame and even truncating the legs to fully take in the twisting of the upper body. I like the movement of the pose and the sense of optimism it suggests – which for this glass half empty person is a feat in itself.
Coupled with the English announcement of the start of the lifting of Covid restrictions then this may have a further resonance – though as every kite flyer knows, a change of wind and the kite is soon back down around your feet – leopards and spots…
For us in northern climes, a taste of what`s to come – that is, if they let us out the house .or we stage a breakout.
At this moment we should be cruising down the Nile – a holiday booked well over a year ago and I have been looking forward to seeing the sights of ancient Egypt that seem to be constantly on the television here. I was also eager for some time on deck, in the sun, painting the passing countryside as we cruised down river. So hopefully next year.
With this painting I liked the movement of the front child in the water and the gambolling dog. It looked a bit unconnected so I introduced a second child and pulled the dog into the man, who appears to be texting or reading his emails. In that format I have created a diagonal that hopefully reinforces the energy of waves and bathers.
I posted a version of this painting in early January. At the time someone commented on the bottom portion of the painting; that it needed reducing. I had to agree with this useful suggestion and decide to extend and expand the narrative of the passing places down the canvas.
In the end I reworked two thirds of it, making it look like a collection of snapshots along this single track lane close to where I live – a record of a journey perhaps. The passing places, emblematic of how we have to compromise and defer on our journey through life – well, most of us anyway.
I certainly like the idea behind this painting and how the greys characterise the place and the vibrancy generated by this colour against the oranges and yellows in the sky and fields.