You would be almost correct if you thought you’d seen this before. It is another version of a watercolour I posted earlier in the month. This time I put it on a 76×50 cm canvas and used acrylics. I pushed back the thicket on the right, compressing the trunks and focussed more on the shadows they created on the path – adding a few more for good measure. Hopefully I’ve created a bit more energy on this one and it more accurately reflects the feeling I had cycling through our local woods in Ainsdale on that recent sunny Saturday.
I managed to slip in a little acrylic study between the demos and workshops I am currently doing. It’s like buses – nothing for ages and then they all come along at once.
I saw this scene on a visit to Ness Gardens on the Wirral peninsular in September, this year and wondered whether it would make a good painting. Grandparents providing childcare.
I particularly like the man’s pose. I prised the woman away from the child as the woman’s head obscured the view, though I liked the foil of the tumbling, ragged foliage against the solid form of the figures.
On Wednesday I attended a local life group. They do some quicker poses and then allow an hour and a half for a longer pose. I did the one below of the female model, Sarah.
It had a pleasing sculptural quality but I was dissatisfied with the vitality. I feel I get more success with pastels, pushing colour and contrast and wondered how I could achieve this with acrylics. It’s something I’ve done before but then pushed too far, so this time I was also trying to strike a balance.
I did this one the next day from an image off the internet.
I started with some brighter colours scraped on the prepared surface and then applied my paint in a blockier way with square brushes . Perhaps I should have allowed the background colours to come through.
I then did the one at the top which pushed colour further. The only trouble was, the initial colours were done by splattering liquid acrylics on the surface which took an age to dry. Not much good for a time-restricted session which I would like to use this on.
A couple of months ago we visited friends in London. On our arrival the weather was fine and their dog needed exercise so we went off to Kenwood house – which backs onto Hampstead Heath and Parliament Hill – and walked through the grounds. Our route passed a series of lakes. One was the home of the Kenwood Ladies swimming club. Further down the hill was a lake for the men. Apparently they need to be kept apart – maybe they once had similar problems that I get with frogspawn filling my pond. Anyway…
This is another lake, with loungers in the evening’s heat. I particularly like the couple lying in the grass. I recalled that Lou Reed song: memorable for me as the record came out just as I started university. It was a juke box constant whilst I got my feet under the table in the union bar – in those heady, sunny, autumn days – days before the reality hit the fan.
I did a quick painting from a number of my photos, just to scope it out. I left out the guitarist who set up his amp nearby and regaled the whole lake with some practice pieces before the police arrived and curtailed his session; not even giving him time to pass the hat around – showbiz, eh?
Sometimes a painting eludes your initial vision and this one certainly has, so Finishing Line may be inappropriate as a title – there could be future versions. I wanted a triptych but thought that I could intertwine the images more, instead of just three rectilinear boxes that the subject finally dictated. I also found the greens started to dominate as the piece progressed.
Like all projects that cause consternation, this has taken longer, as the enthusiasm dwindles.
So I am pausing and taking stock.
So why show this? Well, my blog is a diary, and this is what has occupied me over the last few days, brought to some sort of conclusion. And there are a few bits I do like.
Sitting atop of a sand dune just south of Formby, I had a good view of the mouth of the Mersey. Reflective objects sang bright in the morning sun and I painted this view in watercolour, disturbed only by distant cries of gulls and lapwings. Not a bad way to start the day.
When I got home and looked at my endeavours I thought that pastel or acrylic would be a better medium for this painting. Eventually I plumped for acrylic because of the fiddly nature of the wind turbine and ship, though other aspects would have been easier in pastel.
I did debate about putting wind turbines in at all – there are quite a few more off to the right. In the end you got a token wind turbine and anyway, it adds a bit of balance to the piece.
Though still not doing as much life drawing as I did pre-covid I am beginning to attend a few more sessions of late, but on an irregular basis. Here are samples from three recent visits.
This one above was in acrylic which I felt could have been made a bit more dynamic with injections of colour and variations of brush stroke.
And above, I did push the colour a bit more here, but upon reflection it could have been brought into the figure to better effect. Especially to tone down the orange – she looks like a spray tan victim. Also, the upper left arm appears a bit on the short side – but those are the oversights you can make when working against the clock. Hopefully, next time you wont repeat those mistakes, though, in any case, they are easily corrected.
This is another painting from my recent visit to Dublin. Persuaded to just take hand luggage on the flight, I didnt have my usual painting kit. Instead, I took a small sketch book for quick captures of people etc. A war memorial park was just up the road from our hotel and had benches along each side of a long pond, allowing me to sketch people on the other side. One gate of that park opened up opposite an art gallery which contained Francis Bacon’s London studio, brought over to Dublin and reconstructed there, upon his death. He was a messy worker and certainly liked his champagne. Well worth a visit.
The fellow in this picture was sat in O’Connell Street. I didnt have time to sketch him as I was on the top deck of a bus, but it was such a magnificent pose – augmented by the shadows. He also reminded me of one of my grandfathers – Patrick Fitzpatrick McQuade – who also had a similar hat and stick.
Sometimes paintings almost paint themselves and at other times you have an uphill battle which sometimes you never surmount. This is one of the former. As I did this I was also working on a watercolour which is one of the latter. If I ever get to the top of that one I’ll blog it.
But for now, The Exuberance of Spring is a picture of my Bramley apple tree on a bright, spring morning earlier in the year. The colours seem to zing against the backdrop of the sky. We have had a good crop of fruit this year, from peaches to cherries to apples and pears, though a recent very dry spell has caused a second drop of apples and also their leaves, on my smaller trees. This Bramley, though is a bit too robust to be upset by a spot of dry weather and is still full of fruit and replete with leaves. I also like the dark shadow areas which frame some of the areas of interest.
It may need a little more work, but it’s essential done. I saw these daisies on some waste ground near to where I live one sunny day and was struck by the tonal differences. Initially I painted them in watercolour, but I wanted to emphasise the transition from shade to light and decided that it would be better, and easier, to do the piece in acrylics.
I also have this canvas, which I made some time ago, and have used before. I thought that the shape was well suited to the subject and complemented the tonal transition of the piece. At the bottom of the painting are some juicy blues and purples from the previous painting, which I kept and built on. They are not very visible on this shot.