I was going to regale you with some life paintings, but yesterday the sun shone and warm winds came from the south, so I was tempted outside to sketch. I was pushed a bit by the fact that I hadnt done as much outdoor painting last year as I had wanted – mainly because of poor weather. This thought drove me to gather my gear and get out in the late afternoon.
I didnt venture too far. This is the beach at Birkdale, near to where I live. I just wanted something simple and the tonal contrasts, with the sun lighting up the sea and the marram clad dunes in the shade, really caught my attention. A few feet behind me was a tee for one of the holes on the Royal Birkdale Golf Club and I got some snaps of the golfers which may get converted into a painting later.
So it was a good one to break the ice with – hopefully there will be many more this year.
I have been asked to do an illustration for a neighbour. It is of the building involved with a project that he has been running. The building is, in my eyes, boring, but the project means a lot to him. This is the second sketch I have done. The first involved combining the front with the back of the building in an effort to shake things up a bit. He didnt like that, so I went with a bog standard view – though on the right of the illustration above, I did a pen and wash whilst on the left it is a standard watercolour format. At the moment the jury is out and he will be getting back to me.
The project is about replacing the old council- run local library which the council sold off and is now a small housing estate. Locals got together and established a small library and community centre at the old station masters house that is owned by the Mersey Rail Company and loaned to the group. This house is attached to the local railway station and, up to this point, was empty. The community centre is now up and running and my neighbour wants a momento of the hard work put in by him and the rest of the team.
I find commissions quite challenging, as left to my devices I would be off in one direction, but as a commission I feel I must be meeting the tastes of my client – that’s where it can get difficult. Hopefully a compromise is in sight.
Most mornings I cross Crescent Road and see this view. It is close to where I live and on a sunny morning the glow of the red bricks complementing the verdant hedges and other foliage as well as the patterns of light and shade always captures my attention. So I thought I would paint it and add it to my small collection of local paintings. And here it is for you, a small snapshot of where I live.
Here is a view of the local train station. A road crosses the track just by the station, so when the Liverpool bound train stops, as you see here, the barriers open whilst the train loads up, before it proceeds away from the crossing and the station – so what you see here is the back of the train.
Crossing the road the other day whilst the train was at he station I was struck by the contrasts. The pattern of light and shade, the warm and cool colours and the hard industrial shapes of the train and canopies against the soft, lush sunlit foliage. Because of that you have a painting.
A painting without much commercial value, but nonetheless I like the effects and the challenges it posed for me, particularly with the tracks etc.
You may recall in the post before last the gloomy vista of rain clouds about to come over Birkdale beach – and I said it was part of a series, so here is the next one, a contrasting evening on the beach, with the sun hanging low and the light shimmering off the wet sands in the distance. I did this type of evening view in watercolour and it sold a year or two back, so I thought that I would try a version in pastels, placing tonal washes down in gouache first and then working over them in pastel as I had in my earlier pastel.
Mystery encroaches at this hour. The low light casts shadows and darkens ravines between marram covered dunes. Tracks of past beachgoers get highlighted by a glow on the raised edges that is then underscored by the shadow of the depression. Wisps of grass, catch the low sun and seem to glow against shadowed inclines. Soon the mystery will be complete.
Well, it looks like I got my paintings ( the ones I posted on this blog a week or so ago) into the juried show at the town art gallery – leastways, they havent told me to come and pick them up, which is always a good sign.
So, with that under my belt, I can turn to next week when we set up another exhibition on the other side of Lord Street to the art Gallery, in an unused unit inside a beautiful Victorian shopping arcade. This will be for six weeks and I need to ready a few more paintings for that one. Even though I probably have more than enough, I thought I might do a quick painting of my local shops, around the corner from where I live. The sun shines on the facades in the morning and with the trees only just coming into leaf you can see most of the architecture, including the covered walkway, so it is a local scene which someone might take a shine to.
I posted a sunlit painting of a snicket along the railway track a few days ago. If you continue down that snicket, it comes out on the right, in what they call Birkdale Village – part of Southport, where I live. Here you are actually standing on the rail track with part of the station, the building on the far right.
I think it was the old phone box, lit by the early morning sun that caught my eye and the fact that the sixties carbuncle, on the left – the Spar supermarket – is mellowed and put in the shade by the light coming in over it. Colours are subdued with hints of spring leaves in the background.
A quiet scene of morning stirrings in the suburbs.
This is a scene I see almost daily on my walk. Well, that is, when I get up in time and the sun shines and… So sometimes, anyway. These early summer mornings with the colours of young leaves in sunshine lift the spirit. I also like the old cast-iron bollards that guard the alleyway and which seem isolated and redundant now. Not to mention the old street lamp, still in its old borough colours of cream and red.
Further on my morning route is the site of another painting I did – and posted here – a couple of years ago, at a similar time of the year with the bright morning sun shining through the new leaves.
With the morning light on the dunes the marram grass glows and glistens and cajoled me into working up this view of the beach at Birkdale where I live. I had forgotten I had done a very similar piece before in April and it was only as I was storing this painting that I saw the earlier work. I had forgotten it, probably as I wasnt too taken with the regularly repeating rows of grass I had managed to get on that one. So I got the old painting out again and gave it a dose of reworking and here it is:
On the top painting I blocked in the dark areas with dark acrylic paint before applying the pastels and that saved a lot of time and layers of pastel in achieving the shadows and darker passages, In the lower painting darks were built up with pastel alone.
I did a sketch of this in an earlier blog and decided to have a go as a painting. I like the ethereal feeling the light gives and I managed to get the shimmer on the foreground marram grasses by scratching out rather than using masking fluid as I did in the sketch. For me, this approach yields a more dynamic and varied result.
I also tried to enhance the diagonal sweep of the dune forms to try and inject some dynamism to an otherwise staid subject.