Another old favourite – Halsall Church, the village church, which is a few miles across the Moss from where I live in Southport. I did a similar view ages ago which sold. In spring, summer and autumn the church is obscured by foliage and it was only in December that I spotted the view again as I cycled around on a sunny day. The sandstone of the church in sunlight blends well with the winter coats of trees, and in this view I focussed more on the Church. The painting now sits in the window of my framer, hopefully awaiting purchase.
Last summer I climbed Parbold Hill which is close to the M6, south of Preston. It looks out west over the Lancashire plain towards the Irish sea, amongst other places. This was the view I saw as I made my way back to my car. Earlier I had sat and painted a number of sketches which I posted at the time.
Here is the first one of the day, on the way up the hill.
The trees, in a line in the mid ground, on the top painting, I think are hawthorn trees, though I have never gone to investigate. This line of trees in the centre of the field have always interested me. In 2015 I was painting on the hill in the evening and took some images of the trees and did a pastel from it. Same trees, different angle – again I posted this one at the time. I loved the shadows cast by the trees from the setting sun and so did someone else as the painting was purchased soon after.
I posted the first version of this a little while ago and it has since sat in my studio in a tray frame I made for it, but I became aware that the foreground looked a bit timid and tentative and so I decided something had to change.
Out came the brushes and I started scumbling, getting rid of the prissy field break in the lower part and giving the foreground texture. I am happier with this version and having just had an invite to join a mixed exhibition in December ( Covid permitting) along with a solo show at my framers, I have now got a small collection of these stylised landscapes to show.
I did warn you there were more churches to come. These are local country churches. I did a sketch of Halsall Church, above, one quiet morning during the lockdown. Normally the road in the foreground is very busy, but on that morning there were only a few passing vehicles and a couple of pedestrians. Even so, I wedged myself over a wall on the steep bank of a stream and painted into the light. On this version I widened the field of view, to put the Church into context.
This second one is of Sefton Church and I have presented a version of this before, but I wasnt happy with the washes and I felt I had too much foreground at the expense of the subject. So here is a second go. I feel happier with this version.
Anyway, that concludes my ecclesiastical excursions – well at least for now.
Maybe I’m undergoing some sort of epiphany or, then again, perhaps not, but I am painting a number of churches of late. I have a couple more in the pipeline, but this is a completed one.
I had been over to the sand dunes at Formby to do some early morning painting and was making my way back to the road when I glimpsed the church through the chestnut and sycamore trees. I squeezed in under a dilapidated fence and sat and painted the back of the church, though it was the light coming in through the leaves of the trees that adds the punch to this painting and I didn’t do that justice in my sketch. So here is my second go at home, sat in comfort, listening to a spot of Mozart – you can almost feel the sunshine.
Another medium term project I have set myself is to assemble a set of paintings from around the vicinity where I live to show in my framers shop window around Christmas. The framers is almost opposite the end of this church. This was a first go at St Peter’s Church which I feel is a little stilted.
Another painting which didnt come out as well as I would have liked is a view of Duke Street Cemetery which is an old municipal cemetery started in Victorian times.
I was working from a number of photos, trying to get the best view through the trees along with the turn of the path. What I have done is getting the tombstones on a different scale to the chapel building. I did wonder why I needed to slip in memorial stones to fill the gaps. So here is another one for rework – though I am not sure of the commercial value of a graveyard, I do love the spring sunshine working through the unfolding leaves.
I went to Chester the other week primarily to see a contemporary watercolour exhibition, but the person I was with wanted to visit a sculpture exhibition in the cathedral which contained a work by the brother of someone we paint with in a life group. In fact they were dismantling the exhibition when we arrived – I didnt even know it was running – but there were still a good number of exhibits on show by many world class sculptors. Some of the work was displayed in the cathedral grounds and as we were walking through in the sunshine, there were people sitting in the sun, surrounded by the great pillars and walls of the building, taking a lunchtime break. I thought I might paint something from a couple of the pictures I took.
The watercolour painting was also quite interesting, featuring some local artists, two of whom I knew – and the day was glorious for a walk around Chester.
If you’re thinking that you may have seen this before, you’re correct I have posted it once already. The reason why I am doing it again is that I entered this painting, along with a couple of others, into a national painting magazine competition and this has been shortlisted. Artists and Illustrators (the magazine) even published the image in their January edition along with a few of the other shortlisted paintings.
It’s the first competition I’ve entered as I have qualms with the validity of such exercises, but if it helps in sales and exposure then I can be persuaded.
It will be part of an exhibition at the Mall Galleries in London at the back end of January, along with the other shortlisted entries and where a winner? will be announced.
We wandered into Santiago Cathedral on Easter Sunday, sightseeing and unaware of the time. When we got in there was a service taking place, so we walked around the outside, but coming down the outside aisle came a procession with the head man. With incense and crosses they marched past us and I turned towards the main door and saw a lad holding out his hand. In the light there seemed a sense of spirituality, even to me.