Looking over recent output I realised I hadnt done a pastel in a while, so here is another view of the River Wear, in Durham. This one was glimpsed as I was hurrying past to do some painting in fields alongside the river, downstream. I suppose I could have done this scene, but it would have meant sitting in the road – and whenever I do that a lorry or tractor comes along, so I took a few photos and proceeded onwards.
I was struck by the light on the grasses and foliage which made them stand out against the shadows and reflections of the trees. I did some thumbnails of this and decided on a portrait format, but now its done perhaps a landscape format would be better.
In this painting I blocked in the darks with acrylics before starting out on the pastels. It does save a lot of time, and pastel, getting variegated darks in with paint and gives a great base to build up texture.
Last week I was in Durham and was able to get outside painting on a couple of warm and sunny days. However, the painting above was done at home. I had spotted the subject whilst sketching the dead tree beside the river, below – in fact this view above was behind me as I sketched, but getting the filigree foliage against a smoky forest backdrop needed a bit of thinking through, so I declined the challenge and painted this instead.
In hindsight I should have given it a go. Still, it was good to have an unexpected chance to get outside. The day before I sat and sketched the city skyline into the light.
This was again done on the banks of the River Wear with a curious bull snorting near my back from the field behind me. Fortunately the seemingly flimsy barbed wire fence did the trick and I survived to paint another day as this blog and my final sketch: looking up the hill to the other side of the river – testifies.
I posted a very similar painting a few months back. It was one I did mainly for my own amusement, but I included it in a group of paintings I submitted to someone who wanted to commission a view of Durham Cathedral. To my surprise they picked the earlier, portrait, version of this but wanted it in a landscape format – to fit the available space. As the lane winding up to the Cathedral is narrow and the towers hang over and dominate the scene it rather fits a portrait format, but anyway…. I managed to fill the space by including more of the Cathedral tower, a scattering of people and expanding the buildings on the left and right – thank goodness for Google. It might be a bit of a confection, but they seem happy with it, although there are a few things I might touch up before framing and dispatching.
This is a modified painting which I posted some time ago. When I first posted it I had some reservations about certain aspects. Then, the other day as I was searching through some old paintings, I came across it again and took a moment to reconsidered it and realised that my issues could be addressed. One problem was the central tree which I modified and then I enhanced the main field and strengthened the top field. It may have moved away from the original scene, but it was a bit of a combination of views in the first place, broadly based on the Wear Valley in Durham City.
I was asked to do picture of Durham Cathedral or some other Durham church related topic. The request was vague and remained so despite my probing for more direction. I know from old, that my interpretations can be way off the mark than what is swimming around in someone else’s head. Well, I did my best. I showed one painting of the cathedral in an earlier blog, but that was really done for my own pleasure as I liked the lighting. But you never know it may suffice. Here are another two.
I’ll present these three and see how far off the mark I am. If I present another painting of a Durham subject in the near future, you’ll know I missed. It’s like playing battleships – on half imperial sheets.
I went to Durham last week to visit family and also to have a look around in order to paint a city scene for one of the new rooms they have added to their house. I thought that they knew what they wanted, but it was very apparent that they didn’t. We walked around the city rather aimlessly looking for scenes, mainly of the cathedral.
As I approached the cathedral close I saw the light cutting across the courtyard and with the figures coming towards me I thought that here was a great scene. Though I don’t think that they will like it, but it caught my eye and here it is.
Later, as we were passing their church, which is on the bank opposite the cathedral, the light was catching the building. Later my sister in law said she liked that view, so off I went to check it out. Unfortunately when I got there the light had changed and it looked rather flat.
So I didn’t get many images to work off. Looks like this one will be a long time in the making.
We just spent some time at my brother in law’s house in Durham. They live close to the river, so I took off in the morning and did some watercolour sketching whilst everyone was still in bed.
This first one is of Kepier Hospital just down the road, alongside the river. This building was constructed in the 12th century as an isolation hospital and this could be the gatehouse with a beautiful vaulted ceiling which is just visible. The stone work is visibly decayed. There are no signs telling you what this is, so for many this could just be another farm complex, but when you look a little closer you realise that this is a very old building.
We then went down the river towards the coast and visited Finchale Abbey, a thirteenth century Benedictine abbey which was made the worse for wear by Henry 8th. I suppose the main route of communication was the river which linked this abbey, the hospital and Durham City with its cathedral.
Back again this morning I sat amongst the rising shoots of Japanese knotweed and painted one of the many farms on the slopes of the Wear valley in the warm morning sunshine. A dirty business, but someone’s got to do it.