I’ve been doing some pastels of late, but mainly seascapes. So, for a change, I thought I’d slip in a pastoral scene.
I saw these thistleheads whilst out walking in the grounds of Kenwood House, north London in September. I put out an acrylic painting a week or so ago, entitled Perfect Day. That painting showed a view of this hill from the other side of the lake. It indeed was a perfect day; the pleasure of the open air after negotiating three train rides which brought us from Liverpool to the capital.
In this pastel scene the parched ground acted as a foil for the clump of thistles and bank of trees. The light on the thistle seed heads made them almost glow. Then, just an arrangement of the thistle clump to run counter to the slope of the ground.
Another in the series for an upcoming exhibition. I’m not sure of the painting’s commercial potential, though I love the subject. Again it was worked up from my sketchbook and some photos and I took the opportunity to rotate the footbridge to reveal the opening at the far end. When I originally painted it, the view was more side on.
These splayed bridges are designed to prevent livestock moving out of the field , but give free passage to walkers. I like the light and shade on the footbridge. I used tinted gouache, dry brushed onto the foreground grasses to imitate seedheads.
Being on holiday at the moment I dont have much to show, so here’s an old painting I havent posted before. I was on a painting holiday in Scotland years ago. It was in the fishing port of Crail. Crail is in the Kingdom of Fife, just south of St Andrews.
One evening, after a days painting, I took a walk along the coastal path from the old fishing port of Crail to Anstruther, another small fishing port. The low golden sun threw long shadows across the grassland and tinted everything in an orange glow.
Later I did this pastel painting of the walk and I eventually gave it to a friend. In fact I am shortly going to visit him at the end of a walking holiday in Portugal, planned for the end of September. He lives not far from Faro. Well. that is if the borders aren’t shut down again.
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.
As practise for future plein air work I did this quickly on the back of an old painting, so I may not have got the proportions of the hill correct. I had an old photo and pretended that I was sat in a field getting it down with the minimum of washes. I also took the opportunity to jazz up the light at the same time. I was pleased with the result and I think the sky helps; along with ignoring a lot of the detail in the landscape. Its something I need to do more out in the field, putting in just enough detail to capture attention, but not getting bogged down.
There has been much uncertainty and quite a few false starts of late with my painting. I have been wanting to produce some stylised landscapes in acrylic alongside developing the ink and wash paintings I have shown recently. Not much progress has been made.
With the landscape, I couldnt settle on a subject. Then I recalled a wonderful morning I had spent on Cleives’ Hills this summer, with my watercolours, painting some cottages on the edge of the hill. I put the painting I did that day on the blog some time ago and I enclose it below.
I thought I might try this scene both in watercolour and acrylics. So here is the first one, in acrylics, with the cottages and the view of Liverpool in the morning haze in the distance. Fresh off the easel. There may be some more changes to be made, though I think I ‘ve got the punchiness I was after.
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.
Another corner of a field and another repeat. In my last post it was a restrained approach to a similar subject. This was more about pouring and spraying and trying to make something of it after the deluge.
I certainly liked my last version of this, but it stayed on the shelf after many outings. So it was back to the easel and this time I have removed some of the darks and put in more foreground colour. I have emphasised the light through the trees and introduced a fence post to redress the compositional balance – anything for a sale.
I was intending on doing this in watercolour, but I enjoyed working on the pastel I did for the previous post and the pastels were still out on my workplace – so why not. I hear many times from bloggers that the photo doesnt do justice to their work. Well here it’s the reverse. This shot flatters the actual painting. It makes it almost presentable.
I’ll leave it alone and see how I feel about it in a week or so. In the meantime it’s back to watercolours.
Another painting I have reworked. I have had this idea of dessicated grasslands and the last time it came out like a wheat field. I certainly think this is an improvement but is it enough? I added the trees this time and whether they complicate matters and detract from the vast expanse of nothingness, I am not sure. The earlier version is on my website for a while before I take it down: grahammcquadefineart.com