AMBLESIDE SPRING – WATERCOLOUR PAINTING

I am presently reviewing some of my old paintings and looking at a change in style. Here is one painting I decided to rework. It is a view across the fields at Ambleside in the English Lake District. I felt it needed emphasis of both the gentle changes in tone in the background and the light and shade of the foreground. By happy accident, extending the same palette across the whole picture produces a satisfying cohesiveness.

I may have different opinions in a few months time, but at the moment I think I have moved forward on this one. There are many more to go, if I have the stamina.

Other landscapes and Lake District scenes are available for sale on my website: grahammcquadefineart.com

BRIDALVEIL FALLS, YOSEMITE VALLEY – ACRYLIC PAINTING

A friend asked me to do a commission for their newly decorated room. It was a memory from one of their holidays. The photos were into the sun with high contrast and little colour. I must admit to liking the high contrasts, but felt it needed some colour, so I introduced purples and blues into the rocks and added some foreground foliage with complementary ochres to break up the mass of the cliff-face.

An added difficulty for me was the size, smaller than I’m used to, and this hampered me somewhat. Anyway, they are happy with it and I’m taking them to my framers to get the right frame and mount.

I had been to Yosemite myself, but didnt recognise the falls. Then, going over my old photos from 1983 there it was, I just didnt manage to get such a good vantage point.

Other landscapes are available for sale on my website: grahammcquadefineart.com

BACK ON CLIEVES’ HILLS – ACRYLIC PAINTING

I am in the middle of a few incomplete projects at the moment, so here is another acrylic painting. It is a return to an old subject, with an old painting – the view from Clieves’ Hills. I did it in 2012, before I started blogging. It looks from the low hill across a summery view of Halsall and the Moss, towards the coast and Southport where I live.

I like the richness of colour in the foreground that helps create the aerial perspective which is driven further with the smokey blue background. Somebody else obviously liked this and purchased it.

I still like this area for sources of subjects and hopefully will be heading out there again when the weather gets warmer.

Other landscapes – and paintings from Clieves’ Hills – are still available for sale on my website: grahammcquadefineart.com

LANDSCAPE SKETCHES – WATERCOLOUR

I’ve been exploring abstracts derived from the landscape and showed some of these in previous posts. As a first stage in the production of these abstracts, I have been sketching out loose landscapes to see if they might lead me somewhere down this path. Here are a couple I was pleased with. The one above came from a clip I saw on the TV and I did a quick, loose, watercolour sketch from memory. There isnt much to it, but it gave a pleasing result.

The one above is based on the beach at Southport, where I live, and I have used the idea of this in one of the semi abstracts I showed in my last post. Initially, I was actually messing around with a skyscape and added the sand and sea as an afterthought. I like the way the rivulets form on the beach, though it can result on getting your feet wet as you walk along the beach, especially when the tide is coming in.

Other landscapes are available for sale on my website: grahammcquadefineart.com

SPRING IN WHARFEDALE – WATERCOLOUR PAINTING

Of late I have been playing around with abstracts and imagined landscapes now that I know where I am going with my upcoming demonstrations. I do find working on abstracts and experimenting with techniques quite slow and wearing as I tend to hit many dead ends and I need time to reflect on my next step.

So in one of these periods of contemplation I thought I’d paint this view of a lane in Wharfedale, in Yorkshire, we visited last year.

I suppose I did a bit of experimenting even in this piece. I was pleased with the effect of slightly dampening the paper to get the soft shadows cast by the trees. I did shadows of a tree in a local park in a painting last year and was dissatisfied with my shadows done on dry paper. I may have to revisit that. The other thing was the cluster of daffodils: I initially just dropped a load of yellows on the paper and covered some of it with blobs of masking fluid when the paint had dried. Later I worked in some darks around the remaining yellow and later still, rubbed off the masking fluid. Lo and behold I got some bright blobs of yellow that could be daffodils but whatever, they glow from the shadows.

So it wont be long before we start seeing the daffs this year – and the worst will be over: well apart from the heating bill.

Other landscapes are for sale on my website: grahammcquadefineart.com

CANAL SCENE AND LANDSCAPE – WATERCOLOUR PAINTINGS

I have just realised that it will soon be February, when I have two painting demonstrations to do. One request is for a canal scene, and this is what I intend to demonstrate. It is a painting I did in 2008 and at the moment I am working out how to best complete the painting in an hour and half. For me, it is a question of getting the order right, so the audience isnt sitting around whilst you mix colours, and there is quite a bit of mixing here to get the water effects. I also need to ensure to emphasise the points I want to raise.

The second demonstration was picked for me by the art club that engaged me. It is of a field of poppies I did more recently.

It isnt a painting I would select if I had a choice. There is a lot of texture in the foreground field that I did in a very haphazard manner, at the time – feeling my way through. I used masking fluid in the painting. Again I want to avoid delays, so I may need to get the hair dryer out to avoid waiting for the masking fluid to dry. Other techniques are a little faster – I did some scraping back and and finally resorted to gouache when all my options were used up. Again, I am working through this to find the best order needed to present it in a coherent way.

After all this I’ll need a holiday and yesterday I ordered some Egyptian pounds for a two week cruise down the Nile at the end of February. Hopefully we will get to go this time – this is the second attempt.

I will be taking my sketch book.

Other landscapes and canal scenes are available for sale on my website: grahammcquadefineart.com

WALK, PART 3 – PASTEL PAINTING

Here is the final part of our post Christmas walk that I have been describing recently. The muddy, last, stretch along the canal and back to the car. This is a scene I have painted before as the light on the moored boats sings against the surrounding shadows.

When a painting requires such tight detail I would naturally reach for the watercolour or acrylic. I havent the patience finding or making slivers with which to place small, precise marks. Here. I used some conte pencils for the really fine details, though I tried to keep this to a minimum and just hint at the shapes of the boats.

I love the branch which hangs over the canal.

I wasnt as pleased with the other pastel I did of the fields over the moss that we passed. Initially it was the patchwork of greens, interspersed with the winter trees that attracted me, but in the end I found the result a little disappointing. Perhaps I should have made more of the sky and pushed the fields into a tighter mass.

Other landscapes and canal scenes are available for sale on my website: grahammcquadefineart.com

CHRISTMAS WALK PART 2 – PASTEL PAINTING

In my last post I showed a painting taken from our post Christmas walk. Here is another one from earlier in that same walk. It shows the route of a long defunct railway track called the Cheshire Lines which served Manchester, Liverpool, Chester and this line ran out to Southport, where I live.

Now it’s a walking and cycling path which crosses the moss from Southport to Maghull, north Liverpool.

I thought it might be worth doing in pastel. The greens were vivid in the low winter sun and the passing rainclouds in the background heightened this effect – and, of course, there are some puddles.

Now I have the pastels out I have started a couple more from the same walk, so there will be a small series from the same day – I give you fair warning.

I like this area and have done quite a few plein air paintings and studio paintings from around this path. Here are some of the watercolours I have posted in the past of scenes from the Cheshire Lines:

Other landscapes are available for sale on my website: grahammcquadefineart.com

FLOODED FIELDS – WATERCOLOUR PAINTING

After the Christmas indolence, a walk was proposed. Organising a walk in our family can require diplomatic skills far beyond my capabilities. My wife wanted to walk by the canal which meant we wouldnt get lost and me get angry at the lack of signage. She also reckoned that it wouldnt be too muddy. My daughter didnt want to go too far to get to the walk and I wanted to go somewhere to see some different scenery. I think my daughter’s partner would have preferred to stay put.

I selected a route which, I hoped, met all the specifications. After an early lunch, waiting for the rain to subside, we set off. There was a low winter light which gave great contrasts and shadows and suited me well.

We came up a low hill to a wooded area where there is a derelict Chapel, originally built in the 1500s. The farmland surrounding the site was waterlogged and had lovely glistening puddles made by tractor ruts. With the light illuminating the grass of our footpath and the puddle reflecting the post and trees I thought it might make a great subject to paint even though it is a bit on the dark side.

We completed the walk without getting lost, though the canal tow-path did prove to be the muddiest part of it.

Landscapes are available for sale on my website: grahammcquadefineart.com

GLIMPSE 2 – PASTEL PAINTING

It’s a subject I’ve tackled before – those fleeting moments before the land appears to be subsumed into the atmosphere – you glimpse the striking form of a field, building or tree in the corner of your eye. Then as you check the detail the view dissolves into memory.

This is one of those moments. The subject to tackle in a quiet hiatus, amid the Christmas melee. The pastel lends itself to getting a rapid image; handy as I didnt have too long before my absence was noted. At least I’m left with some accomplishment, with a painting done almost as fast as this pause in the weather.

Other landscapes are available for sale on my website: grahammcquadefineart.com